Tuesday, 21 February 2012

A Grey Area, (unless you use colour)!

Working in colour pencil is just not my thing. Once upon a time I completed a drawing of my cat in colour pencil and although I enjoyed doing it, I never really got into using pencils. However, the use of colour pencil in botanical art is going from strength to strength, with popular artists such as Ann Swan and Susan Christopher Coulson  demonstrating exceptional skill with the medium, producing breathtaking pieces.

The SBA course allows its students to specialise in a number of mediums including colour pencil and there are a number of fellow student bloggers who have really mastered the art, producing some gorgeous stuff. There is, of course a wealth of colour pencils of choice available but for now I think I'll stick with my watercolour.

'Paws' my cat
Started as part of my school portfolio when I was 13
using any colour pencils I could get my hands on

Now for the professionals! 

Colour Mutation - Rosa mutabilis © Susan Christopher-Coulson VPSBA
Colour Mutation Rosa mutabilis
by Susan Christopher Coulson 
Ann Swan - Ginger Flowers - Alpinus purpurata
Ginger Flowers by Ann Swan
Colour Pencil
That all said, there is one set of pencils that I wouldn't do without, my Faber Castell 9000 graphite pencils. Working in black and white allows me to see just the tonal qualities of a piece without the distraction of colour. Before I set out onto a bigger piece I do like to complete a few graphite studies to get the feel of the tones and shadows. Often I find myself working a lot darker than I thought I would, the subject needing a more distinctive range between light and dark. By doing this, I have found that my paintings have more depth and definition too.

Rhododendron 'cilpinense'
J.A. Godwin 2010
An early piece that could do with more depth and
darker tones.

Graphite can be exceptionally beautiful, this piece by fellow blogger Barbra Joan demonstrates the full spectrum of black and white tones. The addition of colour would have made this a very different piece. Normally, I wouldn't be drawn to a figurative piece or a portrait but something in the textures makes me like this one.    

'Sophisticate' by Barbra Joan



Rebecca said...


I had never been fond of colored pencils until I got the Ann Swan book and ordered those wonderful FC polychromos miracle workers. I honestly didn't know you could get results like that from a cp. I kept associating them with what I did in grade school.I guess I really prefer the control of a pencil to a brush but that's just me.

I say do what you love and what feels right for you. You're creating such lovely works in watercolor! Now, if only my watercolors looked half as good as yours.

Rebecca said...

...and I might add that the cp that you shared here is lovely, especially when one learns that you were only 13!

Sketchbook Squirrel said...

I'm useless with pencils but Ann Swan's book is so inspirational, even for me, and I certainly would suggest other painters to take a look.

Maybe one day I will pick up those pencils and give them another go. I really enjoy seeing your work develop so, who knows.

Jessica Rosemary Shepherd said...

check out Dirk Dzimirsky - then you'll know what a graphite pencil can do. It's amazing. Wish I coudl draw humans. Fab post.

Sketchbook Squirrel said...

Hi Jess. All I can say is, wow!! How does he do it, Dirk Dzimirsky's work is just incredible.