Archive | June 21, 2017

Colored Pencil Painting Portraits, Master a Revolutionary Method for Rendering Depth and Imitating Life. Alyona Nickelsen

Colored Pencil Painting Portraits, Master a Revolutionary Method for Rendering Depth and Imitating Life.  Alyona Nickelsen

Colored Pencil Painting Portraits: Master a Revolutionary Method for Rendering Depth and Imitating Life by [Nickelsen, Alyona]

Genre: non fiction

Like many artists I’ve accumulated a mass of materials. Some artists stick to one medium, I like to try anything and everything so my summerhouse/studio is crammed with materials.
Not so expensive as it seems, I paint for fun, sell a few, and from the start any sales I made support new materials. Throw in birthdays and xmas and it soon adds up. In among them I’ve some watercolour pencils, some like traditional ones, some very waxy. I hadn’t really considered soft and oil pastels as pencils either, but in a way they fit the description. I do like the immediacy of these, the way my hand is on the canvas without the brush barrier in the way.

In this book Alyona tells us about different types of pencil and ways of making them last. The traditional sharpening method is incredibly wasteful, something I hadn’t realised. Also I’ve used sandpaper and gesso treated board with soft pastels, but never thought of using coloured pencils on them.
As with all materials the quality varies considerably, and my ethos is to always buy the best you can afford.
I’ve seen people very dispirited with their paintings, when they’re trying to use cheap, thin paper, grainy poster paints, pound shop brushes etc. Nan always used to say “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear,” and that’s really true with art materials. Better to buy a dozen top quality basic colours and learn how to blend them, than a fifty pack of cheap pencils. Those will fade, won’t blend easily and the colours will be bland as they’ve little real pigment. Another of Nan’s adages – “cheap always comes dear in the end”, where money is wasted if you can’t use what you’ve bought, and end up spending more on getting what you balked against buying because of cost.

I’m certainly going to get my pencils out again and play. One of the issues I found was that once I’d added a layer of colour its difficult to get a second one on, unless I used it very lightly, and almost impossible to add a third as the tooth of the paper was covered. Alyona mentions a fixative that gives another sort of coating over the colours, without spoiling them, but allowing more colour to be applied on top. That’s really useful, and great for whites and other pale highlights. I’m a bit of a spontaneous artist, add the pencil, paint, whatever, and work along making the painting up as I work. That means so often I’ve already coloured over where I later decide I want a highlight, but now with some fixative I can add it.

There is lots of advice on portraits of course, from how to pose the sitter, to how best to flatter them without losing the identity of the sitter.
Techniques too are covered with some wonderful step by step illustrations, and lots of completed paintings with tips.
I’d never thought of using a medium or physical shaper for blending either, as I do with paint, only ever used fingers, and that gives yet another different effect.
Pencils are such a great medium for taking out and painting outdoors, easy to transport, very little needed except pencils, support and maybe some fix and blenders. I’ve done a little of that using my sketches for further paintings in other mediums, but of course now I see how I can use them to create artworks in their own right.

I think one of the issues facing those promoting their use is that they are still seen as very much a child’s toy, very limited in application for artists, when in fact after reading this book I can see they are incredibly versatile.
Its a mindset thing, something that takes time to change but with fabulous portraits like the ones in this book we can see just how versatile pencils can be.

Stars: Five, a fabulous addition to the artists library

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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