This is me being obsessive about the art.
I mean. Really. Obsessive.
I haven’t left the house for two days, and while most of that time was spent asleep, a great portion of my waking time has been devoted to drawing and coloring. What wasn’t spent that way was spent: 1) reading (art books!), 2) eating, or 3) blogging. Not necessarily in that order. I need to work in a good self-care routine, eh.
Really. Need to work in a good self-care routine.
In any case, I’ve now added colors to the entire surface of the paper on which I drew Bamboo. It’s crazy. I need to upload some “before” and “after” pictures. It’s not perfect, but nothing is. And if I try to force perfection, let me remind myself, there’s a good chance I’ll end up migrating away from the art for seeing imperfections in existence, and I don’t want to do that.
When the sun is up in seven or so hours, it’s possible I’ll have good enough light to finish touching-up colors and then photograph my piece.
There are a couple of things which came up that I feel the need to note for the reference of future-me.
- Cleaning up the surface of the paper prior to adding very light colors.
This one I didn’t expect. I didn’t wholly work light-to-dark, though that is eventually roughly what happened. In consequence, though — I had a dark blue pencil which was more powdery than either the Faber-Castells or the Prismacolors, which — along with some of the other blues and violets — smudged onto my hand, arm, sleeve, and paper. I used a throwaway test paper under my arm for most of this, but there were times when I just didn’t care enough…I’ve read in a published source — not to say that published sources are always correct, but I’m hoping there are fact-checkers at the publishing house — not to worry about toxins from colored pencils. But then, I’ve been using these for years, and have never had skin irritation. The book I read said that the pigments were encased in gum before the oil or wax carrier is added, so while I really should have, say, taken off my sleeve before eating…yeah, that was bad. 🙂 But for the future, I’m thinking it’s safe until something that can dissolve the gum (like stomach acid) is encountered.
Anyhow, I was brightening yellow highlights toward the end of working, and realized that it would have been a good idea to just briefly clean up the highlights with my eraser prior to putting any color down, at all. That didn’t happen, largely because I didn’t want to risk disturbing the surrounding color. While it may actually impact color unity positively to have smudging everywhere, I’d like the Spanish Orange to actually look like Spanish Orange, not a muted Spanish Orange.
- What seemed like it was dark or finished at the beginning of the composition turned out to be a mid-tone.
This gets into the entire thing with the Wine Red pencil I was using, which I hope I’ll remember enough about — but I did some detail work after thinking I’d finished the background. The detail work was much more saturated and intense than the light hand and multiple layers I’d used over the background, and so I was concerned…for a while. Until, that is, I started drawing more details and just lightening my hand a tiny bit, and saw things starting to come together once other intense elements appeared.
- I took a risk in using the Wine Red pencil, but it worked out really nicely.
The Wine Red — I think the alternate name was “Bordeaux”, not “Burgundy” — initially didn’t match anything in the composition, but I wanted a purple or violet pencil which could look organic. I’ve seen plant stems in that shade before, plus it was a warm purple as versus cool violet. I didn’t want things looking synthetic and unnatural, so that’s the color I ended up choosing.
I did find that Wine Red plus Delft Blue (cool-violet leaning, as I said in an earlier post) — I think both of these are Faber-Castell Polychromos — can make a really nice midrange violet. On top of that, it likely has more permanence than many of the violet-range colored pencils I’ve seen (according to permanence ratings)…
Anyway, I was concerned that the color wouldn’t harmonize with the rest (particularly with the Chartreuse), but I used it and layered other colors over it — notably Delft Blue. In other words, I used it at first as part of a mixture of colors, which tempered its addition a good deal, and I was then able to use pure Bordeaux in other highlights, as I’d already established that tone in the composition.
- Color choices intensely affect the end feeling of the piece.
This should be self-evident, but it was still a surprise when I added the Wine Red and the entire piece shifted its feel. It had been a primarily green and aqua/blue composition, and the addition of a red/violet really changed the feeling of things. I should also note that I did not use a color wheel for this…though I don’t know if it would have helped, even if I had. More valuable was intermixing hues in order to bring some baseline commonality to the palette, and avoiding introducing, say, a cool-violet-leaning blue (Dark Cobalt) which I added and then had to erase out because it clashed with the rest of the piece. This includes the Helio Turquoise (dark, muted green-blue) I used in the center.
- A good eraser will lift at least the upper layers of colored pencil, but not necessarily the lower ones.
I think the eraser I used was a General’s Tri-Tip. The paper was some kind of sketch paper (probably Canson’s) from the early 2000’s. What I found with this combination and colored pencil selection is that I could easily erase the top layers of something when I added a dissonant color and had an “oops” moment, but the first color laid down may not erase entirely. I’m not sure, because I didn’t try…but I’m thankful that it did work to my purposes. After erasing the upper layers, too, it was easy to go back in and add back any lost layers of base color that I wanted preserved. It didn’t look weird and smudgy, which is what I was scared would happen.
- Unexpected color transitions can still work.
I’m talking about violet to Dark Blue to Light Blue to Aqua to some form of yellow to Spanish Orange. I did many trials before I settled on this being not-muddy enough and contrasting enough to use.
I think I’m done. Normally, I’d only post something I didn’t care about to this blog, but this one…I’m kind of proud of. I think it’s a personal thing that I make beautiful objects and then don’t want to let others see them. I’ll sleep on it.