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Blog Category: Step-by-steps

“Poppy, No. 3”

Poppy, No. 3

Title: Poppy, No. 3

Outline - Cool Zone

The outline is accomplished with Prismacolor Verithin on the cool zone of the Icarus board. I don't like to add too many details at this point, only the principal lines.

Color Mapping - Warm Zone - Low Temperature

I'm blocking-in the main colors of the poppy on the warm zone with very low heat, just enough to soften the waxy pigments without melting them or blending them.

Burnishing & Blending - Warm Zone - Medium Temperature

After setting the temperature control at medium, I add additional color until there's enough pigment to obliterate the paper. Then I begin blending using the point of a  tortillon with a very light touch.

Sometimes I smooth out the color gradations with the side of a paper stump if the area in question is large enough. The very small veins are created with a white Verithin which lifts and lightens the original color underneath.

Burnishing & Blending - Warm Zone - Medium Temperature

Burnishing & Blending - Warm Zone - Medium Temperature

Burnishing & Blending - Warm Zone - Medium Temperature

Refining and Polishing - Warm and Cool Zones

The last step includes refining the edges (cool zone), polishing the color gradations (warm zone), adding the fuzz on the stem (warm zone), filling in the white speckles of paper that are still showing (warm zone), and the signature.

I like to sign my name with a Verithin pencil on the warm zone. I use a lighter color than the background and press enough to create an indentation which is visible even after varnishing.

 

“River Pebbles, No. 4” - Stumps & Tortillions

River Pebbles, No. 4

Title: River Pebbles, No. 4

Color Mapping with Artist Crayons - Cool Zone

After drawing the outline with Verithin colored pencils on the cool zone of the Icarus Drawing Board, I proceeded to map the main colors of the project with Neocolor artist crayons on the cool zone.

For more on color mapping with artist crayons you can view the following videos:

Artist Crayons Melted - High Temperature

With temperature setting at maximum, I melted the artist crayons using a clay shaper (color shaper).

For more on melting artist crayons you can view the following videos:

Orange Pebble Finished in Colored Pencil - Medium Temperature

With the temperature set at medium I developed the colors, values and details of the orange pebble by layering colored pencils and blending them with a tortillion.

Blue Pebbles Finished in Colored Pencil - Medium Temperature

The blue pebbles were accomplished in the same manner as the orange pebble.

Red Pebble Finished in Colored Pencil - Medium Temperature

I finished the drawing by completing the red pebble in the same manner as the other pebbles.

Clean-up, Highlights and Signature

Finally I cleaned up the drawing and emphasized the highlights with a white artist crayon. I like my signature to blend in and I can achieve that by using a sharp, white Verithin on the warm zone. It lightens the colors underneath just enough to make the letters visible without detracting from the art.

Paper Stump and Tortillion

When I first started experimenting with heat I was always on the lookout for different tools that would work with my technique. I remember trying tortillions and disliking them. I found that I couldn't really use them by the long side of the point because they would leave indentations/ridges on the waxy pigments.

The paper stumps that I normally use for large artwork were too thick and soft for this small project. At the same time I was getting very frustrated with how inconsistent the various colorless blenders have been lately. Finally I decided to give the tortillion another try and, guess what? It works great! The point is very thin and sturdy, not as soft as the paper stump's, perfect for blending colored pencils. It's easy to clean with sandpaper and very inexpensive. If you're using it already, you're way ahead of me. If you're not, try one and you'll be pleased!

 

“River Pebbles, No. 3 - Melting Artist Crayons”

Title: River Pebbles, No. 3

Outline - Cool Zone

The outline was accomplished with Verithin Colored Pencils on the cool zone of the Icarus Drawing Board.

Color Mapping with Artist Crayons - Cool Zone

For more on color mapping with artist crayons you can view the following videos:

Detail View of Color Mapping

Here you can see the pigment density needed to achieve complete paper coverage after melting.

Melting Artist Crayons - Warm Zone

With temperature setting at maximum, I begin melting the artist crayons with a clay shaper (or color shaper).

For more on melting artist crayons you can view the following videos:

Melting Completed

Artist crayons save me a lot of time. After they are melted, the paper becomes completely saturated with vibrant colors. The waxy pigments make an ideal substrate for layering colored pencils on top.

Finished Artwork

With temperature setting at medium, I finally layer and blend colored pencils to develop colors, values and details.

You can see a slideshow of this project on the following blog post: Slideshow of "River Pebbles, No. 3".

 

“River Pebbles, No. 2” - A Closer Look

This is a closer look at my second work in a new series of small art depicting some of my favorite subjects.

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

River Pebbles, No. 2 is mounted on a 5" x 5" Ampersand Claybord with a 2" cradle. If you are interested in learning how I mount and varnish my artwork, you can read the following post: Glassless Framing.

Outline - Cool Zone

I always use Prismacolor Verithin to draw the outline of my subjects. It's important for me not to add too many details at this point, only the principal lines.

I prefer the back side of Stonehenge paper because it has a little more tooth than the front. That little tooth makes a big difference in how pigments layer, mix and blend, especially on the warm zone. A paper surface that doesn't have much texture is difficult to handle with heat.

Color Mapping - Cool Zone

Color mapping on this paper is a little more time consuming than on a sanded pastel paper. I apply my Prismacolor Softcore and/or Caran d'Ache Luminance with medium pressure on the cool zone until 80-90% of the surface is covered with waxy pigment.

Burnishing and Blending - Warm Zone

Listed below are the main steps I follow to develop the colors and values on the warm zone (high temperature):

  • Burnishing: I saturate the paper with pigment until the white of the paper is completely obliterated (I even burnish white colored pencil over the white areas).
  • Layering: I layer the colors by using the side of the pencil.
  • Blending: when called for, I blend the base and top color together with a paper stump.

Burnishing and Blending - Warm Zone

I continue in the same manner as in the previous step until the whole drawing is completely burnished.

Refining and Polishing - Warm and Cool Zones

I'm adding more details to my drawing. I use the warm zone (medium to low temperature) to blend some of those details into the background, the cool zone to refine and polish with a colorless blender.

Refining and Polishing - Warm and Cool Zones

I continue in the same manner as in the previous step until the whole drawing is finished.

I need your feedback:

With my next small artwork I'm planning to start focusing on specific issues.

Do you have any suggestions? Are there any topics relating to my technique and my art that you would like me to address?

For example, Jill asked me to explain how I make my pebbles shine.

I'd love to get your input.

 

“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!

 

Canvas and the Icarus Board: Final Post

"Symbiosis"

Below are the steps I followed to mount my artwork on canvas and varnish it.

Trimming the canvasTrimmed canvas

 

Left - after spraying the canvas with 5 coats of Prismacolor Final Fixative Gloss, and letting it cure overnight, I trimmed away the white boarder.

Right - the canvas is now trimmed and ready for mounting.

Mounting toolsPressing with a brayer

 

Left - for mounting I used Frank's PH Fabric Adhesive (purchased from my framer) and a foam roller. I apply this type of adhesive only to canvas or fabric in general. When mounting paper I prefer to use Grafix Double Tack Mounting Film (for more on this subject please visit my post on Glassless Framing).

Right - after mounting the canvas on my Ampersand Claybord with 3/4" cradle, I rolled a brayer all over the surface, paying particular attention to corners and edges.

Under books overnightTrimming the edges

 

Left - I then placed the canvas-mounted board upside down under heavy books overnight.

Right - in the morning I carefully trimmed the canvas around the edges of the board. I had originally extended the drawing a quarter inch all around to account for possible misalignment during mounting.

Left-over stubbleCleaned-up edges

 

Left - as you can see some stubble was left over after trimming.

Right - I cleaned up the fuzz with a fine grade sandpaper.

Painting the sidesPainted sides

 

Left - I finally began to paint the sides of the cradled board with acrylic. I applied three coats.

Right - the sides are all painted.

Varnishing toolsRaised board

 

Left - here's everything I used for varnishing: Golden Polymer Varnish with UVLS Gloss, a container for mixing the varnish, a small measuring cup, a wide brush for the top surface, and a smaller brush for the sides. I mixed one part water to two parts varnish.

Right - after elevating the board from the table I began varnishing the top.

Wet varnishVarnishing the sides

 

Left - notice how the first coat of varnish looks while still wet. I painted four coats, waiting three hours in between.

Right - I used the small brush to spread the varnish drips all over the sides. I like the sides to be as glossy as the top surface.

Varnished and framedClose-up

 

Left - after curing for a week, the panel was finally framed without glass.

Right - Here you can see a close-up of the frame and panel.

CONCLUSIONS:

Why did I do all this? Well, I wanted to experiment with canvas and the Icarus board. I clearly could not have used stretched canvas and did not want to use 1/8" canvas panels. These panels are a good option for artists who work with the Icarus board. However I like my art to be mounted on panels with at least 3/4" cradle so I needed to use canvas by the yard.

The best discovery I made during this experiment is to apply one coat of Art Spectrum Colourfix Clear Primer on the acrylic painted canvas. This establishes an amazing ground for any type of drawing medium so that it can strongly adhere to the canvas. Colourfix primer can be applied directly to the canvas without an acrylic underpainting, if one chooses to do so. (edited 10/9/11)

Perhaps in the future I will experiment with artist crayons and oil pastels on canvas and the Icarus board. These mediums lend themselves to larger and looser applications.

I'm very happy with my finished artwork. Coming from an oil paint background I can tell you that it looks better than any of my old oil paintings. These were never varnished (who wants to wait six months?) and appear blotchy and uneven.

To read the two previous posts on "Canvas and the Icarus Board", please click on the following links:

Canvas and the Icarus Board
Canvas and the Icarus Board: Part 2

If you are interested in how I mount and frame my artwork on paper without glass, please click on this link:

Glassless Framing

Thank you for reading my blog! Feel free to comment or ask questions.

 

Canvas and the Icarus Board: Part 2

Symbiosis

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