Exploring techniques: Altering the surface

Recently, I have come across a very useful resource for coloured pencils.  I spent a recent Sunday morning exploring some of the techniques described on this site.  This is the outcome: 






The most useful things that I learned from this website / exercise, and which I will explore in future work are listed below.  Some of these I had come across before elsewhere and perhaps now this will spur me on to use them… 

  • A white wax-based pencil, alone or in conjunction with a blender, will produce a useful resist for other colour.  This is particularly useful for water-soluble media and could be used for e.g. drawing clouds.  Further wax colour could be introduced to darken the base and develop the volume of the clouds.  This technique could also be used for more complex structures such as trees, and could be used to develop a resist “lattice” of branches, leading to abstraction, perhaps. This was explored on the first page, above.
  • Indents made with a stylus or scratching through colour layers with a scalpel are techniques that I began to look at during the mark-making exercise near the beginning of the course, but which I have not yet used for coursework.  
  • I used a nail polish corrector pen to blend wax pencils.  There is a citrus-based solvent called Zest-It which is safer for frequent use.  Also, application with a cloth or sponge would make it possible to blend larger areas.
  • White tack is effective in lifting colour although I didn’t notice a significant difference between white tack and a putty eraser. 
  • Pencil shavings dropped onto wet paper and then flicked with a fan brush can create effective grasses if used judiciously.
  • Make a “palette” with a coloured pencil applied to a scrap of paper until some depth of colour is achieved.  Use this to build up very soft backgrounds by picking colour up from the palette using e.g. cotton wool.   This is illustrated at the top of the second page.  It is difficult / takes time to build up any depth of colour but it is excellent for a subtle effect and produces good blending of the surface.  Several different colours could be applied and blended in this way. 
  • As backgrounds are a current challenge, I particularly liked the description of a technique that has been used by the artist Brandy Perez.  She has created backgrounds by drawing patterns which she then progressively obliterates.  This may sound like a lot of unnecessary work but the end result is subtle, with a fluid background of pigment that brings light into the drawing or painting while simultaneously remaining in the background; it complements and does not distract from the main focus.  The pattern is hinted at but, paradoxically, it is the act of obliteration, the blending of pattern with its negative space that creates the light.  I have tried this out on a small scale on the last sketchbook page, above. 
Source: All exercises in this post were the result of ideas borrowed from Peter Weatherill’s site ‘Coloured Pencil Topics: Information, Choices, Techniques and Advice on all Things Coloured Pencil” which is highly recommended and can be found at http://www.penciltopics.co.uk/   There is much more to explore there…












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