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Blog Category: Wax-based Media

“River Pebbles, No. 13”

Title: "River Pebbles, No. 13"
Size: 8" x 8"
Medium: Prismacolor colored pencils, Luminance colored pencils, Neocolors artist crayons
Tools: tortillions, paper stumps, and color shapers
Surface: Art Spectrum Colourfix Supertooth board
Icarus Technique

I created a graphite sketch from five different photo references I took during my trip to Montana. I always make sure to have many photos of the same subject, especially when dealing with moving water, so that I can combine the best parts into a drawing.

I then transferred the original sketch using Verithin colored pencils to avoid having to erase the graphite pencil.

After drawing the outline, I proceeded to map the main colors with Neocolor artist crayons on the warm zone of the Icarus board at low temperature. During this step it's not important to include all nuances and details as these can be developed later with colored pencils.

For more on color mapping with artist crayons you can view the following video: Mussel Shell - Blocking in Colors with Artist Crayons

With temperature set at maximum, I melted and blended the artist crayons with a clay shaper (also known as color shaper). 

For more on melting artist crayons you can view the following video: Mussel Shell - Melting Artist Crayons

With the Icarus board set at medium temperature I developed the colors, values and details by layering and blending colored pencils with a variety of tools (tortillions, paper stumps, Caran d'Ache blender). During this step I made quite a few changes from the original outline; I removed a bubble and several small pebbles, aiming to simplify an already complex drawing.

Here are close-ups of the main steps: outline, mapping, melting, and developing.

I hope you enjoyed this step-by-step.

 

How to Mount Canvas on Board

I used to mount canvas on board with Frank's PH Fabric Adhesive. I demonstrated how to do it on a previous blog post: Canvas and the Icarus Board: Final PostAlthough this method worked pretty well, the glue would always moisten the canvas which would take a long time to dry before I could varnish it. I finally found a double-stick adhesive that is suitable for rough surfaces like canvas.


Above are my finished canvas and a roll of adhesive on top of a 24" x 48" Claybord.


Gudy 831 is a very aggressive double-stick adhesive especially suitable for application on rough or textured surfaces. It's acid free (pH 7), passed the photo activity test (PAT), and will not dry out or discolor with age. It's available on rolls with a single release liner. Easily applied by hand, it will never dry out or discolor with age. Gudy 831 can be purchased online from Talas in different size rolls.


After carefully unrolling the adhesive onto the surface of the Claybord (sticky side toward the board), I burnished it with a brayer and trimmed the excess around the edges. I punctured the air bubbles with an X-Acto knife and burnished until the air was all gone. 


Here's a close-up of a seam where I had to join two separate sheets of adhesive because the roll wasn't wide enough. Again, I pressed the seam with a burnisher.


This is the canvas ready to be mounted, after I trimmed the white edges. At this point my piece measures 24.5" x 48.5", half an inch larger than the board, to account for possible misalignment during mounting. 


I created a fold on the release liner to expose a 1" wide section of the tacky area.


I positioned the canvas over the board and, when perfectly centered, I pressed down on the canvas over the exposed 1" section of adhesive.


Then I slowly pulled away the release paper while unrolling the canvas over the adhesive. With a sheet of tracing paper covering the canvas, I gently rubbed the surface with a rag until all the release paper was pulled out.


I rolled a rubber brayer all over the surface protected by tracing paper.


I turned the board upside down and trimmed the extra canvas with an X-Acto knife.


To achieve perfect cuts I used a fresh blade for each side of the artwork.


Finally I placed the board under heavy books overnight. Using Gudy 831 allowed me to begin varnishing the day after mounting the canvas.


Title: "Everlasting"
Size: 24" x 48"
Medium: Prismacolor and Caran d'Ache Luminance Colored Pencils, Neocolor Wax Pastels, Holbein Oil Pastels
Surface: Extra Fine Texture Canvas primed with two coats of clear Art Spectrum Colourfix Primer
Icarus Technique

 

 

“Cambria”

Title: "Cambria"
Size: 6.5" x 11.5"
Medium: Caran d'Ache Luminance Colored Pencils
Tools: Tortillions, Paper Stumps, Full Blender Bright
Surface: Extra Fine Texture Canvas primed with two coats of clear Art Spectrum Colourfix Primer
Technique: Icarus Drawing Board

Above is the outline of this project. It's a combo piece of two small artworks I did in the past. After I developed the drawing in graphite, I transferred it onto the canvas using local colors.

Here I've blocked-in the main colors using a low temperature setting, just enough heat to make the layering a little faster and more even. Now I have a clear map of the basic colors.

After turning up the temperature dial to a medium setting I began burnishing. This is the process of saturating the canvas with pigment. I'm developing the values while blending colors and adding details. The only tools I use, besides the Icarus board, are tortillions, paper stumps, and a colorless blender.

More burnishing and blending in progress.

More burnishing and blending in progress

And finally the finished artwork. The title is after the location on the California Central Coast where I collected these pebbles.   

 

“River Dance”

Title: "River Dance"
Size: 12" x 24"
Medium: Prismacolor Premier, Caran d'Ache Luminance, Derwent Coloursoft, Faber-Castell Polychromos, Caran d'Ache Neocolor I and II
Tools: Tortillions, Paper Stumps, and Colour Shapers
Surface: Extra Fine Texture Canvas primed with two coats of clear Art Spectrum Colourfix Primer
Technique: Icarus Drawing Board
Presentation: Mounted on a 3/4" Ampersand Claybord, varnished and framed without glass

This riverbed is more abstract than my previous ones. I felt I was looking at a dance of shapes and colors.

http://esterroi.com/artwork/view/rocks-water/river-dance

 

New Beginnings

Recently I sold the last available original in my rock and water series, "Crescendo". Its new home is in Washington State.

Clearly this series has a wider appeal than my flowers so I will continue with colorful riverbeds. 

The first one of the two artworks I just started is a large commission, a 24" x 48" canvas.

Below you can see a faint outline. I will show only cropped progress images and allow my collector to see the finished work first.

The second artwork I recently started is a medium size canvas, 12" x 24". This riverbed is very intriguing to me; it's moodier and more abstract than my previous ones, showing plenty of water movement and unusual reflections. 

Below you can see a photo of the initial outline and another one with some progress.

Both canvases are primed with Art Spectrum Pastel and Multimedia Primer (Colourfix) and I will be using a combination of Neocolors, oil pastels and colored pencils on the Icarus board.

Stay tuned for progress photos.

 

“River Pebbles, No. 12”

Title: River Pebbles, No. 12

  • Size: 6" x 6"
  • Medium: Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils (Verithin and Softcore), Caran d'Ache Luminance Colored Pencils
  • Tools: Tortillions, Paper Stumps
  • Surface: Extra Fine Texture Canvas primed with several coats of clear Art Spectrum Colourfix Primer
  • Technique: Icarus Drawing Board
  • Mounted on a 6" x 6" x 2" Ampersand Claybord and varnished
  • To see how I mount and varnish my artwork, please refer to my post on Glassless Framing.

The outline was accomplished with Prismacolor Verithin on the cool zone of the Icarus board.

In this step I blocked-in the main colors on the warm zone with very low heat, just enough to soften the waxy pigments.

After setting the temperature control at medium, I began adding pigment until the canvas was completely covered. I then blended the colors with a tortillon or a paper stump.

I really enjoyed this piece. However, now that it's finished, I wish I made it larger. The swirls of colors would have looked even better on a 12" x 12". It probably would have taken me the same amount of time had I incorporated wax pastels (Neocolors).

I just mounted the canvas on a 6" x 6" x 2" Claybord. Soon I can varnish it, photograph it, and put it for sale on my website.

 

“Beneath the Blue”

Title: Beneath the Blue
Size: 15" x 20" - after framing 26" x 31"
Medium: Prismacolor Premier, Caran d'Ache Luminance, Derwent Coloursoft, Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils
Tools: tortillions and paper stumps
Surface: Art Spectrum Colourfix Supertooth board
Technique: Icarus Drawing Board
Presentation: mounted on a 3/4" Ampersand Claybord, varnished and framed

Getting back to flowers after a long hiatus was exhilarating. As you can see, Beneath the Blue, as all my flower paintingsis depicting a daisy below the water surface.

Here's an excerpt from my artist statement that gives you some insight on my vision: "Water transforms everything it touches: hard lines become soft, warm colors cool, solid shapes break down into parts. Realism evolves into abstraction and the ordinary becomes extraordinary. The interplay between these realms is an endless source of inspiration for me."

For original and giclee information please click here.

 

“Unveiled”

Title: "Unveiled"
Size: 24" x 48"
Medium: Prismacolor Premier, Caran d'Ache Luminance, Derwent Coloursoft, Faber-Castell Polychromos, Caran d'Ache Neocolor I and II, Holbein Oil Pastel
Tools: Tortillions, Paper Stumps and Colour Shapers
Surface: Extra Fine Texture Canvas primed with several coats of clear Art Spectrum Colourfix Supertooth Primer
Technique: Icarus Drawing Board
Presentation: Mounted on a 3/4" Ampersand Claybord, varnished and framed

I'm very proud to have completed this piece, if nothing else for its size alone. It has accompanied me through the trials and triumphs of this past year. It's been a faithful companion even though I neglected it for long spells, at times in favor of other artworks, and later during the long months of my youngest son's illness, surgery and recovery.

It was born out of necessity. I sold its twin brother "In Between", before I had a chance to have it professionally scanned. I had many requests for giclees so I decided to redo it four times its size. Since I was familiar with the subject and technique, I thought I could concentrate on the challenge of working on a much larger scale.
 

Above is the enlarged drawing I used to trace the outline on the canvas with Verithin colored pencils. I like to use local colors to avoid erasing graphite. On this blog post you can see how I traced it.
 

Of course I made some changes along the way. This progress photo shows a large stone on the bottom left corner that I eventually replaced with smaller pebbles. I used an electric eraser to lift most of the pigment and then drew new pebbles on top. 
 

Here I mapped the area with Neocolors and oil pastels. Neocolors are very useful, especially around the edges, because they can be sharpened. Oil pastels come in such a wide selection of colors, I would be limiting my palette if I weren't using them. At this stage I set the temperature of the Icarus board to low. 

 

The photo above shows the results of melting the Neocolors and oil pastels. I normally melt at the highest temperature using a colour shaper. Then I blend further and pick up any extra pigment left on the surface with a paper stump. At this point the Colourfix primer's texture has resurfaced again, making the canvas receptive to colored pencils.
 

Here you can see how I further developed the colors, values and details using colored pencils, with the board set at medium-low temperature. The perfect tools for blending colored pencils are tortillions and paper stumps.
 

When blocking-in, it's not important to include all color nuances and details. These can be developed later with colored pencils. 
 

Melting the pigment is probably the most exciting application of this technique. Again, it's not necessary to create perfectly smooth blending at this stage; that's what colored pencils are for.
 

Above is another example of how I developed the colors, values and details using colored pencils.
 

In this third series of close-ups I’d like to talk about how to speed up the process. Mapping with Neocolors and oil pastels is much quicker than mapping with colored pencil. Some of these rocks can measure up to 12 square inches or more!
 

Melting the waxy pigments is a very effective technique for fast coverage of the canvas surface. It compares to dissolving water-soluble Neocolors with a brush, except there’s no color or value change with heat.
 

Another valuable time-saving technique is adding all the details at the end. Highlights are time consuming if you need to account for them from the beginning. I created all the thin highlights by subtracting the pigment with a Verithin white pencil and by going over with a softer pencil or with a sharp, white Neocolor.
 

In the photo above I’m showing how I devised an easier way to work with a large canvas. I placed a 20” x 20” claybord, 2” thick, along the side of the Icarus board, thus creating a larger surface for the canvas to rest on. 
 

What’s appealing to me about working on canvas versus paper is that I don’t have to worry about creasing or bending it. Canvas is very flexible and can take a lot of abuse.

 

I like to roll up my canvas so that it doesn’t hang over my knees. I use two binder clips to keep the canvas from unrolling.
 

Here is a close-up of the canvas fastened with binder clips.
 

The finished canvas is now taped to a cardboard and ready for spraying.
 

After mounting the canvas on a cradled board, I will then varnish it and frame it.

 

Report on my San Diego Demonstration

I love those San Diegan CPSA chapter members! They always make me feel welcomed and appreciated.

Everyone was very interested in learning how I work with canvas on the Icarus board. When I rolled out my 24" x 48" canvas in progress I could definitely see their curiosity peaking.

Here are the points I discussed during my presentation:

  • why canvas
  • what type of canvas
  • how to prime it
  • how to mount it and varnish it

Afterwards I demonstrated the three main techniques I use when working with canvas on the Icarus board :

  • mapping the main colors with wax pastels (low temperature)
  • melting and thinning wax pastels (high temperature)
  • developing colors, values and details with colored pencils (medium temperature)

I set up three stations, each with a board at a different temperature, so that a line of attendees could swiftly move through the steps and try the different applications. Unfortunately, after I answered all their questions, there wasn't enough time for everybody to try to replicate the techniques. However, I think they all walked away with a sense of new possibilities.

 

Inching Toward the Finish Line

I'm inching toward the finish line and soon I will be done with my largest piece ever. Below is a picture of what I've accomplished so far.

I'm not surprised to have discovered that I enjoy working big. When I used to paint in oil (back in the nineties) my smallest canvas was 30" x 30". It never occurred to me to paint any smaller. That feeling stayed with me even after I transitioned to colored pencil.

The Icarus technique has allowed me to tackle larger work, especially by combining colored pencils with wax crayons (artist crayons) and oil pastels. I'm also realizing that time is not necessarily proportionate to size. 

On my final post I will tell you how I'm able to speed up the process, how I feel about working on canvas, and I will show you some close-ups of the progress. Stay tuned!