View Full Version : Two white irises...and three buds

Katherine T
08-07-2007, 03:50 PM
I did this back in June when I was doing my Georgia O'Keeffe project on my blog. It was the first one I'd done where I was consciously thinking about "notan" which is an approach to design which she employed - which involves thinking in two or three values only.

Given the thrust of the O'Keeffe project towards macro images, I noted this neat tip about cropping on my blog post (http://makingamark.blogspot.com/2007/06/georgia-okeeffe-month-two-white-irises.html) about this one...........

I'm really enjoying the selection of a photo and the cropping stage. I seem to find that it works best if I choose two to three photos (eg of white irises) and then try different crops on each until I find one that works. I almost always don't crop closely enough to get a macro image in the first two or three goes. For me it works more easily if I use the slider on the PS Elements crop tool to make the area I am 'removing' completely black so that I see the final crop in its 'purity' unencumbered by shadowy surroundings. Much the same as would happen in the past if one was using mat board to create a crop.
This is my (final) thumbnail sketch which I did first - probably the most difficult bit of the whole drawing!


This is the drawing in coloured pencil which resulted. It's 10" x 8" and is coloured pencil on Saunders Waterford HP.


08-07-2007, 04:06 PM
Katherine, very pretty colored pencil work. As for pencils, I have worked mostly with pastel pencils. I used them when my husband and I traveled by motorhome for a few years. It was easy to carry them along.

I like the softness you have achieved in the flowers and buds, very pretty colors. Would like to know more about "notan", so will visit your blog.


08-07-2007, 04:27 PM
Lovely! Wonderful delicate petals.

Katherine T
08-07-2007, 05:12 PM
Jeanette - The book which explains it all - and where O'Keeffe started is called Composition by Arthur Wesley Dow. My copy came from the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe!

I had two specific threads

Georgia O'Keeffe month: Learning about Notan #1 (http://makingamark.blogspot.com/2007/06/georgia-okeeffe-month-learning-about.html)
Georgia O'Keeffe month: Learning about Notan #2 (http://makingamark.blogspot.com/2007/06/georgia-okeeffe-month-learning-about_18.html)Notan also cropped up on a number of threads of both mine and people who joined in with the project

These are the posts (http://makingamark.blogspot.com/search?q=notan) which are most relevant

Ranger Dan
08-07-2007, 06:22 PM
Great work Katherine! I never thought of doing a sketch for a color pencil (or any other) piece. But I have just done that for some koi I am toying with doing in color pencil.

Katherine T
08-07-2007, 06:28 PM
Thanks Dan

Did you see the koi which won the CPSA top prize last year - here (http://www.cpsa.org/GALLERY/WINNERS2006/AWARDS/Koffenberger06.html). Check the size!

The general principle is that I do a thumbnail for everything - except if I'm using a photo as sole reference and then I find I quite often greyscale and crop until I'm happy with it. If the design and value pattern doesn't work in greyscale, it isn't going to work in colour! ;)

08-07-2007, 07:32 PM
Beautiful work and a great description of the thought processes, and artists and their thought processes, behind it :)

I too find the computer useful for cropping and making compositional decisions.

I'd also say further on cropping, don't always stick to paper sizes or traditional formats, consider the subject and adjust the proportions to add drama or interest. And I know that means custom framing - but if the painting/drawing is better that way, then so be it.

08-07-2007, 10:49 PM
Very nice work Katherine. :clap: :thumbsup:

Val. :wave:

Ranger Dan
08-07-2007, 11:32 PM
Did you see the koi which won the CPSA top prize last year - here (http://www.cpsa.org/GALLERY/WINNERS2006/AWARDS/Koffenberger06.html). Check the size!
OK, I'm tossing mine in the trash! Now THAT is some fine cp work! :lol: I was thinking of using a dk brown paper so I wouldn't have to color all the darks in. We'll see. Do you typically use white with your work?

Katherine T
08-08-2007, 02:35 AM
Dan - there's lot of different ways of producing coloured pencil work and I find it pays to select the support which seems to be most appropriate to the work - and also to be aware of the ways in which you can perform shortcuts to get good saturated colours without having to spend hundreds of hours

I almost invariably use qood quality hot press watercolour paper for my florals if working in CP - my absolute favourite is Arches. The main reason for this is that I tend to use a lot of optical hatching and I need the white support in order to get the juxtapositions of colours to 'read' and also to try and keep the colour looking as if it might be translucent - the 'petal effect'! :rolleyes:.

However if working in pastel I always used coloured abrasive grounds!

The problem with coloured supports for CP is you need to understand something about how different artist quality brands work with different colours. For example, with some papers, the light colours just sink in completely (yellow is a particular terror!) and it's very difficult to get and maintain the value pattern which you plan. Others can be fine.

If you want to do a large piece - and don't want to spend a zillion hours on it - then a number of CP artists now use solvent to dissolve the CP on the paper or board to get saturated colour as a background or in specific areas very fast. The best solvent to use is Zest-It which is non-toxic. That way a piece can still be 100% CP and therefore eligible for the big CP competitions.

I've organised a lot of my links to website information about this and the different sorts of supports for CP on one of my "Resources for Artists" squidoo lens (http://www.squidoo.com/groups/makingamark) - I think you'll find the one for coloured pencil (http://www.squidoo.com/colpencils/) will give you some ideas about what might suit your work.

Do come back and ask if you have any other queries though. My one recommendation is that it's always a good idea to try out lots of different ways of doing CP - there is no one standard way, no one paper that "everybody" uses and the main thing is to find out what works best for you and the way you like to work.

Charlie's Mum
08-08-2007, 05:19 AM
I do like the subtlety of the colours in this - as well as the crop and comp!

08-08-2007, 08:41 AM
So soft and beautiful. I find that it's very hard to draw white flower, I tend to ower work them.

Katherine T
08-08-2007, 08:56 AM
Thanks Val, Maureen and Marianne

I find with white flowers that the main thing is to find as much colour as you can without making it look silly. Plus the colour it sits against is really important.

I have to confess though with this one I made myself stop even though I wasn't sure I'd finished becayse I was also afraid of over-working.

08-08-2007, 09:31 AM
Very beautiful Katherine---- I love the soft look of this painiting in CP. Margot

Katherine T
08-08-2007, 10:00 AM
Thanks Margot. CP is a greatly under-rated medium - and yet it's absolutely wonderful for those of us who prefer dry media to working with brushes.