Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Not Forgotten

Here's a look at this oldie. I've picked up the pace recently with some work to the sweater area. I worked slowly over a long period on the foliage on the right. It was pretty tedious, but I'm liking how it looks. As I continued to work on the side area I realized that I should probably switch back to the center of the paper otherwise I would have to reach over the finished edge to access the center. So its back to red, red and more red.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


The last section, work on the leather jacket is done. It took a lot of layering and different colors to get the look of leather I wanted. It was even more time consuming than usual because I couldn't just layer even coats of different colors on top of one another. To get the textured look of leather I had to add the different colors in scrumbling lines and small dots of color.

This is how it looked after laying out some basic colors while I tried to block out the areas of shadow and light.

After many more colors and lots of scribbling the colors and textures were solid enough to sign it and consider it done.

In this close up the grain of the paper is very aparent, but blots of colors can also be seen on the leather jacket as opposed to the smoother colors on the shirt. I did my best to cover the yellow of the paper so as to make the color of the jacket a cool brown with blueish highlights.

My final thoughts on this project are, love the paper and will definitely use it again. Small projects are nice, I actually finish them. Need to stop drawing television characters and draw something I can enter in a show.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Another Portrait

I couldn't resist starting another portrait (yes I know!). I wanted to work on Canson Mi Tientes again, so I used an 18 x 12 sheet from a Canson Pad I had. Fortunately for me at 12 inches wide it's small enough to put through my large format Epson printer. So I was able to print the contour lines directly to the paper.

I actually printed the lines twice when I realized the first try was too faint and some of my reference lines were not visible. I tried again printing it darker and most of the lines showed up. The double printing is what gives the vibrating effect in some places :-)

I'm off to a fast start!

One Jacket Done

Here is my latest work on this piece. I guess the most interesting thing while working on the jacket was trying to get the zippers on the pockets and front to look metallic. The color I found most useful was Prismacolor's Bronze. I used it in the darker areas and its brownish, greenish, yellowish tones seemed to help to convey the idea of the shadows in the gold colored metal.

There are darker colors I used like Sepia in the darkest lines and some dark browns sparingly. Some of the other colors were Burnt Sienna and Sand, both Prisma's, for the golden glints. For highlights, my favorite bright, Luminance Buff Titanium and small touches of pure white.

There's also some use of Luminance's Olive Brown 10% and Raw Umber 10% on the left side zipper pull. I tried the stronger Olive Brown 50% in the darks here but I think this went a little too much into the greens for my taste.

I do love that Luminance has a few sets of pencil hues in graduated tints, Brown Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Olive Brown, Raw Umber Burnt Ochre and Sepia. All these colors come in full strength, 50% and 10%. Some of them have been very useful to me for creating subtle changes in skintones.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Moving Along

I've spent the last week or so darkening the background, fiddling with Sam's hair and finally starting on the his jacket.

Here are two closeup progress shots I took when I was working on Sam's face. It just seemed to me that something looked off in the first shot. When I carefully studied the reference photo, I realized that I hadn't brought his hair out enough on the left side and it also seemed to be missing a little height.

Making some slight changes to the hair proportions made it look better to me and I moved forward. I wanted the make the hair color a little more like the reference picture which seemed to have a cooler light falling on it. My colors had too much warm browns and yellows in it. So I went looking for some pencil colors that might do the trick.

I ended up using the Prisma Ginger Root and Luminance Buff Titanium for the hair highlights. I put these down over the previous colors basically covering up the yellows there from before, as well as what I could cover from the yellows in the paper that was still showing through.

I also looked for cooler browns and midtones to darken the shadows and to darken the hair color in general. I used Coloursoft Black Brown and Brown for the darkest values and Prisma Bronze and Sandbar Brown for the mid tones. I know there is some Prisma Greyed Lavender in there too. Also there is a light wash of pale vermilion in the front bang area that brings back just a little warm reflected light to this area of his face and hair.

The closer I got to finishing the hair the sharper the pencils as I tried to model the hair with a little more detail. There were quick transitions from light to dark along the long sides of the clumps of hair, while the transition from dark to light on the tops or flatter planes of the clumps might be smoother and more gradual as they came to a highlight and then quickly darken depending on how abruptly the hair curled away from the light. Basically I was paying close attention to how the hair appeared in the reference photo, trying to follow the play of light and shadow without getting too mired in the detail.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Supernatural colored pencil piece

Here is a piece that I started back in May. It's not quite done, but I realized it was pretty close to being finished and I had never mentioned it here. Better late than never!

It's drawn on a 7 x 9.5 sheet of Pastelmat paper. I bought this small pad of paper some time ago because I wanted to try out the Pastelmat, which I had heard so much about. It turned out to be a great paper for both colored pencil and pastels.

This project was sparked by this screen cap from the Supernatural TV series. These characters have inspired a lot fanart from me :-)

The animated gif shows my progress. The animation cycles through twice before stopping. If you want to see it again, just reload the screen as you hold down the shift key on your keyboard.

I started with the contour line drawing which I traced directly from my reference picture, making just a few adjustments to the composition. I moved Dean on the right closer to Sam so their figures are overlapping a bit. I changed the background to distant vegetation, though many colors in the original background inspired me. I also shifted the direction that Sam's eyes are looking. I have him looking directly out at the viewer.

Since Sam's figure is slightly out of focus, without much definition in his face, especially his eyes, I had to hunt around for other references for his face. I'll probably make other minor changes to his clothes before I'm done.

Since the paper size was small, I was able to print my outline directly to the paper and thus save myself the tedious job of transferring it via light table or tracing paper.

I started with Dean's face, going mostly with pink tones, some lights and reddish browns for the shadows. Since the paper is yellow toned it really cut down on the yellow colors I would normally use to build up skin tones.

I'm trying to remember the actual pencils I had used at this stage. I think is was mostly Coloursoft's Soft Pink and Luminance's Titanium Buff and probably some Primacolor White for the lightest colors.

If I had more than a stub of Prismacolor's Deco Pink, I would have used it to add the pinker tones. I used Coloursoft's Pink which is a pretty close match to the Deco Pink and probably more colorfast. I've heard that Prisma's Deco Pink was not colorfast and that is why it was phased out of Prisma's selection.

I know you can still get Deco Pink pencils from Ann Kullberg's online store and I considered doing this for a while. But then I decided that I might as well just wean myself away from any dependence on that color completely. At some point all the old stock is going to be depleted entirely and then we'll all be out of luck :-)

All the rest of the colors are probably Prisma's, in darkening values, Light Peach, Peach, Burnt Ochre and Tuscan Red.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Back to Good Day

I'm back to working on my Good Day drawing. I had slowly been filling in some of the tree trunk color now and then, but a few weeks ago I started back in more seriously. I'm now working the background shrubbery on the right. Most of the right side is filled with bushes so I expect it will be a somewhat tedious process, but I feel re-energized and ready to tackle it.

The next shot shows a little more progress.

I've been using an assortment of greens, Primacolor Dark Green and Prussian Green for the darks. For the middle values, Coloursoft Green, Prismacolor Kelly Green and Jade Green and for the lights, Primacolor Pale Sage and Grey Green Light. Also some yellow greens, Prismacolor Spring Green, Chartreuse and Cinnabar Yellow.

I'm using the whole array of Cool Greys for the tree trunk, plus some warm greys, here and there, and some purplish colors like Parma Violet and Blue Violet Lake.

As a first step, I've been using my reference image to draw in the shapes a little better. Then I started lightly blocking in the colors to distinguish shubbery from tree bark more easily. Once everything was more clearly defined I started layering the colors, building up shapes with mostly the middle tones, but being careful not to cover up my highlight areas.

Once I have enough color down on the paper I'll usually bring in my short stubby bristle brush to blend the colors together and spread them down into the paper. Then it's back to layering more color in, this time using more lights and darks to further define the shapes.

I might do a few cycles of this layering and brushing until I've gotten good coverage of the paper and the colors have intensified. The last step will always be penciling on more color, and highlighting and darkening as needed.

I've been trying to keep the shapes fuzzy to get the illusion of distance, but not are blurred as the background on the left side which is even farther back. I may have to come back later with a light color overall to add more blur. We'll see how that goes.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Art Shows

I dropped off my pastel piece at the Manhattan Beach Art Center for our local Pastel Society's member's show on a Thurday and the next day I got a message from the Society's president that I had won the Judge's Choice award. Needless to say I was very thrilled and surprised and pleased!

Here I am at the reception held on Saturday, March 26th.

There were many, many beautiful entries in the show and many other prizes awarded. There were 1st and 2nd place member's choice awards, people's choice awards given in landscape, figurative, still life and abstract categories, plus a special plein air award. I felt very honored to be in such distinguished company.

It has been a very exciting month for me. I was also honored to be awarded the first place award in the non-professional category in the Cypress Pencil Painting art show. This is put on by our local CPSA #214 chapter of the Colored Pencil Society of America.

It was the self same pain-in-the-neck Sam drawing that won it for me. So I guess it was worth all the pain to finish it! :-)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Girl in a Garden

I finished this last week and took it the framer. Also I named it because it was required to be able to enter it in the Pastel Society art show. I called it Girl in a Garden, and just hope that the judge doesn't detract points for unoriginal titles. I do think that it's better than calling it Pastel Girl.

In completing this piece I managed to use my soft pastels, if somewhat tentatively. In my next pastel I'll work on a bigger canvas. I'm sure it would help to loosen up if I have more room to work with.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pastel Girl

After starting to work on this piece again, I realized that I really should try to work with some of the softer stick pastels if I wanted to get closer to the vibrant, lush look of the pastels I admire so much.

I have a starter collection of various soft and medium pastel sticks. I figured that to start it would be wise to organize and catalog what I had. This was easy with the two sets of Rembrant and the Schmincke pastels, it was a lot harder with the Sennelier A L'Ecu set.

The Senneliers are 80 very soft half sticks with no labels! I had to figure out which color was which using the little numbered color swatches on the side of the box. I did find and download the Sennelier color chart from their website, but the colors on the side of the box were slightly truer. I finally ended up making a chart where I marked down all the names and numbers and then tried to match the actual pastels to the right spot. These were my best guesses for the different colors.

Two pastels are certainly wrongly matched. I'm sure that #710 called Steel Blue is not the pinky colored stick I put in that spot. The same goes for #400 called Mouse Grey, this light purple stick was the only one I had left. Later, I also switched the pastels I had sitting at #37- Orange Lead (pure color) and #512, a light tint of Raw Sienna, thinking it was a better match.

Based on all this, I made myself a color chart. Now when I use up a stick I'll have a better chance of reordering a correct color.

Aside from the practical value of cataloging my colors and making the color charts, I think it was a useful exercise just to familiarize myself with all the colors I have and how they relate to their color names and the color families that the different manufacturers produce. Maybe someday I'll be brave enough to dump all the pastels out of their boxes and organize them into color groups regardless of brand, just like the real pastel artists do.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Working with Pastels

I recently joined the Pastel Society of Southern California (PSSC) because I love pastels and would like to learn how to use them properly. I attended my first meeting in January and was very pleased and excited to find that we have so many pastel artists in the area. This is going to be a great resource for me and I'm looking forward to all the upcoming meetings.

The PSSC is having it's second annual member's show at the end of March and I decided to jump right in. I have a small pastel piece that I started last August. I picked it up again a few weeks ago to try and finish it for the PSSC show.

I originally just wanted to test out a new pad of pastelmat paper I had bought. I find that I like this paper very much. It has a smooth velvety finish that holds lots of pastel very nicely. These are shots from the early progress.

Everything I did at this stage was with pastel pencils, since pencils are what I feel most confident with. It felt more similar to using colored pencils.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Finished....for real

Yea! I'm done, really this time. It's even signed.

I worked on his eye again because it just didn't seem right. The only way that I know it's really right this time is because I can walk away from it and when I come back later to study it with a fresh eye, nothing stikes me as looking wonky.

I've been doing that all day. Fixing a lid line, moving an eyebrow just a tad over, moving the corner of the eye out, etc and every time I came back to see it again something else looked wrong. Well this version finally passed the walk-away-and-look-at-it-later test. I'm so glad, because I am heartily sick of this portrait now. I want to put it in a drawer and not look at it again for a long time.

But I'll get over that soon though. I'll think it was worth all the pain to get it done and I'll even start to like it again. :-)

Friday, February 18, 2011

This Is Finished...Almost

If I can manage to keep my hands off of this, it's done except for my signature. The main difference between the last stage and this is that I defined the shape of the light hitting his shirt, I took the brights a lot lighter and the darks much darker.

I also had to redefine the eye in the shadow. I had been thinking about taking this shadow very dark and so not have to worry about the eye hidden there. Unfortunately when I did start darkening this whole area, it looked much too stark. He looked like he had on a dark eye patch and the rest of the shadow areas by contrast looked too light. So I ended up lightening the eye shadow and having to redraw the wishy washy eye.

I had been trying to avoid doing this because of having no real reference for that side of his face. So I ended up having to wing it and hoping I'd end up with a realistic looking eye.

Who knows, looking at it now, I think I like the previous eye better. Arghhhhhh. Oh well, tomorrow is another day, I'll look at it in the morning.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Progress on Sam Portrait

Here's the latest on the Sam portrait. I took the time to take a better picture so the colors are more true to life.

I still need to extend and darken the shadow areas and to intensify the highlighted areas, but it shouldn't take me too much longer.

I'm beginning to plan how to frame this, because I'm thinking of putting it in a local colored pencil exhibition. I'm very much looking forward to finishing this.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sam Reboot

I finally had to face the fact that no matter what I did to try to fix my Sam drawing, I still didn't like it. Even the satisfaction with the last tweaking faded after a few days. I realized that the only way to make it work would be to redraw the body.

I think the problem in general was that this original pose just didn't seem natural. The figure's left shoulder was too high and looked contorted and I could never figure out where to position the right shoulder. Also his left shoulder looked too big, but whenever I tried to scale it down, it would throw everything out of whack.

Before getting to my latest version, I tried lowering the shoulder lines, lengthening them out, I made his chest larger, made it smaller, I redrew his arm and hand, I tried obscuring his whole right shoulder in the shadows, but it just never worked.

I was really ready to throw everything out the window, but I figured I could give it one more go, so I erased his body and started again. I wasn't sure that the paper would take this, but I figured I had nothing to lose.

I searched my reference images for a compatible body pose and I found one that I thought could work. It even had a similar light source, so this is what the new drawing looked like.

The color is off in the photo, but you can see where the paper was stained by the previous color pencil application. In this photo I have also already done a lot of new background work on the right.

The blotchy areas in the backgound are actually shiny spots causing reflections in the picture. All my brushing and layers of color have pretty much killed the tooth of the paper in these areas. If I can get this finished, hopefully spraying on a fixative will help to even up the surface at the end.

This last progress shot shows that I have been able to cover up the stained areas and I'm finally proceeding to final coloring and shadows. I'm not sure how this will end up, but I like it again. And I have learned some good lessons :-)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Some Work on a Old Project

I've been working on this old project for a few months. This is how it looked when I dropped it more than a year ago. I really liked how the face was coming along, but I hated how the body looked.

The figure looked hunched, with a too large head. Maybe the problems weren't really that bad, but it wasn't what I had in mind.

I knew the problem began with my less than ideal reference pictures. I had stitched together two images in Photoshop, a low res screen capture for the head shot composited onto a male body in a relaxed pose. Unfortunately what wasn't apparent to me in the composite, jumps out in the sketch. I guess these are the perils of relying too much on Photoshop :-)

I erased and redrew the figure many times trying to capture the look I wanted. I didn't have any luck until I finally talked my husband into a modeling session and tried to recreate the pose I wanted.

With the new reference images in hand I finally got a sketch I could live with. I have definitely abused this Canson Mi-Tientes paper very much in the process, but it seems to be holding up. This is what it looks like now. I'm excited about it again and I'm moving ahead.

Click on the SAM label to see previous posts on this piece.