Tag: neocolor ii

Colored Pencils, Heated Up

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It stands to reason that something with wax in it will melt. Colored pencil as a medium is new to me and I’m still figuring things out, so I was pleasantly surprised one day to discover that my pencils seemed brighter and more vivid than usual. They also filled the texture of the paper evenly. What was happening?

We were having a heat wave compared to the cold winter weather. The temperature inside the house was over 77 degrees Fahrenheit, and my pencils were ever so slightly warmed up compared to normal, so the wax was melting with a light touch. This got me to thinking about things like encaustic art, and I came across a clever product created by artist Ester Roi called the Icarus Board, a heated surface meant to melt the wax in your pencil or oil pastel to produce smooth and rich color.

My makeshift heated surface. Those blacks were easy–one coat of black, one of dark purple. I blended them lightly with a blender pencil.

Icarus Boards are an investment, however, so I decided to try before I buy, and I took out a heating pad, set it on high, and started to color. I immediately noticed a difference in how the pigment acted. I didn’t have to do more than two layers to completely fill the surface. I haven’t spent much time using the heating pad, however, as a hard surface would be preferable, and I didn’t find having something like a baking sheet over it worked. Maybe a different heating pad that gets warmer would be an improvement. However, if someone wanted to get me an Icarus board for Christmas, I would hardly complain.

Some colored pencil artists use the pencil as a pencil, and it looks lovely and serene. The tooth of the paper shows, and it has its own distinctive look. Other artists like to fill in all the light color on the paper, making the pencils resemble paint. They either burnish by using multiple layers and firm pressure, use a blender pencil (usually a clear or gray wax), or use a solvent. I’ve tried all of the above, and so realize I lean toward using a pencil as a pencil or add in a blender pencil from time to time. I don’t care for solvents at all, and burnishing makes my hand and fingers ache even into the following day. However, something like a heated surface may help if I ever decide to head in other directions.

Another option is to use an underpainting of a different medium and draw with colored pencils over it. I’ve tried this many times and enjoy it. I recently tried the amazing tutorial by Ester Roi of four pebbles to get that heated look. My underpainting was Neocolor II, and I used some Derwent Coloursoft pencils over the top. I’m convinced I can achieve a blended look with Neocolor II pastels as they provide a rich, smooth background once blended out with water. I know a heated drawing surface is a superior tool, but in the meantime, I’ll play with crayons.

Neocolor II: Pebbles

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I found the reference image of these pebbles in water on Paint My Photo, using only a small, cropped section of the picture. I used Neocolor II watersoluble crayons by Caran D’Ache. One thing that’s so neat about the crayons is that you can draw with them, which is what I did initially, but then use a brush on the crayon to pull off extra saturated pigment to add in the darks, highlights, and details.

Neocolor II watersoluble crayons on a page of a Stillman & Birn sketchbook.

Sam Savitt, Horse Artist

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My all-time favorite horse artist is Sam Savitt, illustrator of hundreds of children’s books, articles, how-to’s, posters, and paintings. I was always taken with his art, even as a child, because he captured the beauty and inquisitive nature of all types of horses. I purchased his how-to book quite a long time ago, Draw Horses with Sam Savitt, and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in horse art.

I discovered he authored a Grumbacher how-to book on painting, The Art of Painting Horses. I guess it doesn’t matter that I don’t paint in oils or acrylics, I still wanted it. The thin paperback has five tutorials and was about $15 or so on eBay.

I had a heavy hand with the crayons (horse on left) and colors got muddy, lines became too thick. A light touch is necessary, especially for the first layer.

I used Neocolor II watersoluble crayons by Caran D’Ache for all of the tutorials. I first drew with crayons and then used water to paint them out from the base drawing. One tip I can pass along with this type of watersoluble medium is to draw in your initial layer thinner/smaller than you need. When you use a wet brush to activate the pigment, you’ll probably push the lines out, making the image larger. Plus, it’s far easier to make something bigger than take away.

The pony painting is the worst one–I got way too heavy and sloppy with everything. I’m planning on trying this one again.

All of these were painted in a Stillman & Birn Delta sketchbook.

This hunter looks a little too lean, but it was super fun to paint a horse in motion.

Honestly, I would have never chosen to draw a polo match or a huge draft, but Sam Savitt loved all horses. Great inspiration and quite a challenge.

Neocolor II crayons have really rich pigment. I kept the backgrounds super light on all of these as I tend to be far too dark with pretty much any medium I use.
A silly-looking man on the right doesn’t mean I didn’t have a great time painting this gigantic draft.

Other than the pony painting, I’m pleased with the pictures. They capture horses looking lovely and still but also in motion–some with funny-looking humans. (They’re not funny looking in his book, mind you.)

For those of you with an insatiable curiosity about Sam Savitt, there are two sets of videos on Youtube that may interest you even though the quality is poor. The first is a lecture, the second a demo.