This is my first experience with Polychromos, and I probably would not splurge on them if lovely people from the Campbell Artists’ Guild haven’t sent me a very generous Blick gift card for looking after their website. It’s too early to see where these pencils stand in comparison to other brands I’ve tried.
Updated June 24th, 2019
Current state of things with the rose.
I like working with Polychromos so far except for one thing. There are tiny particles in some leads that make scratching sounds and make it feel like paper is being actually scratched. There are no scratches though, I’ve checked for that. I know it’s not the paper because I drew on this Canson Bristol before without this effect. So far it’s been more of an annoyance than anything else, and it’s not ok for $4+ pencils do that.
The rose is still unnamed. I thought I would come up with a title by now, but no. Not even anything to use as a starter.
This is take two. Take one happened two weeks ago and went so wrong that the piece could not be saved. I started with darker colors thinking I would lighten distant ridges later. But apparently at a certain number of layers pigment clings to the surface for dear life and refuses to be lifted with any kind of eraser. So I am going with a much lighter hand now, and it seems to be better that way. The surface is not as smooth as it looks. I am glad it’s mountains and not some young face.
Updated: May 17, 2018
I am working on this between other things, but here is what I’ve learned so far. Darks are more work on a gesso board than on paper. Even canvas is more agreeable. It’s not that the board doesn’t accept dark pigments. It does, but the wavy texture lines on it that go vaguely vertical keep some narrow areas persistently lighter than the rest and require ongoing touchups. But I like the sturdiness of a gesso board very much. I am starting to wonder if maybe graphite or charcoal would be easier, but that’s for the next test or two. Also need to look up other brands in case some have a really even texture.
Updated: July 23, 2018
What I thought would be a quick experiment turned into a long argument with the gesso surface. Mountains changed their look at least 4 times, and I am not touching them again. The future sunset sky is all mapped, and the gesso texture that gives me so many headaches is showing in its full glory right now.
Updated: September 29, 2018
Well… I am going to admit the defeat. This is not working. The texture of the surface is too weird for colored pencils, and I am tired of fighting it. It will not cooperate no matter what I do. Time to move on!
Finally mailed my postcard art to the Twitter Art Exhibit (TAE) today. I blame Creatacolor pencils for the delay. It was my first time trying oil-based colored pencils, and as a Prismacolor/Derwent girl I found their behavior way too different.
And this is how the whole piece looks. Layer one – an ink drawing on tracing paper. Layer two – a tissue paper collage with grated pastel. Layer three – a canvas.
I need to remember to never, ever use a gel pen of any sort on tracing paper except for small details. The gel stops flowing rather quickly, and after the first time it keeps happening more and more often. No amount of cleaning the ballpoint helps. My next white ink of choice is going to be Derwent Graphik Line Painter.
Updated: October 6th, 2017
Freshly mounted on the canvas.
Updated: September 28th, 2017
White gel is done too, I think. The bright orange paper will not be a part of the final piece, it’s just there to help me see what I am doing with white areas.
Updated: September 26th, 2017
Black ink all done.
I am starting on the first piece for the upcoming show at the Sherwood Center for the Arts, Four Eights.
Last year taught me that square canvases are not really all that square, so this time I am making each piece of tracing paper for an ink part to match its designated canvas. No more odd paper edges, or so I hope.
And another change I am making concerns the preliminary sketch for the ink drawing. It is now rough and loose, just a general idea of the composition. I used to make a precise sketch and then map it on the tracing paper with sparse ink marks, but it is quite time consuming, so this time I am doing the final ink drawing on top of the rough sketch using it as a general guide.
If the experiment goes well, I will try it on an animal portrait that would be more demanding than branches, leaves and flowers.
Decided to make progress with the horse first and with the window frame later. Both are going to differ a bit from my reference, and because the horse is more important I am going to figure out where his colors end before touching the window. I am now debating between natural wood and old paint that would compliment the horse.
Updated: April 26th, 2016
So it was a good idea to use graphite first, then continue with color on top of it. Maybe a softer grade like H6 would be more efficient, especially on a textured paper like this one. The disorganized colors that are already there are from different kinds of strokes I tried to see what works better.
Updated: December 10th, 2015
Back to the unfortunate horse who is now ready for color! I am done with the graphite underdrawing (if this is not a word it should be) and securing it with a workable fixative. Let’s see if that speeds up adding darks with colored pencils. Rainy shooting conditions made it look like there are at least two different tones of graphite, but in reality it’s the same tone.
Original post: Feb 21, 2015
I don’t think I have ever been this excited to see a rough drawing of a horse head finally appearing on a piece of paper as planned. There were at least two iterations that were not to my liking at all, but finally everything is where it should be, the sketch is transferred to the final watercolor paper (it’s a Strathmore one with nice slightly uneven surface), and I can move on to preliminary shading with graphite.
The horse is picking out of a barn door window, but it is barely visible right now. I need to decide whether to keep it white like in the reference photo or make it natural wood. The horse is going to be light chestnut with a lot of color nuances in the face, and even weathered white seems to be too stark next to all that, so most likely I will use some kind of amber or light wood for the window.
So most of my ideas are not suitable for small shapes and have to be put aside for now. I think there is a larger rocky piece in my feature; meanwhile this one continues to take shape.
Updated: October 2, 2014
I have more ideas for rock textures that are going to fit into this small piece, and not all of them are going to play nicely together. Decisions – they are very time consuming.
Original post: September 9, 2014
For the third piece in the “Gathering” series I decided to start with the horses instead of smaller rocks. Apparently it is easier to complete more critical parts of the drawing first than worry about ruining the entire thing if something in the horse does not look right. Who knew! So, outlines are done, one foal is completed but may need some touch-ups when I get to its rock, the other one is not giving me problems so far.
You can see the first two drawings in the series here and here.
And it’s done! I don’t think there is anything to add to it, but if I were to do this piece all over again I would approach it completely differently. It was a nice detour from fully realistic colors and a few purely technique-related things I usually use.
He looks more like a living creature now and almost ready for darks to be added. The white stripe will need some gentle work first.
Updated: April 21, 2014
Well, it’s been a while since I started this portrait, several different small projects got in the way, but finally I am back to the little foal.
In the end, he won’t be nearly as colorful as right now (or at least I hope for that), but it will be interesting to see what bright violet and yellows will be able to add to regular coat colors.
Original post: Jan 18, 2014
I think it’s been a terrible while since I drew a horse that fits on piece of paper bigger that 4″ x 6″. Time to change that, so here’s the beginning of a very young foal’s head. Because for some reason I chose rough Bienfang watercolor paper, it may take a while to build up colors in this one. And it’s not just rough, it’s somewhat slippery too. But we will see. So far it was mostly working on the background to get a better feel of the paper that is new to me before adding much detail to the foal.
One thing that I kind of miss from the times when kids were small is packing them into the car along with everything else and going places. About 10 years ago we did an especially long trip through Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and Wisconsin, and the fondest memory for me were incredible rock formations that we never saw before. This piece is about Utah. It is not any particular place there, just something that makes me think of it. I am going to plant something below the towering cliff; not sure what it is going to be yet, and that slope at the right decided to be steeper than I wanted, leaving too little space for a tree… We’ll see.
Update June 3, 2010
SVOS and preparations to it kept me busy through the most of April and May, but I am now back to a somewhat normal drawing schedule. “Memories of Utah” are moving forward finally. I started to define rock formations. They will probably change somewhat as I make more progress with the cliff. Good thing this is not a depiction of any actual place and I am free to experiment and reshape rocks as I see fit 🙂
Update September 5, 2010
Finished almost all dark areas which are the most time consuming. The rest should go easier, provided I won’t catch a rock-reshaping bug again. I really need to refrain from doing that before I ruin the piece.
December 20, 2010
Ok, it’s been a while since the last update, but the rocks are almost done now. All that’s left is the ground below and the furs. There are going to be furs growing behind the slope. Shaping them is going to be as much fun as building the rocks. No, seriously, I have tons of reference photos for both, and not a single one looks like what I want, so for the most part this piece is coming from imagination that suggests dozens of different versions for every detail. That probably explains why it takes forever to finish it.
January 10, 2011
And it’s finally done. A few things I learned while working on this one:
the same pitch black India ink will look paler if dispersed from a Rapidograph pen with a thicker point; size 7 produces the palest shade of black
just because the paper is called Bristol, it does not mean that it will take kindly to puddles of ink that a hick point produces; the one I used, Bienfang smooth surface drawing Bristol, buckled slightly its surface became sensitive to applying more ink when I wanted to make the areas of flat black darker
Rapidograph size 000 (0.25mm) is still my best friend, no matter the size of the artwork
I think that if I ever venture into the world of abstractions, and I really want to, rock formations are likely to be an intermediate step for me.
This one started out relatively smoothly until I realized that the background was anything but what I wanted it to be. Several attempts to solve the problem were unsuccessful, and for about a month I used every excuse to work on something else instead in hopes that the solution materializes in my head on its own. Before that happened, help came in the form of a demo by a very talented watercolorist, Terri Hill who gave a demo at FALC earlier this week. Just watching her do her magic got me out of the fog. The background is far from being finished, but at least we are moving again:
I am not sure how I ended up with the painterly background. It certainly was not a conscious decision, but I like the look:
Updated January 17, 2010
And I am going to call it done, nothing else to add to it: