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Blog Category: Icarus Boards

“River Pebbles, No. 2”

River Pebbles, No. 2

This is the second work in a new series of small art depicting some of my favorite subjects. The purpose of this series is to produce more regularly while also working on large pieces. Working small allows me to be more experimental with the Icarus Drawing Board. With each artwork I plan to share something interesting about how I made it.

Title: River Pebbles, No. 2
Size: 5" x 5"
Medium:  Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencil (Verithin and Softcore) and Caran d'Ache Luminance Colored Pencil
Miscellaneous: Lyra Splender Colorless Blender, Gray Paper Stumps
Surface: Stonehenge Paper
Technique: Icarus Drawing Board

My Set-up

Here you can see my set-up. I like to have everything close-by; the pencil tray sits on top of my Icarus board together with the Swifter Duster and the cotton towel. Taping the paper to the glass can be very helpful especially when burnishing on the warm zone.

My TimerMy Sharpeners


This yellow timer above is my constant companion. It helps me be more productive and more aware of interruptions. Once I got used to it, starting it and stopping it have become second nature.

To the right of my drawing board I keep two sharpeners: the X-Acto School Pro is electrical and works well with different diameter pencils; the Derwent is battery operated and, even though is made for pencils, I've used it to sharpen crayons for many months with no ill effects. The two sharpeners sit inside an acrylic photo frame together with a thick, moist sponge where I clean my pencils after I sharpen them.

The video above is a slide show of River Pebbles, No. 2. Please come back for my next blog post: River Pebbles, No. 2 - A Closer Look, where I will show you a detailed step-by-step of the project.


“River Pebbles, No. 1” - A Closer Look

Last week I introduced the first finished project of my new "small art series". This week I'm giving you a closer look.

Outline - Cool Zone

The outline was accomplished with Prismacolor Premier Verithin Colored Pencils on Art Spectrum Colourfix Supertooth Board. This is a very "toothy" surface without the gritty sandpaper feel. Supertooth Boards are made by coating a 500 gms acid-free, archival watercolor paper with a clear acrylic primer mixed with a blend of silica particles.

I have several large sheets of Supertooth and I was able to easily cut one down to the size I needed with an x-acto knife. I noticed that the texture is somewhat variable from sheet to sheet. Next time I will buy the Supertooth primer instead - it's a lot less expensive and will give me more control on the final texture.

"River Pebbles, No. 1" will be mounted on a 6" x 6" Ampersand Claybord with a 2" cradle.

Color Blocking - Cool Zone

In this step I'm blocking-in the main colors of the pebbles. I'm working fairly fast on the cool zone of the Icarus board (no heat yet) and I'm using Prismacolor Premier Soft Core and Caran d'Ache Luminance colored pencils. It's not important to be precise and detailed in this phase.

Burnishing & Blending - Warm Zone

After turning on my Icarus board (maximum temperature) I'm focusing on building up enough pigment so that  the white of the paper is completely obliterated. I've learned to not be afraid of this step - I know by experience that the more pigment is on the paper, the more malleable and workable the pigment becomes.

Burnishing & Blending - Pink Pebble - Step 1 - Warm Zone

Burnishing & Blending - Pink Pebble - Step 2 - Warm Zone

Burnishing & Blending - Green Pebble - Step 1 - Warm Zone

Burnishing & Blending - Green Pebble - Step 2 - Warm Zone

Burnishing & Blending Finished

Highlights - Cool Zone

As you can see from the images above, each pebble gets one or two passages on the warm zone. Most of the times I blend the pigments together without tools - on the large areas I've used a paper stump.

In the final step I reemphasize the highlights with a white colored pencil on the cool zone.

I will be posting a slide show of this project on my Icarus Art YouTube Channel sometime next week. Please subscribe if you haven't done so already.

If you have any questions about my project, feel free to ask them on this blog or make a comment. I'm always glad to hear from you!


“Icarus Drawing Board” Receives Award

I'm thrilled and honored that my Icarus Drawing Board is the recipient of The MAKING A MARK Art Innovation of the Year Award!

"MAKING A MARK" is artist Katherine Tyrrell's world renown blog where she "... writes about art for artists and art lovers". The Art Innovation of the Year Award was established by Katherine to "highlight those artist bloggers who experiment and/or create and/or share innovations which help the practice of other artists". This is an amazing and unexpected recognition that I proudly share with joint winner artist Karin Jurick for her Paint On Tabletop Easel.

I'm sincerely grateful to the individuals who have taken the time to nominate me and to all my other supporters and goodwill wishers. This award has strengthened my commitment to experiment even further with the Icarus technique and share my discoveries with other fellow artists.

Please visit MAKING A MARK to read about all the other 2011 awards and winners.

At my desk


“Art Innovation of the Year Award” Nomination

I'm very honored to be mentioned as an example of artist bloggers who, as Katherine Tyrrell says, "experiment and/or create and/or share innovations which help the practice of other artists". I'd love it if you would nominate me for the MAKING A MARK "Art Innovation of the Year Award".

Read what else Katherine Tyrrell wrote:

"...I've been very struck in recent years by artists who are art bloggers who have gone that extra mile and addressed their practical needs by creating a new tool or experimenting with new media - which they then share with other artists.

Ester Roi is a good example of the sort of person I mean. Some have shared within a commercial context - especially when, like Ester, they have invented, commissioned and manufactured a new material or tool which is not cheap to produce. Others focus on sharing new ways of working with media, materials or equipment produced by others.

The net result of all their experimentation and sharing is that for many of us our kit and materials now look very different as a direct result of their efforts. We've all benefited and this award is one way we can share our appreciation!"

To nominate me (you need an art blog to do it), go to Katherine Tyrrell's MAKING A MARK.

Once there, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click "Post a Comment".

Your comment should include:

Award: 2011 "The Art Innovation of the Year Award"
Name of the blog with URL: "Ester Roi's Blog"
Name of the blogger: Ester Roi
: (please write a reason why you are nominating me/my blog for the "Art Innovation of the Year Award" hint, hint... Icarus Drawing Board)


“Four River Pebbles” Project on YouTube

Four River Pebbles

I've just posted the five part video series "Four River Pebbles" to our Icarus Art YouTube Channel. It's a collection of 57 video clips from my 2010 CPSA workshop "Wax and Heat, a Match Made in Heaven".

This project, which was accomplished on white Stonehenge paper with Prismacolor Colored Pencils and Caran d'Ache Neocolor II Artist Crayons, is divided into the following five sequential playlists:

1. Beige Pebble
2. Green Pebble
3. Yellow Pebble
4. Red Pebble
5. Shadows and Water

For my workshop attendees this is a great opportunity to review the techniques learned in Santa Clara, California. For everybody else it's like taking a workshop for free. All voiced-over video clips are available in high definition and come with a downloadable supply list, an outline of the project, and an image of the finished project.

I hope you will enjoy practicing and/or learning the Icarus technique. You are always welcomed to post comments and ask questions either on this blog or on our YouTube Channel.


Canvas and the Icarus Board: Part 2


As you can see, I'm finally finished with my experiment on canvas (16'' x 24'').

It hasn't been an easy ride. While family and business obligations kept interrupting my creative process, the other reason it took me so long is that I chose a very complex subject in addition to a brand new technique.

If you need to refresh your memory, you can review the first blog post here: Canvas and the Icarus Board.

As I was layering the colored pencils on the acrylic-painted canvas, I became increasingly unsatisfied. The waxy pigment wasn't adhering nor covering as well as I had hoped. After many hours of trials and errors I finally came to an acceptable solution (see red type below).

Following are steps and suggestions:

  • Purchase acrylic gesso primed cotton canvas by the yard - tightly woven is best suited - do not use coarse textured canvas.
  • Cut a piece of canvas about an inch wider on each side than the final size.
  • Trace your drawing with colored pencils using a light box or a window.
  • Extend the drawing a quarter inch all around to account for possible misalignment during mounting.
  • Block-in the colors using acrylics - make sure to cover the whole canvas with paint.
  • With a sponge roller apply an even layer of Art Spectrum Colourfix Clear Primer. This simple step will help colored pencil adhere well to the acrylic painted canvas.
  • After the primer is completely dry (I waited 24 hours), you can begin layering your wax-based colored pencils on the Icarus Drawing Board at medium heat. High heat will help you blend large areas.
  • As a last step, clean up all your whites, edges, and details on the cool zone.

Below is a picture of all the colored pencils that I used in this project:

Colored Pencils Used

I'm planning to spray fixative, mount the canvas on a cradled board, varnish it, and frame it. I will have more images and give you my final thoughts on a third blog post.

For more on "Canvas and the Icarus Board" please click on the following links:

Canvas and the Icarus Board
Canvas and the Icarus Board: Final Post


Canvas and the Icarus Board

I'm experimenting with canvas and mixed media using the Icarus Drawing Board.

I purchased a few yards of primed cotton canvas (very inexpensive) from my local art supply store .

Then I cut a piece of canvas about an inch wider on each side than the final size (artwork will be 16" x 24", canvas is 18" x 26").

I enlarged my original graphite drawing with this free program: PosteRazor. I love this make-your-own-poster program!

After assembling the poster together, I taped it to the canvas. I then traced the drawing with colored pencils using a light box. I extended the drawing a quarter inch all around (16.5" x 24.5") to account for possible misalignment during mounting. Yes, I will eventually mount the canvas on a cradled board.

Finally I blocked-in the colors using acrylic paint. I wasn't very meticulous in this phase because I knew I would develop a second layer with colored pencils. However I made sure to cover the whole canvas with paint, even the white areas.

In the example below, you can see a close-up of the first layer (this section is about 3" x 9"). Of course there's no need for heat when painting in acrylic unless you want it to dry even quicker.

First Layer: Acrylic

The second and final layer was accomplished on the Icarus board with wax-based colored pencils using medium heat. See image below.

Second Layer: Colored Pencil

The colored pencils blended effortlessly on the warm canvas. I was also surprised that I was able to obtain pretty fine details in relation to the size of the artwork.

In the picture below you can see what colored pencils and tools I've been using so far.

Colored Pencils & Tools

I'm really having fun with this project but I don't know how it's going to turn out yet. I will post the finished artwork in about two weeks. I'm sure I'll be able to share a lot more about the experience of working with canvas on the Icarus board.

For more on "Canvas and the Icarus Board" please click on the following links:

Canvas and the Icarus Board: Part 2

Canvas and the Icarus Board: Final Post


CPSA Convention & Exhibition in Dallas, TX

The best way to describe my experience at the 19th Annual CPSA Convention and Exhibition in Dallas, Texas, is by sharing some of the special moments that I was able to capture with my camera. Enjoy!

Exhibition View

This year the exhibition was held at the beautiful Charles W. Eisemann Center in Richardson, Texas. It will be showing until July 31st.

My Artwork

This is a close-up of the area where "Social Network" is displayed in the gallery. I'm thrilled to report that my artwork received "The Seattle Washington District Chapter Award for Exceptional Merit" from Juror Bob Malenfant, director of the South West Gallery in Dallas. For a list of all awards please visit the CPSA website at this link.

Debbi Friedman with herKendra Ferreira with her


Debbi Friedman and Kendra Ferreira are two of my favorite artists who like to draw stones and rocks as I do. You can see how uniquely beautiful their interpretations of the same subject are.

CJ Worlein with her ArtworkBarbara Rogers with her


CJ Worlein's portrait "The Sisters" won the Cippy Best of Show Award. Barbara Rogers' beautiful "Misty" was one of my favorite landscapes in the show.

Christi Tompkins with her Son, Nathan

The most touching moment at the artist reception was when I was introduced to Nathan, a 10 year old boy who liked my artwork and wanted to meet me. He was there with his mom, artist Christi Tompkins.  There's nothing more rewarding as an artist than to be able to inspire somebody, especially a young person. It was great meeting you, Nathan!

Award Banquet

Here is a group of us, all dressed up at the Award Banquet. From left: Dianna Soisson, Debbi Friedman, Lynda Schumacher, Elizabeth Patterson, Kendra Ferreira and moi.

Trade Show

The Convention Trade Show was a great success. I enjoyed demonstrating the Icarus Drawing Board and chatting with many artists who were curious about it or wanted to try it.





This is not what I usually draw or paint. It's quite small (6" x 4"), it has lots of fine details, it's very photographic, it doesn't have water, reflections, distortion, flowers or pebbles, and it's not made with the Icarus Drawing Board.

So, why did I do it and what have I learned from this experience?

Well, I did it as my contribution to the Los Angeles Colored Pencil Society Chapter project. We are putting together a compilation of small drawings of common California trees for the CPSA Convention in Dallas, Texas. I chose the eucalyptus tree because it grows everywhere in my area and it has a very attractive, colorful bark.

The drawing is so small and detailed that I really couldn't use the Icarus board nor any other wax-based media besides colored pencil. What I learned from this experience is that it's good for an artist every once in a while to do something out of the norm.

  • Doing this small drawing reminded me how I really enjoy working big.
  • The Icarus board would have allowed me to accomplish a much larger version in the same amount of time, especially with the addition of artist crayon or oil pastel.
  • Photorealism is not my cup of tea.
  • I missed pushing the colors as far as I usually do.
  • I truly missed the magic of water.

I just can't wait to go back to my technique and artistic direction.

See you all in Texas in 10 days. Stop by the CPSA TRADE SHOW where I will demonstrate the Icarus Drawing Board.

Saturday, July 16, 2011 -  9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Renaissance Hotel, Richardson, Texas 75082