Yes, you read that (not-so clever) title correctly: I have completed one of the pieces of the dozen or so I need for my spring art show already! You may not be in shock, but I am since normally my pieces take at least two weeks (usually closer to three) from start to finish.
So to finish one in a little over a week? Did some of the thousands of milligrams of caffeine I consume each day work their way into my colored pencils? Were the colored pencil gods smiling on me? Or did I just buckle down and scribble away? Maybe a bit of all three.
But enough intro, let’s meet the newest addition to my portfolio.
No, no, don’t get excited and start raving about what a fabulous artist I am. This is simply the photo I worked from. When I saw this image by Louise Petrick on my source site, I was captivated by the intense look in the zebra’s eye (and I just really like zebras).
Starting out I knew I wanted to try the new set of pencils I bought before The Vacation and hadn’t had a chance to use yet. They’re Lyra Rembrandts (because if you name a pencil after an artist, it makes buyers think they will create masterpieces). Like the Faber-Castell Polychromos I’ve been using, Lyras are oil-based which means they deliver nice colors without the issues wax pencils have (although I do still use my wax-based Blick Studio colored pencils on a regular basis since I’ve had no waxy problems with them).
The Lyras were a bit of a challenge at first because they don’t hold a sharp point as well as the Faber Castells, but eventually I got used to them and ended up using a combination of mostly Lyra with a few Faber Castells and a few Blick pencils. Everything in moderation, right?
With this piece I really wanted to keep the warm tones of the original photo. The oranges and yellows and browns to build this warmth meant I was risking turning my zebra into a tiger-zebra hybrid (Tibra? Ziger?), but I kept the application light to avoid any Dr. Moreau moments.
The whole piece was going great and going fast. The small strokes to imitate the fur and the lack of layering (except on the black stripes) helped speed the process along. (These were the same techniques I learned to use when I created Borris.) At this point Mr. Zebra was looking terrific and was turning into quite the social media diva.
All that was left was the muzzle. This part looks okay in the photo and if you view it from a couple feet (or more) away, but I’m not thrilled with how it came out if you look at it up close (perhaps, I should get those museums buzzers to keep people from approaching the art!). I abandoned the small strokes I had been using and began filling in with some layering giving the muzzle a “too heavy” appearance. Still, I gave it a top layer of small strokes to help add some texture.
The next challenge? A giraffe portrait that will use similar techniques. Also, because it uses many of the same colors as Mr. Zebra, I don’t have to put away my pencils and sort out new ones. A time saver indeed!
Have creative techniques you’ve taught yourself to save time? Have a favorite wild critter? Share a comment below; I’d love to hear from you!