And Presto-Magic, the rocks appear!!! I had a lot of fun drawing these stones. The reflections, shadows and distortions were quite challenging, especially where they all converge at the same point. The most obvious place for this is just under the meniscus line. The overall color probably isn’t accurate due to the lighting in my studio and my photography skills, so I am very excited to see how it looks after my photographer does her work.
I’ve started work on two new pieces, both of stones. One is a small, zen little drawing, and the other is a larger composition of stones in a water vase with new angles and colors. I’m going to see how it goes working on two pieces simultaneously, as I’d love to increase my output. (I know, wouldn’t we all!) As always, thanks for reading.
Here is the second stage of my current and very violet/fuschia still life. And Oh Em Gee, it looks like I forgot to draw the stones (wink wink Jeff George)!
No, it did not take me two weeks to draw this much of the glass! I am almost done with the stones. The colors are really working wonderfully off of the background and it amazes me how much it pulls together when the concreteness of the stones are in place. I know I mentioned in my last post that the glass was definitely the most challenging part of the drawing, but it’s not! These stones have very intricate interplay with the glass and water, creating complex light distortion and reflections. I used a piece of glass propped up on blocks when I set up the initial still life, and then cut a hole in the fabric directly under the vase. Then I played around with shining a flashlight up through the bottom, as well as having another light source from above. It’s subtle, but doing this did create different illuminations in the set-up.
It’s really been quite fun to do this one. Next post will be the finished drawing. Thanks for reading.
Here is the first stage of my new still-life drawing, and as mentioned in my last post, it’s very purple – or fuschia, magenta, plum, eggplant. . . . whatever you want to call it! It’s also large (for me) measuring in at 22″ x 16.5″. I’ve completed as much of the background as I’m going to do for now, and will most likely tweak some areas later when the vase, stones and water are in place. I used a Caran d’Ache watercolor pencil layer to begin, and after blending it with water I started in on the dry layers of Prismacolor pencils: #924 solid color stick, more loosely applied for texture, and then Black Cherry, Lavender, Raspberry, and then Indigo, Dark Umber, Violet Blue, Black Grape, Tuscan Red, Orange and Olive Green in places, depending on the desired color effect.
I’ve started on the glass now, and it’s definitely the most challenging part of the drawing. The top of the vase has so many aspects to it: light shining through it, light reflecting off of it, color distorting through the glass, and stones/water reflecting on the sides. Plus I’m changing the colors from my two reference photos, as one is very pink and the other is very dark purple. So this is really a color creation. I’ll post another photo when it reaches the stage where all of the glass/water areas are complete, but not the rock areas. I’m executing this one with the same approach as “Counterpoint in Green”, which is archived on my blog in April, May and June of 2010, if anyone is interested in referencing it.
I have been working so hard on this drawing and it feels like it’s taking forever. I am working uninterrupted now that my spring travels are behind me, but it still feels like such slow going! This drawing is about 22″ x 26″ and there is so much snow and delicate detail to accomplish. I think I’m going to basically execute the entire background and then go back and insert the fine details, such as little bits of debris on the snow, etc. Maybe a touch more blood? There is more blood in my original photograph, but I’m still deciding how much to put in. Meanwhile, it’s a gorgeous spring here with everything in full bloom, the birds are singing, mating, worm hunting. It’s an odd juxtaposition to find myself working on this winter scene.
I was recently interviewed by Paula DeMarco, the host of “Art Beat”, for a local cable station. I’m attaching a link to the interview, which is available on line throughout the month of May. You can access it here: Art Beat interview.
As always, thanks for reading!
The hawk has it’s squirrel in it’s talons. I am enjoying the challenges of this drawing -specificially the creation of all of the blurry masses. And the contrast between the softness and structure of the hawk and it’s feathers versus the soft form of the squirrel’s fur. I have moved onto the woodpile and adjacent snow, which is posing it’s own set of demands. Stay tuned for an update.
“Rock/Candy”, my two-person show with colleague Kendra Bidwell-Ferreira, came down on March 31st. It was a very colorful and fun exhibit, and I’m a little wistful to have it in the past. But I have been working hard all along on this new drawing, pictured above in a very initial stage. This is quite a large drawing compared to the sizes I have been working on in the past couple of years (it’s about 22″ x 28″) and I thought it would help me to start out with the hawk’s head staring out at me, inviting (or taunting ?) me to keep working on it.
This initial photo shows the head, as well as some tree trunks in the distance that I quickly sketched in with Caran D’Ache Watercolor Pencils. I did this to help me to define the parameters of the composition. The hawk has a squirrel in it’s talons, and I’ve placed it atop a snow-covered wood pile, with some tree trunks and foliage in the background. I’m working from photographs taken in my yard, and some of you may recognize the hawk and squirrel photograph from my blog pages “Scenes from my birdfeeder #2″. However, I wanted a more interesting setting and chose to place the hawk on snow-covered wood, similar to the setting of “Winter Throne”.
The photos below depict the development of the hawk’s tail. In some parts of drawings I first execute layers of Caran D’Ache Watercolor pencils to help establish background layering and depth of color (usually in the darker areas). (Please excuse the re-appearance of the hawk head photo. I can’t seem to delete it without deleting it from above as well!)
The photo on the far left shows the tail with the initial layering of dry Caran D’Ache Watercolor pencils. The photo in the middle shows the same area now blended with a wet brush. This step aids in the build-up of color and provides me with a “road map”, so to speak, of how I want to develop the area. The third photo shows the tail nearing completion. I’ve also started to develop the squirrel’s body, and have been working the three areas (hawk, squirrel and surrounding snow) simultaneously, as there are so many blurred borders between them. It was a challenge to take on, but I’m nearing completion of this area and will be posting an update next week. Then it’s on to the wood pile. . .
Thanks for reading, and happy spring! ~Debbi
Wow! How did I find myself with some extra time on Christmas Eve day (I’m hosting 15 people tonight. . .) and ready to update my blog? Here is the first leaf litter drawing, almost finished. As usual, I still have areas to tweak, mainly the rain drops, as I got very tired of doing them, and since they are so tiny I didn’t want to “overdo” them. I am curious to know if anyone has suggestions about how to classify these drawings? Are they landscapes? Still-lives? Any input or thoughts are most welcome.
I’m planning on doing a series of three of these drawings. Here is the second one, very far along, and displaying some different aspects from the drawing above. There is much more movement in this drawing, and I eliminated the rain drops. . . was I really that tired of drawing them? No, I just this drawing to be more about the gorgeous and tattered green leaf that was lying over everything. The second drawing is slightly larger than the first one, but both are in the 8 x 11 1/2 to 9 x 12 range.
A very warm and merry Christmas and New Years to all! Thanks for visiting my blog in the past year – I appreciate it!
Here’s the new piece I’m working on with the secondary leaf layer in place. I’m having fun working from “back to front” on this one, and have started on the primary/top layer. There are a lot of blurred and disappearing edges in this drawing which is a change for me. I’m curious to see what it looks like when the last, crisply focused layer is drawn. Stay tuned, and thanks for checking out my work.
Here’s my new drawing and I’m beginning, yet again, in a different fashion. Can you tell what this is a drawing of? Probably, because the pencil sketch is pretty visible. I’m working from the depths forward, starting with the darkest areas that are also the blurriest, and working up to the foreground. Once the darkest areas are complete I’m planning to move onto the next layers. .. .
I’ve also been repairing “Amber Bowl”, which I picked up from the Springfield Art Museum yesterday. It had some wax bloom, which was a first for me. I’m hoping that a more thorough fixative application will prevent this from recurring. I have to ship it to New York City in a couple of days for the Allied Artists of America’s 97th Annual Juried Exhibition.
I wanted to post a photo of this stage of my current drawing – I’m almost finished with the tree stump and snow, and about ready to start on the dark-eyed junco. This piece is about 19 x 13 inches in size, and I’m pleased with how quickly the detailed stump has gone. I know I’ll have to go back and forth with the snow contours once the bird is in place, and tweak some of the bark areas and shadows. It’s been interesting to draw the detailed snow and stump areas of the foreground and the less focused snow and stump areas of the background.
This is the first post of my current drawing, a dark-eyed junco perched atop a snow-covered tree stump. I’m approaching this drawing in an entirely different manner than usual. First of all, I’m not using any watercolor based colored pencils to build up areas before moving onto dry pencil. Secondly, I usually work top to bottom, left to right when doing a bird drawing, but this time I’ve filled the huge area of the stump, and am working more from bottom to top, right to left. I have no idea why I began working this way on this drawing, but I’m enjoying the process and the change. It’s pretty evident where the detailed areas and flat areas meet.
I built up basic flat areas of lighter and darker wood tones, and am subsequently going back into them with tape and a pencil and removing highlights and texture. Then I’m following up with more detail with darker pencils, and in some cases varying wood tones where I might have removed too much base color with the tape. It’s looking very detailed, but in reality it’s just a different way of creating detail, and I like the quickness and freedom of this method. The snow is also done in a much looser and quicker manner, loosely layering various colors (French Gray 10%, Grayed Lavander, Slate Gray, Cool Gray %70, and then surrounding wood colors) over a white base of colored pencil.
The bird will be the last part to draw, and it’s difficult to see where it’s going to sit at present. I think one can just make out faint delineations of the wings in the upper right area.
With the the glass vase complete it’s on to the really fun stuff! But as I write that I should note that the vase isn’t really finished. Already since I’ve taken this photograph I’ve deepened some areas where it interfaces with the rocks. But the fun stuff it watching it all pull together and come alive as each stone is drawn. I start with the darkest stones and move on to the lightest; and in this drawing, the darkest stones are the three on the bottom. I like the way the glass and reflections have developed, but it won’t really pull together until it’s all in place, and one can see why certain reflections are where they are.
I’ve been working on this new drawing for about four weeks and the background and top of the glass vase are almost done. It’s a large drawing (about 20 x 15 inches) on Bristol Board, and it’s interesting to switch back to a flat paper surface after working on the textured Rtistx for a couple of pieces. I have to be very careful to leave the whiter/lighter areas intact, as there’s no going back once they go too dark. On the sanded surface, you can keep changing the color, adding whites or light tones on top of darks, nothing is a problem. But on paper that type of option is lost very quickly. I started the background by layering two to four different shades of Caran D’ache Aquarelle pencil colors and then blending the colors with a wet brush. Then I started in with Prismacolor pencils, first using Limepeel, then Grass Green, Olive Green, Peacock Green, Black Cherry and some Dark Umber. Certain lighter places have some Yellow Ochre in them, and most places (except the darkest darks) are burnished with a pale light blue. I know it’s not the most simplistic approach, but I love the color transparencies that one can achieve by layering this way.
My drawing “Amber Bowl” is currently in the Academic Artist Association’s 60th Annual National Exhibition in Springfield, MA, and was awarded the Windsor-Newton Award. The big red letter day fast approaching for all of us colored pencil artists is the announcement of the jurying results for this year’s CPSA International Exhibition, which will be made public on April 26th.
Here is an installment after two weeks of work. I approached the beginning of this drawing in the same fashion as the still-life that I featured in my blog post of October 15, 2009. I worked in the background first, and then started in on the bowl from the outside in. This will leave the rocks and water for last. I’m having a lot of fun working on this, but there is a challenge in the colors, as I’m slightly tweaking the color to a more “blueish” shade than a more “purple-ish” shade. There are no blacks in the drawing, so the darks are made by layering blues, purples and browns. I am so excited to move on to the reflections that continue on the glass down into the water.
When I start a new drawing on paper, I jump right in and start laying out the drawing directly on the drawing surface. Not so with a sanded surface, such as the Rtistx board I’m using for my new drawing of stones in a bowl of water. The sanded surface is nearly impossible to erase lines from, so I follow a system that seems to work well for me, and I think many artists must do very much the same. (I would be most interested to hear what others do when laying out a drawing on Ampersand Pastel board, Rtistx, or a sanded paper – so feel free to share!)
My first step is to create a basic line drawing – not too detailed, but everything in it’s place, on drawing paper at actual size, as below.
Then I make a copy of this drawing onto a piece of tracing paper, as follows.
Next I take the tracing paper drawing and layer it on top of the Rtistx board, with a piece of transfer paper in between, to offset the drawing onto the board.
Below is the finished product, a transferred line drawing of my future drawing on the piece of Rtistx board.
I’ve been working on this piece for a week and making good progress, so my next post will include a recent photo of the drawing. To close I wanted to share something that I discovered for the first time, which I know many other colored pencil artists have experienced. . . . inconsistent product color. As you can see in the photo below, both pencils are Prismacolor Grayed Lavender, but the lead color is quite different. Fortunately I had several pencils of each, varying shade and was able to continue without difficulty. But it was a head’s up for me to always check the consistency of color when changing pencils.
I’ve started a new drawing and I find it interesting to note how different my approach is to this one compared to a similar one I recently completed. Both are of stones in glass vases, but in the first one I drew the rock and glass first and the background last. With this newest drawing I executed the background first, then moved on to the glass vase, and saved the rocks and vase interior for last. This drawing also contains a water element; the rocks are resting in water in the vase. In the first drawing there isn’t any water. I’ve posted the comparable stage post below.
The new drawing is almost complete, and I’ll be posting a photograph of it soon! Listening to books on tape/CD is really helping my output, especially when the genre is mystery/thriller. I can’t stop working and can’t wait to get back to work . . . .
Finally! I can’t believe two weeks has gone by since my last post, but it really has been a busy time. We had a wonderful week of scuba diving in Curacao and man is it hot at the equator in August! There are so many wonderful birds down there on the island including Venezualan Trupial, Yellow Orioles, Brown Pelicans, Brown Footed Boobys, Yellow Warblers and my new favorite island bird, the Bananaquit. These little birds, called “Honey Bears” by the locals, come up to your dining table and try to fly away with sugar packets, drink your orange juice, or scrounge fruit off your plate. We took to feeding them (for photographic purposes, of course!) and as the week progressed we found that a nice piece of watermelon with some raw sugar on top was just the trick for attracting lots of birds. Check out the photos below.
Okay, one more vacation photo, just one more. . . . promise. I couldn’t resist putting this guy on here. My son found this iguana resting in the shade of it’s self-dug hole in the midday heat.
On to my drawing, which I finished today. I really like this one, but like most things I work on, I feel too close to it right now to see it clearly. I am really enjoying developing this body of work, which is surprising to me, as I originally thought of doing perhaps one or two rock drawings.
I’ve already started the layout of the next piece, which will be much larger than the previous drawings in this series. I’ve been keeping them to approximately 9 x 12 inches in size, either horizontally or vertically. I’ve decided to work larger on this particular drawing, and am starting out with dimensions of 15 x 20, although it may change some with the cropping for framing. I going for a more dramatic presence and lighting with the new piece, and I think increasing the scale will help accentuate that.
Here is the finished version of “Balancing Act”. I have actually grown to like the green paper and the way colors of the rocks look on it. It was, however, very difficult to achieve certain colors with the green as a background – and difficult to create as many subtle gradations as is possible on the tan or blue backgrounds. Any comments about this, or anything regarding the drawing, are most welcome!
Most of these drawings are approximately 9 x 12 (or 12 x 9) inches in size. I’m going to start a smaller drawing in graphite on white paper of a stone with another object, and then return to working on the colored papers.
Another week and a new rock drawing underway. Isn’t that green paper wild? It feels so to me. I’m not sure I entirely like it, and it’s difficult to control the colors I want for the rocks with the green base. But it’s fun to experiment with these things, and overall I’m enjoying and liking the drawing.
We’re going to Little Compton, Rhode Island for the weekend, and the beaches are covered with these rocks. That’s where I collect most of my rocks, and I plan to do some more collecting this weekend. I’m always looking for interesting shapes, colors and rocks with lines on them, rocks that are very flat, rocks with interesting flaws, rocks that are almost round. . .. .. pretty soon I’m going to have the whole beach in my studio!
I’m very excited about this new drawing I’ve almost finished. I love the glow of the bag on the white rocks inside, as well as the composition. I’ve posted three photographs below, the first one is the start, working up the darks to establish where they are. I don’t usually draw this way, and it was fun to do so for a change. The second photograph is with the bag pretty much finished and the rocks waiting to be worked on. I left the bag “looser” than I usually work as I like how the texture of the paper lends itself to the texture of the paper bag. The third photograph is the drawing as it is now, almost complete. Just some tweaking on the shadows underneath the rocks, and maybe some adjustments to the lines between the rocks.
Since my younger son is coming home from sleep-away camp today, and I had an unexpected but fun trip to Baltimore last week, I’ve had to reassess my initial thoughts that I might complete 10 drawings this summer. I realize that’s not possible now, not with going to the CPSA convention at the end of July, and away on a family vacation in August. But I’m going to do my best to finish them by September 21st or so, which is technically the end of summer. I have lots of ideas about how to proceed with this series, doing at least one variation piece for each idea, so that there are two ways of looking at, say, the rocks in the glass vase, or the rocks with a split rock, etc.