Thursday, July 31, 2008

One Thousand

Wow, in just about six months I have accumulated 1,000 hits on this blog! I reached the magic number last night. I have had visitors from all 50 states and over 50 countries (including one I hadn't even heard of). Many thanks to those who have stopped by.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mexican Wolf Challenge

An artist I know through Fine Art America offered this challenge: she posted two photos of wolves and asked anyone who was willing to put them both in a single piece in any medium. Of course, I took the challenge (actually, she calls it an experiment) and took the opportunity to experiment a little myself. I used a combination of carbon pencil and colored pencil, and I have to say I love it. I can get nice blacks quickly and easily while still getting vibrant colors. There are three types of gray colored pencils: warm (reddish), cool (blueish), and french (brownish). In my opinion, none of them are truly gray. Now I have true gray on my palette!

But it is also interesting how the carbon and wax colored pencils interact. You can put colored pencil on top of carbon pencil, but because of the waxy nature of the colored pencil, you can't do the reverse, especially on a thick layer of color. So I could put a layer of carbon, blend it to the desired value, then cover it with the colored pencil. Using the blending pencil on top of that blends it all together and lets the carbon show through a little. One nice thing, though, is if you blend the carbon over a colored area, you can use the kneaded eraser to lift it off very easily. Or you can leave it there to dull the colors. They also work very well next to each other, like in the fur.

If I had to do it over again, I'd change some things and spend a little more time on it. But since I was experimenting I don't really consider this a finished piece.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

WIP Reef - Hard Coral

coral reef drawing in progressAfter some time away for other projects, I'm back onto the reef. Completing this corner really got me excited because it's starting to come together. It looks like nearly a third of the drawing is done.

hard coral drawingThis coral got the best of me. I found at least four photos linking it to the Great Barrier Reef or the Indo-Pacific area, but no where could I find out what it is called. But I wanted it in my drawing, so I put it there. It appears to be a pink soft coral with yellow polyps that grows in clusters like grapes. I used peach and blush pink for the highlight areas, carmine red and poppy red for the midtones, and poppy and tuscan reds for the shadows. I went over it all with the blender. The yellow polyps are spanish orange and yellowed orange.

The surrounding area is a mixture of hard corals creating the support structure for the outcropping. Hard corals are the "reef-builders" that the soft corals attach to. I wanted this area to be dark so the bright damselfish and bannerfish would stand out. I used a lot of black and tuscan red, and also three shades of warm grey, poppy red, mulberry, slate grey, white, blush pink and olive. I blended with the blender (I do that a lot, don't I?).

Now, which part comes next...?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Book Review: Creating Textures in Colored Pencil, Gary Greene

Creating Textures in Colored Pencil bookWhile I'm working on the next part of my coral reef, I thought I'd post another book review. This is the only colored pencil book I own. I learned almost everything I know about colored pencils from this book.

Greene begins by giving the usual introduction of materials and tools. He describes different types and brands of colored pencils and erasers, and what kind of paper gives what kinds of effects. This is all great information if you're new to this medium.

Then he goes into the three basic techniques: layering, burnishing and underpainting. He does an excellent job of using the same drawing (an apple) for all these examples, so you can clearly see the differences.

And then the meat of the book. Example after example of how to apply these techniques to achieve texture. There are several flowers, fruits and vegetables, leaves, trees, water, animals, people, and man-made materials. Each one he takes you step-by-step: which colors he used in what order; how hard to press with the pencil; whether he used solvents. And there's an image (or part of an image) showing each step. After a while, I started getting the hang of it and could almost predict what he did in each step.

The pictures in this book are incredible - you probably wouldn't have guessed they were colored pencil if you didn't already know. Greene is an amazing artist and he does a great job of explaining how to use the colored pencils.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Website Redesign

I haven't been doing a lot of drawing the past week because I've been redesigning my website. It's finally done! Take a look.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Saw Whet Owl

saw-whet owlI experienced an incredible confluence of events two weeks ago. In my town, there is a farmer's Market every Thursday. In my five plus years here, I had only been to it once. Then my daughter's playgroup decided to meet there (there is a playground right next to it). Things were going against us, though. We were supposed to meet at 10, when my daughter usually has her snack. I tried for an early snack, but then my husband forgot something and I had to bring it to him at work. So we showed up to this playgroup 45 minutes late, and I didn't see anyone I knew (lots of other people, though). I let her play for a while, then decided I should probably take a look around while I'm here. It was getting late, so a lot of vendors were low in stock or closing up. And then, I almost missed it. One tiny table under the trees, covered in pamphlets and a donation jar. A woman sat behind the table and at first I didn't even notice the tiny bird in her hand. It was an owl, not more than 5 inches long. I took their newsletter and read it. The Santa Fe Raptor Center rescues raptors and other wild birds that have been injured, rehabilitates them, and releases them back into the wild whenever possible. I offered my services as an artist.

saw-whet owl in colorInspired by their story about rescuing four saw whet owls (which I had not heard of) recently, I drew one sitting in an aspen tree. So while I wait to hear if they are willing to work with me, I will offer prints of this drawing and donate a portion of the sales to the Center.

A little about the drawing itself, the original is 11"x14" paper with mostly charcoal and a little carbon pencil. I wanted to try out the carbons, and I really like them. They are similar to charcoal, but much, much smoother. They blend nicely like charcoal, but are impossible to erase. I was a bit reluctant to use too much carbon on my first try, so it's mostly in the darker feathers just giving some extra detail. I'd like to use them more in the future. Then I decided to try something else new. I added a touch of colored pencil on top of the charcoal and carbon. I love this effect, just a little color, with all the detail still showing through.