PEP tangles - my Zentangle Inspired Art blog

Saturday, 27 August 2011

MCC Colouring 101 Wk 3 - Seascapes & Blending

Links: Previous Post, Glenda Waterworth, My Creative Classroom (MCC)

from my sketchbook

Glenda's teaching of how to create both seascapes & skies using various watercolouring techniques has proved particularly exciting for me as some of my favourite images are those associated with the sea. 

Stamp Elusive Images (Chocolate Baroque) UA5SP0261 Seashell Collage,  Ink VersaFine Onyx Black, 
Cardstock Cotman Watercolour Paper Cold Pressed/NOT Grain Fin 190gsm
 edged with Stormy Sky & Tea Dye Distress Inks,
Colouring Derwent Aquatone Sticks Pastel Pencils, Daler-Rowney Artists' 
Watercolour Pencils & Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencil
It's been hard to know how to use this stylized bird but I'm particularly pleased with the realistic scenery I was able to create for him.

Cardstock Cotman Watercolour Paper Cold Pressed/NOT Grain Fin 190gsm 
edged with Tumbled Glass Distress Ink,
Colouring Cotman Pan Watercolours
This is a very hit & miss technique using pan watercolours & wet watercolour paper. I was quite delighted by the appearance of what looked to me as if it was the crest of a wave rolling towards the shore - just waiting for a surfer to ride it. My husband called it a tsunami.

Stamp Elusive Images (Chocolate Baroque) UA5SP0328 Mermaid Queen, Ink Memories Black,
Cardstock Cotman Watercolour Paper Cold Pressed/NOT Grain Fin 190gsm 
edged with Tea Dye Distress Ink,
Colouring Derwent Inktense & Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils
I found it particularly difficult to create a smooth wash using the Derwent Inktense pencils with water  - I lost count of how many backgrounds I created only to find that when I tried to blend a rather blotchy area I only succeeded in making matters worse & I had to start again. I love the detail I was able to add with the Polychromos pencils after the wash was dry & especially how I was able to define the black stamping so precisely since these pencils maintain a sharpened point beautifully.

I did some more testing of the Polychromos pencils on various cardstocks (Neenah Solar White 216gsm, Cotman Watercolour Paper Cold Pressed/NOT Grain Fin 190gsm, W H Smith White Card 220gsm & Southfield Bright White 160gsm) - this time comparing how it was possible to make a smooth transition between two quite different colours blending with a dry paper stump combined with normal layering of colours. As an afterthought I ran my finger over a purely layered sample to see if there was any smudging. All four cardstocks smudged a little under my finger but I had to rethink my earlier assessment of the W H Smith 220gsm White Card, for with normal layering & dry paper stump blending it was the smoothest with no streaking (where a subsequent layer binds on the one beneath it) whatsoever whereas the Southfield 160gsm - until now my favoured cardstock - streaks a tiny bit. I personally do not like the Neenah with the Polychromos & find the watercolour paper too uneven when purely layering without a wash beneath it although it blends beautifully with the dry paper stump. At the end of the day it is a matter of personal taste so the above photo can be clicked for enlarging to allow the making of a personal selection.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

MCC Colouring 101 Wk 3 - Facial Colouring & Pastel Pencils Meet A Challenge

Links: Previous Post, Glenda Waterworth, My Creative Classroom (MCC)

from my sketchbook

I have very few facial stamps & so used one of the images Glenda provided. I had expected to be able to colour all of the skin with the set of 12 Lyra Skin Tone pencils but found that I needed to supplement the set with my Polychromos in order to colour her cheeks. I also used the Polychromos for her eyes, lips, clothing & jewellery.

Digital Image - Glenda Waterworth, Cardstock - Southfield Bright White 160gsm
Colouring - Lyra Skin Tone & Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils with dry paper stump,
 Chipped Sapphire Distress Ink for edging cardstock

I was working on my pastel pencils exercise & not really getting very far until yesterday morning when it fell together as Glenda mentioned the purple poppies in her garden, gave herself a challenge & suggested anyone wishing to do so could join in with a piece of artwork. I hope my sketchbook exercise qualifies as "artwork." I'd not really thought about the fact that in Glenda's MCC tutorial she used a stamp including expanses of solid stamping which she mentioned could be defined further with a black pencil, especially if an area hadn't stamped crisply. Although my stamped image was fine I thought the contrast between the creamy colour used for the scrollwork & the surrounding design might be effective. I was surprised by how much that small detail added to the final appearance & include the above photo (click to enlarge) of my first corner being coloured to illustrate the difference. Leaving little debris & maintaining a sharpened point the oil-based Polychromos pencil was a delight to use in this manner.

Stamp Elusive Images (Chocolate Baroque) UDLGGSP020 Summer Poppies.
Ink VersaFine Onyx Black.
Colouring Derwent Pastel Pencils & Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils with dry paper stump.
Cardstock Southfield Medium White 225gsm.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

MCC Colouring 101 Wk 2 - Rounded Application

Links: Previous Post, Glenda Waterworth, My Creative Classroom (MCC)

 from my sketchbook

Glenda uploaded a YouTube video on how to colour the Morning Glory digital image she provided for the MCC Colouring 101 students to practise with. The video itself makes fascinating watching, moreover Glenda's company Chocolate Baroque also sells an A4 Unmounted stamp sheet - UA4SP0151 Flora & Fauna -  including a very similar image.

I was inspired by the fact that the Morning Glory flowers in other colours apart from blue & decided to incorporate the violet aspects into my colouring. The above is not quite what I had in mind but I'm content that the flower looks realistic - even if these precise colour markings don't actually exist in reality.  Colouring seems to have a life all of its own with serendipity being very much part of my own creative process & allowing me a freedom that I'm loath to stifle.

I wanted to apply the rounded shading principles to a different image & so tried this rose. With hindsight I should probably have left the highlights white & not tried to give my rose red & yellow petals. It almost ended in the bin but I decided that it was worth keeping to act as a reminder not to over-egg the pudding.

Stamps etc... Morning Glory Digital Image provided by & copyright to Glenda Waterworth; Elusive Images (Chocolate Baroque) UA4SP0242 Harlequin Rose. 
Ink Memories Black.
Colouring Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils.
Cardstock Southfield 200 MIC Bright White Card 160gsm.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

MCC Colouring 101 Wk 2 - Rounded Shading & Shape, Pencils & Paper

 from my sketchbook

Prior to my first Colouring 101 classes this May I cannot remember ever having tried exercises such as shading spheres & cylinders, doughnuts & spirals. When attempting to colour a snail last summer I struggled to understand quite how to make the shell look real. Since then I have shied away from using that stamp - though snails are amongst my favourite images. After hours of colouring in May I made a start on the spheres & cylinders looking real but the doughnut & spiral defeated me as I could not grasp the shading relationships. I'm hugely encouraged this time round for I see progress since then & have tangible evidence of practice being the key to improvement.

hollow (left) & solid (right) cylinders 

doughnut & spiral (ammonite)

Rather than copying Glenda's examples exactly I wanted to try applying the same principles of colour theory & shading/shape by using different colours &/or images. Although this entails a certain amount of  bin filling it is extremely thrilling to make discoveries & the only way I can lose is not to dare to try.

I'm unsure about the highlight but it was magical being able to 
 achieve the gradations of colour simply by layering pencil colours

My first encounters with pencils last year gave rise to many questions & through the class I've discovered  that others also struggle when it comes to choosing brands & papers. I thought it worth adapting some of Glenda's homework exercises in order to explore my own resources & to keep a record of my thoughts & conclusions. At the end of the day it will be a matter of personal preference & access to materials that will determine choice.

Cardstock for Polychromos
Using the same colours of Polychromos pencils I stamped & coloured the fish onto 3 different cardstocks: Southfield 200 MIC Bright White 160gsm; W H Smith White Card 220gsm; Winsor & Newton Lana Cartridge Paper 130gsm.

There is very little discernible difference in appearance but the real variations became apparent when applying colour to the surfaces. I was initially trying to improve upon the Southfield (smooth & bright white) with regard to the ease of laying down & blending layers of colour but found the other two surfaces even more difficult to use. I thought that the W H Smith would be an improvement as, although it is greyer in colour, it has more tooth. I found this surface too springy with the pencil almost making indentations in the surface unless I was extremely light-handed. Creamy in appearance & with a little tooth the Cartridge Paper seemed somewhat resistant to the application of colour & it was hard work laying down a smooth blend

Left: 25 layers of colour, Right: 7 layers of colour using Sansodor to blend along right edge

Discarding the Cartridge Paper I decided to try the heavier Craftwork Cards Digital Ultra Smooth Premium 250gsm Cardstock really giving each strip of card a hammering with 25 layers of Polychromos colour & then brushing my finger over the coloured surface. The Southfield was fine, just starting to catch a little as the layers were piled on. The W H Smith caught more & was a bit patchy as the layers increased, finally it smudged under my finger. The surface of the Craftwork Cards cardstock although smooth began to disintegrate before I had finished applying the 25 layers. 

The more usual application of 7 layers was tolerated by all 3 cardstocks with the Craftwork Cards being the smoothest but blending patchily with Sansodor & allowing migration of colour along the edge. The Southfield wasn't as smooth when layering but gave by far the smoothest blend with Sansodor & did not allow any migration at the edge. The W H Smith was also somewhat patchy in blending both by layering & with Sansodor, plus it allowed colour migration along the edge.

Wax-Based or Oil-Based
When Glenda demonstrated how to use a Blender Pencil during the first course I wondered if it mattered that I was using the oil-based Lyra Splender with the wax-based Derwent Coloursoft pencils. Since I had some Lyra Pencils I tested it out & found that it didn't. I have just discovered a technical book (The Ultimate Guide to Colored Pencil  by Gary Greene) which confirms my findings. 

Having discovered that the wax content of the Coloursoft pencils accounts for the debris & smudging when colouring I decided to compare my tin of 36 wax-based Derwent Coloursoft Pencils with my tin of 36 oil-based Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils (I came across these tins in a Sale when I first started crafting & impulsively bought them!!!!). I find the selection of 36 colours doesn't intimidate me but provides an adequate variety with which to work. For the above blending of colours I selected similar colours from each set & used the Derwent wax-based Blender for the Coloursoft & the Lyra oil-based Splender for the Polychromos.

Derwent Coloursoft
  • English wax-based available in 72 colours
  • give off debris when colouring & thus require frequent sharpening for finely detailed work
  • debris allows smudging & less defined edges
  • other wax-based brands - US Prismacolor Premier, Swiss Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901 

Faber-Castell Polychromos
  • German oil-based available in 120 colours
  • very little debris (if any) retaining a sharp point for finely detailed work
  • allows clearly defined edges with minimal smudging
  • other oil-based brands - German Lyra Rembrandt Polycolor, Swiss Caran d'Ache Pablo

Images Fish - Elusive Images (now Chocolate Baroque) UDLSP0330 Something Fishy; Circles & Cylinders - digitally provided by & copyright Glenda Waterworth.
Ink Memories Black.
Colouring Unless otherwise specified - Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils.
Cardstock Unless otherwise specified - Southfield 200 MIC Bright White Card 160gsm.

I would very much value any comments/suggestions regarding other brands of pencils & cardstock/paper.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Tools for the Job in Hand

In December 2006 we moved into a 1970s bungalow which was badly in need of updating. We have finally arrived at the lounge & the fireplace & with the builder having a slot starting this week work has begun. It is proving quite educational & I can see parallels with crafting techniques so thought I'd share some thoughts here.

Clearing some space
Around a thousand of my husband's books are shelved either side of our fireplace. These had to be removed as well as the shelving.

I like to start off with a space roughly 3ft x 15ins on my work counter where I have a glass mat & my Sor-Pal next to one another.

The right tools for the job in hand
This is what the builders used to cut through the concrete aggregate (breeze-blocks) of our walls. It creates a noise which is incredible & creates phenomenal clouds of dust. Our workmen looked like they had had bags of flour thrown at them. An ordinary power drill is just not tough enough for the task.

Similarly I like to use Tim Holtz's scissors for cutting out rubber & plastic as ordinary scissors really struggle to cut cleanly.

The right materials with which to build/create
This is one of the lintels (reinforced concrete with steel rods down the middle) being placed across the fireplace.

I use Glossy Accents to adhere heavier embellishments with - I know they will not fall off.

Two holes were made from the front, then one from either side of the chimney breast & the space between cleared for the first lintel to be inserted. This will initially take the weight of all that is above.

Similarly before I heat emboss I will wipe my cardstock with an anti-static pad to stop stray particles of embossing powder sticking & being embossed in addition to my stamped image.

Clearing Up

above was the appearance at lunch time & below after work finished for today I have to admit that I do not tidy everything away for the night when I am crafting but I am the only one who uses my space.