There’s a lot to like about drawing with colored pencils. They’re utterly convenient—a handful of colored pencils and a pad of paper are all you really need to start creating. Prep time and cleanup are practically non-issues, the materials are light and portable, and you don’t need messy or toxic solvents.
Category Techniques and Tips
Every year, artists travel through Europe to discover the perfect composition for their next painting. Others seek to copy masterworks from prestigious museums in order to develop their work. But for artist Karen Noles, inspiration was right in her backyard the whole time. Noles lives on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, an open reservation that also houses non-Native Americans like herself.
Q. Our painting studio, where we teach oil painting, needs some sort of system to catch brush-cleaning waste. We receive federal grants and need to be in compliance with federal and state environmental regulations. Can you provide information on which disposal system we need and where it can be purchased?
Q. I mistakenly applied glossy damar varnish to an oil painting that had been drying for several months, but I wouldve preferred a matte finish. Is there a way for me to still give the piece a matte look?A. Damar varnish, made from the resin of coniferous Asian trees, is applied to oil paintings to protect them from dust and other airborne contaminants.
Q. I have a large oil painting, 36×48 inches, which has been cut. The cut is clean, only about 1? inches, but is right through the canvas and in roughly the center of the painting. This is one of my best works and I would like to know if there is any way to repair such damage. As I mentioned, I painted it in oil, using Liquin medium, on canvas, and sprayed it with Golden MSA (mineral spirit acrylic) varnish.
Anne Bagby, an artist from Winchester, Tennessee, gave up still life painting for mixed media and collage. She will often get obsessed with a certain pattern—paisley, for instance—until she tires of it, and then she’ll move on to another pattern. For her collages, she uses three kinds of paper, each inexpensive and easy to come by:Lineco archival tissue paper available online or at craft storesDeli paper (essentially tissue paper that’s been covered with acrylic) from Sam’s or CostcoBook paper/paper from old atlases available from eBay.
Q. What is Claybord and what are the advantages of using it? What medium is it best suited for? Is it archival?A. Claybord, manufactured specifically for use by artists, is a registered trademark of Ampersand Art Supply ( 800/822-1939). Its characterized as a hardboard material prepared for compatibility with a variety of media.
A chance photograph captured the quiet mood of a rainy late-night street scene and became the inspiration for artist Ann Nihals painting, Rainglow, Raymond Avenue, Poughkeepsie (watercolor, 7×12). The deserted sidewalks, a single parked car and shimmering puddles of reflected light from shops long since closed down add to the tranquil feeling of the piece.
Q. I’ve heard about people copying drawings onto watercolor paper using a copier, but when I tried it, the ink bled. Is waterproof ink available for home copiers?A. Yes, I’ve heard about this, too, and have done it. Your home copier, however, probably uses water-based inkjet ink, which may be the cause of the bleeding.
Strong drawings often play a pivotal role in representational art?they provide a framework that can make or break the final work. But even if you?re still developing your drawing skills, a good likeness is within your reach. There are some easy and reliable tools for improving the accuracy of your drawings, and getting familiar with these will help to give your paintings the strong foundation they need.
Stippling is many things: It?s challenging and satisfying, yet it?s frustrating and mundane. It?s not a technique for the weak-willed, for the time and commitment required to create a successful stipple drawing are considerable, but the range of values and the subtle effects you can achieve with it are truly unique.
After you’ve gathered your tools, begin working on your technique. Colored pencils’ translucence lets you use them in glazing layers. The process is similar to watercolor techniques but produces an oil painting effect. For example, if you use an underpainting of lighted areas with various yellows, the light will shine through subsequent layers of pencil.
Trilogy (colored pencil, 30×20)I work primarily in colored pencil and am drawn to scenes of high contrast. My mind operates on a 24-hour creative clock, picking up ideas for my artwork from songs, dreams or just walking down the street. To solve the problem of too little time and too many ideas, I’ve developed some timesaving techniques that can help you increase your production.
Q. Is there a shelf life for acrylic paints? What can I do to make them last longer?A. You should be able to store your unopened acrylic paints for a few years without experiencing significant changes in their consistency or working qualities. However, there are several factors that reduce their shelf life and may render then useless.
Q. I haven’t used a fixative for my pastel paintings for more than 30 years because of the fixative’s tendency to change the color of the pastel pigment. I’m considering integrating more wax-based pastels just to try the metallic pigments, though, and would like to start using fixative again. What fixative(s) would you suggest to use with multiple brands and types of pastels?
Abstraction isnt the most popular artistic mode around. Sure, it has a loyal (and growing) group of practitioners, and it makes up a large portion of whats hanging on the walls of fashionable New York art galleries. But many artists and appreciators tend to keep their distance, perhaps because theyre intimidated by it or because they dont trust those snooty galleries.
Q. Ive made a collage of tissue paper and watercolors on foamboard, assembled with acrylic collage medium. Whats the best way to protect this type of work? Would a solution of Elmers glue and water be sufficient, or is there a special varnish available?Barbara LipkinNaperville, ILA. While Elmers glue may have its uses, it was never intended to be used as a varnish, and with good reason.
Q. Since Ive started painting, Ive done portraits of a few friends and secured a few commissions from around my neighborhood. Now I want to start taking on more commissions. How do I create a larger client base and where do I find more people interested in commissioning my work? If I cant find interested people, does this mean Im not ready to take commissions?
Large paintings can be extremely difficult to transport. If you absolutely must roll the painting, here are some guidelines:Make sure the painting is thoroughly dry on the surface—at least two weeks.Keep in mind that a young paint film is more pliable than an older, brittle paint layer.Roll the painting face out.
What You’ll Need:• Pastel paper (8×10 white, sanded pastel paper that will accommodate your samples)• Wood board or very thick-ply matboard serving as a hard support. This needs to be an inch larger all around the perimeter than the sheet of paper that will hold the test samples.• The pastels you typically use• Opaque matboard cut to 1-inch-wide strips• Blue wool test card*• A mask* that contains a strip of colored material with blue-gray rectangle• PencilOrienting the sheet with the longer side placed vertically, draw horizontal lines to form boundary divisions that will contain your pastel test samples.
Every watercolor artist has experienced an accidental back run—when a drop of water creates a “bloom” in a freshly painted wash. But for painting leaves, flowers and trees, I like to use intentional back runs to create mottled color, a feeling of foliage and the appearance of uneven lighting conditions.