Tuesday, January 11, 2011

On pencil marks and hair tracks

"Bradley" Stage 5

This piece is definitely providing me with some distinct challenges. Not because I haven’t created a portrait of a terrier before. On the contrary, I have done many portraits of terriers in colored pencils. But this pup is being done in oil, not waxy, colored pencils and they’re providing me with a completely different drawing experience. At many points in this piece’s creation, I have wanted to blend the pencils, as I would with my waxy Prismacolors. But the oil-based Polychromos, acting much more like hard graphite in some ways, do smudge but don’t blend.

In my pen and ink artwork I’m very used to drawing distinct hair tracks. In fact, I plan for it. But in colored pencil work I’m realizing that I expect a completely different effect. I’m finding that I’m using a needlessly heavy hand trying to get the oil-like painterly effects that I’m used to getting in my colored pencil pieces.

How frustrating! And humbling… This piece has shown me that either A., I really like my Prismacolors. I understand their use and feel comfortable using them. OR, B., that I have been complacent with my colored pencil technique for too long and it’s now time for a well-needed refresher course. I’m not sure which it is yet. What I do know is that being willing to continue on with a piece that you feel is sub-standard is sometimes necessary. Why? Because learning depends on it. Mistakes seem to provide the absolute height of embarrassment. But making them allows you to figure out where you are, and maybe, what you need to change. I will certainly finish this piece and, in all likelihood, it won’t be all that bad. But it is teaching me a lot and for that I am most grateful. ;-)

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