Category Archives: A New Piece

Gathering (a rocky one)

Posted by Yelena Shabrova

Commission a similar drawing

This one started as an exercise after I haven’t done any pointillism in more than a year. In the process of getting the feel of the pen again I began to see a composition in the bunch of rock textures and from that point treated the small drawing more seriously.

The horses came into the picture last to make things more interesting. I thought of lighter-colored petroglyphs etched on a dark rock surface and decided to reverse colors. That seemed to work better with the rest of my rocks.

There is another Gathering piece in the making already. Turned out playing with rocks in black and white is just as exiting as doing it in color.

The original drawing ($80.00) and high quality 4″ x 6″ giclee prints are available in my Pen and Ink online gallery

Further experimenting with canvases

Posted by Yelena Shabrova

Looking back at all my attempts to make colored pencils play nice with the digital canvas, I have to admit that they certainly prefer a traditional linen one. So the blank digital canvases that I still have will be used for other media. For example, a graphite pencil:


Miniature – graphite pencil on canvas, 3.5″ x 2.5″

Things learned with this one:

– only soft graphite works, harder grades scrape the priming off the canvas without leaving noticeable marks
– for blending, small sponge makeup applicators and bristle brushes work best
– common erasers are of little help when you need a highlight or to scrape off a mistake, but kneaded eraser works wonderfully (I am using a Koh-i-Noor Hardtmuth eraser that comes with its own case and like it better than other brands I had before)
– an x-acto knife can be good for small bright highlights, but using it requires care because it easily gets deep into priming and scrapes it off
– areas treates with a x-acto knife are still good for blending tools, but pencil marks behave unpredictably, so better be avoided

My other canvas experiment that is yet to be finished is a mix of the black India ink and graphite. I am not sure how I like the result so far, but we’ll see.

Miniature on canvas with a boardwalk

Posted by Yelena Shabrova

Miniature - colored pencil on canvas, 3.5

This one was created with Derwent Coloursoft pencils, not my usual Prismacolor. The good thing is that these pencils are really, really soft and blend together easily. The bad thing is that in just a few layers it becomes impossible to add more color. The next stroke tries to lift off what’s already on the surface. This is not such a big deal with lighter colors, but getting good darks with Derwent on canvas (at least on a digital one that was used for this piece) turned into a challenge. The solution: use a softest graphite pencil you have. Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth 7B worked quite well for me.

New miniature on canvas

Posted by Yelena Shabrova

Miniature - colored pencil on canvas, 3.5
colored pencil on canvas, 3.5″ x 2.5″

Most of this one was done with an artificial light, and today I was going to put finishing touches on it while we were at the Pescadero Beach. But the sunlight showed me that more than just that was needed. Good thing that the weather was very warm and without strong winds, or the miniature would travel back home to be finished there. I must say though that colored pencils start to lay on the canvas in a funny way as humidity goes up. I think if I was working with water soluble ones, I would end up with a painting without adding water.

Getting a hang of it (digital canvas, that is)

Posted by Yelena Shabrova

Finally, a miniature on a digital canvas that was not a struggle:

Miniature - colored pencil on canvas, 3.5" x 2.5"

colored pencil on canvas, 3.5″ x 2.5″

I noticed that colors almost do not smear at all on this type of canvas and put dark branches first, then moved to the clouds. It worked – branches stayed dark, clouds stayed clean, no mess at all. And it probably helped that I used harder Derwent pencils for the branches and my usual Prismacolor ones for the rest.

A new miniature and a rather unpleasant discovery

Posted by Yelena Shabrova

Miniature - colored pencil on canvas, 3.5" x 2.5"

colored pencil on canvas, 3.5″ x 2.5″

That’s the pleasant part, always good to finish even a little piece. Now, the unpleasant one: this miniature, like the previous two, was done on a digital canvas, and apparently it has a shorter patience with multiple layers of color than a traditional canvas does. In the process of “thinking” about earth colors right on the canvas I found out that I better make up my mind quicker, or the color will start to chip off. It didn’t really come to chipping off, but from my previous experience with paper I know the feeling that the pencil gives you right before the surface gives up. That’s a little disappointing, or maybe it’s a good opportunity to learn how to be more decisive.

A miniature that traveled to Russia and back

Posted by Yelena Shabrova

That’s right, this little piece went with me over half of the globe and back. I had big drawing plans while visiting with my family and friends in Russia, and as it usually happens very little of it got accomplished. In fact, this is the only thing I managed to finish in 3 weeks, all done either in flight or in airports. Yay for working small.

Miniature - colored pencil on canvas, 3.5" x 2.5"

colored pencil on canvas, 3.5″ x 2.5″

A mini sunset and a new surface

Posted by Yelena Shabrova

colored pencil on canvas, 3.5" x 2.5'

As much as I enjoy the gessoed canvas, it has one serious problem when it comes to colored pencils: the unsupported area inside the mini stretcher bars. I found two workarounds: working with a very sharp point that does not require much pressure and keeping a finger against the back of the canvas when I need to burnish. Unfortunately, burnishing does not happen without pressure.

Slava suggested to try a digital canvas on a piece of wood. We had a few samples left from the time when he was in the process of finding the best canvas for his photography, and he stretched one for me. The sunset above is my first mini landscape on the new surface. Lessons learned:

– a digital canvas is finer and more dense
– it has more “tooth” (or what should it be called in this case?), and even a slightly dull point will leave white gaps on it
– it is not possible to correct small mistakes with a white pencil on a digital canvas
– all strokes, even those made with a dull point, look harsher on a digital canvas than on a traditional one

It feels like a good surface, I just need to adjust to it.

Fall colors – a new miniature

Posted by Yelena Shabrova

Fall colors are almost non-existent outside of urban areas here. The best we see when hiking is a few colorful trees or shrubs here and there. The rest is either brown or green that later turns bare. But there is a a nice aspen grove at the edge of the Stevens Creek Park, it actually turns golden in October. It’s a wonderful sight then – glowing trunks and branches against bright yellow foliage. The only thing that can make it better is a backdrop of either blue skies or water.

miniature - colored pencil on canvas, 3.5" x 2.5"

colored pencil on canvas, 3.5″ x 2.5″

I know that Sunol Park looks pretty impressive in fall too, but for one reason or another we keep missing its autumnal beauty every year.

Open Space

Posted by Yelena Shabrova

Sunshine, light clouds, and blue skies – everything our weather at the moment is not. I do not mind misty and rainy one single bit, but somehow it is not what I want to draw.

Open Space - pastel pencil, 5" x 7"

pastel pencil, 5″ x 7″

The original ($140.00), greeting cards, and prints are available in my Pastel Pencil online gallery. The original went to a new good home!