woensdag 11 april 2012

22 colours in the woods

It's hard to believe, but there are 22 colours in the woods... at least there are in my wood, seen with my eyes. I didn't know this, I just came to this conclusion as I went along. It was only when I put  pencil colour 22 that I was satisfied (well, as satisfied as I could be) that I'd achieved what I had in mind. As it turns out, I actually kind of veered off course with this drawing. I usually aim for realism, and I sort of did with the bark of the tree, but I opted for a more expressive style for the background so as to draw more attention to the tree in the foreground, with it's beautiful bark full of splits and marks and lichens and moss. It's of course yours to decide if you agree, but I'm fairly content with the result, even though a drawing is rarely exactly what I envisage in my head. I guess perfection doesn't exist, or at least, my skill doesn't match up to my imagination.

Anyway, like I said, there are 22 different colours in the woods. I started off with a few flesh pink patches in the bark of the main tree. Yes, flesh pink! And I know it's not skin, but I looked at the minute detail of the photo and that's what I saw, so get used to it! I then added some olive green down the mossy side on the left and some areas of mars black in the background areas. (I should probably mention here that I always use Derwent Artists coloured pencils - to me, far and away the best kind. They have a great range of colours, are soft enough for blending and, sharpened to a point, perfect for achieving a vivid result.) The next 2 photos show how the drawing looked at this point and the next step after that.

At this point I added just a few hints of terra cotta on the bark of the tree. Then I took a gunmetal grey pencil and did some of the finer lines in the bark and sketched in some of the trees in the background and to the side of the picture. Then I added just a hint of deep chrome. The next step, and one which seems a bit drastic and completely counter-productive, was to  cover the entire trunk of the main tree in Chinese white. It's good to apply plenty of pressure to the pencil at this stage to burnish the surface. This practice not only blends the colours together nicely but also gives more depth to the drawing, at least once more layers of colour have been applied. Having used the white, the drawing appears duller, but applying more colour on top brings everything to life again.

I used ivory black for the sharper details in the bark and then fell mist (grey/green) for the highlights along the trunk and to blend all the colours together. To capture the brightness of the moss I now applied mineral green and jade green. It never ceases to amaze me just how vibrant and vivid the moss on the trees in a damp wood - nature is miles better than any paint brush or pencil for producing real colour. That's it, now things are beginning to look the way I intend! By now, that wanting-to-run-away-screaming feeling has ebbed away in the process of drawing and is now changing into something closer to excitement. I can't adequately describe the exhilaration when a part of what I'm drawing gets close to what I have in my head. It's a real buzz and it's what keeps me wanting to do more, to try to get a better result.



Another layer of Chinese white to tone everything down. This time I apply it horizontally, but also in a vertical layer over the bark to get a better texture. Now out comes the eraser to remove some areas of colour where the bark is paler. Ok, ok! You will keep asking stupid questions! Why didn't I just leave those areas without too much colour? Well, it's not the same thing, and that's just how I work, ok?! (Sorry, just a little tantrum there). It's actually more effective because it ensures subtler, softer edges in the colour. The paler areas would be harsh if left entirely colourless and with obvious edges.

Well, that's 11 colours - only 11 more to go...

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