Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rtistx 280 Panel

I just finished a piece on another type of Rtistx panel - RTX 280 Portrait Smooth. I completed the piece shown here with 100% wax-based colored pencils, but I would like to try using neocolor water soluble pastel crayons on this surface as well. Like the RTX 300, this panel is thick and yet surprisingly lightweight. However, RTX 280 has a sanded surface more like Wallis pastel paper. I prefer this support to Wallis because the thickness of the panel prevents warping, and the sanded surface seems a bit finer.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

CPSA 16th Annual Exhibition

I am very pleased to announce that my piece, "Brass Ensemble", was juried into the Colored Pencil Society of America 16th Annual Exhibition. The photo shows the piece framed, matted and ready to be shipped to Seattle for the exhibition. Normally I choose wood frames, but I thought that gold was appropriate for this piece. To learn more about the Colored Pencil Society of America (CPSA), visit their homepage:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Subconscious Problem Solving

During my workday, when I’m not working on my art, answering e-mails, or doing other business related activities, I take some time off and pursue something completely unrelated to art, and I’ve found that this time has been most valuable to me as an artist. I think it has something to do with subconscious problem solving – my best ideas come to me when I’m letting my mind wander while running, playing the piano, or even working on a Rubik’s cube (yup – those are my hands in the piece above!)

Ever hear the phrase, “Work smarter, not harder”? I find that rather than agonizing for hours over how to handle a background, tweak the subject’s facial expression, or even promote my art, simply stepping away from the problem can help me to arrive at the solution much faster.

Can any readers relate to this? Do you “zone out” at work and find it helpful to your overall productivity? Post a comment and let me know!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Portrait on Rtistx Panel

I recently finished the 12”x9” portrait shown here on RTX 300 Colored Pencil Panel. This was my first time working on this surface, and I found several things that I like about it. Like Pastelbord, this acid-free panel is thick and durable, though lighter in weight. The tooth is finer than that of Pastelbord, but courser than the smooth Bristol board that I have used. I found this to be a nice compromise, as it is conducive to detail work, yet allows me to work quickly without streaking and also accepts several layers of colored pencil. Also, I was able to layer lights over darks, though to a slightly lesser degree than on Pastelbord. Overall, I am very excited about this new type of surface, and eager to try the other Rtistx products

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Different Techniques for Different Surfaces

Recently I’ve received questions about my technique with colored pencils on various surfaces, so I thought I’d touch on my experiences working on different papers and boards. When I first began using colored pencils, I purchased a set of 120 Prismacolor wax-based colored pencils, Canson Mi-Teintes pastel paper, and Strathmore medium drawing paper. Both of these papers have a texture that allows for many layers of colored pencil, as long as the color is applied lightly. I soon learned that I could let the texture show through in my drawings by keeping my pencil point somewhat blunt, and working with light to medium pressure, so that the pencil grazed over the bumps and only deposited pigment on the peaks of the textured paper. This can be a neat effect for rendering rough objects like rocks. However, this texture can be undesirable when drawing smooth skin or shiny objects. I learned that there are basically two methods for getting around this. The first method is sometimes referred to as “burnishing”, and entails applying the color using heavy pressure so as to flatten the texture, forcing pigment in the peaks and valleys of the paper. The result is that a lot of pigment gets deposited at once, and it can be difficult to layer any color on top. The other method is to use a very, very sharp point that can actually maneuver into the paper's peaks and valleys, thus depositing a more continuous line of pigment. This method also allows for layering, but it can be very time consuming.

Next I decided to try Strathmore Smooth Bristol Board, which is a heavy-weight paper with a smooth surface. What I like about this paper is that you can still use a blunt point to achieve a subtle texture, but it also allows for very detailed work. However, it’s easy for the colored pencil to look streaky on this type of smooth surface, so you must work very carefully and slowly in order to create smooth looking contours. Even though this paper takes fewer layers than a more toothy paper, I have found that you can apply several layers if you work with a light enough pressure. This is a time consuming process, but the end result can be well worth it as you can achieve very complex colors needed for skin tones.

Recently I have begun working with Ampersand Pastelbord, which is a clay-coated hardboard panel with a very grainy surface. I like to work on this museum-quality surface for many reasons, including how quickly the colored pencil pigment builds up to create vibrant color. In addition, I’ve found that it easier to avoid a streaky look due to the unique texture of the board’s surface. Probably my favorite thing about Pastelbord is that it accepts so many layers that even lighter colors can be relatively easily applied on top of medium to dark tones. The drawbacks I’ve found are that it chews up the colored pencil very quickly and can smudge if you are not careful. In addition, it can be more difficult to create fine details.

All in all, I think that each of these surfaces has their merit, and I will continue to use them for different projects. My most recent work shown above was done on Canson Mi-Teintes pastel paper. This piece can be seen in more detail here, where you can see how I used the texture of the paper to help in rendering the sand.