Sunday, January 6, 2008

Colored Pencil - What I've Learned

I just finished this colored pencil piece today (although I'm one of those who will pick until it's framed). I know it's no masterpiece, it's simply a practice piece to learn about colored pencil and this particular piece has taught me a lot.

This is a mix of different pencils (mainly Lyra Polycolor, some Dick Blick, some Prismas, and a Polychromos or two) on a 5 x7 Ampersand's Pastelbord panel. I used a watercolor pencil base on the cherry, stem and leaf but not on the background.

So, on to what I've learned from this:

I learned that what I've always called "burnishing" is not really burnishing in the true sense of the word. According to the dictionary, burnishing simply means polishing to a shine. I always thought that you had to use a lot of pressure when you burnished but with colored pencil, that's not always the case.

And that's the problem I was having with colored pencil. When a tutorial called for burnishing in the early stages, I was using all the pressure I could muster when all the instructor meant was to blend the layers. No wonder I ran out of tooth before I could add sufficient layers! However, when a piece is nearly finished, I think a lot of pressure does need to be used because there are so many layers that it takes a lot of pressure to move the color around.

It would be nice if colored pencil tutorial writers were more specific about the different pressures used when burnishing and what was required when! Or, maybe it would help if I weren't so dense! lol

Here is what I've done in the last couple of days. I'll treasure it, not for what it looks like or how beautiful it is (lol), but for what it's taught me.

There are other things I learned while working on this piece that have little, if anything, to do with art.

I'm a Christian, not any particular denomination, but a true believer in Jesus and in the Bible and one of my goals this year is to trust God more, to learn and to listen to and to obey that still, small voice. I'm sure everyone knows how many voices you can hear in your head whether you're Christian or not. There are voices that compliment you, voices that tell you what an idiot you are and voices that tell you you're a rotten artist and on and on. They're mostly negative voices and if you haven't heard them, then I wonder if you're really human or an alien from another planet!

Anyway, God's voice is quieter than all the rest and it's difficult to hear Him over the shouting of the other voices. You have to train yourself to hear. Part of that training for me, is to instantly obey any voice that isn't against what He's said in His Word. I plan to assume it is God until I've been right often enough to just know that it is.

I said all that as an explanation for some decisions I made about this piece. I told you that I didn't use watercolor pencils for the background. I didn't use them because I had planned to leave the background white. However, once I had the watercolor base down, I knew it needed one. I hate backgrounds! I never know what to do with them. This time I decided to ask God what was needed & almost instantly a voice in my head said "yellow". Well, anyone who knows me knows that most yellows and oranges are like fingernails on a blackboard and that I just don't like those colors. But, as I'd said I'd obey instantly, I started laying a creamy yellow into the background. It still looked a little blah and I was wondering if I'd heard the wrong voice this time. I asked and got "deeper" so I started adding a little darker yellows into the background along with some of the red from the cherry. I think I went just a tad too dark but, overall, I'm pretty pleased with the color combination. I would not have even considered yellow without that voice.

Also, I've been having some major pain in my right hand to the point that I couldn't use a pencil or pen or paintbrush with even the least amount of pressure. Not at all compatible with colored pencil painting yet I completed this painting without pain!

I found a teaching online called Get Over It! by a minister named Keith Moore who has a bunch of free downloads. Honestly, by the time I finished listening to this teaching, there was no pain in my hand. I plan to go back and get a lot more of those! Even with the slow download time of dial-up it's more than worth it to me. Generally, I don't promote anyone as I feel that everyone has to make decisions for themselves. However, I also hate it when someone is sick or hurting so if this link can help others get healed or saved or out of financial problems, then I'm glad to post a link:

Well, I hope you can see why this piece is special to me. I guess it might be a little like the Velveteen Rabbit - not really so pretty to look at but it has something that goes much deeper than looks.


Paulette said...

It is beautiful, more so for the story to go with it!

Jan said...

Aw, thanks, Paulette.

Christine said...

Jan, I don't like yellows either, but I love this painting! God is so good to us, isn't he.

Jan said...

Thank you, Christine, and I apologize for taking so long to answer you. I didn't have ready access to a computer. And, yes! God is very good to us! Most people don't think so, but they just don't know Him!