Making art has been one o the greatest passions of my lifetime. I have had a formal art education (BA - Fine Arts) and, like most artists, hobbyists or professional, I have learned and developed most of my technique through practice and a lot of trial and error. A lot of...
Making art has been one o the greatest passions of my lifetime. I have had a formal art education (BA - Fine Arts) and, like most artists, hobbyists or professional, I have learned and developed most of my technique through practice and a lot of trial and error. A lot of practice. A lot pf trial. And a lot of error! As happens to many people, life got in the way over the years, and my focus on making art has gone through many shifts. But recent changes have brought me back to what used to be my medium of choice, colored pencil drawing. As with any discipline, I was feeling a bit rusty around the edges, and the aspects of this particular medium (and of drawing in general) where I was not proficient were even more painfully obvious to me, now that I was "restarting"...
While browsing online, I discovered this book and read some really positive reviews. I was intrigued to read that the author favored Prismacolor pencils (one of the two brands I prefer - the other is Lyra) and I was very impressed by the ultra realism of the cover and the drawings I saw in the previews. I also liked the fact that it said Colored Pencil PAINTING, because I have always thought the style and technique I favor - a heavy, opaque coloring, rather than a soft sketchy style - was more akin to painting than the drawing/sketching that most people think of when they think of colored pencils. I knew that when I was last heavily involved in this medium, a good 25 or so years ago, this style or approach, and the colored pencil medium in general was still considered a relatively new medium (in the general scheme of artist''s media through the ages) and that people had been experimenting and pushing the techinique envelope, and new products had been developing as well. So when I saw that there were several used copies of this book available, I thought I would give it a chance, surely there would be something between the covers for me.
What a huge, happy surprise awaited me when the package arrived! Not only does this book cover the ultrarealistic effects and luminous colors that are the author''s forte, it also gives a good overview of principles of design, composition, color theory, fundamentals of light, shading and shadows, and other topics that are applicable to just about all visual art media, not just colored pencil. It even contains a different approach tto color theory than what I had been taught all those many years ago, and that quickly deepened my understanding of layering and blending colors in a way that years of trial and error (and yes, more error) hadn''t accomplished.
The focus of the book, as promised by the title, is on colored pencil drawing (painting), specifically with "dry" wax or oil based pencils (not watercolor pencils) So naturally a lot of pages are devoted to materials, media, supplies and tools. It covers the difference and similarities between wax and oil based pencils and specific brands thereof - including hardness, blendability, color range, and the "feel" of the pencil on the page plus an appendix with charts of all the major manufacturers'' colored pencils and their ratings for lightfastness. It also explains the pros and cons of different types and weights of paper, even mentioning some by brand. Erasers and erasing technique, blending//burnishing and the use of solvents are covered. Just about anything you need to know about stocking and setting up your studio to enable you to use this medium to its maximum potential can be found in this book. No matter what your level of experience and expertise, you are bound to find something in the tools and techniques section of this book to make you say "wow! I did not know that!"
And finally, we get to one of the main objectives of this book - creating textures and surfaces. Step by step, section by section it covers the techniques and "tricks" for rendering various surface and background textures: greenery, flowers, fruits and vegetables, water, ice, fire, wood, metal, pearls, cut crystal, various fabrics, all covered step by step. This is followed by an introduction to practicing with simple still lifes, one of the most accessible subjects and an excellent study in texture, color, light and composition. The book ends with a series of exercises in technique -- single object studies from start to finish, each featuring a different type of surface texture.
This book is an essential in the library of anyone who is interested in making art with colored pencils. It doesn''t specifically cover some of the more common subjects -- landscapes, portraits, etc, but gives you the building blocks for the solid foundation you will need even when taking on such subjects. I am sure that I will return to it over and over for reference, and look forward to deepening and expanding my understanding of the medium, and to honing my technique. With this book, and more practice (and I am sure more trial and lots of error) I hope to tackle some of those "weak points" that have perplexed me since I first put pencil to paper, which will greatly improve my enjoyment of the medium that I love.