Happy Tuesday. The sun is shining. My garden is blooming. I have lots of beautiful broad beans (fava beans) on my plants and they will soon be ready to harvest. The yard is full of birds and spring is here. I love this time of the year. I am very tempted to take my easel outside to work. The air smells so good. One thing l wish l could grow here is strawberries. I am really not keen on shop bought strawberries, but a strawberry picked straight from the plant, warm from the sun is a little taste of heaven.
And l am still trying to draw a really good strawberry. They are surprisingly difficult little things to draw well. My last attempts had really been too small, so this time l decided to work a lot bigger. This makes the detail much easier to draw.
l had a new pad of my favourite Fabriano Artistico paper and off l went. But it was so difficult because l was having a problem l have never had before. My pencils (even my trusty Polychromos) were balling up in little clumps and just not sticking to the paper. It was as if l was trying to work on wax. Being me, and especially as l seem to be hitting problem after problem in my work at the minute, l thought it must be something that l was doing wrong. Was l pressing too hard? Was l layering my pencils wrong? I got so frustrated with this piece, it nearly went behind the cupboard of no return half a dozen times.
Now l confess l was nearly finished with this piece when l had the sense to say to myself that l had been using colored pencils for quite a while now and had never had this problem. So l decided to try the leaves using just my Polychromos as l know for certain there will never e any build up with those, but even the first light layers just didn't want to stick. Finally it occurred to me to wonder about the paper, certainly it is my favourite paper, but it was also a brand new pad. Perhaps it was not me. I had the idea of ringing the distributor to see if they had, had any problems reported from a batch.
l really want to tell you about this because l was so impressed with the Fabriano Artistico distributor. He said they had not had any reports of issues and was generally helpful, as l was about to go he asked me to hold a minute and said he would go and speak to the 'in house artist'. He came back and said the suggestion was to use a damp cloth to take off a little of the size on the paper. Which l did on my next piece.....and no more problems. I would never have thought of doing this myself. So l learned a useful tip for future reference, but l also learned something else, sometimes we should not be as quick to assume we are at fault. A little logical thinking about this earlier in the piece would have saved me a lot of frustration and l would probably have ended up with a better drawing too. So if you hit a problem with your work, take a few minutes out, make yourself a cup of coffee and think it through, there may be a very simple solution.
Happy Sunday everyone. I am still in experimental mood and l thought l would like to share one of my recent experiments. I am really keen to try and get more vibrancy into my work. I have seen a few other coloured pencil artists use marker pens as a first layer. Usually done with the aim of saving time, but l was just curious to see what would happen.
So l shopped around, read a lot of reviews and finally decided to invest in a few Copic markers (l will do a page on those at some point). Okay, it was really scary laying down the first marker! I doubt l could properly remove any mistakes, l wasn't at all sure that l could cover it with coloured pencil ..... and wooa! How ugly it looked! See the first picture below.
Well, it was really interesting at this point. I found that my colored pencils layered very easily over the top. I could indeed achieve more vibrancy. To get the feathers to the color seen in the photo above would take a lot of layers with colored pencil and so fill the tooth of the paper quite a lot before l could add more color. Here l am starting from a good base color with no tooth filled, which meant lots more additional colors could be added on top. I was really happy with how much more l could make the work pop.
I didn't find that it made it any quicker for me (but truthfully l never think about saving time, l want to create the best art that l can and that takes however long that it takes). I think it could be a time saver if you wanted it to be. I just loved being able to work so many additional colors on top. When l was finished there was no original marker visible anywhere, it was all completely covered and the same beautiful, burnished finish was there. So this was a successful experiment and l will be doing this again in the future, particularly if l need to cover a large area with bold color.
l will be back with more experiments next time, l am in that kind of mood! Have a wonderful week.