Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Since the days of art school came to a close, I have been selectively purchasing art instruction books in search of technique advice and some sense of art dialogue. And I mean very selectively. The great internet transformation of all habits made it possible to research art books, as though this were an innovative new gadget one is seeking to buy, not so much a treasure one randomly comes across in a store. A book I found particularly helpful from just about cover to cover is Botanical Portraits with Colored Pencils by Ann Swan

Color pencils are a tricky medium. They lend themselves equally well to spectacular realism and spectacular failure. Simply by being the toy art supplies of children or creators of fan art, who have perhaps that genuine spark and love for the act of drawing, but hardly any sense of form yet, let alone exposure to supplies of quality, pencils forgive and encourage grainy unfinished doodling. They are really not ment for that type of sketch though, if one can judge a medium for where it shines at all. I have used them so, for sketching, and provided that the paper surface is not overly toothy, it appeared a worthwhile method to jot down the moment, spontaneously and with some suggestion of color - psychochromal most often rather than realist. It's useful. But color pencils really shine in form building and painstaking reiteration of color detail.

Ann Swan's book made me realize the possibilities, explained the behavior of pencils themselves (soft or sharp point, prone to breaking or not, fugitive of color fast, etc.) and paraded in front of me work that takes this method to the very edge. And so, I finally felt equipped to tackle color space. No need was there to change my hand movements or deal with the beautiful but disarming accidents of water media, or stubborn delicacy of brushes. Here was the same old pencil, just in color.

And here is my first experiment:

It was odd eating this pineapple. when I was finished with its portrait. I had gotten to know it so well over the several days, biting into it felt bizarrely special.


Tamara M. Norman said...

Mariya, your pineapple is quite lovely. I love the way you express your thoughts and experience in words, and your drawing is so smooth!

Mariya Pantyukhina said...

Thanks, Tamara.