Most artists have a single medium they work/specialize in. It’s our “safe place” where we are most comfortable working. Yet, as artists we also want to explore other mediums and learn new things. When we do and everything clicks, we feel on top of the world! Yet, things don’t always click right away when working in a new medium. What do you do? Do you let the failure defeat you? Do you give up on ever working in that medium again? Today I will show you what happened when I not only tried a new medium, but also a new way of doing things.
I love trying new things. While it may be scary, I find it good to challenge myself. It hasn’t even been a year since I first picked up colored pencils. I must have stared at that paper for hours, terrified of making that first mark, in case I did it wrong. Then finally, I took a deep breath and started. The end result was amazing! After a great deal of hard work I finished my first colored pencil piece and it wasn’t bad! It was a Western Medowlark I called, “Solitary Song.” After completing that piece I knew I could work in colored pencil and I haven’t looked back.
That being said, sometimes I do run into a bit of trouble.
While working on a commissioned colored pencil piece I was watching Shark Week. Anyone who knows me knows I am a shark lover. I decided to start a small 5 x 7 shark drawing in colored pencil. Then I thought to myself, “an underwater picture would be a perfect subject to use Brush and Pencil’s Powder Blender on!” So I pulled out my Uart 500 Sanded Paper and got to work!
If you’re not familiar with it, Brush and Pencil Powder Blender (created by Alyona Nickelsen) is an AMAZING tool! Used on sanded or gessoed paper it allows your colored pencil to softly blend. You can cover large areas quickly and with ease. I can’t say enough good things about it! I’ve watched some amazing artists create incredible pieces with it.
Here’s what happens when you use it:
As you can see above, before the powder blender it looks like crayon. After the blender it’s smooth and blended. Mind you, that’s just the first layer.
I was very pleased and excited. I sprayed the texture fixative on it in preparation of my next layers of color. That’s when things went wonky.
This is when you discover how wonderful the creator of the product is! I quickly posted in one of my colored pencil facebook groups asking for advice, knowing I wasn’t doing something right. Once sealed with the texture fixative, the colored pencil won’t rub off, yet mine was. Someone tagged Alyona and she very quickly responded to help me out. She gave me an amazingly detailed lesson in using the blender and what may have gone wrong. She also suggested I remove the spray cap from my texture fixative and rinse it out in warm water as a clogged nozzle would cause the bubbles. I am so grateful to her for the advice and help!
Once that got figured out, I ran into issues which did not stem from the use of the products.
My new issues were with my new method of creating the artwork.
Have you heard of the Grisaille method of painting? It’s when you paint everything in gray scale. Then you glaze colors over the top. It produces beautiful results!
I thought it would be fun to use this method with my shark.
I drew him in gray scale, and he was looking pretty good. I sprayed texture fixative to protect him and then began trying to “glaze” colored pencil over the top. At the same time I thought that another layer of colored pencil blended this time with Gamsol would be nice.
I was wrong. So very wrong.
As you can see above, it got pretty messed up! Compare the colors from the earlier photos to this photo. I totally messed up the background & background colors and let’s not even discuss the shark. *face palm*
So where does this leave me? Will I vow to never again use powder blender, sanded paper or the Grisaille method?
If anything this is pushing me to experiment more with the powder blender! I can’t wait to start another piece using it armed with the information Alyona gave me! As for the Grisaille method, I’ll put that on hold for a bit. 😉 I’m still open to trying it on something else in the future.
So what ever you do, when you experiment in a new medium, do not give up if your first try doesn’t work out the way you want. We’re all continually learning and each “mistake” is a lesson to help us become better.
Until next time,