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Blog Category: Icarus Technique

Sanded Pastel Paper and the Icarus Board

I love working with sanded pastel paper. My favorite is Colourfix Coated Pastel Paper by Art Spectrum. It's a wonderfully versatile archival surface  that "withstands all manner of artistic experimentation." One of these, and not the least in order of importance, is the application of heat.

In the examples below you can see how I develop a flower petal with Prismacolor Colored Pencils and Caran d'Ache Neocolor II Wax Crayons.

Step 1Step 2

 

Step 1: After finishing the first petal, I'm getting ready to begin the second one.
Step 2: On the cool zone and with sharp Neocolors, I block in all the local colors of the petal. The tooth of the paper easily captures the waxy pigments.

Step 3Step 3 - detail

 

Step 3: After moving the paper to the warm zone, I begin melting the waxy pigments with a taper point color shaper. It's a simple process that can also be accomplished with a flat chisel color shaper (use the side of the tip for melting). This approach is much faster and gives you more control than adding water to Neocolor II. First of all there is no wait for the paper to dry - the melted pigments solidify as soon as the paper is removed from the heat - and the intensity and hue of the color do not diminish. Besides, it is so much fun I just can't get enough.

Step 4Step 5

 

Step 4: The petal is now covered by a thin layer of melted pigments that I like to call "wax foundation."
Step 5: On the warm zone, with a sharp white Verithin I penetrate the previous layer and create fine ridges that will become the petal's veins.

Step 6Step 6 - detail

 

Step 6: Here I'm developing the colors and the details of the petals. The layering of colored pencils is accomplished with Prismacolor Premier using the side of the pencil point. On the warm zone the waxy pigments melt and blend in with the foundation; on the cool zone they will sit on top for optical mixing. Sharp Verithin pencils are used for details and fine lines.

 

Speckling Technique for a Starry Sky

The starry sky of "The Butterfly Effect" could not have been accomplished in colored pencil without the Icarus Drawing Board. The choices would have been to painstakingly draw the blue sky around the white of the paper or to paint masking fluid over hundreds of stars. Instead I came up with the following technique:

Step 1: I laid down several different blue Neocolors II on the warm zone.
Step 2: I used a gray paper stump to thin and blend the crayons on the warm zone. This is accomplished by making small circles with the paper stump while cleaning the excess wax with a paper towel.
Step 3: I kept on working until the colors were evenly blended.

Step 1 Step 2 Step 3

 

Step 4: I grated a blue colored pencil on a sand paper block.
Step 5: I shook the blue speckles over the crayon background.
Step 6: I grated a white colored pencil on coarse sand paper.

Step 4 Step 5 Step 6

 

Step 7: I shook the white speckles over the crayon background.   
Step 8:
After placing a sheet of tracing paper over the colored pencil speckles, I pressed down with a brayer on the warm zone.
Step 9:
The speckles melted into the blue background and created a starry sky effect.

Step 7 Step 8 Step 9

 

For another example of "speckling" see Snake River Pebbles.

 

Achieve a Very Smooth Gradation Using Heat

On step #1 I layer on the cool zone process red, pink and white colored pencils over light blue artist crayon (see more on "layering" on previous post). I use the side of the pencil, not the point.

After moving the paper to the warm zone I start blending with a paper stump. Here, again, I'm using the side, not the point, and make small circles as I blend. Step #2 shows you the blending in progress.

On step #3 you can see the end result: a very smooth and flawless color gradation. This technique will allow you to blend a large area in a very short time.

#1 - Color Gradation#2 - Color Gradation#3 - Color Gradation

 

 

Colored Pencil Over Artist Crayon & Oil Pastel?

As you can see on step #1, it's impossible to layer a hard medium over a softer one. The pink colored pencil can only make indentations and scratches over the light blue artist crayon. Here is where the Icarus Drawing Board can help you.

On step #2 the thick layer of crayon is thinned out on the warm zone with a color shaper or a gray paper stump. I use the side, not the point of the paper stump and make small circles until I'm left with a thin, saturated layer of color.

After moving the paper to the cool zone, I'm now able to easily layer colored pencil over artist crayon (see step #3).

#1 - Layering Colored Pencil Over Artist Crayon or Oil Pastel#2 - Layering Colored Pencil Over Artist Crayon or Oil Pastel#3 - Layering Colored Pencil Over Artist Crayon or Oil Pastel