60 hours of drawing later...

I have been very forcused on drawing for the past few weeks. I almost finished Ludwig's nose and eye, and just kept going. I've pushed the drawing further than I have with any artwork so far, and it has payed off I think.

I've had the help of a couple of great audiobooks to keep me sitting in front of the easel. "IT" by Stephen King was particularly helpful. (Almost 45 hours of listening!)

The lower left corner is starting to look more like a painting now, while the rest of the piece still looks like a drawing. I like it when you can't tell at once that it is a drawing. I've almost used up my Caran d'Ache Luminance white pencil. It gives such a soft and smooth look when I put it over other colors. When I bought my Luminance colored pencil set this summer, you could only buy them in sets. Luckily things have changed in the past 6 months, and now tegne.no does sell them open stock. They have a shop in Oslo, and I'll have to make a trip before the year is over if I am to finish this piece before the new year starts.

I already have plans for my next drawing. It will be smaller, since I seem uncapable of leaving any part of the paper unworked, and I want to finish a piece a bit faster this time. And it will not be as detailed as this piece, I want to practice making backgrounds that are out of focus.

 The first day of drawing. It took me 30 minutes to trace the image, and 1,5 hours to do the rest.

The first day of drawing. It took me 30 minutes to trace the image, and 1,5 hours to do the rest.

 About ten days and 20 hours later, I've almost done what I set out to do. The nose and eyes look quite realistic, but still more layers are needed.

About ten days and 20 hours later, I've almost done what I set out to do. The nose and eyes look quite realistic, but still more layers are needed.

 This is where I'm at right now. I've learned so much about using colored pencil to create photorealistic images. I'm guessing I have about 20 hours of drawing left. And that probably means it will be closer to 40!

This is where I'm at right now. I've learned so much about using colored pencil to create photorealistic images. I'm guessing I have about 20 hours of drawing left. And that probably means it will be closer to 40!

My own reference photos

I've started a new drawing. I'm really excited about this one, because it's the first time I use a reference photo I have taken myself. It makes such a huge difference for some reason, it feels better to have made everything myself from the beginning. I took a photo of one of my cats, Ludwig and I'm drawing from that. I just want to practice drawing the nose and the eye, I don't plan on finishing the whole piece now. I'll just keep going until I'm tired of it. I focus on one area and I go a couple of rounds with layers of colored pencil and odorless paint thinner. Then I move on to the next area. I think that way it's easy to get the contrasts right. Then I'll go over all the areas again until I have reached the amount of color saturation I'm after.

I finished the pink flower and put it up on the bedroom wall. I could probably have gone for longer, it's hard to decide when I can't get any more out of it. I guess that comes with practice. This time I haven't had to stop because I've damaged the paper by pushing too hard. It's a bit fuzzy round the edges, I need to pay more attention to having sharp lines where needed.

I'm in a really good place when it comes to drawing habits. For the past two weeks I have drawn for about two hours a day. I wasn't going to draw more than one hour a day until November, but I got so excited when I had a few days off work and I realised that it's not the length of time in front of the easel that's the challenge, but the size of my project. I need to keep telling myself that I'm just going to practice drawing small things. That way, I often do more than what I intended because my motivation lasts longer than when I think I have this huge task in front of me. It's amusing how our minds work...

What I've learned so far

I've finished my drawing of a bubble, and I thought this is a good time to review what I've learned. I want to write about that once in a while so I can look back and see my progress clearly.

I should draw smaller images so I don't tire of the project too soon. I wasn't planning on doing the background in this drawing, but after a while I realised just how much of the background was showing through the bubble. I colored it all in so that the transparency of the bubble would be easier to make sense of.

I should be patient and keep going when I want to give up. I won't mess up the drawing nearly as much as I think I will, and even when I do, I learn from it. I did push this drawing farther than the last one, but I still have a long way to go when it comes to working all the way to a finished work.

I have improved when it comes to drawing with a light hand. I do still have a tendency to push harder and harder without realising, but I'm becoming more aware of it all the time.

I have started on a pink flower, and taking with me what I've learned: I keep checking my pressure on the pencil, and this time I won't fill the entire sheet of paper.

 

Sketching

The latest issue of Drawing Magazine came in the post the other day. The main focus this time is on sketching and sketchbooks. I also listened to a podcast recently, about developing a sketching habit, so I thought this must be a good time to try that out. That way, whenever I don't want to sit by the easel and draw, I can do some sketches instead and still do something every day to develop my skills.

 

 It's been a while since I used this sketchbook

It's been a while since I used this sketchbook

 I used markers on the left one and a ballpoint pen on the right. I saw some great artworks on Instagram made with ballpoint pens in all colors and thought I'd give it a try. I thought it would be really, really hard, but it was fun!

I used markers on the left one and a ballpoint pen on the right. I saw some great artworks on Instagram made with ballpoint pens in all colors and thought I'd give it a try. I thought it would be really, really hard, but it was fun!

I do sketch from time to time but it's not really something I have enjoyed that much. It looks so unfinished and full of mistakes. Usually, when I start a drawing I don't sketch out different compostions or anything beforehand, I only try it out once, and that becomes the final piece. I don't want to waste time doing the same thing over and over, but maybe I should try it more often.

I think it's a good idea to keep my freehand skills sharp by sketching. To save time, when I start a "real" drawing I trace the outline of the image on to my paper, and although most of the work is yet to be done, I feel safe that I've started out the right way. Maybe that's why I haven't enjoyed sketching, because then I do everything freehand, and have no safe starting point, I have to spend a lot more time getting it right from the beginning. I guess I'll get better at that, as you do with anything you spend a lot of time on.

 I do like a couple of things about this sketch, but it is mostly a huge mess! Getting the perspective right was surprisingly difficult.

I do like a couple of things about this sketch, but it is mostly a huge mess! Getting the perspective right was surprisingly difficult.

What I listen to while drawing

To keep my spirits up in the most boring times in front of the easel, I often listen to audiobooks and podcasts. Now a days I listen to a lot of podcasts from BBC Radio 4, espescially In Our Time, where they discuss topics on science, history, philosophy, religion and culture. I started out listening mostly to history, but have switched more to science and philopsophy at the moment. It's fascinating stuff, and I learn so much while I'm drawing. (I love multitasking!) I can't help but smile whenever they talk about one of the philosophers mentioned in The Philosophers song by Monty Python though. That is after all where I heard most of these names for the first time! :)

Another podcast favorite is No Such Thing As A Fish, filled with fun and bizarre facts.

I sometimes listen to music, and sometimes work in complete silence, but I usually listen to something because time just flies by that way!

Summer holiday

I have started my holiday, 3 weeks of art and sun! (hopefully). I am staying home and will have a chance to catch up on a lot of stuff I don't normally take time to do. I will be reading books and watching art documentaries, besides drawing as much as I can.

I went to the beach on Sunday and I gathered a lot of broken glass that's been sanded down by the waves. I liked looking for those pieces of glass when I went to the beach as a kid, finding one was like spotting a little gem among the pebbles and the seaweed.

This time I found brown glass, different greens and white. It's white now but used to be transparent, and it has a nice shine to it when it's wet.  I really enjoyed the Colored Pencil Podcast interview with Cecile Baird a couple of weeks ago, she's amazing when it comes to lighting her objects in an interesting way. I was inspired to do something with the glass I found and take some reference photos where I experiment with the light. I think it will feel different to draw something that I have both found and photographed myself.

 

A new enjoyable routine

It's been an inspiring week. I found an image on Pixabay and started a drawing of a soap bubble, it's got a nice, summer feeling to it. It's a chance to test out some of the things I learned at Sharpened Artist Academy this week, a few time saving tricks that are very welcome. :) Color pencil drawings take a lot of time, but that is part of the appeal for me. I like the control I have over both shape and color when I use pencils. But of course, if I can learn to save some time here and there, I will. 

I have quite a nice routine going now. I usually watch the weekly class from SAA on Sunday afternoon, and on Monday at work I listen to the Color Pencil Podcast. My week gets off to a really nice start this way.

 My summer bubble

My summer bubble

 You need my help, don't you see?

You need my help, don't you see?

Learning to learn

When I started getting interested in colored pencil art, I looked online for artists and information. I soon realized that there were few artists here in Norway using colored pencils to produce photorealistic art, at least I don't see much of them online. I will investigate further...

Luckily there were other sources out there.

I want to pick up tips, tricks and techniques and learn as much as I can, but at the same time I'm being very stubborn about the whole thing and insisting (to myself) that I already know everything! The good thing about learning from online sources is that I can do it my way.

Sharpened Artist Academy

I joined the Sharpened Artist Academy, when they launched in May this year. They start with the very basics which is great, because you will learn everything there is to know without missing a thing. I felt like I didn't have to pay that much attention in the beginning, I do remember a lot of this from art school. :) Also, I want to print out all the written material, put it neatly in a folder and then do all the practical lessons in the correct order.

It feels more solid to me somehow, to have a physical sheet of paper in front of me, than to read it off the computer.  I have the same reason for not using a drawing tablet. I'd like to try it one day, but for now I want to use good old pencil and paper. (I wonder if future generations will feel that way, to me anything digital just feels so... abstract.)

Having said that, I do enjoy John Middick's teaching videos. They give an extra dimension to the lesson, as opposed to just reading and trying to learn from a book. It means that I have an actual teacher, I'm not having to struggle through this all on my own.

In the latest lesson I have been learning the basics of color matching and blending, so in the spirit of "I Know Everything Already!", I started a new drawing yesterday of a soap bubble, completely disregarding most of the good advice I have picked up!

Seems like my preferred way of learning is the hard way!

I am going to make a checklist of all the things I should consider before starting a new project. I just get so excited when I start something new, I don't want to think about boring, practical things!

In colored pencil art, it pays to be patient and plan ahead. Now if only I could remember that at the right moment...

Happy Birthday Me!

I just celebrated my birthday and I decided to give myself a gift I've been wanting for a while: the complete set of Caran D'Ache Luminance colored pencils!

This is one of the more expensive colored pencil sets, but they're great to work with, and there are so many wonderful colors. They are of the more lightfast quality too, so the pencil art I make will actually last.

I am still working on a strawberry made with Faber Castell Polychromos pencils, and enjoying myself immensely, but I look forward to my next drawing, it will definitely be made with the Caran D'Ache pencils. Maybe I'll draw some wildlife or one of my cats. I also want to do a self portrait, oh, the choices!!

So many things to draw, so little time!

Lack of motivation

I was looking forward to starting a new drawing this week, but I think I bit off more than I can chew at the moment. I got a photo from Pixabay, a snailshell on some green leaves. But I started out filling in the entire sheet of paper, and it just became overwhelming!

I need my experience with art to be fun and without pressure or expectations right now. If I get into the mindset of: "I have to do this, this is work", I will get completely stuck as I have done before.

I think I will save this one for later and start on something smaller, like a fruit or something...

Hello world!

I just started a blog, I'm so excited!

I thought this would be a good time to start a blog, as I've also just started my adventure with coloured pencils. I have drawn with graphite pencils on and off for most of my life, but I've only been practicing with colours for a month or so. 

I want to write about what I learn and the challenges I face as I improve my artistic skills.