Well, happy Friday and l thought it would only be fair to share with you the final result of my test out of my new Schpirerr Farben pencils. This piece has been such fun to draw and l chose it especially because it would use plenty of the colors in the tin.
To be absolutely fair to these pencils, the drawing is completed using only these, l have not even resorted to my trusty Polychromos to sharpen the edges. Actually one of the best surprises with these pencils has been their ability to hold a point despite being so soft. I have used no blenders. The pencils themselves have done all the work. I like to do this because not everyone has access to the many, many pencils l have and if you are looking to buy only one set, you want to know what results you can get using only them.
These are such an affordable brand that l really wasn't expecting the great results that l got. For me the stand out feature is the vibrancy of the color right from the start. And the color doesn't leave pencil dust all over the place either. I was able to layer them really well and to mix new colors easily.
l would love to see more pale, pastel shades in the range and most of all l would love to see a lightfast rating, but for the price these are anyone beginning just can't go wrong with these. They offer a real viable alternative to Prismacolors without the Prismacolor problems. I didn't have any break when l sharpened them, they are definitely more long lived (l find my Prismacolors wear down fast), they don't spread color dust and l didn't find the same wax build up problems even though they have a very similar feel in use.
So yes, l am impressed and want to wish everyone behind Schpirerr Farben real success with their lovely product.
Woo hoo! Today l am sooooo excited to share with you my new pencils. They are a brand new brand, only just released here. And l am so lucky that l got to try them. Now l am going to let you into the story. I was contacted by the lovely Tania offering to send me a set of these new pencils to try and l emailed her back to say that l would be really excited to try her new pencils, but that l had to be totally honest with her and told her that l could never say good things about a pencil if l didn't think it was good. I value my reputation too much and l certainly would hate anyone to spend their hard earned cash on a poor product that l recommended. I simply couldn't do it. I turned to my other half after emailing and said,' l don't think l will be hearing back from her!'. Well, to my surprise l did hear back! And last Sunday on my doorstep was a lovely package containing my new tin of pencils.
I am not going to spend ages telling you about the packaging (l hate reviews that show you the box they came in etc, etc! I am screaming,'yes, but the pencils! What are the pencils like? How do they blend? How do they feel?!'). There are 72 colors in a nice sturdy tin. And l will tell you right away that they are selling on Amazon at a practically give away price.
Now l am used to working with the best brands in the world and here l am presented with a very affordable set of pencils by an almost unknown brand. I was really intrigued to see how they performed. I was also hoping very much that l would like them because not everyone can afford (or wants) to spend 300 dollars on a tin of pencils and to be able to say to those people you can try out how you like working with coloured pencils without laying out a lot of money would be so good.
So the first thing l did was make myself a color chart. Not something l normally do, but my one quibble with these pencils is that the colors on the barrels are not always a good match for the actual color of the pencil. But, you know, the same is true of many more expensive brands and it takes five minutes to make a color chart.
The first thing l noticed is that the color is sooo vibrant. This immediately gave me good vibes. And creamy, smooth! Mmmm! I like a pencil with a creamy smooth lay down, l was excited now for sure! Above you see my first progress shot of my new piece with these pencils. To be honest, l am staggered that you can get this quality for the price. You can see that l got beautiful vibrant color. I haven't used any of my other brands on this piece not even for sharpening the edges. They have the creamy feel of Prismacolor pencils (if you like those, you will love these), but they are so much nicer than Prismacolors. They sharpen beautifully and hold their point much better than Prismacolor pencils, so l was able to get fine detail that l really can't get with Prismacolors. They don't have the same build up issues either. The vibrant color builds very quickly and l didn't use any blenders with this piece, just the pencils.
I was able to blend new colors easily (this piece will be going on Instagram next week and you will then see that l used the full color range for it). The white has beautiful resistance to colors laid over the top and is as good as any other white pencil when used on top of darker colors.
My only real issue with them is that they have not been tested for lightfastness (this doesn't mean they are not lightfast, it just means that we simply don't know) and because l sell my art l like to know the colors l use have met certain standards. Hopefully, this may change in the future.
I just want to say to anyone who has been put off by the high price of the top brands, or who is starting out with color pencil or who just loves color pencils, try these. I am sure you will love them.
Haaaappy Friday. I cannot believe how quickly the weeks fly past and how bad l am at writing a regular blog! I don't know why l decided to draw another chameleon so soon after the last. Well, l do! It was the colors! This chameleon has the craziest colors ever and l loved them. And sometimes l see a load of colors like this and that is all l can see. My color addiction takes over and no logical part of my brain says, 'Stop! Think carefully about the work involved in this!'. No. Not me. I just see the chance to use all those lovely colors l never get to use. Or that is what l tell myself, because even that isn't true! I always pick colourful subjects so there really aren't any colors l never get to use, l even get the flouroescent ones in there at times!
My second mistake was the decision to work bigger, much bigger than l have ever drawn a chameleon before. The idea was that o would be able to really get in the detail. I didn't think this through properly. It is much bigger than before, but the dots are still not much bigger than the point of a pencil and so l can't really get much more detail than l have in the past. It just takes much longer. Much, much longer! I would have to have worked twice this size to get detail in the detail. What was l thinking!
The photo you see above is about twenty hours of work and none of it is finished and it looks weird! Truthfully, by this point l wanted to stop! But there is some kind of grim determination in me that makes me want to see a piece through to the end, so l gritted my teeth and ploughed on. It took four days of painstaking work before l even got a shot l would post on Instagram (that will be Monday if you want to see it). And l eventually even lost track of the number of days l spent on it. I thought that l had learned patience, but it was thoroughly tested. It just looked so flat, all the way until the end really. Usually parts of a drawing start to come to life and it gives me the motivation to continue, but this piece just refused! I did finish it though and l feel happy with myself if not totally happy with the picture for seeing it through. But l am certainly going to think a little more carefully before starting such a big project again.
I am finally back with my sporadical blog! I am sorry l know l should post regularly, but l run out of time. And l have been wanting to talk about this tip for ages as well! Tip no. 4 which will improve your drawing is this: Learn to really look at your reference photo.
It sounds obvious, but the more you learn to see the better you will draw. You cannot draw what you do not know is there. With experience we might know some things should be there, but even with experience your drawing will improve if you learn to look.
I am constantly amazed by how much more l see when l look at a photo now than how much l used to see. I look back at older pieces and at the reference photo and wonder how l can have missed things that now appear so obvious.
So l thought l would use a photo (from pixabay) and explain what l mean. I always use a screen rather than a print out so that l can zoom in and out. Zooming in might appear obvious, but why would l want to zoom out? Well, when l zoom in l see detail and colors more accurately, but when l zoom out (and usually stand well back in the room at the same time) shapes and contrast become more clear.
You can see that when you zoom right in although the image starts to pixelate you can pick out the colors much more easily. In the full photo the eye just looks black with a white highlight. In the zoomed in image you can see purple around the highlight in the eye, and that the highlight itself has some Pink in it, you can see oranges reflected in the bottom of the eye. You can see a more subtle highlight going horizontally across the eye and pink and orange in that highlight. You can see a tiny orange feather above the eye. All sorts of colors start to appear if you really look. You see the tiny white rim with Violet grey flecks around the outer eye. Really look. These little details bring a drawing to life.
Now prop your screen up somewhere and stand back and look at the whole image, from a distance the shapes are much easier to pick out. I stand and compare my drawing and the screen from a distance. I can see clearly then where shape is not quite accurate or where contrast needs to be increased.
I probably spend as long looking at my reference photos as l do drawing, constantly zooming in and out. I am still learning and still seeing more each time l draw. I know if l drew this photo again today l would add more to my drawing than l did a few months back, because l have learned to see more.
So that is my tip for today. I am hoping to be trying out a brand new brand of color pencil very soon and l shall be sharing that with you on here. I am very excited about that, so stay tuned.
Well, the saying is almost true! No it doesn't make perfect, but you certainly see improvement. I wanted to write this post to share the picture of my Lion Fish that l recently completed. It still isn't perfect! But l first drew this fish just over a year ago. It has always been my OH's favourite piece. It took me forever to draw and l have been looking at it on the wall over the past few months and thinking that l am sure l could do better now. So a few weeks ago l set out to draw it again. It is a complicated fish to draw and l knew it would be time consuming to do, but l just wanted to see if l could improve on my first attempt. I have to say even l was amazed at how much l have improved in just over a year. My OH keeps looking at the picture hanging on the wall and shaking his head. He says he was cheated!
For fairness l have removed the background from both Fish as well as l can and put them on pure white. What l really want to say is that l have had no lessons since l drew the first fish, l have read no books, watched no videos, had no instruction. Quite honestly the only difference between one drawing and the next is time. I have put in hours and hours of drawing. That is the wonderful thing about drawing if you just keep doing it you get better! I am sure if you are lucky enough to have lessons you would get better faster, but you don't have to have lessons to improve. You just have to do it. That is all. I know if l just keep drawing that a year from now l could improve this piece again. I want to say again that it isn't a special gift that you are born with. It is just practise and more practise. If you want to draw pick up your pencils and draw. If it isn't as good as you hoped, draw some more, if it still isn't as good, draw some more. Never give up. You will see improvement if you just keep drawing.
Hello at last after a very long break! I must apologise for being away so long, this is because l have been having so many issues with my website builder. It has been scrambling all my pages and turning them into nonesense when l publish. I am seriously hoping that publishing this blog does not scramble the rest of my website! If you have come across muddled up pages, it is not me, l promise! I am a little scatty at times, but l spend hours making sure everything is right before l publish. So, to find out that everything has been moved and muddled is very frustrating and l have been put off writing my blog for fear of more scrambling!
Anyway l am here now and l really wanted to add to my series on improving your drawing. My third tip is to love what you draw! Does that sound odd? I think perhaps it does at first, but l will explain.
One of the biggest challenges with coloured pencils is learning to be patient (see tip 1). A colored pencil drawing takes many, many hours. If you don't truly love the piece you are drawing keeping the motivation up to work each stroke with love and care, to add the necessary layers is so, so much harder.
When l began working with colored pencils l read a lot of books about using them. I can't tell you how many begin with drawing an apple or a sphere. Now if drawing an apple appeals to you, go for it l say. Put your heart into it and draw the best apple you can. But l didn't want to draw an apple, at least not the sort of apple that l saw represented in those books. An awesome 3D apple, well that might be different.
I understand why those books start that way. They teach the basics. The theory. But l also realised that l found no pleasure in performing an exercise like that. It was boring. In fact it put me off drawing. I understood straight away that to put my heart into a piece l had to love it.
l really wanted to mention this because l have been thinking about it as l browse art on Instagram. There is so much amazing art on there that motivates and inspires. But there is also a lot of art on there that just copies (often exactly) what has been popular for someone else. It is very easy to see a great piece that has got thousands of likes and think ,'l'll copy that and everyone will like it,'. Well, they might or might not. These pieces often lack something, and what they lack is usually love.
If you love a subject it shows in your work, even if you are very new to drawing. It is something you can't exactly pin point. You can't see the love in a pencil stroke or a certain color, but it shows in the finished piece. If you love your subject you WANT to put care into each pencil stroke, to take your time, to do your best, to make this piece better than the last piece. Love in art just like in life brings growth.
So l am sharing with you today a sneak preview of the piece l am currently working on, it will be a while before it makes it to Instagram, l really love Betta fish, l hope that shows in my piece.
l promised to share tips to improve your drawing that require no drawing skills right? I really wanted to do this because there is so much advice out there showing how to draw things. Some of it gets very technical and makes drawing sound like something that you need a masters degree to do. In truth if you can write your name you have all the skills required to draw. It is practise that is needed. Just like when you first learned to write your name, you probably copied it over and over again in a scribbly little hand and each time you copied it you got a little better, until one day you didn't need to copy and eventually you didn't even have to think about it anymore. Drawing is exactly the same. No one was born good at drawing. Even Michael D,Angelo and Leonardo Da Vinci had to learn.
But there are things that make learning easier. Last week l talked about patience, this week l want to talk about reference photos. This caught me out and gave me problems for quite a while. Here l am sharing two photos that l found on Pixabay to demonstrate what l mean (please see my tips page for a discussion on reference photos and copyright because you can't just draw any photo you find on the net). Both of these are nice photos of close ups of a cat's face, one would be good for anyone to try drawing, the other requires more skill to achieve a good result.
When you begin drawing unless you have been obsessed with the subject since you were in diapers (or nappies depending on where you are from), you will need a very clear reference photo because you need to see every detail clearly to get it right. You don't have the skills and knowledge to make it up. So both cats have green eyes. But in the first photo that is really all you can tell about the eyes, they are a shade of green, you can make out a little gold to one edge and some lighter creamy area to the other. If you draw exactly what you see it will look flat and boring. In the other photo you can see a thousand colours, little flecks of light and dark, you can see clouds and trees reflected in the highlights. Draw these eyes as you see them and you will have a stunning drawing.
Now look back at the first photo, one eye is very much in shadow, you can't really make out the pupil, in fact if you copy exactly like the photo little puss will look like he has one huge round pupil and one small oval pupil, and trust me, that will look very odd. Because here is something else worth remembering, what we accept in a photo and readily believe does not always look right in a drawing, even if we copy exactly from the photo. People will look at the drawing and think you can't draw. They will be asking,'why does that little cat have weird odd eyes?'!
Next take a look at the fur in the two photos. In the second photo you can see every strand of fur and the direction it grows in, in the first lots of sections are blurred and in soft focus. Now if you draw pets for a living these things probably won't matter too much, when you have drawn fifty cat faces you will know how the fur goes and you can probably make it up. But if you are just starting out you will make your life much, much harder if you try to use the first photo.
It took me a long time to realise that l needed to spend longer choosing my reference photos, that until you have a lot of experience of a subject you can only draw what you can see. Make sure that the photos you choose are really clear, that you can really see everything that you need to see. All the details, the colours, the shapes. Make sure that nothing in the photo might look odd in a drawing (like the eyes in the first photo). If you can't make something out, spend a little longer looking for another photo. You can always save that photo and come back and draw it when you have more skills.
I have wasted such a lot of time trying to draw things l can't really see or to correct a shape that looks odd when drawn and have not usually been at all happy with the results in the end. It is so discouraging to spend days working on a piece to be unhappy with it when it is finished. So do yourself a favour. Spend the time to look for a great photo. The more you can see the better your finished piece will be and the faster your skills will improve.
All good things come to those who wait. Tip number one for improving your drawing skills, is patience. It has to be right here, the first, number one! Especially so with colored pencils, but in truth with any drawing medium. The biggest thing that pulls down most artwork is not lack of skill, but lack of patience.
It's hard right? You have spent hours on the eyes or the petals or the nice little part that catches the light and now you have to draw the fur or the hair or the grass and you start with good intentions but it gets a bit tedious and then it gets a lot tedious and then .... well, you just want to get it finished and start the next piece. Stop. Right there. Notice that moment it starts to feel tedious. This is the moment that you choose whether you are going to draw the most amazing piece you have ever drawn or whether you are going to produce a pretty mediocre piece and tell yourself that you never get any better or that you are just not that good.
Patience is the difference between 'blurgh', 'okay' and 'wow!'. It doesn't matter how long you have spent on the amazing eye, the stunning petals or the glistening gem, if you have scribbled the fur, rushed the hair or sped through the background, that part you spent hours on will not look anywhere near so good. Imagine going to a Michelin starred restaurant and being served your meal on paper plates with cardboard cups and plastic knives and forks because they are trying to save on the washing up. That is what you do to your art when you rush.
l am not saying it is easy, patience is the hardest thing to learn, but learn it and you will also see some of your biggest improvement because it is patience that makes you keep going, adding another layer, another colour, refining a bit here, rechecking your reference photo etc. And if you ever hear yourself saying, 'that will do' that is a certain sign that it won't and that you can do better.
I know for certain that when l have finished a piece if l have rushed any part l will forever look at it and wish that l had spent just a bit longer working on it. I have never looked at a piece and wished that l had rushed a part. The extra time is always worth it. Take it. Be patient and see the difference right away. I promise you, the more patience that you learn the better your art will be!
Haaaaapppy Friday! I cannot believe it is Friday again already! Summer hit with a vengeance this week. It was 92f (30+c) in the shade at the weekend, so l waved goodbye to my ankles until October and said hello to sausage legs. I am always happy to get back into my art room where it is just a little bit cooler. And after concentrating on snake scales for a couple of weeks l decided a little vibrant color and an exercise in blending and shading would be good, so this little Rainbow Aura Crystal was just the thing.
There are lots of techniques for blending coloured pencils (see my tips page for some of them) but l wanted to use just the pencils themselves for this piece. Because the amazing thing about colored pencil is that if you just keep layering it magically blends itself. Really.
So, yes, l used every color in the photo. Even that horrible Prismacolor neon pink l never thought l would use. The great thing about those neons is that used under other pencils they add a really nice light effect.
Blending is one of those things that you don't think a lot about when you do it all the time, but if you are new to pencils the question is how do l get the pencil to look smooth?
Now the truth is that if you look this closely at almost anyone's work you will see the pencil strokes. Remember in real life people are not looking at your artwork from two inches away with a magnifying glass. So yes, up close and personal you will see pencil marks.
The first and most important thing to remember is not to put too much pressure on the pencil. You want to be able to layer color over color over color, almost endlessly. If you press too hard you damage the surface of the paper or fill in all the little dents (the tooth) so soon that it looks s difficult to add more layers.
Next work your lightest colours first. With each section l worked on this l began with the whites, creams and lemons, working up to the yellows, adding in pale pinks and light aquas. So work from light to dark generally. (There are times when you want to create shadows you might choose to lay a darker color down first).
A question l got asked this week was whether l worked in small circles or lines. I do both. And sometimes l work in horizontal lines and sometimes vertical and sometimes in curved lines. And l don't do this as the mood takes me. I do it for a reason. I always look at my reference photo very closely and then decide the best shapes to use for a particular area. For example on this piece the smooth square area on the left of the stone as you look at the screen had a very definite horizontal striation to the markings, so l used stokes that matched the markings of the stone. The rougher area on the right side l used little circles. If l am working an eye l will use lines that curve like the eye ball. If l work fur l will use lines that follow the direction and length of the fur. Even if these lines won't be visible by the end of the piece, coloring to match the section of the photo you are working on gives a better overall result and a more three dimensional effect.
Then just keep layering. If it doesn't look good add some more layers. If it still doesn't look good - add some more! Overlap colors, go back over with lighter colors. Eventually the magic happens and they blend themselves. It just takes a lot more layers than most people realise.
I will be back in my art room today avoiding the heat! I have a new piece started which l can't wait to get working on. Have a wonderful weekend.
lnteresting question don't you think? I was thinking about this all the time l was drawing this little kitten, because it just wasn't working for me. And l couldn't put my finger on it. Now l know that if you want to get complicated you can talk about color and composition and lighting and focal points etc, etc, etc. But l am not a complicated girl and l like things to be simple. All l knew was that every time l looked at this piece l felt unhappy with it.
l will let you into a little secret here. I do an hour of Pilates early most mornings and l always carry my current piece into the Pilates room to study it while l work out. I catch it from all different angles that way and see lots of things l hadn't noticed before. And l am that kind of girl....why do only one thing when you can use the time to do at least two! So l have been studying this piece and that question, what makes a picture good, kept going through my mind.
Well, the answer eventually dawned on me. It is like watching snow or rain. I don't know if you have ever tried to keep your eyes in one place while you are watching the snow fall, but however hard you try your eyes keep drifting to the ground with the snow. You can't help it. Look at this piece n progress and feel what your eyes do, then l will tell you what is wrong.
Have you been looking? Ok, l will explain. When a piece of art is working it is just like trying to watch snow, there is a focal point that you naturally look at, but you can't just keep looking at the focal point because even though you might want to keep looking your eyes take you round and round the whole piece, always coming back to the focal point, but not able to just stay there. Now look again at this piece in progress.
The eye movement is wrong. You keep switching from the eyes to the black hole, side to side, side to side. You can't help it. And that just doesn't feel right. The big black pupils are competing with the big black hole!
So there you have it, another one of my tips that you probably have to be me to understand! But l have learned something from this piece. I worked hard on it to try and stop that from happening. Here is the final piece. See what you think.
l still feel that the hole competes a bit, but it is improved by the paw drawing you out and around. So take your latest piece and set it down and look. If your eyes can't stay still in one place for more than a few seconds and are drawn round and round the piece it is working. If they stay still, or move from side to side or out off the paper something is not right. If you have any thoughts on this l would love to hear them. I am off to do Pilates and my latest piece will be going with me! I want to see what my eyes are doing!