Thursday, September 25, 2008

The new Icarus Drawing Board™

CPSA award-winning artist Ester Roi emailed me from the CPSA Convention in Seattle this summer to agree to an interview for this blog. Well this isn't the interview - but it's about the reason why we're doing the interview - her new Icarus Drawing Board™ (patent pending)

Ester Roi with "Into the Light"
photo courtesy Ester Roi

Ester produces work with absolutely brilliant saturated colours. One of those works "Into the Light" (see right) this year received an Award for Excellence at the Annual International CPSA Exhibition in Seattle

Ester lives in Southern California and I first heard about her and her coloured pencil artwork from my Californian friend Louise who told me how absolutely stunning her work looked. I've been looking out for it ever since and have also been pondering for some time how Ester manages to produce her work. You can see some examples of her work here. Finally news came of the answer - in the form of a heated drawing board - hence my immediate email to her inviting her to do an interview!

I guess a number of artists using coloured pencils have experienced that moment when pencils seem to have warmed to the point where they begin to melt and suddenly you find you're pushing pigment around the page in a completely different way. I found the experience rather intoxicating the first time it happened to me! I guess the thought of being able to do the same thing - at will - on a heated drawing board is going to be a very exciting prospect for some people!

Yesterday I received a note from Ester to say that her new Icarus Drawing Board™ is ready for launch and that her new drawing boards will start shipping out next week from the new company, Icarus Art Inc. which has been set up to produce and market the board.
Exploring the possibilities
  • Drawing and painting with the same medium
  • No need for solvents or water (heat is the solvent)
  • Reworking indefinitely
  • Less time and effort
Icarus Drawing Board™
Ester took three years developing her technique and encaustic-like approach to coloured pencils. Her primary intention was to create a true “colored pencil painting”. In other words artwork which has a similar color saturation and density of acrylic or oil paintings.

The Icarus Drawing Board - what it is and what it does
  • The Icarus Drawing Board is a portable drawing board with a large 20" x 26" drawing surface.
  • Its unique feature is that it has two built-in working zones, a warm zone and a cool zone underneath a tempered glass top.
  • The technique facilitated by the drawing board is based on the principle that when a wax based medium - such as a coloured pencil - is exposed to heat, it becomes softer or even melts. When returned to room temperature, it quickly solidifies.
  • Using the Board: In general, the warm zone (controlled by a temperature dial) is used for mixing pigments, blending, burnishing and reworking. The cool zone is used for line drawing, layering, detailing and finishing touches. By shifting the artwork between the two zones, the artist can take full advantage of the intrinsic properties of wax based media.
Suitable Media for use with the Icarus Drawing Board.
  • All wax based media, particularly colored pencils, wax crayons, oil pastels and encaustic sticks are ideal for the Icarus Drawing Board technique. (Note: Not all coloured pencils are wax based and you need to check the brands which can be used with this technique)
  • Papers of any variety, from drawing to watercolor and pastel paper,
  • Boards such as illustration, museum, canvas or wood boards,
  • Other media: fabric, glass, plexiglass and more can be
  • Tools used for painting with coloured pencil are simple and easy to obtain.
Some key benefits
  • It all takes significantly less time than some coloured pencil techniques!
  • Plus it's approved by the CPSA for submission to the Annual International Exhibition! (see News 07.11.07)
Practical points are that it consumes the same amount of electricity as a light bulb and is constructed around a metal frame with vent holes. As a result, it weighs 15lbs but has a built in carrying handle. Those interested in more information about safety and maintenance can find it on the website. One possible downside for artists outside North America is that the Warranty is applicable only in USA and Canada.

The Icarus Drawing Board is now available through Icarus Art and I understand that the first set of drawing boards will start shipping out next week. I've not seen one - other than in a photograph - and I've obviously not used one so I'm currently working on the basis of the information I've been supplied with by Ester and Icarus Art. However if one of my readers decides to get one I'd very much like to know what you think about it.

Finally - although there's a FAQs page on the website - the purpose of this post is to identify what questions readers of this blog might like to ask Ester and then we can try and address these in the upcoming interview.

So - this is a chance to ask a question to an artist who has created a genuinely innovative approach to using coloured pencils for artwork. What do you want to know about:
  • Ester's approach approach to her work?
  • How Ester developed her technique?
  • How to use the new drawing board?
  • How long it takes to learn new techniques?
It's your choice...........



  1. I would love to know how she developed her technique. Its such an interesting way to use coloured pencils, and the effects that are achieved are gorgeous.

    Definitely going to be looking out for artwork from other artists using this board. Will be interesting to see how other people go about using it.

  2. this ester is a genius.i love her technique..


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