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 

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