drawing, writing

working again with colored pencils

Well, today I got xeroxes done of the majority of interesting pages in one coloring book.  This should hold me for a good, long time.

I also started coloring in one of them, using my…large supply of colored pencils.  I have both Prismacolors and Faber-Castell colored pencils — the drawing pencils I have are very waxy and I think too muted for at least this image.  The two different brands I mentioned have different working properties.  In particular, the Faber-Castells are “creamier” — they’re oil-based, instead of wax-based like the Prismacolors.  But there’s no reason I can’t use the two together.

I initially picked up my starter set of Faber-Castells some years ago, before they did the color range expansion.  I think there are 120 different colors now instead of 100?  Anyway, in my set, they give at least two different versions of each primary color, then some secondary colors — the ones which are more lightfast, at least — and earth tones, plus a couple of greys, and black, possibly white.  (I know for a fact that this is  not the color range of the 24-set now.)  From having taken a color theory class I now know why there are two of each primary — it’s to keep the tones brilliant even when they’re mixed to form a secondary color.  If you want a green, for example — mixing a green-leaning yellow with a green-leaning blue will give a more brilliant green color than an orange-leaning yellow with a violet-leaning blue.  The extra orange and purple tones in each of the hues being used will mix, and result in a “muddier” shade.  Sometimes that’s wanted, but much of the time not.  ;)

I had thought that the Prismacolors had more “bright” tones, as contrasted with the Faber-Castells.  I’m not so sure that’s true, anymore.  Of course, my Prismacolors are largely even older than my Faber-Castells, so it’s feasible to say that perhaps they have dulled over the years.  I might be able to find out by seeing if the colors are more vibrant where they haven’t been directly exposed to air or light…but to be honest I’m not sure about them.  I can’t even remember how old I was when I got my first Prismacolors…and I know that many of my current collection are the originals.  I suppose if I really want to know, I have an X-Acto; I can take a cross-section.

But despite this, I have been having good luck with delicate shading.  It’s easier to work from light to dark when you have such direct, precise control over what you’re doing, and I am quite good with being delicate with pencils.  I think the non-objective aspect of what I’m coloring very much helps with this as well, as things do not have to be, well, “rendered” so exactly as they would if I were drawing something that would be compared to something actually existent.  That is, there is no pressure towards photorealism here, which I love.  And, you know, maybe that’s also a reason to stay out of classes, besides my GPA being at risk.  There is just so much pressure that I’ve found both in writing classes and in drawing classes, at least, to push one towards reproducing reality.

Sometimes reproducing reality is not the point, though.  And sometimes the pressure to do so is harmful to what really does want to come out, because then you start thinking about how real you can make it look, how believable it is.  Then when you get into the place where from investigation into the project’s own structure, you “know” it isn’t believable, and you know where all the holes are — it can cause you to lose faith in the entire project.  But the proof of a piece of art or fiction isn’t in its logical coherence.  That’s just the surface.  There’s something beyond that, I haven’t been able to name it or pin it down yet; but to me…as someone mystically-inclined, I can see it is much more important than surface details.

It’s just that every class I’ve taken in art or writing, besides the Graphic Design ones, and Ceramics…have emphasized photorealism, or “writing from experience”.  Which leads to a lot of reproduction of what already exists, to avoid getting into the rather unexplored territory of how not to do things the way one learned in class, and still be successful in one’s endeavors.  And by “successful” I don’t mean “making a lot of money.”  I mean “communicating,” and though that can be extrapolated out into “communicating what one intended to communicate,” I believe the latter statement to be fairly well impossible, due to the subjective nature of art.  The most you can ask, perhaps, is to be able to touch others…hopefully in ways that benefit them.

I’ve been inspired a bit recently to continue reading the Art History text I never finished.  There is a Renaissance design or two in one of the books I have access to, which has gotten me interested in that period.  And after this, maybe it would be good to study Islamic designs…if we’re going for the nonobjective angle.  I’ve also recently become interested in Hindu Goddess worship (I have access to many yantras via one of my books, which also gives some notes that the designs are taken out of their cultural context while providing a taste of same), but I won’t get into…coloring sacred designs, until I have firmer grounding in the religious/mystical context they originate in.  But the yantras are very beautiful, and peaceful-seeming.  I had been interested in Saivism, but Mahadevi worship…if it is called that, I am piecing together what I know of Sanskrit…it seems as though being female-centered may be more peace-generating for me.  Of course, still knowing that all is One…

Both the yantras and the many Islamic designs I’ve found, especially on viewing things like the Alhambra — do have the effect of calming and touching me.  And though I know that my experience is specific to me, I do consider these works successful, just because they were successful in eliciting a healing response.

To get back to the ‘practice’ section of this post…the very very bright colors in my Faber-Castell collection are good for adding specific elements of color.  I have this one particularly bright green which would be very loud on its own, but when added to an already existent buildup of colors, it provides very clean, bright color.  It provides a good punch of green and yellow without a lot of grey.  The same thing I’ve found with my Canary Yellow Prismacolor — it is pale on its own, just enough to add a mood, but added to an existing yellow-leaning ground, it enhances the colors it’s applied over.

I didn’t have a lot of time to work on this tonight, I did more reading and cooking; but I do have something to note from when I talked to someone (who should know what they’re talking about) recently about my Process White.  They say that they think it is called “Process White” because it’s the same type of ink used in offset printing, which is good to know.  I wanted to know if it was lightfast or not, and I suppose I can now hold a tentative working assumption that it is not.  I do have a good amount of white gouache that I can use for anything not requiring a pen application.

The other thing — I picked up a yellow Tombow today.  XD

I should really get some rest now!  :)