Friday, March 1, 2013

To see the world in color

I used to work only in color, except when sketching.  I made my whole senior thesis project in colored pencil and loved experimenting with those luscious hues, mapping out images around the colors I could use.  But I could never find a paper that wouldn't buckle under the weight of the layers of wax I applied to the paper. I would make the paper truly work for it, and it really could not handle it.  The result was rippling over time that would cause an unsightly sheen on the paper when I scanned it.

I remember speaking to a professional colored pencil artist who had written a book on the subject. She told me that if the paper rippled, I was drawing incorrectly.  ???  Why not simply suggest my paper was too lightweight?  Though it had the proper tooth, at 80lbs, it was simply too light.

So I turned to black and white. And then, I fell in love with it. I loved its rich chiaroscuro. The tricks I could play with the pencil tickled me endlessly.  But after an entire black and white portfolio and two years without color, I need to get back to color, for my own good and for my professional good.

I am not a great painter. I paint with difficulty and without pleasure. I have endless patience for rendering with pencils but very little for letting paint dry. And I do not like the lack of control I have with it. My goal is to become friendly with watercolor this year, but for now, well, I chickened out again.

But in preparation for watercolor I purchased some Arches Hot Press paper, having been told that I could layer pencil on top of its smooth surface after watercolor had been applied.  In a happy accident I found that it accepted layers upon layers of colored pencil (I use Prismacolor) like a dream.  And I was amazed to find that the paper was so heavy (150 lb) that it would also accept pencil on top of that...and not just pencil, but any type of pencil I threw at it, from 4H to 6B.  Better still, the heavy paper felt like velvet to draw on and did not ripple at all.  After all of these years, I found my answer to colored pencil.

In this color experiment, I have used color but not blacks (except for grey pencils in the wolf).  All of alteration of the tone was done with pencils.  How close in color this is to the original, or how it will show up on other monitors, I can't say.  It looks pretty close on my monitor.

"Red and the Wolf" Prismacolor and pencil. Copyright 2013 Jessica Boehman

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