Saturday, June 23, 2018

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Colored Pencil

Above is the finished version of my latest colored pencil drawing in my 6 x 6 inch series, an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. The drawing is from a reference photo I made several years ago. The background was abstracted and modified from the original reference. Actually I think that if I had done this drawing more recently it would have been a bit more simplified but it had already been inked when I started adding color recently.

Swallowtails are the oldest species of butterfly, they also tend to be the largest and the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is often the largest in the group. So this was a large butterfly.

I have only one in-process image for this work. Above is a scan where all of the first layer of color was applied and I had started adding the final layers of the background green. I use Faber Castel Polychromos for the top layers while the base layer are done with Derwent wax pencils. The base layer is not much more than a light layer of a light color. Keeping it light allows me more latitude with the top layers.

The Butterfly is the last of the drawings I had inked a couple of years ago when I got distracted and put the project aside and focused on photographs. I am now working on a couple of different subjects/images for the next drawings in the series.

These next three drawings are something a bit different for me. for some reason I was never interested in doing colored pencil portraits. But earlier this June I purchased a set of Prismacolor Premiere pencils, they are a creamy wax based pencil and I thought why not test drive them with some portraits. So far I have finished 3 drawings. All reference images are from the Wetcanvas photo library. As a member of the site I am free to use them.

There are some inaccuracies in the drawings, it has been over a year since I did a lot of serious drawing so my skills are rusty, but I will say that I am relatively pleased with the results. For the most part everyone at least looks human.

I am starting all of these drawings with a light pencil sketch to locate eyes, shape of head, end of nose and mouth. Next I use a kneaded eraser to remove/lighten the pencil lines until they are barely visible.  Once the graphite lines are mostly gone I start with the colored pencils working first with light colors and then adding shading and darker tones. 

I started with the woman above. The light brown skin was fun to do.

The boy above was my second portrait attempt. Not sure how I like this one. His darker skin tones were a challenge and I am not sure I used the right colors for it. I used pinks and reds though I wonder if some orange and violets wouldn't have been better. Ah well will have to work on that. Also teeth can be very tricky, The ear leaves a lot to be desired but I was getting tired of working on this so left it generalized rather than detailed.

I do have to say t hat the hair was fun, I used, I think, at least 3 different colored pencils on it, starting with a light warm grey, adding some dark brown and also black.

This little boy is the last one I have finished, and I have to say this is the one that I am happiest with. I think I got the skin tones mostly right, and the shape of the head and features. I probably should have shaded the right side of his face a bit more, but I didn't want to push it too dark, which is an easy mistake to make with any drawing (the mistake is staying too light) After doing the darker skinned boy it was a challenge to find the right colors for this very light skinned child. But at least he looks like a child, so easy to get children's faces wrong.

Now the challenge is going to be finding more subjects. I am beginning to understand why colored pencil artists like to do portraits, often on commission. It can be a challenge to find copyright free images to draw. I don't usually photograph people so I don't have many personal reference photos to use.

All of these portraits were done in my small Strathmore sketchbook 5.5 x 8.5 inches. Not the best paper for colored pencil work but not the worst either.

Now for a couple of photographs.

Gladiolas, not the most common garden flower now a days, the stalks are a bit fragile, but they do have beautiful flowers. Photographed in a neighborhood garden, I saw only the one plant in bloom, but aren't they beautiful flowers.

I am not seeing a lot of butterflies this year, well lots of cabbage whites, but not being able to drive limits my viewing opportunities. I believe the above is a European Skipper, not native but I am happy to photograph any butterfly this year. Not sure what the flower it is feeding on is, I think some kind of escaped garden flower.

That is it for today. I need to go work on my drawings for my series. In the meantime comments are welcome.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Grey Squirrel in Colored Pencil

The grey squirrel is done. Yeah, it took what seemed like forever to finish. Of course it didn't take that long, but I think this squirrel is the drawing I have spent the most time on in this series. The ducklings also took a long time, but the issue with them was the feathers and then the rocks. Again this one was started years ago and then put aside. I got a bit nervous about my abilities to render it so ended up putting it away while I worked on others. Finally I pushed myself to just get back to it and get it done.

It is the same size as the others, 6 x 6 inches on Stonehenge paper. I think the tree trunk took the most time to finish and I admit that it gave me the most anxiety. I worried that it wouldn't look like a tree trunk when done. Now that it is done I am relatively pleased with how this came out.

Again not photo realistic, but then I wasn't aiming for that. I did simplify the background behind the squirrel, in the photo there were more tree branches. I didn't want to draw attention away from the squirrel so left them out. 

It was a cold cloudless February day when I made this photo in Boston, MA. There was a couple of feet of snow on the ground so some of the light is reflected. The squirrel was looking for a handout, which I wasn't able to give as I had no food with me but it was a fairly close encounter.

The Wood Lily above is one of my next projects. For this one I had an almost finished drawing that needed to be transferred to the correct paper, and outlined in ink. I have all of the first layers of color applied. In fact the background is almost done. Again I used a red wax based pencil (Derwent) covered with a green wax based pencil and then a final layer of a Polychromos dark green. There are some areas that need a touch up and a bit more work but the background is mostly finished.

Wood Lilies are a native New England wildflower, found in open meadows, it is a lovely reddish  colored flower. Each plant usually has a single bloom. I photographed this one in the Power Line cut at Ames Nowell State Park in a nearby town.

I have just about run out of prepped drawings for the next in the series. I want to do at least 13/14 drawings so I can put a calendar together.

I love birds, though I admit to being a bit leery about using one of them for these drawings, color patterns on feathers can be very complex. Flowers are usually so much easier.  Still I want a variety of subjects so I expect that I will use the above bird as one of my drawings.

The bird is a Cat Bird. They are mostly grey so I won't have much of an issue with color patterns, except for the black cap that is. It is still just in the pencil stage, I need to check it for correctness but I think it is about good to go.

I am also trying to get back to some sketching with pen (no pencil) I have been away from it for so long that I am fairly sure my efforts are going to be pretty bad. But they won't get better unless I bite the bullet and just do it. The flowers above are Spiderwort an early June garden flower that has escaped to the woods. Drawn in a sketchbook with just pen. Not terrible, but not very good either. I will keep at it.

Early June is also the time when the peonies are in bloom. These two photos were made in my local neighborhood and show the varieties of peony's that can now be found in the garden. When I was young we had Peony's in our yard, all white ones that had a large multi petal bloom. I remember that at the time there was also a deep red color, but I don't recall pink of the above flowers or the brighter red in the flower below.

I love the smell of Peonies, but I don't love the ants that love the sweet sap the plant produces and seem to accompany all flowers. A problem if you wanted to bring some of the flowers inside.

Hope you enjoy these two photos. That is it for today. I need to motivate myself and get another of the colored pencil drawings finished. Per usual comments are welcome. .

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Lilies, Colored Pencil

I have finished a couple more pieces of my Colored Pencil project these past few days. I will post one of them today and the 2nd in my next update. Above are lilies with some other pink garden flower. This is from a reference photograph I made a couple of years ago and fell in love with because of the colors. I simplified the background a great deal so as to keep the final drawing not too busy.

I am rather pleased with how this one came out. Not photo realistic, but that is OK with me, that wasn't what I was going for with this one. Drawn on Stonehenge paper, size is 6 x 6 inches for the finished drawing.

The above image is a photograph not a scan, I did a scan but wasn't happy with the resulting quality of the image, I think the colors are more accurate with the photo

I have two more in-process scans of the Day Lilies so you can see a bit how I work. Above is an in-process scan of my working on the dark green background for the lilies. First I lay down a light covering of a red wax based pencil, then I go over the red with a green wax based pencil (Derwent Studio). The brighter green to the right side is the final layer of a Dark Green Polychromos color. All final layers are Faber Castell Polychromos pencils for this work. The red background will give me a darker green than I would get if I just used green pencils.

Prior to starting with any of the colored pencils I do an ink outline drawing of the final image, this gives me guidelines for where the colors go. Sort of like an adult coloring book, but the drawings are my work based on personal reference photographs.

The above scan shows the drawing with the final layer of dark green Polychromos background and all other sections with their under layer of Derwent's wax pencils. I choose light colors for the flowers/leaves so that I can leave light areas when I do the final layers. Color pencil like watercolor doesn't really allow light colors to show up if they are applied over dark, so light areas have to be left light from the beginning.

I have been so busy with the colored pencil drawings that I am not getting much done watercolor wise. The above painting of some fall leaves was actually started a couple years ago and just finished this week. I was experimenting with a substance that covers the paper and protects it from the paint leaving white areas. Once the substance dries (it is a rubber like liquid) the background is painted, when the paint dries the resist is removed leaving the white paper ready for painting. Hmm well that is the theory, I found that there seemed to be a bit of a residue on the paper so some areas didn't like taking my paint.

Anyway while I am not unhappy with this painting, I am not very happy with the process, so I don't think I will be incorporating that technique into much of my watercolor art.

On a trip into Boston last week I walk through the Fenway past the World War II Memorial seen in the above photograph. I know there are also markers for the Korea War and other later wars in this area. Since Memorial day was Monday this week I thought it would be an appropriate image. I made the photograph more because the the blooming Azaleas but that is just an aside.

I also visited the Fenway Rose Garden, it is too early for much to be in boom but I did find this yellow/pink rose on one of the bushes. Have to go back a bit later in June when most of the bushes should be blooming.  My Father loved roses, and since a rose is usually the flower for June (my birth month) I am also very fond of them.

That is it for today. Per usual comments are welcome.