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.

IMG_0232 (1)

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!


13 thoughts on “Hop on Over and Meet Popeye

  1. Ooooh wow! That’s really good. 😀 You remind me of the artists who have their pictures on the tins of crayons, the ones who make you think that if you buy these colours you’ll be able to achieve something as amazing! I wish I was half as good!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! That’s too funny because I have bought pencils based on the cover picture and then wondered what magic the manufacturer used to get the pencils in the tin to do what is shown.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It certainly does…I think I’ve got it down to about one hour per 2-inch square. Well, most days anyway – some days are worse than others. 😜


    1. Awww, now I’m blushing. Yes, like all kids these days he grew up having his parent put awkward photos of him online…so glad social media wasn’t around during my childhood (I shudder just thinking of the things my mom would have posted)!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha, that makes two of us! Although I think the main problem for me would have been my questionable fashion choices – it’s bad enough that PAPER photos exist of my classic magenta anorak and fluorescent yellow wellies combo 😆

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My mom’s forte’ was taking photos of my embarrassing injuries, bad perms, awkward “chubby” stage antics, and of course me sleeping in contorted positions. Must go destroy that evidence before she learns what a scanner can do.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Eeek! Get shredding! I’m lucky that our family photos were a less spontaneous affair… The worst thing about them (apart from my clothes) is the rather strained smiles we all have, after my dad had spent 5 minutes getting the focus just right!

        Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.