Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Drawing stones

Drawing Stones
colored pencil on Rising Museum board
5.5 x 7.5 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Here is what I have been working on lately in colored pencil. A collection of stones, or river rocks, that I originally intended to draw in graphite. Then I realized that I really liked the subtle colors in these stones, so I changed direction and got out my colored pencils.
After I had a basic outline of the stones in graphite on my board, I lightly filled them in with cream and light yellow ochre. I wanted to have an overall warmth to the stones, which is why I chose the warm yellows as a starting point rather than the white of the board. My image above is darkened so that you can see this step, however the cream and yellow ochre were lighter in real life.
Here it is as I began to fill in the colors of the stones. As I moved from one to the next I also went back to previously drawn stones and made small adjustments in color and value.
By now I was really beginning to question my decision to draw these in colored pencil. So many subtle color shifts in each stone. Working on this drawing reminded me of a project that I used to give beginning students back when I taught part-time. It was usually the first project using color that I gave during the course. I would have them bring in a natural object and their objective was to make color swatches of all the colors they could see in that object. Accurately matching color was part of their grade. There were the enthusiastic students that would come in with a colorful autumn leaf, or a dried flower, or a sea shell. Then there were those other students, you know the ones I am talking about, who for whatever reason were intimidated and wanted to choose the easiest object possible for the project, so they would grab a green leaf or a rock from the parking lot on their way to class.

As the students would begin to make their color swatches it wouldn't take long before hands went up for help from the ones with the green leaves or the rocks. The green paint in their tube looked nothing like their leaf or worse, when they mixed their white and black paint the resulting gray didn't even come close to the gray in their rock. So we would start looking, really looking, at their objects, and talk about warm and cool colors, how to mix them, and how to make gray besides using black and white paint. These students with the green leaves and gray rocks would begin to notice that there were a lot more color variations in their objects than they first thought. And oh, did they struggle with what was suddenly a very challenging project.

This is what went through my head as I was drawing these stones in colored pencil. Just when I thought I had all the variations of value and hue represented in one stone I would look again and see something else happening! I was beginning to really feel sorry for all those students that had to struggle with my color project, way back when. Of course, I do realize that they were the ones who probably learned the most from the exercise. Just like I was doing from drawing these stones in colored pencil.
Here it is again in its final state, same image as at the top of this post. I am happy with it now, and glad that I chose to draw this image in colored pencil after all. Maybe I'll chose a sea shell next time.

31 comments:

Shirley said...

Your rock drawings are so amazing that I just want to stare at them forever. Could you come to visit and let me watch you do the coloring??

Vicki Holdwick said...

These are lovely, Ann. Can I come over to Shirley's too and watch??

xoxo

MaryO said...

I'm so glad you opted for color this time, Ann. This is such an elegant drawing!

Marie Plocharz said...

I enjoyed they way you documented your process and it's a lovely drawing.

E*phi said...

The color was absolutely worth the effort! It's amazing how a few stones can make such an impressive subject and lead to such a fantastic picture! Also, I really enjoyed seeing your intermediate steps! Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! <3

PS: What kind/brand of colored pencils do you use?

Ann said...

Shirley, I would love to come and visit you, and draw there too! Vicki, lets go!!

E*phi, this was done with Faber-Castell Polychromos.

Thanks all for your encouraging comments!

Jennifer Rose said...

wonderful job with the texture of the rocks. i want to reach out and touch them, they look so real :)

scratchyas said...

its extraordinary. i applaud you for your endurance on completing it - well worth it. and thanks for the step by step commentary, it's so valuable.

debra morris said...

Beautiful rocks Ann, and interesting step by step. Thanks for sharing

Sara Light Waller said...

What a lovely piece Ann. Your use of form, color, and texture is really wonderful. Thanks for sharing it with us. :-)

Rose Welty said...

Stunning piece Ann. Those students got a great deal -I think you taught them something they never forgot. This has the feeling of a challenge in it - I think I'm going to have to go find a pile of rocks!

Truly stunning!

Joan Y said...

I wish I had taken your class! I think lessons that allow you to REALLY see colors, are so enlightening! And I do love your beautiful stones. A lot of folks just think of a stone as being gray ... until they really see. For that reason, I'm so glad you chose to do yours in colored pencil. They turned out beautifully!

Sarah said...

Beautiful - and I like the composition very much too.

Gillian said...

Soft, delicate and even meditative. Beautiful work.

AutumnLeaves said...

Who would have thought a small pile of rocks would be so beautiful? (Well, I would, but then I'm a bit off the beaten path when it comes to such things! LOL) These are gorgeous Ann, and they make one stunning piece of art! Loved the story about your students too.

Karla said...

beautiful work!

Elena (Pelusa)h said...

Wow! Thanks for posting the process. So interesting! I love the final result.

MILLY said...

Beautifully recorded and your delicate and neat rendering makes this such a lovely drawing. The colours are so nice, enjoyed hearing about your thoughts as you worked. Always amazed how much you fit into a small sized paper.

raena said...

This is so awesome! Excellent exercise and thanks for the step-by-step!

Cathy Holtom said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing the process, I love your cp work.

PAMO said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous work Ann. Your dedication and determination shows.

Susan Walker Art said...

i agree with all of these and i wanna come to watch too! Another great great job. Inspired but chicken to attempt my rock collection.

Alex said...

Fabulous work! It's photo-realism, and I really enjoyed the work-in-progress

Ellen Burkett said...

Those are absolutely beautiful, Ann. The only problem with them is that I want to touch them, hold them, feel them. They ae perfect!

BarbaraB said...

These are gorgeous. You have captured the warmth and variations of color in the stones, plus the perfect shading. Thank you for sharing your process.

Peachtreeart said...

So soft and beautiful!

marancat said...

Absolutely beautiful - a real masterpiece.

Ann said...

Wow. Thanks everyone for so many kind comments!

drawn2life said...

This is STUNNING!

Lissa Rachelle said...

These rocks are simply unbelievable. Very impressive work!

nanke's stuff said...

They are so beautiful, and only an artist would find all colors and patterns in them like you have. I love seeing WIP posts - I always learn from them and this is no exception. Thank you! nancy

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