Friday, 29 May 2015

learn: colour pencil and solvent with Diane McWhirter

I have only been drawing for just over 12 months and using Colour Pencils (CP) for about 6 months, so I’m no expert! But, I have picked up some tips and advice along the way, which I have developed into my own technique.  While I have written this specifically for beginners, I hope the following information is useful for those that are interested in exploring the use of Odourless Mineral Solvent (OMS) with CPs.

1. Colour Pencils

  • Derwent Coloursoft - Persian Grey, Orche Yello, Light Sand
  • Prismacolor - Red Tuscan, Indigo Blue, Dark Green, Sienna Brown, Dark Brown, Pumpkin Orange, Dark Umber, Apple Green, Canary Yellow, Grey Warm 30%, White and Black
2. Cotton Buds and Cotton Pads. (I use make-up remover rounds)
3. Tissues
4. Kneadable rubber
5. Soft Brush (I use a stencil brush)
6. Langridges Odourless Mineral Solvent (OMS)
7. Canson Watercolour (WC) 200gsm paper 11x14"
8. Reference Photo - Pixabay CCO

STEP 1: Lay the Undercoat 

Photo 1 - laying the undercoat

 Using Coloursoft Persian Grey on Canson WC paper I sketch out the drawing, marking out any significant shapes that may need highlighting or shadows. I try to erase anything that will not become blended into the drawing.  

Once I have my drawing ready to go, I start to lay down the colour that will be the undercoat. Some people like to use watercolour or ink, but I just use CP and set it by washing it with OMS. However, for very small areas, such as the stems, I don’t use a wash – it’s too hard! I just press firmly and lay down colour, later blending and burnishing with a lighter colour (as in Step 3).  I also do not do all the undercoat in one go, but rather break it up into sections so it doesn’t seem so overwhelming.    

Pears – Using Canary Yellow as a base coat, I shade in the pears, but NOT the stems, and then, using a cotton bud dipped in OMS, carefully wash over the colour using the cotton bud like a paintbrush – stroking out the colour until even. Don’t be afraid to be generous with the OMS. You will see the OMS wash changes the colour into a more ‘solid and intense’ state; but be careful - the colour will leach if you don’t control where you ‘paint’!

Stems – I lightly shaded with Dark Brown and Sienna Brown for the undercoat.  But, I don't do a wash as the area is too small and fiddly.

Background – I start to put down Black in areas and lightly wash with OMS for the undercoat. (I’m not too fussed about applying OMS if it is a small area)

You can see in Pictures 1 & 2 an idea of what my original ‘sketch’ starts off like; and you can see the Canary Yellow on the Pears before and after the application of OMS; and that the undercoat for the Stems and Background has been laid. You will also see, I am working in sections - finishing one section at a time. I found this pays dividends, because you can see the piece slowing developing and it stops you feeling like you have just a ‘big mess’ on your hands!

STEP 2: Layering & Washing the Colour

Photo 2 - Layering and washing the colour

After the undercoat, I usually colour the areas that are going to be ‘highlights’ in white, before I start to layer any other colours. (Now, not to confuse you, BUT when I need a really bright, crisp white to show through a dark colour I actually do this first, BEFORE the undercoat!) Once highlights are done, I am ready to start the layering process. This is a process that is quite time consuming as it may be repeated several times until I get the depth and richness of colour I want.

Pears – Using White, Apple Green, Light Sand, Yellow Ochre, Dark Green, Sienna Brown, Pumpkin Orange, I layer the key colours first (the Greens) and then add patches of other colours. I then dab a cotton bud in OMS and lightly ‘blend’ all the layered/patches of colour, blending LIGHT to DARK. You will need to change cotton buds several times in this process, as it will ‘pick up’ the colour.  (if you haven’t gone through a lot of cotton buds, then you are doing something wrong!) Also, at this stage, be careful not to turn it into a ‘muddy’ mess or strip out the colour.  If it does become muddy, don’t despair – just get a cotton bud soaked in OMS and DO strip it all out and start again!  

Once I have the main colours down and washed, I now focus on building up the layers for shadows using the same process. However, I always use darker tones and contrasting colours to achieve this, I never use black to create depth or shadows because it a ‘dead’ colour and very hard to blend!

Pears – Using Tuscan Red, Indigo Blue and Dark Green – I lightly layer combinations of contrasting and darker shades of the main colour colours (i.e. – Tuscan Red and Dark Green layered on Apple Green).  I blend together with an OMS wash to create shadow and depth. But, if you are having trouble doing this  - as it can be very tricky - use a little Persian Grey to help deepen and blend in your shadows. Be careful though once again not to ‘lift’ the colour with the OMS!

Stem – I add Dark Umber to develop the shadow.

Background - I layer Tuscan Red, Indigo Blue and Dark Green on the black base coat to get what will eventually be a deep black background. I usually only lightly do the background using one or two of these colours as a starting point to ensure it doesn’t get ‘smudged’ into the foreground. 
In Pictures 3 (and in 2 &3!) you can see how I have started to layer different colours on the Pears before an OMS wash. You will notice my shading is pretty terrible, but it doesn’t seem to affect the end result  - because as long as there is enough CP the OMS will smooth and even out the colours.  

STEP 3: Dry blending & Burnishing

Photo 3 - Dry blending and burnishing

Once I am happy with the depth and tones of colour, I start to add in the fine details and finish the background for the section I’m working on. I then burnish everything to get a nice smooth and shiny finish. When you burnish you are ‘pushing’ the colour into the paper and this ‘seals’ the colour, so once you do this it becomes harder – but, not impossible - to add more layers of colour. I will repeat this process for each section I’m doing. Once again, by doing it in sections I don’t feel too overwhelmed by the amount to be done. 

By this stage, I also am now using a Tissue under my hand to stop the work from smearing and brushing ‘crumbs’ away with a soft stencil brush!

Pears – I use Persian Grey Sienna Brown, Grey, Dark Umber to add features such as the ‘dots’ etc; and then apply more layers of Apple Green, Yellow Ochre and Light Sand in patches. I then very gently and lightly blend with a DRY soft cotton pad. I repeat this process until I am happy with the colouring. I then add highlights using White. Then using a firm pressure and with a very sharp pencil, I burnish the whole pear with Canary Yellow; and then reapply Apple Green. Lastly, I sharpen or blend the outline of the pear using a very sharp pencil in either Tuscan Red, Indigo Blue and/or Dark Green depending on the edge or shadow required.

Stem – I add highlights with White, and then burnish the browns, again using White.

Background- To create the illusion of ‘light’ shadows in the background, I ‘strip” out some of the colour using OMS.  I then burnish over background section with Black.

You can see in Picture 4 I have started to add fine details and stripped out the ‘light’ shadows.  I have also burnished two pears. And, you can see patches of colour on some other pears just waiting to be worked on! I think you can also finally see why working in sections helps. 

STEP 4: Touch up & Polish

Photo 4 - Touch up and polish

To complete my drawing, I take a scan of it and look at it on the computer screen to see if there are any  ‘bits’ which look odd or need touching up.  Once I am happy with any final adjustments.  Now, this may surprise you, but the very last thing I do is very gently rub the pears with a soft, dry Cotton Pad in a circular motion– this helps give the ‘wax’ a really nice shine. Yes, really!

Picture 5 – And here it is polished and finished!  

Photo 5 - FINISHED!

And, one last thing . . . just so you know, it took me about 6 hours to complete this drawing.

Diane McWhirter

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

sophie's picks - week 20: MELANCHOLY

Melancholy: a feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause. 

This week was quite a challenge for many people. The word depression comes to mind when I think of melancholy,a feeling that is habitual and prolonged. My heart goes out to all of you who suffer from this on a daily

The following pictures caused my emotions to be stirred. 

Nicky Johnston
Marily Valkijainen

Leonie Cheetham
Katie W Stewart
Katharine Harper
Jolanda Jarman
Paul Heppell
Joanne Stead

Peter Hinton
Ian McLean

Raffaella Picotti
Helena Fogelberg

Ramona Van Bakkum
Heidi Cooper

Richelle Sanders
Demelsa Haughton

Sally Fawcett
Damien Thomasz

Shani Nottingham
Belladonna Raudvee

Sophia Tsorbaris
Jess Racklyeft

Terry Lai
Aska Theillustrator

Toni Fanali
Annie Hamilton-Grundy

Alix Merope O'Hara
Vickie Stokes
Sarah Hart
Lesley McGee

Alison Smallwood

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

jess's picks - week 19: EAT

The eat theme was a visual smorgasbord of strawberries, cakes and treats. It brought out the talents of some of our more realistic illustrators as well as encouraging lots of play/experimentation from some of our other talented contributors. I hope you enjoy my picks which have left me HUNGRY!
- Jess.
Alina Alexandra

Alisha Jensen

Belladonna Rauvdee

Bronny Boniface

Cara King

Eduardo Martinez

Jason Philp

Joanne Stead

Leonie Cheetham

Leonie Cheetham

Lesley McGee

Marjory Gardner

Margaret Dewar

Melissa Tan

Nicky Johnston

Nicole Trapnell

Peter Hinton

Peter Papamanolis

Raffaella Pictotti

Ramona Van Bakkum

Rhylan (Vickie Stokes)

Richelle Sanders

Suzy Houghton

Tanja Hilgers

Tanya Beeson
Diane McWhirter

Heidi Cooper

Missy Messy Amy

Chris Kennet
Sarah Hart