Jewel Coloured pencils on Velin BFK Rives. 280 x 282 mm. May 2015

Coloured pencils on Velin BFK Rives. 280 x 282 mm.
May 2015

I started “Jewel” three times on three different papers.  Talk about obstinate; I wouldn’t give up.  The first attempt was on a paper which I thought was Stonehenge but it turned out not to be.  The second attempt was on Fabriano Artistico.  Horrors.  I couldn’t layer the way I wanted and I ended up chucking it.  Third time (I had to be pretty sure I wanted to draw this by now) was on Velin BFK Rives.  After the Artistico it was such a relief to be back on the Rives even though it was only my second drawing using it.

What do I think of Rives?  I feel that it is a more challenging paper to work on than Pescia. However it is worth the extra effort.   Colours and textures both seem richer on Rives than on Pescia.  I miss the ease of Pescia however I admire the Rives look. It is a paper that refuses to be merely a passive support.   It demands to actively participate, its heavy texture bosses the pencil around.  “Here I am!” states Velin BFK Rives (how French).

When I showed daughter, Lucy, this drawing she said, “It’s a jewel”.  As I had been playing with the word as a title anyway, at that moment “Jewel” was set in stone.  My aim had been to convey Satsuki-san as a jewel in her red, black and gold sakko outfit.  I also wanted the illuminations in the plate glass windows across the road to play their part – to add to the warmth and drama of Satsuki-san’s ensemble.

So what is sakko?  It is a period (about a fortnight) of transition between being a maiko and becoming a geiko.  I quote Komomo-san from her book “A Geisha’s Journey: My Life as a Kyoto Apprentice”- “A maiko is supposed to look cute and childish, whereas a geiko should look elegant and grown-up, and the sakko is the period during which we make that change.”

I travelled to Kyoto in February just to see Satsuki-san’s debut as geiko.  There will, without doubt, be more drawings of her yet.  She is a muse to many photographers as well as to this Australasian artist.

My photo of Satsuki-san earlier that same day.

My photo of Satsuki-san earlier that same day.

The images below show the progress of the drawing.  The first three are taken with my I-phone and the last with my Nikon D90 – which explains the difference in image quality.




Jewel email size

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31 thoughts on “Jewel

  1. anna warren portfolio

    Oooh I DO like this – Jewel is a very apt title. It just sings. I love the texture too, it gives depth. The new paper thing has been such a learning curve, but this is so worth it. Interesting though it will be when (or if) you decide to do something that has gentle colours, whether that will work as well. I love the enigma of the mostly-back view too.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Anna, I don’t think gentle colours will be a problem at all with Rives. The one I am thinking about drawing next is quiet in hue but I’m keen to try it out on Stonehenge. I’m dying to know what Stonehenge is like after all the discussion about it.

  2. occasionalartist

    This is such a wonderful composition Julie, it just showcases the complex hair and robe. I am so pleased you have found a paper to work with and the results look wonderful. I really want to see one of your drawings in real life as I am sure they look even better. I will get to Perth one day and come and visit. Karen

      1. juliepodstolski Post author

        I do, Karen. But only teabags or instant coffee. For our real coffees we walk up to the cafe each day. La Vespa it is called. Very pleasant walk. You’ll enjoy it.

  3. John Z

    Hi Julie, John Z here in Utah, USA. As a forever student of colored pencil I thoroughly appreciate your progressive pictures of your work as well as your honest comments about paper, pencils, etc. This post of yours made me realize that paper indeed does matter. When I see beautiful works I often wonder how the artist got there where I imagine, probably incorrectly, that he/she picked up his/her pencils and the masterpiece was created. Your comments ground me that no true masterpiece is created without a bit of blood, sweat, and tears as the saying goes. Thanks, Julie!

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hi John, thanks so much for your feedback. There has been more blood, sweat and tears than usual this year due to the sudden termination of Pescia paper production. Boy, have I stressed about it. It is good for me to share (moan about) my trials and tribulations – and I appreciate very much when somebody listens! Drawing is hard work but at the same time it is the greatest imaginable fun…as I’m sure you have already found out.

      1. John Z

        “Moan” away, Julie! LOL. It is through your trials and tribulations as a true artist that I learn. Don’t know if everyone feels that way or not but I sure do. Most artists don’t share “the process” they went through, they simply say, “I blended this” or “I shaded that.” But that doesn’t help me learn process. I had a friend who lived here in Utah who was a Colored Pencil Botanical Artist. Her finished works took my breath away. I would marvel, however, to watch her do her work. I even told her I would pay her just to sit and watch her because in watching her, I learned LOTS about technique and through her mistakes, subsequent corrections, and experimentation it surely helped me. P.S. I did follow your post on the termination of Pescia paper, too. 🙂 P.P.S. Can’t wait for your next installment of Satsuki-san.

      2. juliepodstolski Post author

        Hi again John. If you enjoy the process, have you looked at the permanent pages on my blog? I have nine work-in-progress pages where you can see the step-by-step building up of my drawings. I think these will be of interest to you. And if you have any questions after looking at them, please ask. I love questions.

      3. John Z

        Will do, Julie. And I agree, the work-in-progress to me, is very helpful. I’ll check them out tomorrow. Here in the States in my neck of the woods it’s almost 8:00 PM.

      4. John Z

        Hi Julie,
        I am sure you already know this but here in the states has Magnani Pescia paper in 22″ x 30″ sheets for $4.60 USD each. They have, according to their website, cream, gray, light blue, soft white and white. They even have it priced for 100+ sheets at a discount. I have no idea what the shipping would be from the U.S. to your neck of the woods but they certainly have an international presence and phone number on their site. If this shows up, here is the link to that page:

      5. juliepodstolski Post author

        Hi John – too easy – except – when you click on the white (which is the one I use) it tells you it is indefinitely out of stock. What is interesting is that the Pescia is not specified as hot-pressed or cold-pressed. There is a huge difference in the two types – and it is only hot-pressed that I like. Thanks for showing me though!

      6. John Z

        Sorry about that, Julie. I didn’t follow through clicking on the types to see what was in stock. And YES, hot press vs. cold press – Huge difference! I, too, prefer the hot press over cold press. Unless you’re doing a watercolor pencil under-wash, I cannot imagine why artists prefer rough paper – just wears the pencils down quicker. 🙂

      7. juliepodstolski Post author

        Don’t apologize. It is very kind of you to be looking up Pescia supplies!!! But isn’t it odd that Dick Blick don’t specify whether the paper is hot or cold-pressed. Do you think they know there is a difference?

      8. John Z

        Given they are one of the leaders in online art supplies, I would assume that if they don’t know they could at least look it up. I am not familiar with Pescia’s mark but some manufacturers do emboss that on their paper in the corner. You could send them an e-mail to look and see if you’re interested.

        The quest for the best tools in our trade, eh? I have read SO many books by colored pencil artists about what paper they use, what sharpeners they use, what type of erasers they use, etc., that it’s a matter of trial and error as what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another.

        Take sharpeners for example, I have tried many hand-crank and electric ones that are collecting dust (some of which came highly recommended), none of which gave me an exceptionally sharp point. One day, when my friend, who is the Botanical Artist I spoke of, was using this little hand-crank Rapesco 64 Sharpener – I had an OMG! monment – the longest, sharpest point EVER to make the tiniest of dots.

        When I asked her where she got it she told me the art classes she was taking at the Denver Botanical Society provided it. So, I checked online – no one sells them here in the U.S. I found a seller on eBay from England who did not sell to the U.S., who had one. I begged her to sell two to me, which she did. Shipping was about as expensive as the sharpener but I didn’t care. No sharpener compares to a Rapesco (in my book at least.)

        So, I understand your lament over the Pescia paper dilemma. If I find anyone online who has it, I will let you know.

      9. juliepodstolski Post author

        Hi John, regarding an embossing on Pescia paper, while their watermark is embossed on the paper, there is no other mark as far as I am aware of. And I have scrutinized several of their papers very closely. Indeed it would be helpful if they had another mark to identify H or C.
        Sharpeners are another big thing which CP artists discuss and compare. I am happy with my plastic Faber Castell sharpener; cheap as chips so I have a bunch of them. But I don’t require a very sharp pencil tip for my way of working. I very often work with blunt pencils. Ann Kullberg was fascinated to see all my blunt pencils when she was at my house.

      10. John Z

        Nothing wrong with a blunt pencil, Julie (LOL). They (blunt pencils) serve their purpose as do the sharpest of pencils. And I am sure Ann was surprised, indeed! By the way, I do use an inexpensive Foray electric sharpener as well. It’s one that is inexpensive and easy to replace.

        I am curious as to your comment “Horrors” on the Fabriano paper you used. My Botanical CP artist friend swears by it but then again, her work is dissimilar from yours in that she strives for that see-through look. So many papers, so little time. 🙂

      11. juliepodstolski Post author

        Very droll, John (your ‘point’ about blunt pencils)! But back to the serious stuff – Fabriano Artistico. I think perhaps it would have been fine for the detailed parts of my drawing. What I found difficult was working on the large areas of soft focus where I wanted one colour to blend seamlessly with another. I did not like how my efforts looked.
        In my trials with papers, I would not like people to think that I am badmouthing any particular paper. I have seen incredible work on line done with all of them. But perhaps papers are like people. We are attracted to some but not to others. In the end one feels ‘right’ with a particular paper and ‘wrong’ with another.

      12. johnzastowney

        Thanks Julie. Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner but I raise iris for show and our last show was all day yesterday. I won the Sweepstakes Award for garnering the most blue ribbons for all my entries.

        Good to know about the soft focus effort as I’ve never actually done that (yet) on any of my pieces. As you say, the end result is what matters with regard to paper. I keep trying anything that anyone recommends/uses to see if it will work for me.

  4. annkullberg

    Before meeting you, I would have been amazed at your persistence, but having spent time with you, it’s easy to understand. You don’t settle!! Love Jewel and LOVE seeing the step by steps, Julie!!!

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hey Ann, always good to read your comments. I was determined but at the same time I was very unsure of what the result would be. Right up until the last day I did not know if I had pulled it off or not. Then at the very end I got it.

      1. Kathi campisano

        I can truly relate to this statement!! I have had this experience just recently! Julie , what color paper do you prefer?

      2. juliepodstolski Post author

        Kathi, I still prefer the paper which is unavailable at the moment; an Italian paper called Pescia made by Magnani. The Magnani company went into liquidation last year and all production stopped. It has been taken over and so production will start again this year but it may be months until any Pescia is back on the market. I am using Velin BFK Rives paper at present; a French paper. It is a lovely paper. I only use white. Can you tell me about your paper experience?

      3. kathleen campisano

        Julie, my experience with paper is very limited. I have reams of natural/ cream colored paper that I inherited many years ago. I don’t think that I will outlive the supply. I believe it is Strathmore with some grain. It really is nice to work with but I also am working with Stonehenge. Since I’m back to colored pencil after many years, I’m looking for the miracle paper. I have a large collection of different brands of colored pencils and they all work differently on the papers that I have!!! So my mission is to find the right combinations. I really enjoy your blog and look forward to reading about your experiences and frustrations. Thank you for taking the time to post.

      4. juliepodstolski Post author

        We don’t seem to be able to get Strathmore papers here in Australia, Kathleen, so I haven’t tried them. I made a decision today – I decided that I wouldn’t carry on trying the Stonehenge out. I didn’t like the feel of it and that was that. If I couldn’t ENJOY the act of drawing then it wasn’t worth it. Instead I will adopt BFK Rives as my special paper. I don’t like working on it as much as Pescia and yet – I think the two best drawings I’ve done in 2015 are on this paper. I’m so glad that you enjoy the blog, Kathleen, and that you may find it helpful with your own experiments.

  5. Jennifer Rose

    gorgeous work! 😀 Glad you finally found a paper that works for you 🙂 I keep meaning to try this paper to see what I think of it but will have to wait until the current pile goes down lol


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