Skill Reboot: The Coloured Pencils

So it’s closer to the end of May and I have been home for 4 weeks, when I started drafting this blog (now been home 5 weeks). Pottering about the house and the garden, it didn’t take long before this started to become a never ending task in itself. I have been missing my friends and car shows, as the season would be up and running by now.

Some good things that has came out of lockdown is that I have had time to actually think. Which in turn has meant that I have started to blog and use my social media more effectively. Apparently you have to post regularly on multiple channels to get more interaction, who would have thought?!

In boredom I was mindlessly clicking through YouTube videos, when I started watching a coloured pencils tutorial. It was interesting and I learned some new things. It got me curious to pick up my own pencils and try using them again. Now, the last time I actually tried using this media was around a year ago, when I broke out the set of Caran d’Ache Pablo pencils and used them for the first time. I bought myself the set when I went to uni with the intention on doing more pencil work. However, they sat unused for the duration of my time studying as I was too scared to waste them. I produced a rainbow rose that was ok but nothing that I have never been proud to show off.

I can’t find the completed original, so here is a photo I found on my old phone – please excuse the terrible quality. Caran d’Ache Pablo’s on textured paper, the blending is far nicer than what I can remember!

Back when I was at school, I used to use Caran d’Ache pencils on black paper. I enjoyed working with them, but smooth blending was one of my downfalls. I remember wanting to do my final Higher A3 composition in pencil, but was advised against it due to the time frame.

Previous to the rainbow rose, when I was doing my HNC, I bought myself a pack of 12 Derwent Artists coloured pencils. This was a completely scratchy disaster, a car piece done directly in my sketchbook. There was no escape from that mess and it really put me off using that form of media.

My coloured pencil attempt from 2014 and the reason why I didn’t go back to them until now.

So I have taken myself right back to basics with my set of 12 Derwent coloured pencils. I’m going to try and find a way to make them work for me. Though if they don’t I will accept that they may not be for me and move on. After all I know that in the past I have loved the Caran d’Ache pencils and maybe I should just dive into the deep end. I spent 2 hours creating colour swatches of all 12 pencils from the Derwent set. It didn’t need to take that long, however I really wanted to use the task as a way to practice getting a smooth gradient. I used a piece of Bristol board, which is a very smooth but fairly heavy weighted paper.

Next I decided to do a study of an iris, from one of the photos I had recently taken. I spent over an hour on something just larger than a postage stamp and felt like giving up. So I stopped that and moved on. I found my recycled brown paper (it’s about the same thickness as general printer paper and has a bit more tooth – rougher than the board I had been working on) and decided to try something a little more simple. I say simple but with a limited colour range (and no white so had to get creative) it made it a little more interesting.

Here’s the result, a little study of one of my succulents, an echeveria PVN, with the small iris study in the top corner. It took longer than expected but it has been done over several hours here and there due to being busy with house stuff. It’s nothing spectacular and I’m not going to be rolling in coloured pencil commissions. However, it is a start and I finally don’t hate 4 of the 12 pencils from that set. and getting creative with needing to leave the paper showing through for where a white would have been useful. I’m now thinking of doing the same subject but with the larger pencil set to do a comparison.

Can’t wait to get over the fear of wasting these.

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