View Full Version : Too Good To Use... Hardbound 2004-05

08-28-2010, 05:16 PM
Here's the one I should have filled and used carelessly without worrying about whether everything in it was perfect. A friend of mine gave it to me in 2004 for my birthday. I was thrilled, it felt so luxurious to have one that was hardbound with an elastic band closure. It was too good to use for anything but the best finished, polished, perfect showoff drawings.

Five years later... nothing in it is perfect or anywhere near as good as I'd do with it now. Some are pretty good. Most were done with a lot of time and attention.

I only used nine pages in this sketchbook and I have layout lines marked on the next six for various sizes smaller than the full page. I got tired of not using margins and decided to mark up margins before drawing. Then never went back to it or did anything with the dragonfly sketch.

I've since learned my lesson and put gesture sketches in Moleskines that cost four times as much as this one. I would've learned faster if I'd just kept using it and used it up, filled it and moved on to fill more of them till I had a nice shelf of full sketchbooks. That's what the hardbound ones are good for - they shelve nicely and can be stored with hardback books in a good looking bookcase when they're full without looking ratty.

So here's my blast from the past. Compare it with my current ones and laugh, because some of them have basic errors in layout or structure that were nonetheless finished, polished and detailed perfectly for days. Would've been great if I'd also known how to sketch then!

Pages are in order, oldest first.

Elf from Imagination - graphite, 2004.
I redid this chap about four times, darkening his darks and adding textures, adding background that he didn't have at first. He doesn't look as real as he would if I'd used a reference, but he's definitely a fantasy drawing. Could be worse. Could do much better now if I did him again from scratch.

Water Lily Scene - colored pencil, 2005.
I thought this was the height of colored pencils realism at the time I did it. I thought I'd blended and layered my colors so subtly. Little did I know that a pastels class in 2009 would completely change how I look at color and make this look so crude... there is a lot I'd change here. Though not the layout, the layout actually worked on this one. I might try using toothier paper too if I were going for a layered and burnished look.

Orange Flowers - colored pencil, 2005.
This one's all right, nice and saturated, I got a more burnished texture on the flowers themselves and didn't bother with a background. For what it is, I still like it a lot.

I'll put these in three posts, since there are a lot of them.

08-28-2010, 05:24 PM
Hey, 6 years ago you were better than I am now! :lol: I like the style of your strokes on the first one. And you were definately very good with CP back then as well.


08-28-2010, 05:26 PM
The next three are fun.

Carboniferous Shore - colored pencil, 2005.
This one is still pretty cool paleoart. I like it, unfortunately I wound up working right out to the edge of the paper in all directions. That made it a little hard to handle. Several animals are copied from other artists' illustrations and then markings changed, textures and colors added, so I wouldn't actually use this for anything like submitting to a paleo blog place. But for practice it's pretty darn good. Took a long long time to finish!

Compare it to my recent colored pencil nature studies. I think I've improved since then, but not so much that this stinks yet.

Little Brown Bird from Life - watercolor, 2005.
The little leaf buds on the branches are from imagination and wishful thinking. The little brown bird actually perched by my window a good long time, long enough to more or less get its markings right. I have no idea what it is, not being a birder, but it was a little brown bird up in the high branches next to my 4th floor window. An early experiment in loose Asian-influenced watercolor painting.

Just seeing this reminds me that I'm not anywhere near as housebound here as I was living there. Here on a good day I can get down into the rest of the house easily, get myself a snack or go out in the yard without going down five flights of stairs - the house was on a hill on top of it.

This is also where I broke the idea that everything in it had to be colored pencils realism. I felt bad about how empty the whole sketchbook was and decided I wanted to use it more as a sketchbook.

Winter Tree and Shadow - graphite, 2005.
Viewed from above on a winter day with snow all over the ground. I lived in Minnesota and couldn't say what month it was, but I'd been wishing for spring and put the leaf buds in the previous one hoping for them. This is more what it actually looked like, bare trees and shadows of branches over the snow. It's actually fairly accurate.

It also took me a couple of hours to do it as opposed to the life sketching I'm doing now. I look at it and can see a big difference from how I can sketch today - I could get that much texture and even a fair amount of that detail in much less time because I'd be doing the detail after blocking it in.

So that's three more pages of it - one more post and we'll be at the leading edge, the current empty pages with their layouts planned.

08-28-2010, 05:58 PM
Back to colored pencils realism - my resolution didn't hold. Especially when the winter tree came out well, I went back to the idea that this fancy hardbound sketchbook ought to become the showoff book filled with accurate, detailed realism and lots of polished colored pencils realism. I was extremely proud of this next one, even more than the Carboniferous Beach Scene.

Iris and Leaves - colored pencils, 2005.
Awed by the accurate details in the flower, which is seen from above? I was, all through the process of drawing and painting it. I still am. Trouble is, I did not also show the cluster of iris leaves around it as they looked looking down at the plant, so this iris has a stem with a 90 degree bend in it tilting the oversized foreshortened flower toward the viewer from plants that are pointing up toward the sky. It's defying gravity. It looks both real and unreal at the same time, and that really makes me laugh.

But for an iris seen from above, the flower itself did come out beautiful and accurate. What I'd do now is work out the background during the blocking-in and keep it consistent with the foreground, as well as keeping the light consistent. It's not. The lighting in this is coming both from the flash bulb facing it and the sun above the leaves on those leaves. Eep!

It may be the very best example of getting the details right and the drawing dead wrong that I've got in my sketchbooks. Today's irises are looser but at least if I put the plant in with them, they're growing on that plant instead of getting cut and pasted over it!

Gala Apple Upside Down on White Plastic Surface
This one came out well for what it is. Inspired by the artwork on the tins for Blick Artist Colored Pencils, I did a fruit on a smooth white plastic lid. The story behind this is interesting - this is why I now love still life.

I had relocated to another state and had a delay before I could get food stamps that turned out to be six months. I had one month's food stamps in hand before I left. I turned that into as much cheap nonperishable food as I could bring with and managed to make it last three or four months... but the last couple of months before I got food stamps, I had even eaten all the ramen and scraped every peanut butter or preserves jar. I had no refrigerator so hadn't bothered with anything that wasn't boxed or canned.

In the middle of that literal starvation, a neighbor gave me an apple. I didn't really like apples much, either to draw or to eat. Bad teeth make an apple's hard texture difficult to handle, I need to cut it up. I was that hungry, not having had anything for weeks, but also in the stage where hunger wanders off for days at a time because I didn't expect to eat soon.

I fell in love with how it looked and could not eat it. I hung onto it for three weeks studying it before I dared to draw it. I wanted to get it perfect, to remember the way it looked in the afternoon sun. It was the most beautiful apple I'd seen in my life. I posed it upside down so that it would be more interesting, not the cliche apple right side up.

It took three weeks even to start this drawing and days to finish it. When I ate it, that apple was incredible. It was the tastiest apple I'd eaten in my life. I've liked apples again ever since. I cut them up with my pocket knife the way I did that day and don't bother to try to bite them with my bad teeth.

Now, I draw things like this all the time. I could do an apple or any other fruit so easily, even in this style but also in others, and make it come alive. But I always remember this when I do - it changed how I felt about food still lifes. It connected me with times and places where artists did not have supermarkets and an orange in the composition traveled in a wagon, not a truck, arrived weeks later and only in season wherever the artist lived. When even prosperous skilled artists and artisans sometimes went that hungry depending on how the harvest went.

The trite painting of a bowl of fruit and a bottle of wine that comes up in cartoons to represent artwork, thought of as so bland, it's got some deep history to it. It's got something visceral about it that makes it beautiful. A lot of those masters dwelled on bread too, would get its difficult textures and light value fluffy centers perfect in paintings that awed me as a kid. Being able to own and hang something like that in those days meant that you probably wouldn't have to do without the good things in it.

Now I look at it and also see how I laid it out badly on the page with extra white space, but not quite enough to do another good drawing on it. That's fine, I can sacrifice a little paper for a memory that rich. But it's also something to learn from.

It bugged me. So the last thing in the book (currently) is this.

Dragonfly Sketch - graphite, 2005.

The sketch is measured off to 5" x 7" because I wanted a standard size in case I did this in a way that I'd scan and mat prints. Unfortunately, looking at the sketch, it has some serious problems with anatomy and proportion. They're serious enough to me that I'm not going to bother correcting them and reworking it, just leave it as the example of how I drew five years ago that it is. It's not a bad layout.

So that's what I have so far in this old sketchbook. I don't remember what brand it is. I think it was called Basic, but I'm not sure. Blick doesn't carry Basic ones and none of the brands they list have the elastic band and pencil loop that this one does. It might have been from Jerry's Artarama or ASW though or it might have been discontinued. There's a Canson Basic one at Jerry's but it hasn't got the elastic band or pencil loop.

Ahh, found it. It's the Reflexions one, though that now has cream paper and this older one has bright white paper. The cover and band and pencil loop features are still there. I guess the fashion changed and the old models with white paper have been superseded by cream paper, not that it matters much. I do know I can replace it with something similar when it's used up.

So... should I keep this out and start filling pages rapidly with my new quick-sketch techniques or continue to save it for slow detailed finished works? Suggestions appreciated. I thought y'all might be amused to see what I did five years ago... and see how much I've learned here at WC.

I know it shocked me. Honestly, I believed everything in this book was perfect until I scanned it again today. I haven't looked at it again since we moved to Arkansas and not for a while before then... because I didn't feel like trying to do something big, slow and perfect in colored pencils!

The replacement book is normally $6.99 on Jerry's Artarama and currently $5.99 there on sale. It's a perennial item. The Moleskine Folio that I've been putting mistakes in and scribbling two minute cat sketches in cost me about $24 and I've been using it more.

I am laughing about this, so laugh with me here... and don't string yourself up like that on your sketchbooks!

08-28-2010, 06:05 PM
Hey, 6 years ago you were better than I am now! :lol: I like the style of your strokes on the first one. And you were definately very good with CP back then as well.


Thank you! You're seeing why I thought I was already good at drawing when I joined WC - but I've learned so much since then and learned so much just the past year that I can see a major difference. Read some of the text with the later ones!

08-28-2010, 08:25 PM
Robert, these are beautiful!!! I also like the one with the reptiles at the beach... You forgot to put their swimming trunks on though. No just kidding. Ha, ha!

08-28-2010, 08:38 PM
I'd say you defintely should go ahead and finish this book up with your new sketching style. You'll have evidence in the same book of your progress. Hmmm.....that's an interesting idea. A sketchbook used just to demonstrate your progress. Do only one sketch every couple months so that it takes years to finish it.

What you said about the graphite tree is interesting. I've noticed as well that as I've practiced over time I can sketch more accurately, with more detail and in less time.

I think the little watercolor bird sketch is quite good though!


08-28-2010, 10:22 PM
Awesome blast-from-the-past. Love the dino :)

08-28-2010, 10:43 PM
While I can see what you are saying about mistakes in your drawings, they are still very good. I definitely think you should use the book in some way. After all, art supplies aren't just for sitting around. :wink2: I like David's idea. Take this one out once in a while and add a sketch or two, kind of a snapshot of where you are as an artist as you progress. It may take a few years to actually fill it up, but that's ok, it's sat this long. You might even stick to the realistic colored pencil drawings as the bench mark, since that is the theme you started with.

08-28-2010, 11:36 PM
Thank you! Actually, I'll be switching to Pitt pens, pen drawing, pencil, light colored pencils sketching and other thin-paper techniques. Maybe a few Asian style watercolors or sketch and wash but not much.

When I did this book I didn't understand surfaces as well as I do now. I didn't realize how much better Stonehenge is for layered colored pencils realism, or multi-media paper for wet applications. So I'll shift over to the mediums that work best on this paper and use it at the pace it goes. With what's in there now there's enough variety I don't think it'll be too jarring.

But from now on anything that big gets worked out small first and blocked in! No more starting from details and fill the page with layered CP glazes... when I do one of those I'll do notans first, plan it and block it in. I had no idea those preliminaries would be that helpful!

08-29-2010, 09:17 PM
I loosened up with a Pitt Big Brush pen sketch of the Chinese Dragon in the WDE - that breaks the "all polished finished colored pencils paintings" completely. Sorry about the slightly irregular lines, I sketched directly with the pens and tonight my hand's starting to shake a bit, so I did the best I could to compensate for it. Photo reference by Agnesdale.


08-29-2010, 11:50 PM
Nice stuff as usual, Robert! Interesting to see your older sketches - definitely can see progression in your ability, even though these are great as well. I particularly like the flowers here.

08-30-2010, 03:12 AM
Cool dragon.

08-30-2010, 12:56 PM
Thank you! I've got this out in reach now, so I'm going to relax and just sketch in it the way I did in the ProArt one till it's full. The paper's very similar and the size is just right for scanning. I'll just be sure to leave a gutter or use the penciled in layouts that I did the last time I fooled with it.

08-30-2010, 06:09 PM
Hard to believe that you have EVER thought that a sketchbook was too good to use, but I'm glad that you showed us the sketches. That iris is spectacular!

08-31-2010, 03:11 AM
Thank you! I hope the next one comes out even better - with the leaves shown in the same perspective as the flower. Right now it seems a little surreal to me. But the flower did come out just right. I might work from the sketch next time, it's detailed enough.

08-31-2010, 07:46 PM
It's like you found an old friend! I like your drawing from imagination/fantasy pics, and your dragon looks fine to me. Sorry to hear the hands were shaky - it must be frustrating for you but the work looks great - go with the flow and we might see a whole new style from you (am thinking about Degas and Matisse how their later works changed ;) )

09-02-2010, 07:47 PM
Yep, it is like finding an old friend. Finding out I can draw so much better now has also got me loosening up and sketching in it. Actually using it for what it's for, not as a library of refined colored pencils paintings!

Today's Conte sketch isn't too bad at all. You're probably right about Degas and Matisse - I adjust to it and sometimes things come out okay after all... as long as I keep them simple and broad.

My Usual Breakfast
Scavenger Hunt 190, #1
7" x 10"
Conte crayons, black and sanguine
Hardbound sketchbook paper.

09-02-2010, 08:26 PM
I am enjoying seeing the sketchbook art! Please tell me, what/where are the scavenger hunts? It looks fun, like a list of things to draw instead of find. Is it a thread here or does a person make it up for themselves?

09-02-2010, 11:53 PM
Do you at least wash all that down with some fruit juice or tea? Great drawing, but not my idea of breakfast.

09-03-2010, 12:23 AM
Oh Robert! I can relate to your breakfast to a certain extent :( But the positive is that the regime helps to have some semblance of "normal" life, right? Besides the sadness of needing these things - the sketch is a delight, the loose broad stokes have a certain liveliness and descriptiveness I think (plus I like conte and have always been a sucker for sanguine!) ;)

09-03-2010, 10:06 AM
Coffee, not tea or fruit juice. Got to have my coffee, it's part of making myself functional. To be honest, I don't usually eat breakfast because I don't usually get up in the morning! I'm a night owl. I stay up late and sometimes see early mornings because I stayed up late all night.

I hated breakfast when I was a kid or in high school because I'd get forced to eat it whether I felt sick or not and it was usually my favorite foods. It was such a complete waste to get sick after eating something I loved at a time of day it didn't taste good. What I really wanted was breakfast food at midnight. Once I was a grownup, I often went to Denny's for exactly that.

I never actually wanted to have a semblance of normal life. What I want is a rich, full life with as much good time as I can get. That means pacing it to what I feel and building the habits that give me more energy regardless of what the day-schedule world is doing. Back when I could work, I found it a lot easier working graveyard shift than "normal life" day schedule.

I was stuck with the symptoms for decades without knowing what caused them and honestly believed everyone dragged through life on the edge of desperation forcing themselves to get through that much pain. The pills are freedom to me. I literally had no idea what it would be like to have a day without pain until after I got proper diagnoses and started getting these medications. Now the milk thistle extract is doing a lot to knock back the chronic fatigue.

I've lost about ten pounds since I started taking it, all by moving around more and having the energy to stay awake longer. So these aren't that scary from inside, from inside it's like, wow, now I can do things I couldn't do before. Doing without them and being pressured to pretend nothing's wrong, that's the scary part, thankfully the worst is behind me.

What's funny is that if they came up with a real cure for everything that ailed me, even managed to regrow my bones to come out symmetrical and I could do anything other people could... I would probably still not be a morning person or want a normal schedule. I'd still be a free spirit balancing solitude and socializing, late night writing and daytime art. The only thing that's drawn me into staying up during the day now is that I feel more like drawing when I've got better light.

Candace, here's a link to the Current Scavenger Hunt. (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=672231) A new one starts every nine days, with a one-day overlap in case anyone still wants to finish up things from the last one. Regulars take turns hosting and making up the list, if you participate once you can sign up to host one. They are a lot of fun. Get into the habit of doing them and your life sketching skills will start to explode.

I love Conte sketches but for some reason don't usually do them that often. Mostly I think it's that the Conte set is down in the drawer and not out on my drawing table in a pencil cup. I should leave it out so that I do more of them.

I've decided this sketchbook is now the heir to the regular ol' sketchbook thing - the one I'll scribble in, do Scavenger Hunt stuff in, draw and sketch anything that comes up or test new materials. If a few good drawings come up, yay and good. But if I use it up I can get back to the spiral binding ones that are easier to scan and fold the cover back around themselves.

I used to be so impressed with hardbound sketchbooks because they'd turn up in stationery stores for $20-$25 as this high-class thing that I thought you had to have massive talent and skill to use on top of a fat budget. The price comes in much lower online and I've come to value sketchbooks with higher quality paper more than the type of binding.

The main thing is that sketchbooks are no good if they never get used because I'm not good enough yet to fill them end to end with good drawings. The friends I knew whose sketchbooks were filled end to end with good drawings all started out filling a dozen of them with bad drawings, test swatches and the occasional spot of finite perfection.

If I keep my Conte crayons out, I'll break away from super-detailed realism and do more of that broad, loose sketching that comes out so well. It rests on getting the perspective right and the masses placed well, not so much on getting the wood grain of the pencil point and shading of the enameled barrel just right. Those are fun too, it's just a matter of which medium to use.

I'm also going to keep my Pitt pens handy, get used to sketching more with those Big Brush ones because they're great.

09-03-2010, 11:35 AM
Hi everyone! I think I found a bargain sketchbook! Hobby Lobby has an art supply "house brand" called Master's Touch." My book is 8.5x11, classy textured black hard covers with double-spiral binding. 80 sheets of 70 lb. acid free paper good for most everything including light wash. I have used graphite, op's, pastel pencils, wc pencils, all nice. Don't know how to say it right but it feels "cottony" to the touch, not slick. Price is $7.99 but using the frequent 40% coupon, it is only $4.79! No shipping if you have a local store, so a pretty good deal! (And 5.5x8.5 is just $3.59 with coupon.)
I just filled mine after taking a Robert Sloan challenge from a hub site of his- to fill a book in a month. That has been marvelous for my sense of self as an artist!!!! Robert I posted to you there...
Thanks Robert also for the Scavenger Hunt info. I don't have equipment to upload at this time but will use the idea for my next sketchbook challenge!

Joan T
09-03-2010, 01:06 PM
Robert - I enjoyed seeing your sketches. That iris is gorgeous!!! Your writing about the apple made me smile. After looking at it and planning your sketch for so long, it must have been an altogether different experience to eat it!

09-09-2010, 06:26 PM
Candace, that is wonderful! Have fun with that. I love finding something that's got a good price to begin with and then get a big coupon on it - - that's perfect for a sketchbook to fill in a month. I ought to try to do that myself one of these months - especially with a letter size one instead of cheating by using a small book with relatively few pages.

Joan, thank you! It was incredible. It tasted so good, it was heavenly. I've done apples that well again since then, several times, but that time was the first time I really got it accurate and it was after so many days of study that I've had no trouble with any of them since. It was wonderful.

It also opened my eyes to what still lifes of fruit really mean, or flowers - the ease in life of being able to have flowers and not just necessities, the pleasure of having enough food and enjoying fresh fruit. It's a wonderful, positive experience that it's too easy to ignore growing up in a country where supermarkets provide everything from all over the world all the time without seasonal shortages.

Did some Conte sketches for Scavenger Hunt in it again today. It's good for lightening up and sketching big too! Back when I did these, I hadn't gotten the knack for using a large page, now I've got much less problems with layout. I still used the lines that were on there but they're not such a big deal now.

Scavenger Hunt 191, #5-6-7
8 1/2" x 11"
Conte crayons
Hardbound sketchbook paper, thin white drawing paper.
"Sharp" is the end of the same short sword/long dagger/hobbit sword that I did in colored pencils ages ago for a Scavenger Hunt or two. Didn't have room for the whole thing this time. Plus a couple of rocks I have around for still life objects.

09-10-2010, 04:23 AM
You make rocks look so effortless. (Then again you make a lot of this look effortless.) Great stuff.

09-10-2010, 03:46 PM
Awesome, Robert! I especially like the orange flowers, the iris and the graphite tree. I was really reluctant to put things in my moleskines at first too. Now I just draw, paint or sketch in them with abandon. Some are stinkers and some are turn out ok. I was at a car dealership just today for car service and had my sketch kit and the watercolor moley with me. I did sketches of new cars in the showroom, chairs in the lobby, etc. When I was leaving, one of the salesmen asked me to show him my sketches and kit. Said his wife would love to have things like that so I gave him the names of websites to check out for supplies and of course told him to have her check out WetCanvas!


09-10-2010, 04:55 PM
Debby, thank you! I think with rocks it's that I've literally done thousands of them. I started doing rocks when I was a little kid. Before I even went to school I was drawing pebbles and rocks because my dad was a paleontologist. I had a rock collection.

I was in awe of the way he could draw rocks - you had to be able to draw well to be a scientist in his day. He also showed me a lot about how to get texture and how to show the shape exactly by careful shadowing. I think rocks were the very first thing I could actually draw well.

Dena, that's so cool! I'm glad you're overcoming the "too good to draw in" feeling too. It's great to be able to sketch anything, anywhere. That's so cool you were able to sketch the showroom cars and chairs, those are some subjects I'm nowhere near as good at as rocks. But I'd try it if I were out there! Neat that the salesman asked about where to get your watercolor Moleskine. You saved him a fortune by telling him about the websites. When I see them in office supply stores they run a lot higher (though not online).

Three more Scavenger Hunt sketches today. I had this page marked off with great big margins so I just stayed within them. When I get past all the previously marked up pages, I'll use simpler margins, like half inch ones. Or just go back to laying it out to the shape of the page since the book fits on the scanner just fine.

Scavenger Hunt 191, Items #10, 11, 12
6" x 9" (on 8 1/2" x 11" paper)
Mungyo Gallery soft pastel half sticks
Hardbound sketchbook with about 65lb white drawing paper.
From life, like anything for Scavenger Hunt. (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=681851) Every nine days a new list gets posted by one of the regulars, the idea is to find objects that fit the descriptions and draw them from life in your choice of medium. It's a great activity for boosting your life drawing skills!

09-11-2010, 12:58 AM
Splendid sketches for the hunt items.

Vivien Maloney
09-11-2010, 03:17 PM
Terrific sketches Robert! Interesting to see how your work has evolved with time. I saw some of these in the Scavenger Hunt, but always enjoy looking at your work and see something different every time I look.

09-11-2010, 04:09 PM
Thank you, Debby! I want to do some more of them today, only got today and tomorrow for this Hunt but everything on it should be doable unlike some of them. So I may get back into this one today, do some quick drawing.

Viv, thank you! Yeah, since I started the sketch-mania last fall, I'm coming up on a year of it. The differences are striking when I look at last year's stuff.

09-21-2010, 07:08 PM
Back to this book today for the Oil Pastel challenge. I got these pastels from Blick in a thank-you box a couple of months ago, that was great of them. I've been keeping them handy and may do some more with them, they've got a great texture for sketchbook work.

Flower - Pink Petunia
6" x 9"
Faber-Castell Creative Studio oil pastels
Hardbound sketchbook paper, smooth white 65lb.
Photo reference by oldrockchick for Sept. 2010 Oil Pastel Challenge.

09-21-2010, 07:25 PM
Wow, that is intense. The colors are so deep.

09-21-2010, 08:01 PM
Pastels make me anxious, because I feel like I have so little control over them, but nothing beats their intensity. Very nice!

09-21-2010, 09:12 PM
Ooooo this is so cool! Love that bright cerise pink!

09-22-2010, 12:23 AM
Debby, thank you! That's the fun thing about oil pastels, being able to get strong color like that with only a couple of layers.

Bootz, thank you! One trick with oil pastels to keep control is to just work a bit larger and don't expect to get as much detail. Have you ever tried oil pastels? You mentioned crayon art, they handle a little more like that but are much more opaque and a bit softer. Dry pastels, soft pastels (sometimes called chalk pastels but only the student ones have chalk as filler) are dustier and a little harder to control. Work big and it's much less of a problem.

There's also tricks for getting hard edges and fine details by using tools, scraping and so on - read my website on it, the oil pastels site is in my signature. I just added a new article today with this painting in it, it's my demo painting.

Rachel, thank you! I remember my grandmother had petunias exactly that shade of bright cerise pink, the photo reference reminded me of them but I was adjusting the color to fit my memory of her garden in the summers. It's funny, the more I paint, the better my visual memory is even for things that happened long ago when I couldn't draw yet and didn't understand color.

09-22-2010, 11:28 AM
Kind of like when you smell something it takes you back! I'm sure it happens visually also. Theres always something magical about a Grandmothers garden! I have fond memories of mine :-)

09-22-2010, 08:40 PM
Yes Rachel! Willow trees and oleander plants remind me of my gran's garden. It was nothing fancy but the willow tree was fun to climb as a kid!

Robert those oil pastels do have a lovely deep colour - have you tried using them with thinners to get a more "painted" look? I must confess they look too messy for me ( I might get my hands dirty!) and, obviously, I wouldn't be able to get those tight details that drive me insane.... ;)

09-22-2010, 08:57 PM
Thank you! Yeah, I have tried thinners with oil pastels, they work well. Most of the time I do that on underlayers and work over them though. On the outermost layers of oil pastel works I like to have more of the pastel texture, though I've sometimes used a colour shaper to blend them smooth and push color into small details. I've done realism with oil pastels before, about 5" x 7" or 4" x 6" in size. I haven't tried doing realism at the ATC size but anything larger, I can manage it if I'm careful with them.

It is possible to get a lot of tight detail with them. Different brands have different textures, in some ways that's easier with Sennelier oil pastels. They're very soft, more like thick paint, exactly like painting with lipstick. Bring in rubber Colour Shapers to push the color around and clean up hard edges and it's very easy to get tight details and realism. Just not usually down onto ATC size, though I may give it a try sometime.

They do get on my hands a bit but nowhere near as much as dry pastels. I keep the papers on the sticks and just peel them at the top when they wear down, unlike some pastelists that take them off. It's not hard to keep clean while working as long as I keep a painting rag at hand to wipe my fingers.

09-22-2010, 11:06 PM
O it is worth getting fingers dirty to feel the scrunch and smoosh of oil pastels!! Small unwrapped pieces mess me up but a simple paper towel now & then keeps it reasonable and plain soap & water wash it up. Because they are wider than any pencil medium I can fill up a sketchbook page rather quickly with a bold impressionistic scene or still life. Very satisfying!

09-23-2010, 12:45 AM
That's a beautiful flower Robert. I have a small oil pastel set but like most of art supplies I've collected I haven't got around really doing anything with them yet. The use of thinners or mineral spirts concerns me though, and I know I'd be tempted to try that. Especially with your health issues, who knows how that might effect you over time? Unfortunately these art supplies are really not as non-toxic as the labels might seem to lead us to believe. Even those of us that are healthy now could over time develope issues with constant exposure. My other hobby is model building and I use CA glue a lot, (Cyaonacrylate or "Super Glue") and I developed an allergy to the fumes it produces. It took my a while to realize that it was my glue that was making my nose run, eyes water and sneeze. I'm now using a form of CA glue called "Foam Safe" that for some reason doesn't cause that allergic reaction in most people. So far it's been good but now I'm a little gun shy and try to use it minimally and I definately don't take the Dremel grinder to it, (now that generates some serious fumes!). I know of people that one whiff of CA glue will put them in the bed for several days. Anyway, the whole point to that story is I am leary of anything that gives off fumes. Even if it doesn't seem to effect me while I'm using it who knows what damage or effect it's having on my body over time?


09-23-2010, 02:31 AM
Thank you both! Candace, yep, when I use my oil pastels I work large. It breaks me free of the miniature format, I at least get up into the postcard to letter size paintings.

David, I don't worry too much about the fumes. I don't use thinners very often and do have great ventilation in my room with the HEPA filter I got to deal with pastel dust and dust in general. I also use Winsor & Newton Sansodor for my thinner or Bestine rubber cement thinner or a citrus paint thinner cleaner that unfortunately can't be used as a painting medium. I use citrus for all the cleanup and Sansodor or Bestine for thinner effects on colored pencils or oil pastels - unless I'm using watersolubles and just use water.

I rotate what mediums I use so many times that really, I'm probably not getting regular exposure to anything but pigments. Which is why I keep painting rags handy including damp ones to keep washing up while working.

09-23-2010, 06:34 AM
It's not hard to keep clean while working as long as I keep a painting rag at hand to wipe my fingers.

I use non-alcohol baby wipes, they are fantastic at keeping your hands clean, and to "correct" any mistakes..... especially when I use mixed media and get acrylic over the oil pastels part.... I just gently wipe the acrylic paint off and voila!!!!!

Oh they are fantastic for removing dried acrylics off canvas, paper, brushes and hands too!!!!!


09-23-2010, 03:01 PM
Stacey, that's a good idea. I don't usually have them around but I remember those were good for just about everything. One thing I love using for my hands is the Artist's Hand Soap. I got a small bar in the "Artist Survival Kit" along with Kiss-Off and Master's Brush Cleaner-Conditioner and loved how well it gets everything off my hands, even oils. It's better than Lava, which is what I used to use back in New Orleans.

Got back to pastels today because that little Mungyo set was handy and I was watching free videos at Jerry's Artarama. An oils demo gave me the idea of trying it in pastel - here it is, I think it worked!

A Wave Study
8 1/2" x 11"
Mungyo Gallery soft pastel half sticks
Hardbound sketchbook 65lb smooth white paper.
Inspired by "Crashing Waves" oil painting video by Wilson Bickford at Jerry's Artarama.

09-23-2010, 03:03 PM
Oh WOW!!! YES it worked!!! This is awesome Robert! Took me by susrprise actually, a very powerful piece!! :thumbsup:

09-24-2010, 12:12 AM
Very cool. Took me back to watching the waves on the coast.

09-25-2010, 06:07 PM
Thank you! I was so surprised it came out well. I'm going to have to do some more surf scenes, have always been fascinated with surf and oceans.

Here's some entries I did for the Plant Parade on the next page:

Frangipani Page
8 1/2" x 11"
Lyra Rembrandt colored pencils and Pitt Artist Pens including big brush
Photo references by Dewi for Plant Parade. I think they looked a little better separated into two images, with the ragged edge on the bottom one and with the colored pencil being so much lighter than the pen painting. But I still like the page as a whole.

09-25-2010, 06:09 PM
The flowers you did in colored pencil are the same you showed on the other thread in water color? I think I like these better. But, I couldn't tell you why exactly. I'm still amazed what you are doing with those Pitt Pens.

09-25-2010, 07:36 PM
Yep! Same flowers, the ones on the bottom are from two more references, the big square one is the same reference as the watercolor in my Pentalic sketchbook. This month's Plant Parade is all frangipani in different colors.

09-26-2010, 01:30 PM
I LOVE Frangipani flowers! (plumeria) and have one growing in a pot in our garden, had it for about 3 yrs now. Its a pale yellow one, very pretty! Great job on these!

09-27-2010, 07:18 AM
That is so cool, Rachel! Thank you - if you're used to seeing them all the time and like this, then I must have gotten the anatomy pretty well. Thanks!

09-27-2010, 08:24 AM
FANTASTIC frangipani flowers Robert, and you have them spot on. I just LOVE these flowers and the one out the back is starting to shoot new leaves, so by mid-summer, I should have a plethora of flowers just begging to be painted from life! HEHEHE

09-28-2010, 04:56 PM
That is so cool, Rachel! Thank you - if you're used to seeing them all the time and like this, then I must have gotten the anatomy pretty well. Thanks!

Oh absolutely! Recognized them immediately! Trouble is .... you've now made me want a few more in different colours LOL! :eek:

09-28-2010, 06:59 PM
Stacey, thank you! That's wonderful you have them growing in your yard. Looking forward to your life drawings of them. I love frangipani.

Rachel, thanks! Why not plant more in different colors? They have such a wide range and I'd love to have some if I lived where they grew easily.

09-29-2010, 06:38 AM
Both great flower studies but I think I am rather partial to the cp version - the subtle colour and the twisted new flowers waiting to open are beautiful - good job!

09-29-2010, 10:29 AM
Thank you! I think I got the transparency of the petals better in the CP version too, it came out very light.