Today l wanted to share this photo with you. This is a sleepy little chipmunk that l drew in 2016. I was looking through some older work the other week and l pulled out this piece and looked at it. What l realized was - it wasn’t bad but it could look much better.
I wanted to share it because l often get asked by people what they can do to improve their art. And often when l see their work this is pretty much what l see. Something like my 2016 piece. There is nothing really wrong with it. The drawing is accurate. The colors are accurate. The fur is the right length and direction. The composition is nice. It just doesn’t pop off the paper. The good news is that this is such an easy problem to correct.
So l looked at my piece from 2016. I decided not to redraw it, but to spend more time working on the 2016 piece. I realized that with a few more layers, a lot more contrast and the edges sharpened it would look so much better. And this is really fun to do. The hard part and the boring underlayers are already done. All l had to do was tweak! I added more (and stronger) color to the fur. I sharpened and refined all the edges and then l really ramped up the contrast. I hope you can see from these two pieces just how important contrast is to make a piece 3d and for it to pop off the page. It has taken me a long time to learn to be bold with contrast. But l am learning that it is almost impossible to overdo contrast. So if you aren’t loving a piece you are working on, don’t bin it! Take an hour or two to punch up the color, sharpen the edges and whack up the contrast, you will be amazed at the difference!
l promised to review these Arteza marker pens. I was really excited to try them and thought this peacock would be a really good way to see how they perform.
l have the box of 48 colors. I have to say l thought there was a really good selection of colors, but l never talk too much about color selection when reviewing products because the colors you want and use are unique to each individual. I find it irritating when reviews say there aren’t enough greens or greys or a perfect red. It depends what you draw! I would say with any set of art materials - pencils, paint, markers, look at the set and decide if it has the colors YOU want.
The packaging for these pens say that they have excellent lightfast properties, but l could find nothing to say they have been lightfast tested and no ratings on them. Personally l would really like to be sure of their lightfastness as l don’t feel l can sell art made with these pens unless l am. But to put that in perspective l recently discovered that my expensive Copic markers are not lightfast either. In fact l have spent a little time looking and can not find hardly any lightfast pens on the market. So this is certainly something to think about if you are concerned about the life of your artwork or want to sell.
The pens have a brush tip and for once the brush tip really feels like a brush, with the flexibility of a brush. Annoyingly each one l used had an odd stray hair preventing a perfect stroke, although I am sure it could be trimmed or pulled out. So l don’t know if l was unlucky or if that is an issue.
Now what l really, really love about these markers is that they are water based. I used the Arteza water brush pen to blend (l absolutely love that pen - and it has no annoying stray hairs either!). It is really, really easy to blend out the color and control the strength. Just like watercolor paint. It is also really easy to blend one color into another. The water base gives you a much longer time to work the color than alcohol or ink based markers which l really loved because l am not used to using markers and don’t feel confident in my ability to blend fast enough and skillfully enough yet.
Once it was dry l worked over with colored pencil and here for me was another huge plus. You can work light color pencils over a dark base so well. I had no trouble getting my light blues and whites to show over the bright blue base l put down.
The pigments are really vibrant. My only issue with these pens (and this is my issue with nearly all pens on the market) is that l can’t see how much ink is left in the barrel. I always worry that l will run out midway through a piece. I wish they would at least make a clear window in the barrel so you can see how much is left.
The pens are not available open stock so you do need to replace a full set when you run out of one color, but they are also much, much more affordable than brands like Copic or Faber Castell Pitt pens so whilst it is something to consider l don’t think it should be a deal breaker.
If they were lightfast tested and rated l would use these a lot. But l think just about any artist would have fun with these pens.
For more pencil reviews click the link below.
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