It seems like it’s been ages since I’ve shared a new piece of colored pencil art with the blogosphere. It’s not that I haven’t been busily wearing down my pencils, it’s just that other news keeps taking precedence over my little scribbles. But Popeye the Tree Frog is simply begging (in his croaky froggy voice) to be shown off.
Playing with Dura-Lar Again
You may remember a while ago I first experimented with Dura-Lar – a graphic film designed for pencil work (and markers too, I believe). Dura-Lar is not only archival but doesn’t tear, is moisture-resistant, and can take temperatures up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit (which is good since it’s nearly that in Portland this week).
My first project with Dura-Lar (a stained glass re-creation) was enjoyable to do and I love how it came out, but I wasn’t sure I liked working on the film. It’s super smooth so you can’t build up many layers of color (necessary for achieving rich colors and shading with colored pencils), so I was really hesitant to try it with my more usual realistic work.
But since I still had several pieces of the film tucked away in my notebook, I thought I should give it one more try.
The Little Frog That Could
I’ve had this picture of a gorgeous little tree frog in my To-Paint file for a looooonnnnggg time now. Finally, he nagged me (again, with his croaky froggy voice) to pull him out and give him a try. Apparently the Dura-Lar was nagging as well because for some unknown reason I felt compelled to work on it instead of paper.
One of the best parts of the film is that it is translucent, much like tracing paper. This meant I could simply slide my froggy photo under the film and trace the basic outlines of the flowers and frog….a huge time saver over having to draw everything out.
Then, as I do, I simply started working on one bit at a time. I honestly had no idea how well I’d be able to get any sense of realism with the the film. I began with a couple of the flowers and was pleasantly surprised. The film actually took more layers than I thought it would, allowing me to get some fairly realistic shading. After blending each part with a colorless blender, the colors really brightened!
With a few flowers under my proverbial belt, I couldn’t resist trying out one of his little buggy eyes. However, since I wanted to complete the flowers before working on anything else, this guy had only one eye for the longest time. Which is why he became known as Popeye.
Finally the flowers were done and it was time to break out the green pencils! Eventually he got another eyeball, but he’ll always be Popeye to me.
I can’t describe how amazed I was at the realism I was achieving. Popeye really popped (haha) from the scene and I still don’t know how I accomplished the sense of depth the image was showing (I have no idea what I’m doing most days and usually work based on the Winging-It Method).
Unfortunately, there was still the background to do. Backgrounds are truly my nemesis which is why I prefer subjects that take up the entire frame or to simply leave the background neutral. But Popeye couldn’t just hang out in white space, so I faced my fears and attempted a background. Ugh…
I thought of trying to do the leaves’ ribbing as in the photo, but knew this had too much potential for screwing up, so I opted to simply shade the leaves from dark at the lower bit to light at the top to help with the sense of depth a tad more. It was scary work, every pencil stroke could spell disaster, but I pushed on, facing my fears. The final result….
Searching for a Subject
Now that I’ve got a taste for Dura-Lar, I’m eager to find another subject to try. I’ve tried a couple botanical pieces, but they aren’t playing nicely, so I’ll be spending some time scouring my To-Paint files. Hopefully I can find a friend for Popeye somewhere in there.
Have a great weekend everyone and if you have a creative nemesis, I’d love to hear all about it!