"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Friday, 7 March 2008

Leaf of the Day: Red Leaf

Today I cycled to Kraft Gardens for a couple of hours in order to find a leaf to start the coloured pencil work with. I actually have a veritable nature table here, full of leaves. It's a perfect example of my normal displacement behaviour which I wrote about here. Finding something thoroughly absorbing and apparently vital to do rather than start the difficult task ahead must be well known to many.
Kraft gardens was delightful and I did find this leaf. I made some sketches, which I will post tomorrow, and managed to fritter away a bit more time, putting off the evil hour of the coloured pencil work. I have been avoiding starting this project for days as coloured pencil is new to me apart from colouring in roughs or adding a bit of pzazz to a watercolour. I did have a few fruitless hours playing with them, in an aimless way, and making a colour chart (more excellent displacement behaviour). The most daunting task was sharpening them all and then, when I did finally sit down to do this drawing, I seemed to be working with an ever increasing fistful of them, dropping them on the floor and generally getting in a temper with them. Some are waxier than others and some grittier leaving little black specks on the paper here and there.

It has been very frustrating but it is mainly, of course, because I don't yet understand how to use them well, which paper to use and if the ones I have bought are the right ones for this fine work etc etc. I just have to experiment. This first attempt is on a very smooth cartridge with the Prismacolor set.
There are some things I quite like about them but I am used to paint which I can apply thinly to achieve pale tones. Here you have to use pale coloured pencils and you really have to think hard about which colours you are going to use. It is, I suppose, a very good discipline for me.
I am reluctant to post this today but I did say it would be the good and the bad. I do like some of the colours and I always say to my students if only half an inch of a painting is successful then it hasn't been a waste of time. I am now going to have a large gin and tonic...
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Red Leaf


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