Work In Progress: Louisiana Iris, Update 2

Work In Progress: Louisiana Iris, Update 2

            Colored pencil painting is, by its nature, a slow process, especially if the goal is a lot of detail and density of color. Teaching a class in colored pencil painting, limited to a set number of hours, has to take these qualities into account. The Intermediate classes I will be teaching this summer and in the fall, twelve hours in length, go beyond the basics of technique to produce a painting of higher quality. However, even at twelve hours, there are limitations to the depth of detail and complexity that can be attained in a painting in the allotted time. And still have the students learn more than they would in an Introductory class.

When I first started this painting, I assumed it could be completed in twelve hours. It didn’t take long for me to realize that, at the level of detail I normally put into my paintings, it could never be completed in that short amount of time. I was committed to the Iris as a project for the Intermediate Class, so I had to re- think the level of detail to include. I’ve posted here two Works in Progress on the Iris. Both show about the same amount of flower completed, but one shows a great deal more detail than the other. This one, with the higher detail took about twelve hours to complete.

IMG_1548 Louisiana Iris Advanced Update 2

The one below, with less detail took a little more than two hours. But it is also better suited to the Intermediate Colored Pencil Class I will be teaching. It yields a very nice floral painting when completed, and can be completed in twelve hours or a bit more.

IMG_1560 Louisiana Iris Update 2

I’m going to continue on with the less detailed painting so that I can have it finished by the time I’m scheduled to teach the class. I will finish the more complex version at later date. I will serve as a good example of what can be achieved with more time and skill in an Advanced Class.

The progression will be from lightest color to darkest color. And, I’ll be doing one petal at a time, carrying each from the beginning stage on through to completion before starting the next petal. First a layer of the lightest color, then the next darker color, then the next, and so on to the darkest color being used. Then, I’ll repeat the process again and again until I’m satisfied with the depth of color and detail on that petal or flower part. Then, I’ll go one to the next flower part. For this demonstration I’m using Strathmore 300 series Bristol Vellum. It’s a good acid free, neutral paper that serves well for demonstration purposes. The first step in the process was to apply a light layer of lavender over the leftmost petal, leaving only the brightest areas white. I kept the point sharp by frequently sharpening the pencil. Next I added hot pink to just a couple areas near the middle of the petal. Again with the lavender, I put just a bit more pressure to define the shadows, darker areas and folds in the petal.

With the lilac, the next darker color, I put in more of the darks, though at this stage, the pressure is still light because I want to build layers slowly. The lilac allows me to define more shaded areas, more folds and veining.

Mulberry is a much darker value and found only in the darkest areas – in the shadow under the over lying petal, and at the rightmost side, again in the shadows under one of the upright petals. I also added it to the ribbing on the left, near the edge of the petal. Violet, the darkest color, was next applied over the areas with mulberry.

I then repeated the sequence of colors a couple more times to add more depth and intensity, bringing out the shadows and adding definition. Finally, I looked over the petal, adding one color or another as necessary make adjustment to bring the petal into agreement with the photo.

Keep in mind that the level of detail and intensity of color must be tailored to the skill level targeted for the class. Once that level of skill is achieved, greater detail and complexity can be taught with longer and more focused classes. If students are asked to produce results that are beyond the skill level achieved up to that point, they may become frustrated and lose interest, and that would be a shame. This Intermediate level class makes use of the skills learned in an Introductory Class to achieve a finished painting with more detail and complexity, but leaves open possible further development for more advanced classes.



Louisiana Iris Class Project3

Work In Progress: Louisiana Iris, Update 1

Work In Progress: Louisiana Iris, Update 1

This summer I’m teaching a number of classes in colored pencil technique at On Top Of The World, a community in Ocala, Florida. The classes are part of an adult education program called Master the Possibilities that features hundreds of classes on a myriad of subjects such as the arts, politics, health, finance and history. I’m proud to be a part of this exceptional program that imparts a wealth of knowledge to individuals eager to never stop learning. I will be teaching introductory classes as well as more advanced classes on colored pencil painting.

One of the classes I will be leading this summer involves the painting of an Iris – a Louisiana Iris to be exact – in colored pencil. It is a plant that I grow in my garden at home. I felt that it was not only a good subject for a painting but would be wonderful vehicle for teaching more advanced classes in the medium of colored pencil. The number of colors involved is not very large, there’s some complexity, but it can be broken down into nice bite size pieces, the basic techniques I’ve been teaching in my introductory classes can be used to complete it. Any students who are taking the class can get some fore-knowledge of the project, and anyone who might be interested in taking the class can get an idea of what we’ll be doing. So, for the next few weeks I’ll be taking you through the development of a colored pencil painting of a beautiful flower.

After settling on the subject, the first step in the process is figuring out the colored pencils to use. Even though there’s a variety of values from nearly white to deeply dark, the colors are all in the violet group. As I look over the flower, looking at all those values, I look through my colored pencils to find ones that will match the colors I see or pencils that, combined, will yield the colors I see. I will be using Prismacolor Premier colored pencils for this project. The ones I pick out are all in the violet – lavender spectrum: lavender, hot pink, lilac, mulberry, violet. I add white because I’ll be using that in the lightest areas, helping to blend in the colors. Near the throat of the iris, on the lower falls, and the style just behind it, is yellow, and yellow is also evident as a yellowish glow on the inner parts of the petals near the throat. For the yellow I choose canary yellow. The yellow on the falls and especially on the style gets dark, a grayish yellow, which I think can be produced by using yellow and its complement, violet.

With these choices of colors as a start, my next step is to reproduce all the colors and values in the flower. I might have to add more, or remove some, but I start with these. It’s best to work out all the colors and values prior to painting the flower because guessing as I go can lead to mistakes that can’t be corrected. Wasting paper and time is costly. On a separate sheet of paper I draw a lot of squares. Then, after I pick an area of the flower I want to reproduce, I choose some pencils that, combined, I think will reproduce the color and value I want. For instance, the leftmost petal has a rich variety of colors, probably most of the ones found in the flower generally. For the lightest area, I choose white and lavender and fill in the first square. Since there are transition areas in the flower, going from near white to near lavender, I blend it that way in the square to see if it matches. In other areas there’s more lilac in the mix. In others, I can see some pink. So, I work out squares with these combinations to see if they match. I’m careful to record my colors and their placement. The darker areas run into the mulberry and violet.

In this manner I continue to fill in squares with different combinations of pencils to match what I see. Some combinations don’t work out, others do. But in this manner I’m able to eventually arrive at combinations that will reproduce the flower – even the areas suffused with yellow, as well as the yellow in the throat. As I suspected, a combination of violet and yellow gave me the dirty yellow needed for deep in the throat. There are always unexpected turns that I didn’t see in the beginning, but working out as much as possible before hand eliminates most surprises and makes for a much easier experience.

The colors used for this project are white, lavender, lilac, mulberry, violet and canary yellow. I’ll be doing this painting on Stonehenge paper. Next week we’ll get started coloring it in.

IMG_1543 WIP Louisiana Iris Update 1 Louisiana Iris Class Project2

Work In Progress: Glade Creek Grist Mill, Update 17

Work In Progress: Glade Creek Grist Mill, Update 17

            Just received the painting back from the printer, who made a digital image for me. There was little to finish up from last week, mainly in the lower right corner. There, the snow was piling up at the base of the trunks of the trees. I also completed the smaller of the two deciduous trees in front of the bridge. The rest was minor touch ups here and there. As always, when the touch ups don’t improve or change the painting in a meaningful way, it’s finished. So, I’m calling this one finished.

Glade Creek Grist Mill2

Work In Progress: Glade Creek Grist Mill, Update 16

Work In Progress: Glade Creek Grist Mill, Update 16

 Nearly finished! Much of the foliage of the hemlock has been added, as well as the trunks of the other two trees.

When the background woodlands and sky were added way back I the beginning, I masked out the trunks and most of the branches of the trees on the right. Now I went back over the masked areas with a dark mix of burnt sienna and ultramarine blue, painting in the branches. The branches were painted in while leaving some white to indicate snow. I also added in many more branches than I had masked out originally. To add some depth I made sure that some of the branches would pass over one or more of the trunks, indicating they were closer to the viewer. I also made some branches thicker than others, and longer or more intricately subdivided, or shaped, to add variety – so they wouldn’t all be the same. Variety is important in keeping interest in a painting. Then I added foliage to the branches. I also kept variety in the masses of foliage, making irregular shapes and sizes and placement. Some of the masses passed in front of the rightmost trunk, others behind it. Some of the branches were made to look like they were coming forward, others backward.

The masses of foliage were painted in stages. I painted some and then stepped back to look at the placement, to see if I needed to increase the size or irregularity of the mass. I didn’t want to add too much, so I went at it slowly – analyzing each pass to see if there was enough.

Somewhere in the middle of all this I filled in the snow and ice behind the trees, then added the branches over it. I left out much detail in the background snow because it would be mostly covered up and I could add some suggested detail later, after I had all the foreground foliage and branches in.

The two lighter tree trunks, deciduous trees, were painted in with the same mix of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna, but with a bit of raw umber. In this mix I kept the mix more fluid and transparent. Then darker mixes were added to indicate bark and give form to the trunks.

I’ll continue to add in branches and foliage until I think it’s done. Then finish up any other areas that need it. I was hoping to be finished this week but that didn’t happen. Should be completed next week.

IMG_1529 Glade Creek Grist Mill Update 16 IMG_1530 Glade Creek Grist Mill Update 16