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.