Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Using the Icarus Board

I received an Icarus board as a Christmas present the year before last. I really wanted one because I knew of the possibilities that opened up when applying heat to colored pencils and wax crayons. I am lucky enough to belong to the same local CPSA chapter that Ester Roi belongs to. Ester is the inventor of the Icarus board. So I have been privileged to see first hand some of the incredibly beautiful art that she has created with the board. Once I had my own board I did find it a little intimidating and not having a proper place to use it, I'm sorry to say that after the initial flurry of experimenting on it, it kind of ended up on a back burner.

The photo shows my first try, on one of the sheets of paper that came with the board. I'm not sure what type of paper this was, but it could have been Stonehenge or some other kind of 2-ply bristol type paper with a nice vellum finish. I did a contour sketch, printed the outline to the paper and began to apply layers of colors with my usual assortment of Prismacolor pinks, peaches and yellow pencils to build up skin tones the way I usually do. I figured when I had enough layers I could shift over to the heated side of the board and blend everything together. This didn't really work.

I realized pretty soon that the pencils by themselves did not deposit enough wax to melt and move around freely like paint, at least not the way I applied them. Back around this time Ester had put the first few tutorials on how to use the board up on her website. This is where I should have started, so I belatedly went over to take a look and got a few clues on what to try. I needed to get myself a set of neocolors before going any further.

When I finally had my new supplies in hand I came back to this piece and experimented a bit. I applied the some bright blues and pinks neocolors to the background and saw how much more easily these laid down the wax and melted together. I applied a little black to the hair and played around trying to add highlights, but when I got to the face the I just couldn't figure out how to apply the flesh toned neocolors without obliterating the subtle shadows and highlights I had already started with the pencils. I chickened out and told myself that I would just come back to it when I had a better idea of what to do.

It seemed easier to just start fresh, so I next tried this.

This time I drew on a 15 x 11 inch piece of black Arches cover paper. This is a heavy paper with a pronounced texture. I used just the neocolor crayons to apply color to the face and hair. I was able to blend the colors well enough with the heated board but needed a lot of wax application to cover up the texture of the paper. It has an interesting look letting the texture show through as in the right side background,but it's not the look I wanted. I concluded that this paper was not the best for a smooth look. The Icarus board makes it possible to cover the texture completely but it's a lot easier to choose another type of paper instead of fighting the texture on this one.

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