Tag Archives: Velin BFK Rives

Costume Drama

Costume Drama portrait of Kiyono Coloured pencils on Velin BFK Rives paper. 280 x 335 mm. August 2015

Costume Drama
portrait of Kiyono
Coloured pencils on Velin BFK Rives paper. 280 x 335 mm. August 2015

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; They all have their exits and entrances…”

Oh the joy, the joy, of costume drama in Kyoto.

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A note about paper:  I drew “Costume Drama” on the smooth watermark side of Velin BFK Rives.  The previous portrait of Kiyono was on the opposite side which has much more texture.  You can view the previous portrait to see the difference by clicking Her First Day .

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Note:  I uploaded an image of the drawing on Facebook yesterday.  A friend said that the hair wasn’t dark enough.  I thought she might be correct so I altered it, photographed it again and put the new image on Facebook.  She said that was much better but now I should put more black into the kimono.  Oh no!  But again I figured she was right so I altered it again and photographed it again.  But then so many other parts of the drawing needed adjusting which I have just finished doing.   So here are four images for your perusal – in order of alterations.  ps.  I’m not touching the drawing any more!

Costume Drama small size

Costume Drama small size

Costume Drama small size

Costume Drama small size

I wonder how much difference, if any, you can see?  “Costume Drama” certainly turned into a drawing drama!

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Her First Day

Her First Day Portrait of Kiyono-san on the occasion of her misedashi (debut) as a maiko. 210 x 260 mm. August 2015.

Her First Day
Portrait of Kiyono-san on the occasion of her misedashi (debut) as a maiko.
210 x 260 mm. August 2015.

In March 2013 I took a series of photos of Kiyono-san during her misedashi.  Over two years later I have finally made a drawing from that day.

So what is a misedashi?  It is the very first day that a girl becomes a maiko.  I have only witnessed one misedashi – this one.  Usually a girl is around 16 years old.  She has already spent a year or thereabouts training (and working extremely hard) to get to this point.   Misedashi means ‘open for business’.  From now on she will attend ozashiki and perform her arts – even as she continues to take lessons in all her disciplines.

Do you see that Kiyono-san only has her bottom lip painted?  This is because she is the most junior of maiko.  She won’t paint her top lip until a full year has passed.  And notice how much red is in her collar.  Red symbolizes childhood.  At this early stage of her career she is supposed to look innocent, cute and childlike.  It is not until much later that sophistication starts to creep into her ensemble, make-up and hairstyle.

If you would like to see the photo-essay I made from this day, please see my blog post called “A Girl’s Best Friend“.

A photo from my post "A Girl's Best Friend" in 2013.

A photograph from my post “A Girl’s Best Friend” in 2013.

I named the drawing with Katherine Mansfield’s short story title, “Her First Ball” in mind. The drawing is on Velin BFK Rives paper.  It is the first portrait I have tried on this surface.  I feel, more and more, that Velin BFK Rives is becoming my own best friend. The more I use it, the more I like it.

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Amethyst

Amethyst coloured pencil drawing on Velin BFK Rives paper 290 x 395 mm. July 2015

Amethyst
coloured pencil drawing on Velin BFK Rives paper
290 x 395 mm.
July 2015

Did I say I was going to draw this twice?  I promised I would draw it on two different papers in my last post Spot the Difference.

The idea was to draw the image once on Magnani Pescia and once on Velin BFK Rives so that I could compare results on each.

The idea was to draw the image once on Magnani Pescia (left) and once on Velin BFK Rives (right) so that I could compare results on each.

What came to pass was that I finished the drawing on the Velin BFK Rives.  It was perfect to me; dramatic and full of light.  I loved it – but I couldn’t bear the boredom of completing another version of it on a different kind of paper.  When I had initially written that I was going to do this exercise, one of my friends from Pencil Art Society (Canada), Erica Lindsay Walker, made the following comment, “Doing the same piece twice is something I have never done.  I think I would find it incredibly hard to do as when I finish a piece I am generally drained and have said all I want to say about it”.  Erica’s comment could not have summed up more perfectly my own experience.  I found myself rushing the second version, full of impatience.  That was no way to be so I decided to stop.

There isn’t much point showing you the half-completed work on the Pescia.  I won’t throw it away.  I will put it in a folder and perhaps return to it some time in the future.  In my last post I wrote that I have drawn this piece already, back in 2005.  Here is an image of that decade-old drawing which I called “Lilac Geisha”.

Lilac Geisha Pencils on Magnani Pescia. 2005

Lilac Geisha
Pencils on Magnani Pescia.
2005

The difference in the colours is mostly because I drew this before I had digital photography equipment.  Therefore the image you see here is from a scan of a photo of the drawing.

The exercise was completely successful even though I didn’t finish it.  What did I learn?  I learned that Velin BFK Rives produces dramatic results.  I do not have to be afraid of this new paper.  I also learned that my own attitude is far more important than which paper I am using.  What I mean is, even though I had my old favourite Pescia paper in front of me, I knew I would not be able to get a good result because I wasn’t having fun any more.  I have to delight in the drawing process, not rush while constantly checking the time.

Artists using coloured pencils who want a sharply photo-realistic finish (and there are many of you) will not want a bar of this paper.  The pencil marks are noticeably more expressive than marks made on a smooth paper.    If you are not after a perfect airbrushed end result and you don’t mind the paper’s tooth showing through, you might want to give it a try.    In using Velin BFK Rives you will go against the coloured pencil fashion of hyper-realism.

Afterword: September 2015.  I DID finally finish the second version on Pescia paper.  Here it is.

Version 2 of "Amethyst" on Magnani Pescia. September 2015.

Version 2 of “Amethyst” on Magnani Pescia. September 2015.

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Spot the Difference

A first for me - drawing the same picture on two different papers; Pescia and Velin BFK Rives.

A first for me – drawing the same picture on two different papers; Pescia (left) and Velin BFK Rives (right).  Here they are at undercoat stage.

I have not used my new paper, Velin BFK Rives, very much yet.  After two drawings which succeeded, I fell off my horse (so to speak) with the one below.

Joy small size

Though I may have sounded gung ho in my post about chucking out the drawing “Joy” two weeks ago* the fact is I was winded by my fall and my confidence was bruised.  You know what any riding instructor will say when her student falls off?   “Get back onto your horse at once!”

I couldn’t do it straight away.  I didn’t want to ride my new horse, Velin BFK Rives, any more.  I wanted to go back to my dependable old horse, Pescia.  I was curled up on the ground in misery.  I have two pieces of my old Pescia paper left so decided to just go back and do a drawing on one of the pieces.  I had had enough of messing with new papers.  So I began. It felt so good, smooth and silky.  Ahhh – that’s what I was used to. But using the Pescia didn’t make me happy: quite the reverse.  I was drawing on my old Pescia and grieving at the same time – for this paper which I only had two pieces of.  Gosh I was depressed.  I was IN the comfort zone but it wasn’t going to get me anywhere, was it?!

Then I had the idea.  I still needed to go forward.  The BFK Rives was probably not at fault in my failed drawing “Joy”.  It was a compositional problem.  So rather than blaming the paper (the new horse), why not do this current drawing on Rives as well as Pescia?  I will clearly see how both perform with the identical subject and I will surely learn something.

So this is what I am doing.  After mapping in the under-colours on the two papers, I will complete the Rives drawing before working with the Pescia.  Here is the way the Rives drawing looks so far…(still with most of the geisha to layer).

Work in progress on Velin BFK Rives

Work in progress on Velin BFK Rives (detail)

I am enjoying working on the Rives and I feel confident that I CAN work this paper.  It will be fascinating to see the two completed drawings side by side.  Will one be more intense than the other?  Will I be able to get the depth of colour with one that I can achieve in the other?  I will find out – and so will you.

I went right back to a very old photo as source material.  I photographed the image in February 2005 on my old film camera.   I drew it in the same year.  The drawing has not been in my possession for at least six or seven years.  I am not going to look at the photo of my 2005 drawing until I am finished this pair as I don’t want to be influenced by what I did back then.  Finally, when I do check it out, I look forward to seeing if and how my pencil work has changed in a decade.

From feeling hopeless, I am now happy again, sitting astride my new horse and moving forward with her.   “Trot on.”

* The Only Thing I Ever Got From You Was Sorrow is my post a fortnight ago about the failed drawing “Joy”.

Afterword:  September 2015

The finished "Amethyst" on Velin BFK Rives. July 2015.

The finished “Amethyst” on Velin BFK Rives. July 2015.

Version 2 of "Amethyst" on Magnani Pescia. September 2015.

Version 2 of “Amethyst” on Magnani Pescia. September 2015.

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Bliss

Bliss A drawing with Luminance and Holbein pencils with some Caran d'Ache Neopastels. 410 x 510 mm. May 2015.

Bliss
A drawing with Luminance and Holbein pencils plus some Caran d’Ache Neopastels on Velin BFK Rives paper.
410 x 510 mm. May 2015.

Matthew came up with the word “Bliss” when we were discussing my latest drawing.   I pounced on it – as a perfect title.  What could “Bliss” be referring to?  Perhaps marital bliss or the artist’s bliss (at witnessing and then drawing this scene).  Or it could be the benevolent smile of the onlooker as she walks near the bride, or the bride’s rapture at wearing such an outfit and being the centre of attention.

It was good fortune which allowed me to capture the source photo in Gion, Kyoto.  I’m sure I didn’t even see the young woman in the coat and boots pushing the stroller or her encouraging smile to the bride.  I was trying to capture the bride before she folded down her janome (oiled parasol) and moved on.  I only had seconds to spare as I was one of the many photographers following the erikae walk of Satsuki-san.  Photographing the bride was a rushed detour from my main path.

The outfit our bride wears is called an iro-uchikake.  It is a splendid robe which is worn over the white bridal kimono.   I adored drawing its exotic bright patterns and made every stroke reverentially.  Iro-uchikake are so expensive that brides merely hire them for the day and even then it is a huge cost.

This was my first drawing on Velin BFK Rives paper after 14 years of using only Magnani Pescia.  During my first tentative pencil marks I felt like the bride – unsure of the new reality.  But some time into the drawing I became more confident, as if I was now the young mother in the composition.   Most certainly it feels different layering pencil on BFK Rives than on Pescia. Would I use BFK Rives again? Yes.  The paper encourages the colours to sing out, perhaps even more than Pescia.  It takes some adjusting to, and persevering with – come to think of it – as does marriage.

Note:  I am showing the photo I worked from (below) so that you can see how I edited out the groom.  The shape of his janome did not add to the quality of the composition – in fact it subtracted from it.  Better if I took him out completely.

My source photo for "Bliss"

My source photo for “Bliss”

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