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Blog Category: Media

My Largest Work in Progress

This is a progress photo of my 40” x 60” canvas in colored pencil, artist crayon/wax pastel and a little acrylic. I started this work several years ago but I had to put it aside for other projects. I was finally able to resume it recently. As you can see, I’ve completed a little less than 2/3.

This piece is definitely a challenge due to its size and complexity. I concentrate on one pebble at the time and try not to look at how much is left to do, not an easy task. A friend of mine posted this comment on Facebook: “Oh wow! Now that's what I call dedication!” My reply was: “Dedication and insanity, I need them both.”

Size: 40" x 60"
Medium: Prismacolor and Luminance colored pencil, Neocolor artist crayon/wax pastel and a little acrylic
Tools: tortillions, paper stumps, color shapers
Surface: extra fine texture canvas primed with Art Spectrum Colourfix primer
How I prime canvas for drawing media: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nc-I9wz10dI
Development of one pebble: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HczdXkNlzg0
Technique: Icarus Painting Board

 

“The Other Side”



Title: "The Other Side"
Size: 16" x 20"
Medium: acrylics
Surface: canvas mounted on board
 

In the past I have used acrylics for color mapping under drawing media but never acrylics alone (except in college many years ago). This time the decision to switch to acrylics was made for me as the brilliant colored pencil pinks and purples I was planning to use were all fugitive. Luminance does offer several lightfast pinks and purples but they are not as vibrant as the colors I was after. Plus, I already had a large selection of acrylic paints in my studio.

I didn’t want to change my style and I was planning, as much as possible, to create a painting that looked like my drawings: colorful, realistic, with hard and soft edges and smooth blending passages. I expected to do much layering but I wanted to try some techniques to minimize it.

I tested a variety of professional, heavy body acrylic brands and I was impressed by their richly saturated pigments, buttery consistency and lightfastness; gone is the plastic look I remember from my college days. Unfortunately, they still present a color shift from wet to dry, some brands more than others.

To facilitate blending I experimented with a retarder, with an airbrush (to keep the paint wet with water on the canvas), and with Golden Open acrylics. I live in Southern California where the climate is usually dry and warm. Golden Open Acrylics stayed blendable for a much shorter time than I expected. They would probably perform better in thick layers and in places with higher humidity and colder temperatures. I didn’t like using the retarder very much as it made the paint too sticky. The airbrush worked well but the water thinned down the already thin layers way too much for my liking.

I will continue to use acrylics for underpainting with colored pencils or with oils and use them alone for small size art. What I liked the most about them is their versatility and how they lend themselves to experimentation. What I liked the least is their color shift from wet to dry. I guess one can get used to it after a while but I really struggled with it.

There are many artists who create incredible art with acrylics. Whether they apply them with an airbrush, rely on optical mixing without blending, or use a mélange of techniques, at the end it’s the result that counts. Art mediums are like people; they come with different personalities, strengths and weaknesses. No matter what medium one is attracted to, a great relationship is only possible after a lot of work and perseverance.

Click here to see how I use acrylics with colored pencils.

 

“Pebbles from Heaven, No. 3”

Title: "Pebbles from Heaven, No. 3"
Size: 16" x 16"
Outside frame size: ​23" x 23"
Medium: colored pencils, wax pastels and oil pastels
Surface: Art Spectrum Colourfix Supertooth board
Technique: Icarus Painting Board

Original available here. 25% of the proceeds will be donated to Caterina's Club, a charity that provides free, warm, nutritional meals to underprivileged children in Orange County.

Giclees available here

More information on my "Pebbles from Heaven" series on this blog post.

 

“Pebbles from Heaven, No. 2”

Title: "Pebbles from Heaven, No. 2"
Size: 22" x 22"
Medium: colored pencils and wax pastels
Surface: Art Spectrum Colourfix Supertooth board
TechniqueIcarus Painting Board

Original sold. Giclees available here

25% of the proceeds was donated to Caterina's Club, a charity that provides free, warm, nutritional meals to underprivileged children in Orange County. 

More information on my "Pebbles from Heaven" series on this blog post.

 

Acrylic and Colored Pencil

My latest artwork, titled "McDonald Creek, No. 3", was inspired by the ripples reflected on the colorful pebbles of the McDonald Creek, Glacier National Park, Montana. This piece has a very abstract slant due to its close-up take and the refraction caused by the running water.  

Size: 12" x 16"
Medium: Luminance and Prismacolor colored pencils, and Golden Matte Acrylics
Surface: Art Spectrum Colourfix Supertooth board
Technique: Icarus Painting Board 

 

Even with abstract work, value and composition are still of the outmost importance. A value range from 0 to 10 brings form and depth to life. Colors, of course, always evoke a strong emotional response but if the values are incorrect, the colors will not work. 

I normally block in the main colors with artist crayons and wax pastels (Neocolors). This time I wanted to experiment with acrylics. Since colored pencils adhere only mechanically to acrylics, it's crucial to use a surface with a strong tooth, especially when framing without glass. After acrylics dry, the tooth is then still available for colored pencils. 

Regular acrylics are usually glossy and that finish interferes with colored pencil adhesion. However, Golden Matte Acrylics, Fluid or Heavy Body, are less sleek than gloss acrylics and provide a better surface for colored pencils.

So, what are the advantages of using acrylics with colored pencils? I discovered two helpful applications.

 

USING ACRYLICS TO BLOCK IN COLORS   

Acrylics are perfect for covering large areas of flat color; they can be brushed on quickly and they dry in a jiffy. I chose to paint this pebble with a middle value. With a few brush strokes, using paint thinned with water, I completely obliterated the white of the paper.

 

I then created the ripples with white paint and a lighter value of the local color. I don't worry about being precise at this point; that's where colored pencils will come in handy. 

 

After turning on the heat of my Icarus Painting Board (medium setting), I began developing colors, values and details with colored pencils in my usual fashion, blending with a paper stump when necessary. The acrylic under-layer is left uncovered in some areas to allow for optical blending.

 

USING ACRYLICS TO GLAZE

I use only lightfast colored pencils and some of the colors in the pink, purple and violet family are a little dull and not as bright as their fugitive counterparts.

 

If you're a fan of bright colors like I am, you'll be happy to know that there's a way to remedy that dullness. Acrylics are lightfast and can be glazed over colored pencils. On this pebble I painted a very light mixture of Golden Quinacridone Magenta and Golden Acrylic Glazing Liquid. The glaze worked wonderfully but it took me two tries to get it right.

On the first try, the glaze darkened the overall values. So I reworked the pebble on my Icarus Painting Board; the heat allowed me to easily remove the acrylic glaze using colored pencils alone. After lightening the values, I then re-glazed the pebble (no heat). Acrylics can also be used for touch-ups, especially when highlights have lost their luster; a little Titanium white can do wonders.

 

Wax Bloom: How to Remove it

If you use wax-based colored pencils or wax pastels and artist crayons, you're familiar with wax bloom, that cloudy, white film that forms on the artwork. Don't wipe it off with a cloth or you'll risk smearing the pigment.

I have a simple solution; just blow warm air over the surface with a hair dryer or a heat gun. If you're not in a hurry, let the heat of the Icarus board do the job for you. When you're done with your drawing, final fixative or varnish will take care of wax bloom for ever.

“McDonald Creek, No. 2”

Second in a series of artworks inspired by my 2014 trip to Glacier National Park, Montana. 

Title: "McDonald Creek, No. 2"
Size: 12" x 16"
Medium: Prismacolor and Luminance colored pencils, Neocolor artist crayons
Tools: tortillions, paper stumps, color shapers
Surface: Art Spectrum Colourfix Supertooth board
Technique: Icarus Painting Board

For pricing information check here.