Sunday, March 21, 2010

Red-Yellow-Blue Challenge

In my effort to get back to the basics, I decided it would be interesting to do this project. I have learned in my almost six years of being a self-taught artist, that too many self-taught artists have not taught themselves the basics. Maybe because the basics are boring and we want to hurry up and get to the good stuff. I know that was my excuse. I have also found many students in art programs in colleges who are not being taught the basics. They are told to just paint what you feel, to express yourself! The problem is, if we don't learn the basics our art will suffer for it. So, for the past couple of months I've been trying to teach myself the basics again, and this time, really spend some time and effort on it.

This is done on a 5" x 7" piece of Stonehenge. I wanted to try out some Dick Blick Artist Grade Studio Colored Pencils, so I used DB pencils: Pthalo Blue, Yellow, Carmine Red, and white for highlights. I ran out of Pthalo Blue and had to replace it with a Prisma Copenhagen Blue, which was about the same shade as the Pthalo, but the red, yellow and white remained DB. I only used the Prisma copenhagen for the snow, that's it. So, not much.

I left a lot of the white paper showing and some of the paper has very light layers of blue and red on it. In addition, I blended the colors with a bristle brush. Yes, it actually worked, although not nearly as well as on sanded paper or Pastelbord, but it worked okay.

The ref pic is by DaisyRee Bakker at WC (and at Flicker). The colors of this pic are a bit off, unfortunately. There's not as much red in real life. I think I'll try to scan it and see what happens. The background is not as red as this pic appears to be.

I learned a real lot doing the project and I'm glad I did it! I've even decided that I'm going to have my own students do this as well. I enjoyed it very much, especially having to really think about my color palette and how I was going to mix these three colors to get the colors I needed. I would change a few things in the composition were I to do it over again, but overall, I'm pretty satisfied with it.

I will try to post a better photo of this later.


  1. It's very nice, Nancy, a beautiful winter scene.
    I'm learning a lot with your 'back-to-basics' posts, thanks for posting about your process :)
    Warm regards,

  2. Thank you Carolina! I will be sure to post my next project, which is glass & reflections.


  3. This is a wonderful piece Nancy! You inspire me to want to try colors in the future. You achieved such a beautiful range of colors with those pencils!

    I agree, my school days never included the basics. I forever find myself reading books and blogs to pick up a technique here or there that should have been in the curriculum. Your students are so lucky to have a teacher who believes in building a strong foundation for them to grow from. Bravo!!

  4. Aww ... Brenda *hug* that's sweet, thank you! I just hope these students think so.


  5. Nice work Nancy. Birds can be fun to work with.