Tag Archives: Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901

Treading the Boards

“Treading the Boards”
Coloured pencils and Sennelier oil pastels.
225 x 275 mm.
August 2017

In a theatrical setting; the port of Fremantle lit by morning sunshine, a seagull steps along a wooden plank with the studied deliberation of an actor treading the boards.

This drawing will be one of 21 Julie Podstolski drawings exhibited at Kidogo Arthouse, Bathers Beach, Fremantle, from 7th September 2017 (for two weeks) – with ceramics by Stewart Scambler.   

Once Upon a Wall

“Once Upon a Wall”
Luminance pencils over Sennelier oil pastels.
380 x 540 mm. June 2017

Once upon a wall there was a corroding remnant of street art.  Only a head and shoulder remained.  Whatever the rest of the image was had long gone.  It had presumably cracked up then flaked off, washed and blown away over time in brittle particles.

But look again.  The peeling layers of paint have transformed into tulle!

Once upon a wall there was a princess from a fairy tale; an apparition of Marie Antoinette; a dancer from Les Folies Bergère; a Belle Époque courtesan (maybe Camille herself);  or perhaps Saint-Säens’ Dying Swan.

I was touched by the vision of this tattered graceful wallflower – enough to prolong her life and give her a new audience by drawing her.

During the course of my drawing I searched the internet to find the street artist and see what the paste-up had once looked like.  The artist goes by the name of Sobr.  The original was a head-to-toe paste-up of a woman dancing in bandeau and shorts.  Weather and time have combined to transform the figure from nonchalant female to tragic romantic heroine.

Of course you might simply see a dirty wall.  And you wouldn’t be wrong.  We each bring our own stories and interpretations to that which we encounter.

Here are two more figures by Sobr which I photographed.  The subject of my drawing had been similar stylistically to these.  Sobr made a series of stencils of dancing women which he called his “It’s Time to Dance” project.


Technical note:  I used Sennelier oil pastels (a French brand) to ‘map’ in the colours on the paper before I put any pencils on.  Here is a detail of Sennelier under-colour before pencils were applied.  The addition of oil pastel adds to the richness and saturation of the finished coloured pencil drawing.

How it began:  initial layer of colour applied with Sennelier oil pastels, using a bristle brush to push the colour into the paper.

This image shows the range of 120 Sennelier oil pastels.

Here are the three sizes the pastels come in (shown next to a pencil to give you a comparison). The biggest one only comes in black and white.  So far I have been using the smallest size.

This drawing has won the Drawing Prize at the City of Stirling Art Award & Exhibition 2017.

A Difficult Birth

Eye Catcher 285 x 305 mm, November 2013, mixed media on pescia paper. Copyright 2013

Eye Catcher
285 x 305 mm, November 2013, mixed media on pescia paper. Copyright 2013

Conception was the easy and pleasurable part (as it often is).   I knelt on the sand at Point Walter early on a breezy October morning.  The oystercatcher was pausing between oyster catching.  I realised I would have to prostrate myself on wet cold sand to be on his eye level and to get the composition I hoped for.  My clothes got soaked but I got the photos.  As I stood up, brushing sand off wet trousers, I thought triumphantly, “It’s a wrap.”

Next stage; the gestation period was steady and uneventful.  I had the idea to use crayons in this drawing so I laid down undercolour with Caran d’Ache Neocolor I (a water-resistant wax pastel).  Then I built up the colours, as usual,  mainly with ‘Luminance 6901’ pencils.  Later I used Caran d’Ache Neopastel (an oil pastel) sparingly for some accents and highlights.  (Information about these crayons are now on the Art Materials page.)  The mixed media drawing grew and matured at a consistent pace over a week and a half.  I enjoyed the freedom of expression which comes when working with an image where much is out of focus.

This past weekend, though, was Hard Labour.  I worked furiously to bring the drawing to fruition.  I quote from my art journal…”It’s all going bad.  Just realised the horizontal seaweed to the left of the bird is vile  [see image below] and have taken it out.  I think the picture is going to die.  Still in saving mode right now – along with increasing dose of despair mode.  I did everything I could to make it work – and the more I DID; the more it DID’NT.  Or did it?  I’m always harping on about ugly/beautiful.  Here’s an example; I see “Eye Catcher” as ugly one millisecond and beautiful the next.  I can’t make up my mind which; maybe both at once?” ( Journal entry from 10th November 2013.)

The drawing as it was when I was hating it - with that nasty dark horizontal line (supposed to be seaweed) to the left of the bird's feet. Notice how pale the sand was at that stage. The whole thing looked insipid.

The drawing as it was on Sunday – with that nasty dark horizontal line (supposed to be seaweed) to the left of the bird’s feet.  The sand was pale at that stage and whole thing looked insipid to me.

I worked until the light faded and then I lay on the couch in self-pity.  Fail, Fail, Fail.  I was done in.  Later in the evening I watched a documentary on tv which I had been waiting for with keen anticipation:  “David Bowie – Five Years: The Making of an Icon”, (BBC 2013).  It cheered me immensely.  One Bowie quote I particularly latched onto was, “The minute you know you’re on safe ground, you’re DEAD.”  Wow!  There’s no dishonour in being experimental, trying new ideas and failing.  I didn’t mind the state of my drawing any more.  I went to bed in a haze of acceptance.

This morning I got up and looked at the drawing with fresh eyes.  It was okay; not perfect, a bit rough in places but I liked it.  It had substance and energy.  “Eye Catcher” (no longer ire catcher) was born and would live.  I came to the conclusion that despair and elation, joy and suffering are intertwined and inseparable in many a creative process.  Art hurts but, ahh – it’s pain with satisfaction!

ps.  I forgot to mention that the oystercatcher’s beak is slightly open.  Can you see that?  He was just beginning to yawn!

Return to Contents of Posts page       Related page:  Subject 6: Birds in a landscape