Saturday, June 5, 2010

Artist's Tools

About 12 years ago I saw some colored pencil drawings in my local art store done by Gary Greene. They were fabulous and I was quite taken by them.  I couldn't believe work of such quality could be achieved with tools I considered to be kid stuff.  I checked out some books about drawing with colored pencil and gave it a try. A few years later I attended a workshop with Ann Kullberg, who does wonderful portraits. I was hooked. I love drawing with colored pencils.

Here's what I like about them.  They are extremely portable - you can take them anywhere.  They're inexpensive - around a dollar a piece. You don't have to wait for anything to dry and it's odor free, no harmless chemicals. With colored pencil you can do some very nice detail work and I find it an interesting challenge to figure out what colors I need to layer on to create the depth or color I want to achieve in my work. I like detail and working small so this medium suits me well.

For me there are some drawbacks to colored pencil. It took me awhile to get used to the jarring sound of an electric pencil sharpener.  It is time consuming to do all the layering with fine tipped pencils, and sometimes I feel that I am not getting the intensity of color some artwork seems to need.  When I am deciding what I want to draw or paint, the subject, or what look I want to achieve often determines what medium I will use. So I don't use colored pencil exclusively.

When I work, I sit at my kitchen table with my drawing board, my pencil sharpener, my pencils, and the TV on. For my pencils, I have a lazy Susan cake plate from my cake decorating days on which I mounted a round cardboard.  I cut up some paper towel tubes and glued them to the board. (My daughter insisted they be covered with nice gift wrap paper so she did that for me...) Each tube houses a color of varying shades. Yellows and whites, peaches and oranges, pinks and reds, and so on. I also have a small bowl to put stuff in like magnifiers, pencil extenders, and ticky tac. (Ticky tac is an excellent eraser. Pulls the color off the paper without damaging the paper.) There's a spot for me to slide in my drafting brush and some notes.  So everything is compact and I just give my lazy Susan a spin to find the color I want.  Then I get into the zone, oblivious to time, and color to my heart's content.

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