Sunday, August 13, 2017

Oil Rub Experiment with Colored Pencils

This past week I heard about an illustrator who uses oil rubs for her backgrounds for some of her illustrations. It sounded like an interesting idea and I thought I would give it a try. So, this weekend I did an oil rub on three 6" x 6" canvas panels with three different colors, waited for them to dry, then drew an outline on two of them and started working on one. I was determined to complete one of them this weekend, and complete it I did.

So, what is an oil rub? It is oil pigment rubbed into your support until it doesn't wipe off anymore, so it ends up being a light layer of oil pigment on the support. For the painting I completed, I started off with Winsor & Newton's Artist's Oil Colors Olive Green, but I really did not like the way it looked. I went over it with Lukas Studio Earth Green and left it at that.

Oil Rubbed Canvas Panels

So, I decided to work on the green canvas, and I drew a very simple picture (an unusual one for me) and went to work. I used Prismacolor colored pencils for their buttery soft, waxy quality, plus a Luminance white pencil.  Polychromos pencils are far too hard to be used on a canvas panel.  Because of the very rough texture I could only get so much detail. All of you know I love details, but I also know it is impossible on canvas with colored pencils. I will be trying this experiment on paper as well.  I used bristle and stencil brushes to blend, with sizes varying from very tiny to a 6 flat.

This is where I ran into trouble. I had started working on the little designs with the shoe before painting the shoe itself. That was a mistake because when I blended, colors ran together and I ended up with an odd color on the shoe. You can't erase colored pencils on canvas panel, so I took my exacto knife and scraped the pigment off. The part of the shoe with faint color on it is where I scraped the color off, then started again doing it in the correct order and being more careful.

This is where I ended today. The only thing missing is the final shading on the front shoe and the little gold spots within the black marks, also on the front shoe.  

All in all, working on canvas panel with colored pencils is difficult and a bit loose for me. I have worked on plain canvas with ink washes, sizing it myself, and using colored pencils on top of the ink and that was fun! But I'm not entirely keen on working on canvas panel again with pencils.  The oil rub was interesting though. Can't wait to try it on paper as well and see if I can get as good a result as the illustrator I mentioned. 

Happy Arting Everyone!!

Photo credit: Janet Herman, Photos for Artists, Facebook
Podcast I heard the illustrator  talking about the oil rub: "Colored Pencil Podcast;" new shows post every Monday. You can check it out at 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

My Journey to Using Pastelbord With Colored Pencils

Jessica  -  8"x 10"

It occurred to me recently that I don't think I have ever explained why I love Pastelbord and why it is my favorite surface. SO I thought  I'd take the time to talk about it now and show ya'll the paintings I've done on Pastelbord.

It all started when I lived in Shiloh, North Carolina out by the outer banks. It is very hot and humid out there and we did not have air conditioning. Yes, I did say NO AC! It was my husband's house of 30 or so years and we moved into it our second year of marriage, after my son graduated high school. I initially worked on paper, mostly Colourfix paper by Art Spectrum (which, by the way, is STILL a favorite of mine!). In the winter it wasn't so bad working on paper, but once winter was over, I discovered I couldn't do it. Heat and humidity do terrible things to paper, and I certainly couldn't sell any of the artwork done on paper in that humidity. I had to come up with a new plan.

I did some work on wood. One was a squirrel that by brother claimed right after I finished it and he still has it displayed in his living room. I don't have any pictures of it, but maybe I can go by his house and take a quick photo to show you.Working on wood takes a certain technique, and while I like the look of it, it wasn't how I wanted to do most of my work. So I searched for more options.

Pinky & Rosie  -  6" x 12"

Illustration board wouldn't work because ultimately it is still paper and thus would still get ruined. I tried canvas board and although one painting I did on that surface sold quickly, it was not the surface I wanted to do the bulk of my work on.

Equine Bling - 8"x10"
THEN, I found Pastelbord! I don't remember how I came up with the idea, but I had bought a 5" x 7" board to try my pastels on and since I like to use pastel surfaces for my pencils, I decided to give it a try. I immediately fell in love with it.  I still had to experiment to come up with a technique for this new surface, and find it I did.

I was looking for a way to blend my layers of pigment that would give me that smooth painted look I loved, and one day I just grabbed a bristle stencil brush and started brushing my pencil pigment. It worked perfectly! From then on, my technique was to lay down several layers of pigment (minimum of four) then blend with a bristle brush until all the colors blended together. Then I'd lay down more pigment, then blend, etc., until I got the look I wanted for that painting. It's really much like
Golden Retriever - 5"x7"
the way I work on Art Spectrum's Colourfix paper. When I'd finish a painting I would spray it with several layers of varnish and it truly looked just like it was done in acrylics or oils. Everyone who ever saw these paintings were shocked to find out they were done in colored pencils, and Prismacolors are the perfect buttery smooth, wax based, pigment rich colored pencils to use on it too!

Now I had found a surface that was literally impermeable to heat and humidity! I could work on it year round if I wanted to and did not have to worry about it getting ruined. When I needed to stock up on pastelbords, I usually did so in November when Jerry's Artarama had their yearly trade show in Raleigh, NC. I would call Ampersand and tell them what sizes and colors of pastelbord I wanted to purchase at the show and they would pack them up and bring them to the show for me. I did this because I liked to get the off sizes that many stores, Jerry's included, did not typically carry. Sizes like 6" x 12" and 14" x 18". Ampersand is a great company by the way! Texas based, fantastic products, and super customer service! I highly recommend them.

Study In White  - 5" x 7"

So, that is my story of how I came to use Pastelbord for my colored pencils  artwork and how it came to be my favorite surface to work on. If you have any questions I would be most happy to answer them.

Until next time, Happy Arting!! 



Elegance  -  8" x 10"

NOTE: All paintings seen on this article were done on Pastelbord.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge in September

I have a new challenge for y'all. On September 1st I will be taking part in a 30 paintings in 30 days challenge with Leslie Saeter and her blog followers. Leslie is a blog talk radio show host for  "Artists Helping Artists." Leslie is from Artist's Helping Artist's blog talk radio show. You should go check it out. It's a great show and I have found it to be very inspiring and helpful as an artist. I would like to invite all of you artists out there to join me in this challenge and we can do it together, supporting each other each day. There is a great deal that we all will learn from this challenge, and you won't be sorry for taking part in it.

For those of you who would like to take part in it but are concerned about the time involved, let me relieve you of those worries and explain it it a bit more. The 30-in-30 Challenge is where you paint/draw a picture everyday and post it online. The main purpose is to get the artist in their studio/work table and get them creating everyday. Here are a few guidelines to follow:

First, you can do some of your work ahead of time to help you out with your time crunch. If you work full-time like I do, that is a serious issue. I am planing and designing my pictures ahead of time. It saves a ton of time.

Second, you don't have to post something everyday. The purpose of the challenge is to try to get you into your studio and creating everyday. It's not meant to consume your day. It's perfectly understandable if you miss some days. At least you are trying and doing as much as you can. Life gets in the way sometimes.

Third, best thing to do is work small. Helps with the time factor and can help you not feel so anxious about doing your art. Small is good. I plan on working in miniature size, 2" x 2" and 3" x 3", but 5" x 7" is great as well. Maybe 8" x 10" works better for you. Just pick a size that is easy and quick for you to do.

Fourth, you might want to pick a theme. It usually helps you to plan and design more quickly. Also, pick a theme that excites you. One that you love. This could also be a time to try something fairly new, to allow you to experiment with technique, size, and color without worrying about every little detail or worry that it won't turn out all right.

So, if you decide to join me, and I hope you do, just reply to this post telling me you want to take part. Then be sure to post your painting/drawing, whatever you have decided to do, on your blog or facebook page and if you could, tag me please or at the least drop me a message with a link letting me know so I don't miss any of your pictures!

So, please join me! It will be a fun time creating your art and supporting others in their challenges as well!. You have 30 days to plan and to purchase any supplies you may need. I will post more information and ideas in the days to come.

 Leslie Saeter Blog

 Artists Helping Artists

And as always..... HAPPY ARTING!!!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Rembrandt - An Inspiration in Art

Recently I've been listening to an art radio station, which is also a podcast, called Artist's Helping Artists. I've been getting a lot of really good ideas from this show, and one of them got me to thinking about artists who inspire me and whom I admire.  So, I decided to write a few articles about these people in the hopes that maybe they will inspire you too.

The first artist is Rembrandt. He was born in 1606 in the Netherlands and died in 1669 at the young age of 63. He produced art in the realistic style, painting mostly Biblical scenes and portraits, though that did not make up all of his work. One of the techniques he used is called Chiaroscuro, which I find fascinating.

                                                  Rembrandt at 34

The chiaroscuro technique allows your subject to emerge from the shadows and into the light. It's all about high contrast and tonal effects. You can get an idea of what this technique is all about in my scratchboard piece "Into The Light."

                                 Into The Light - Nancy Pingree Hoover

In it you see Tooki, my senior citizen cat, just emerging out of the deep, dark shadows and into the sunlight. He was standing in the shadows on my bed in the early morning hours and slowly walked over to the window where the morning sun was shining brightly through and onto the bed. You see the front of his face brightly lit up by the sun, but the rest of his head and body fades little by little back into the shadows.

Chiaroscuro not only draws the audience's attention to the subject, but also helps an artist to model their subject and make it jump off the support due to the high contrast between the shadows and light. Done right, the subtle tonal changes, occasional hard edge of strong contrast along with a few disappearing edges and a bit of detail brings shape and depth to the subject giving it the effect of jumping off the support.

Rembrandt was a master at using this technique. Just look at one of Rembrandt's paintings, "Descent From The Cross."   

                                 Descent From The Cross - Rembrandt

In Rembrandt's painting, "Descent From The Cross," you notice the very dark, almost black sky forming the high contrast in the painting and setting the backdrop for the illuminated Christ and the man lowering Him down from the cross, most likely Joseph of Arimathea. Within the illumination you find areas of deep shadows that help model and shape the bodies. The dark contrast on the left side behind Christ dramatically draws attention to His brightly lit body. This painting is an excellent example of Chiaroscuro, and the dramatic effect such a painting can have on the viewer. 

I always loved the muted colors that Rembrandt seemed to like to use in his backgrounds, and I developed the same kind of background for a few of my portraits. However, I then learned that he really used some wonderful colors in his paintings, colors that were hidden by layers of varnish that had been put on his paintings year after year. So much so that it literally changed the color of his paintings making them look more muted. Nonetheless, I do like the look of a muted background for some portraits.

                               Fallen Soldier - Nancy Pingree Hoover

There are many other great qualities of Rembrandt's paintings, but I've only covered the ones that I like the most and have inspired me. Here are a few more paintings of his that I really like:

 Abraham and Son - Rembrandt 

                                      Apostle Paul - Rembrandt

   Next blog article I'm going to cover a current artist whom I admire a great deal and who's work inspires me continuously.