Saturday, March 29, 2008

Having fun

EDM#164-Draw a camera
graphite in small journal

Here is my latest Everyday Matters challenge, my camera. I received this camera as a Mother's Day gift last year and I have taken A LOT of photos with it since then. It's fun having a digital camera.

Today I have been having fun with my art setting up a CafePress store. You can see it here. My motivation was primarily that I wanted some of these items for gifts, but I'm not telling who they are for, so don't even ask! So, since all these cool items are set and ready I thought I'd share them with you all too. And I may change them out from time to time - it's just too much fun for me seeing my art on mugs and mousepads!

And speaking of having fun with art, this was in my thoughts while I was playing with images for printing on various 'useful' items. There was a time when I took my art work very seriously. Fresh out of grad school and then later back in a university setting it seemed a requirement of sorts that creating art carried some sort of responsibility for the sublime. Just making pictures wasn't enough, where is the 'content' ?(a favorite academic buzz word). Playing with color, shape and light failed to provide any 'meaning' or profound message necessary. Art needed a 'why', not just a 'how' or maybe a 'what'. Then life happened. Hard. (if you know me you know what I'm referring to here) And for a time I could care less about seeing meaning in art. Each day was so profound and over-filled with meaning that a mere painting couldn't even come close. Assigning any deeper meaning to an art work seemed ridiculous. It took some time but I eventually came back around into the art process. Only this time with a slightly different perspective. I have little concern for academia's lofty ideals. My goals feel more grounded. My intent is to enjoy the process. And here I am having fun because I now know better than to take my art work too seriously.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Food and Art

Bosc Pear
4.5 x 6.5 inches
colored pencil on paper
copyright 2008 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky
click here to buy

Bartlett Pear
4.5 x 6.5 inches
colored pencil on paper
copyright 2008 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky
click here to buy

Here is my Bartlett Pear colored pencil piece along with its companion, Bosc Pear. These were enjoyable to draw. The pears were so richly colored that I couldn't resist buying them. They made very good models for art works!

And speaking of food and art, if you've been reading here a while you probably have heard me go on about kiddo's life threatening food allergy to peanut. Today I received a timely email from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network and thought I would share the news with you here. Some of you may be fans of the singer Trace Adkins, who will be appearing on the TV show, "The Celebrity Apprentice" and may find this interesting.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Challenges, challenges, and more challenges

I have been woefully behind with my Everyday Matters challenges these past few weeks so now I will make up for all that I missed by catching up all in one post! Since our trip to the coast I have felt renewed and ready to take on all sorts of new challenges. So just a bit of fair warning - this is only the start!First up is EDM#159 - Draw your favorite cooking tool. My chef's knife has to be my very favorite cooking tool because I can chop, dice, or mince anything with it and using it makes me feel like a chef on TV. This is done in graphite in my small journal.
Next up is EDM#160 - Draw a trophy, prize, or award. Okay, I have never received a trophy or won a prize. Except for one time around 1985 when I won about $20. from a $1 lottery ticket. I remember that I then used my prize money to buy a new shower curtain. So this is kiddo's trophy. She received it last year at the ripe 'ole age of 8 for having danced for 5 years. She was very proud and so were we. For days afterward, during unsuspecting moments, kiddo could be found just gazing at her trophy. This was drawn with Graphitints and then washed with water in my journal.
This time I cheated and combined EDM#161 - Draw something that smells wonderful, with EDM#162 - Draw your breakfast. I also drew this one with Graphitints then washed with water in my journal. Last Sunday morning I came downstairs to a wonderfully sweet smelling kitchen. Kiddo had made cinnamon buns for breakfast. No, this is not my usual breakfast. Oatmeal is my usual breakfast fare. But these are an occasional treat, super sweet and gooey, just the kind of food a 9 year old loves!
And finally, EDM#163 - Draw a deck of cards. This is an old, old deck of Bicycle Playing Cards we have had forever. Drawn in graphite in my journal while I was waiting in the car when kiddo was in one of her classes last week.

So there you have it. It is fun doing these drawing challenges. And have you noticed that I am branching out just a bit from my usual graphite for these drawings? Must be March Madness!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Comparing colored pencils

A while back Rita asked me, "how do you find the Coloursofts compared to other pencils that you've used? Pros? Cons?", and I promised her I would address that question in a blog post. First of all I have to say that I really enjoy experimenting with this medium. A little over a year ago, if someone had asked me about differences between colored pencil brands I would have been stumped for a reply, thinking they were all pretty much the same. But then I began actually using colored pencils, trying various brands, and reading about other artists' experiences with colored pencils and which brands they preferred. I soon realized that choosing the colored pencil brand that is right for me would be no easy task.
When I received my first set of 24 Prismacolors as a gift I started out using them over graphite drawings. Looking for more information about drawing with colored pencils opened up a whole world of possibilities. So I started experimenting. To date I have yet to purchase a complete set of any one brand. I have been fairly happy with Prismacolors when working on pastel board but prefer Faber-Castell's Polychromos when working on paper. I must have a heavy hand when drawing and the softness of Prismacolor colored pencils quickly becomes a heavy, waxy mess when I use them on paper. Polychromos, however, are oil based and a bit harder, which works with my drawing style a little better when I work on paper.

The images here are Polychromos on Strathmore 500 Series Bristol, 5 x 7 inches. The pear above is an underpainting, or grisaille, using walnut brown, and the image below shows the completed pear after I colored over the underpainting with local color.
I love the feel of Polychromos colored pencils on paper and intend to continue using them this way. It is also helpful that they are available locally in open stock so I have been able to supplement my original set of 36 purchase.

I have tried using Polychromos on pastel board, another favorite support, and have not been as pleased with the result. The hardness of the pencils that works so well for me on paper doesn't translate for me to the textured surface of pastel board. Prismacolors work well enough although at times they can be a little too soft leaving a bit too much of a waxy deposit on the board. Plus there are issues with the leads breaking, doesn't happen often but it can be irritating when it does. And then there is the whole lightfast issue. While regular Prismacolors are readily available open stock in my area, the lightfast sets are only offered as sets, and then only occasionally.

So, my most recent experiment was with a 24 set of Derwent's new line of Coloursoft colored pencils. Overall they seem to have better lightfast ratings than regular Prismacolors. And so far I haven't had any issues with breaking leads. When I used them on pastel board they felt to me to be ever so slightly harder than Prismacolors, a little less waxy, yet still soft enough to lay down nicely on the textured board, even with my heavy handed drawing. All in all I feel that the Coloursofts are to be my colored pencil of choice for works on pastel board. The biggest drawbacks for me are that the range of greens available are somewhat limited (I'm hoping they will continue to add more colors though!), and they are not available locally in open stock. In fact, the one local art supplier that does carry them does not carry the complete set, only the set of 36. So planning ahead for orders is needed.

And there you have it. Of course, these opinions are based solely on *my* experiences with these products and will vary greatly with each individual. And I'll probably experiment again the next time a new colored pencil product hits the shelves. After all, that's part of the fun!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Little treasures

If it seemed a little quiet around here this past week it is because we took the week off to go to our favorite destination, Edisto Island, South Carolina. We had an absolutely magical five days of warm sunshine and frolicking on the beach with kiddo and the dogs. We packed an outrageous amount of art supplies and brought home way to many seashells. We saw brilliant sunrises, enjoyed excellent meals and the good company of a dear friend. And I took hundreds of photographs which I am hoping will be inspiration for months to come.

I also managed to do a few sketches. Now I am not at all sure of what I am doing when it comes to watercolor, so these were really just for play. They are a sampling of pages from my Aquabee sketchbook. This first is a few shells done with pen and watercolor washes.

Next, I tried sketching a few beach finds with my new set of Graphitints. This was a little easier for me to handle.

This little fish was a knick-knack in the beach house we rented. I tried using watercolor pencils for this one. This charming beach cottage was filled with all sorts of delightful accessories. It was a beach cottage we hated to leave. With its play of light through the palmettos it held a magical feeling.

The beach scene was begun with watercolor and then continued with watercolor pencils. I didn't finish it the way I had planned though. It seemed we were somewhat of a spectacle on the beach and interrupted by passers by, curious to see what hubby, friend, and I were doing with all our art supplies. One curious beach walker even took our photograph!

All in all we had a very pleasant time and I am quite satisfied with my new abundance of reference photos. Clearly, though, I need much more practice with water media if I intend to record more images this way in my sketchbooks! But it was fun. And I do have the study of watercolor on my list of things to do!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Greenway Path

I'm much happier now. Today I got to finish up a big design project and actually see it off to the printer. Yay! Now I'll have a little more art time. And, I did this little experiment with my Derwent Coloursoft colored pencils.

You may remember from my last post the issues I was having getting the Coloursoft pencils to lay down well on pastel board after I had my underpainting of Neocolor crayons. The Neocolors are rather waxy and the Coloursoft pencils just didn't get along with them very well. So, for this experiment I used watercolor pencils for my underpainting and the Coloursoft pencils went down beautifully over them. I was so happy with the result of this process that I now have quite a list for my next art supply purchases, once that free-lance design check arrives!

The first image below is the work in progress, still showing some of the areas washed with watercolor pencil, before the final colored pencil layer was applied. It actually looks a little too washed out in this photo, the color washes were more saturated than they appear here.

And here is the final piece, after completing the Coloursoft colored pencil layers. My only complaint was that I was working with a smaller set of Coloursofts that didn't include many of my usual color choices. But it was fun to do anyway and I really liked using these colored pencils.Greenway Path
7 x 5 inches
colored pencil on pastel board
copyright 2008 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Quiet Shadows

Quiet Shadows
Neocolor II and colored pencil on pastel board
8 x 10 inches
copyright 2008 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

This has been on my drawing board for a long time. I finally had the chance to work on it this weekend and I believe I have it complete. Although I do reserve the right to tweak it just a little as I live with it for a while.

I recently got myself a set of 24 Derwent Coloursoft colored pencils mostly to see what all the fuss was about. I was curious about Derwent's new line of Coloursoft pencils ever since seeing the gorgeous pieces Nichole Caulfield produces with them on pastel board. And the fact that they tend to have higher lightfast ratings than some other brands is also something to consider. I tried them out on this piece with mixed results. I began this drawing my usual way with Neocolor II crayons as an underpainting, washed with water. When applying the Coloursoft pencils over top I was at first pleased with the way they laid down on the pastel board. But after a while I began to feel I was fighting with these pencils. I also used a few Prismacolor colored pencils and could tell the difference in their application. The Prismacolors feel a bit waxier and the areas washed with Neocolors seem to accept them better. Probably because Neocolors are very waxy as well. The Coloursoft are more powdery when applied to the textured pastel board and when I tried my technique of blending with a brush I found I was brushing a lot of the pigment away. So back and forth I went. However, I am still intrigued with using my Coloursoft pencils and will likely try them again. Now I just wish I had ordered a larger set!


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