Category Archives: coloured pencil impressionism

Overcast

“Overcast”
Coloured pencils. 210 x 288 mm. June 2018

On my way home from a before-dawn photography walk, I stop on Pont de la Tournelle and look east.  Morning light reveals an overcast autumnal sky.

Some of us primarily enjoy a view under sun and blue sky; cloudiness may be described as “a dull day”.  To my mind an overcast sky creates a meditative and subtle beauty.  Eyes need not squint against strong light.

Grey day, reflection and introspection; peace.

Overcast” is the second drawing featuring Notre Dame for the “Remember Paris” exhibition.  I like to portray a subject in different ways…

“Far from the Madding Crowd” drawn with Sennelier oil pastels combined with coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle. 330 x 365 mm.  October 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

A Small Act of Love

“A Small Act of Love”
212 x 308 mm
coloured pencils and oil pastels. June 2018

“A Small Act of Love” is the second drawing I have made from a single source photo.  When the first drawing “Just a Moment” sold last year I was both happy and sad; happy as it is always a pleasure when a drawing sells; sad because it was destined to be a part of my “Remember Paris” collection – to be shown in September 2018.

“Just a Moment”
Coloured pencils, drawn January 2017.

Recently as I was reviewing the “Remember Paris” drawing collection so far, I once again mourned the loss of “Just a Moment”.   However I saw the possibility of a second chance as I had cropped the composition the first time.  This time I would draw from the entire photo – making a whole new composition.  And I would use oil pastels as well as coloured pencils.  (You can compare the two pieces – above and below – here.)

“A Small Act of Love”  June 2018
coloured pencils and oil pastels.

The thing is, I want my exhibition of drawings to be more than merely sumptuous views of Paris.  My aim is to show a wide range of her personality traits.  The essential ingredient of this piece is intimacy – an everyday moment of a mother assisting her child.

Last weekend I visited one of Australia’s major art galleries.  I felt like I was in a void while I viewed the traditional and modern grandiose works.  What was my place in art?  Did I have one?  Back home again, finishing off this drawing gave me a sense of perspective.  Perhaps this is my place in art; what I do day after day is a small act of love.

Note:  The drawing is made to be seen from across a room so it is a good idea to stand back a few paces from the top image…and then it makes sense.

Non, je ne regrette rien

happy with undercoat beginning…

This morning I photographed my first layer of a big drawing (380 x 505 mm) after a week of laying on the under-colour in Sennelier oil pastels.

A couple of hours later…  Uh oh – I’m not feeling the love.

Scuttled.

And…that’s it.  No regrets.

A few hours later:  In hindsight, every work which is labour intensive needs to be believed in.  It is a huge effort but it will be worth it.  In this case, I didn’t have quite enough belief (or enthusiasm) in the piece for all the effort I knew I was going to have to put into it.  That’s probably the primary reason I let it go.

PS:  Another reason for dumping the picture above was that it was too similar to “Rhapsody in Gold” drawn in 2017.

“Rhapsody in Gold”
August 2017

 

Wait

“Wait”
pastels and pencils
240 x 255 mm. May 2018

Have you ever waited at traffic signals after dark and observed how surrounding colours change depending on whether the signal is red or green?  In “Wait” the colours of île de la Cité are also made bright by a boat’s high beam illuminating the arches under Pont d’Arcole.  (We can’t see the boat but we know it is there.)

Here is a deep dark “Walk” (partner of “Wait”).  Notice how light from the signal casts a different glow on the sky in each of the two drawings.

A much lower key “Walk” than “Wait” as the green walking man gives off lower light than the red standing man.

In recent posts I have been showing the oil pastel under-painting (before coloured pencil is layered on top).  In  comparing the under-painting stages of these two drawings (drawn several months apart) I see that this primary stage is now richer and more consolidated than it was in mid 2017.   It is fascinating to chart the evolution of a new idea.

oil pastel undercoat of “Wait” (May 2018)

oil pastel undercoat of “Walk” (August 2017)

Next time you are sitting in your car waiting for the lights to change, or standing at a pedestrian crossing after dark, observe the colours as the lights go through their paces.   (Trust me, it is more entertaining than merely being impatient.)

Night Moves

“Night Moves”
oil pastels and coloured pencils. 240 x 350 mm.
April 2018

“We weren’t in love oh no far from it” (Bob Seger sings in “Night Moves“).   Nor am I in love with Moulin Rouge  but I certainly am captivated by her lit-up sails and their effect on Place Blanche.  “I used her, she used me but neither one cared/we were getting our share“.  She gives me art, I give her publicity (not that she needs any from me)!!

“Night Moves” is a partner to “Irresistible Blanche”.  They are the same size and will hang side by side when exhibited in September.

For those of you interested in my technique using oil pastels as undercoat to coloured pencils, below is the drawing when the oil pastel/undercoat stage was completed.  At this point I was ready to begin layering coloured pencils on top.  You can read about this technique in my post Brush and Pencil or in the April 2018 issue of Ann Kullberg’s Color –  https://annkullberg.com/collections/color-magazine-all-issues

You could say the cake was the oil pastel and the icing the coloured pencils.  Cake + icing = delicious!

 

 

Walking with Claude

“Walking with Claude”
a drawing in oil pastels and coloured pencils of Monet’s house and garden in autumn.
320 x 400 mm. February 2018.

Does the spirit of Claude Monet walk in his garden?  He said his garden was his greatest masterpiece – so perhaps he lingers within its borders.  But all the tourists might drive him mad!  He (like many artists) used to be infuriated by the interruptions of curious people.

I like to think he may come and go – leaving when it is busy and returning when all is quiet.  The garden was nearly empty of people in late autumn of 2012 when I was there.

Who knows?  Perhaps we walked side by side sharing in silence our solitude.

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On a former occasion, in 2005, I visited Giverny with my family.  Here I hand the page over to Matthew to introduce his song “Walking with Claude“…

Matthew, Emily, Lucy and Alicia on the Japanese bridge in Monet’s garden. August 2005. Photo by Julie

Walking with Claude  by Matthew Clements

“In the summer of 2005 we spent time in Monet’s garden.  It was during one of our last family holidays before Emily, Alicia and Lucy sprouted their own wings.

I wanted to write a song which somehow captured the artist in his idyll.  My mother, Barbara, was a gifted gardener.  I thought how she would have loved Monet’s garden but her advancing age made it unlikely she could ever make the journey.  In fact, she never visited Europe during her life.  So the song became my description to her of his wonderful garden.

By the time I wrote the song a year later, my own impending kidney failure somehow impacted the spirit of the song as I compared my mother’s mortality with my own.

The brilliant Perth guitarist and singer-songwriter Simon Nield, already with well advanced cancer that would soon take his life, found his own meaning in the lyric and recorded me singing it in his studio in 2007.  He then overlaid some of his own gorgeous guitar.  Thank you Simon!”

 

“Day Trip to Giverny”
Drawn in January 2018

 

Brush and Pencil

I am regularly asked about applying oil pastels with a brush.  Here is what I do…

brushes and oil pastel in front of my current work-in-progress.

To apply oil pastel undercoat (as you see in this image) I use a size 1 bristle brush.  The brush on the left started off looking like the brush next to it.  Its bristles have been eroded by pushing oil pastel pigment onto the Arches Aquarelle paper.  However a worn-down brush works just fine for my purpose so I will keep using it until I decide to throw it away.  Bristle brushes are inexpensive and easily replaceable.  I go through a brush every two or three drawings.

If I only need a dab of colour I take it directly off the pastel with my brush.  I don’t even need to take the pastel out of its box to do this.

Taking the colour directly off the pastel while it stays in its box.

If I know I am going to need a lot of one colour or I want to mix colours, I slice bits of pastel off with a palette knife and mix the colours on a palette.  (Because the pigment is greasy/sticky pastel I find a ceramic surface makes the best palette ie. a small plate.)   Using mixed pastels on a palette is almost exactly like using oil paint.  Mixed oil pastel pigment on a palette doesn’t dry out so it can be used next day/next week…no problem.

Applying pastel to paper with a brush is a lot like painting with oils.  I plot the areas of colour onto the paper in a general way.  All the fine nuances of colour and detail will be put on with coloured pencils when the pastel undercoat is finished.

If I am making a major change of colour (ie. from purple to pale yellow) then I clean the brush thoroughly with solvent, though wiping the brush with tissue paper between colour changes is usually enough.  With most colour changes I tend to dry-wipe the brush.

If you look back at the top image you will see the very wide bristle brush.  I use this to sweep over pencil AND pastel to blend and soften.  A good example is the image below…

“Time and Space”

In the drawing “Time and Space” pencil has been worked into the pastel.  I have repeatedly brushed across the drawing with the large bristle brush pushing the pencils and pastels together – merging and softening.  Quite often after doing this I will apply more pencil and then repeat the brushing – until I have the effect I want.  WARNING:  If I brush over the top of the red rose with my wide brush I might get red pigment into the surrounds so I am careful not to do this.

In “Time and Space” I wanted a subtle look so I used Caran d’Ache Neopastels for the background undercoat.   They are drier and more gentle than Sennelier pastels.  Only for the bold red rose I used Sennelier.

“Day Trip to Giverny” – I also made the choice of using Neopastels for the entire background undercoat except for the foliage closest to the viewer which I undercoated with Sennelier.  NB:  I don’t slice off bits of Neopastel with a palette knife the way I do with Sennelier.  Neopastel, being harder and drier, doesn’t lend itself to being mixed on a palette the way the more buttery soft Sennelier does.

“Day Trip to Giverny”

I find using oil pastels with coloured pencils much more satisfying than using pencils by themselves.  I feel this combination is a bridge back towards painting – in fact I have given it the name “dry painting“.

I am often asked if I use fixatives or varnishes with this combination.  No, nothing.

“Enchanted April”
November 2017
Sennelier pastels and coloured pencils.

The marriage of oil pastels with coloured pencils gives a work substance and momentum.

The drawing I am working on currently.  This is how it looked last week.

You may see the finished drawing on the post Walking with Claude

PS:  Don’t worry about getting exact undercoat colours because the coloured pencils over the top will modify the colours to perfection.

A cautionary tale:  some artists who use coloured pencils like to brush off pencil dust with a big brush (rather like a brush-and-pan kind of brush).  Don’t indiscriminately do this when using oil pastels.  Oil pastels are oily and sticky.  A piece of pastel dust in the wrong area is likely to smear if you sweep it into your page – and it will not be removable.  Instead, blow it off your paper or if your breath isn’t strong enough, simply lift it off gently with the point of a brush, pencil or putty eraser.  Simple.

See also ART MATERIALS page

Another relevant page is MIXED MEDIA IMPRESSIONISM

Night Moves shows another example of this technique, before and after coloured pencil was added to the oil pastels.