Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Colored pencils: more amazing than you thought

Starting in January, I took a class called Colored Pencil Drawing. The best, most helpful thing I learned from this class was how to see color. Sounds simple, right? But even though I spent 4 years studying art in undergrad, I never really had color theory or learned how to actually observe and pick out colors from an object. It's all about seeing. Looking, observing, and really seeing.

We practiced by drawing fruit and eggs placed on colored paper:

egg studies
Eggs resting on different colored papers

eggs & lemon

See? Every little shadow and highlight is affected by the color of the object, the color of the base, the color of the paper, and your light source. There are so many subtleties to drawing that I had never learned before!

Lemon, done in colored pencil on tinted paper

Then we worked on line-making to create texture using colored pencils.

van gogh in colored pencil
Based on Van Gogh's Olive Trees - colored pencil on tinted paper

We learned that colored pencils can be combined with other media to create different effects. One popular method (especially among children's book illustrators) is to put down a base of watercolor to get the color started, and then go over the top with colored pencil to create more dimension, value, and texture.

lollipop guild
The Wizard of Oz's Lollipop Guild - watercolor, colored pencil, and ink

Another way to use colored pencils, to create a softer look, is to grind the pencil tip on sand paper - making a powder that you can then smear around on the paper. This works best with Col-Erase colored pencils. I didn't want to buy a set of these, so I used the instructor's supplies during class, and then finished up using chalk and watercolor.

koi and lotus
Koi fish and lotus (not sure of the original work's artist) - Col-Erase colored pencils, Prismacolor colored pencils, watercolor, chalk, and ink

We learned how to do water-soluble-material printmaking, too! This lotus drawing is actually water soluble colored pencils and pastels drawn on vellum, and then transferred to a wet piece of paper. It's printmaking - a monoprint. (If you like this lotus, you should check out these earrings, this shirt, this scarf, and this tank top!)

lotus print

For my final project (still in progress), I'm combining a variety of the techniques we learned to create some fun, colorful, textured drawings.

1 comment:

  1. Good work! I would like to see more of the steps involved in your colored pencil work, especially trees and landscapes.


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