Sunday, November 19, 2006

Single Peony

"Single Peony"
8.5" x 11.5", coloured pencil on Saunders Waterford HP 140 lb
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

This peony was in one of the herbaceous borders at Kew Gardens in May this year. The garden was ablaze with them and I ended up with absolutely masses of photographs but this was one of my favourites because of its form.

I'm beginning to notice something interesting about my drawing. I'm enjoying the backgrounds more and more, particularly if they have one of my 'colour field' effects - basically layers and layers of different colours producing an optical effect using an open hatching technique. Scans do not reproduce the effect terribly well though - on the other hand, they might and it could just be my scanning technique!

With this particular drawing, I knew I wanted a very dark background because to get form into the peony I needed to be able to use colour and I needed to keep the contrast heightened. So I decided to try using Zest-It solvent to melt the coloured pencil in the background so that it covered the paper. Basically this just meant that I could get a good lush dark faster. A lot of coloured pencil artists who have very rich darks in their work prefer to use solvent to avoid acquiring a repetitive strain injury to the hand using the pencils.

You can find more details about Zest-It below - artists mainly use it with oils as a replacement for turps but it's also very useful in colour pencil work.

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  1. AWESOME!!! I love the background too -- and it really showcases the glorious job you did on the flower!! WOW!

  2. Thanks Lin - I think at least some of this is down to having spotted an interesting flower and spending some time before I got the right photo of it.

  3. Beautiful ! Great job on the background ... and the beautiful flower. Really, well done.

  4. Really really lovely. One of the things I love about your coloured pencil work is that I can see some of the strokes. I'm not a great fan of coloured pencils that are applied so smoothly that you can't even tell what medium it is

  5. Thanks Nancy and Julie

    The title of my blog is really quite literal - I really like making marks rather than smooth and perfect work. I've never had any great yearning to reproduce photos - I think my camera does a reasonable job of that!

    It's the marks you make that are your signature - not which camera one uses! ;)

  6. I agree with Julie - it's gorgeous and i too (as you know!) like to see the marks.

    Your work is going from strength to strength

  7. Very beautiful, Katherine---so atmospheric and dewy.
    As much as I love your travel sketches and landscapes, I do also love your floral pieces.

  8. I love this piece! Note made: spend enough time with camera so that there are wonderful photo references for cloudy winter days. :-)

    Thanks for the link to Zest-It, too -- I'll have to give it a try!

  9. Just beautiful Katherine. I love the delicate look of the peony and the dark makes it stand out so well. More please.

  10. Katherine, all of your work is excellent but this peony I think is my favorite of all of your work, which is something very hard to choose. The dilicacy of the petals is exquisite.

  11. Gosh, how many hours of work? Just beautiful, I agree with Mary, this is a favorite for me too. And the 'marks' - I love 'em.

  12. Thanks everybody for your really kind comments - I guess you may well be pleased to know that I've got a lot of flowers picked out for doing on dull days and mights in winter!

    Oh Robin - I'm embarrassed now as it didn't take that long. I worked on this Friday and Saturday evening and I doubt if there is much more than 4-5 hours in this. However there were a few things I did which helped speed things up a bit.

    I eyeballed the drawing (which makes me feel better about working from photos as I don't want the absolute precision of something that is traced) and I find that to be MUCH faster than tracing.

    I then used Zest It to help speed up the background - it only gets rid of the little white dots but that really helps when you want deep lush darks. Finally I used an electric eraser to help pick out and clean up the highlights before going back in with light colours. I've worked out how to use the one I've got as a drawing tool.

    Finally, I guess I work really fast when I have something that I know is going to work well. I don't need to fuss with it when I know where I'm going with it from the off.

  13. I love the drawing Katherine, and your comments about technique. As you know I am, for one year only doing only sketches using my Tablet PC, so when you talk of electric erasers and so on, I have those all at the click of a button. I must admit 3 months into the project & I am hungry for some work with *atoms* not bits.

    But it is good that I am still doing this digitally as I have no idea yet what media would suit. You will see that some of my sketches are in faux colour pencils (see Sam) other faux pastel, see my last one, the Blue Candle. Others seem to draw me into oils and yet others would suit acrylic.

    However, most interesting is your comment about marks. There is a sort of handwriting which comes through, except that it is not writing, but just there in the mark. Duane Keiser has a great post about lines in his "On Painting" blog.

    I am in the process of finding my mark, learning to love it as it is. I did one recently which gave me satisfaction in a graffiti sort of way...


    Noticed your word "eyeballed" - good one. It is all about seeing. No doubt you read the chapter in Betty Edward's book "Drawing on the Artist Within" (I just discovered it) about seeing. It is all about learning to see. Frequent sketching re-trains the eye? Do you find that?

    So keep up all that good work with the pencils & the keyboard!

  14. Thanks Walter - I'm still thinking about having a go with one of those digital thingies!

    I recommend Betty Edwards book all the time to drawing students and those wanting to learn how to draw - it's very "accessible". And 'learning how to see' is very definitely a prerequisite for learning how to draw and paint. I remember my first lessons in 'how to see' very well indeed!

    I certainly concur that Keiser writes well about mark-making - one of the reasons for highlighting his new blog - see next post Duane Keiser processes and paintings

    Good luck with keeping up with the bits - and I'm sure you're allowed the odd sketch of an atom from time to time!


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