Wednesday, February 06, 2008

charcoal and coloured pencil beach, evening light

Evening Light across the Beach. Vivien Blackburn. Charcoal and coloured pencil

This is the charcoal drawing on grey paper that I showed you unfinished here: http://vivienb.blogspot.com/2008/02/seascapes-update-february.html (scan down past the painting to it)

I said that I was mulling over whether to simply use white pastel for highlights and keep it monochrome or add colour - and if colour what medium???

I decided to try coloured pencils over the charcoal and see how they worked - they worked! I wanted to keep the colours very muted, this kind of evening light softens and dulls colours and the cliff was deeply shadowed and backlit.

I worked in multiple glazes of colours to softly build white, blues, mauve, umber, sienna, peach, orange, ochres and a little green on the cliff top which doesn't show much onscreen as it's only a little. The peachy colours are a little less orangey and more peach than they appear here. The clouds have blues and browns in them. The light blues in the sea and pools are a pale electric sort of blue. The icy blues contrast with the warm peachy sunset which warms some of the sand.

The softness of the charcoal is still there and it shines through the loose glazes of colour.

It was pure experiment. I had no idea whether it would work successfully or not but my lovely rich polychromos and Lyra skin tones coped fine. The paper had a tooth which held them well and helped create texture.

It's rather like using grisaille in oil painting.

Today Katherine has done an excellent post on tonal values in work http://makingamark.blogspot.com/2008/02/composition-why-tonal-values-and.html

I absolutely agree that tonal values are usually what is missing in my beginner students work - they've done what could be a good painting but without pushing those values it's simply an OK one. Paintings are about light on the subject and those tonal values are the key to showing the light you want and to sculpting those 3D forms. The soft diffused light of a Gwen John to the chiarascuro of Caravaggio - each so different and so interesting and one key reason is because of how well the light is seen.


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14 comments:

artything said...

Hi!
Lovely the colour works just right and as I have just posted a sescape in the past couple of days found it very interesring as i love all things Cornish!
Chris

vivien said...

Hi Chris

I did my degree as a mature student as well :) - isn't it a buzz ?

I had a look at your blog and seascape - very nice :) I hope the solo show went well.

Jeanette said...

The colours work very well in this. It has an almost stark feel to it, yet very appealing. It reminds me a little of David Blackwood's work.

Katherine said...

Thanks for highlighting my post Vivien.

I think the combination of the coloured pencils over charcoal has worked remarkably well. We could be seeing the start of a trend here!

vivien said...

it was an excellent post Katherine :)

It's surprising what odd mixtures work isn't it? Lindsay has done a really lovely series using oil pastels and graphite - another mix that is far from traditional.

It's nice to push the boundaries :)

Jeanette thank you - I don't know David Blackwood so I'm off to google him :)

Dusk when colours are barely there is a really interesting time to try to catch and I've got a bit hooked on it at the moment!

Suzanne said...

Beautifully done, Vivien! I especially like the reflections in the foreground and the orange/peach in the clouds.

laureline said...

I like this VERY much! Your subtle palette and textured marks make this a very powerful piece.

vivien said...

thank you both :>D I really like the subtle colours as well as the vibrant ones

Lindsay said...

Vivien, this is a VERY successful combination. The feeling is very much in keeping with what you are describing in the words...I'm trying to say that your media matched the mood. Just a technical question, are you using conte? vine or compressed charcoal? Did you spray the charcoal with fixitive before glazing on the cp? Your choice of colors is very effective.

vivien said...

Hi Lindsay :) thanks

it's willow charcoal and yes, I fixed it before glazing the cp over it - and it didn't lift at all once fixed so the colours stayed clean - areas of it show through still and others are affecting the colour overlaid. The grey paper also shows through in parts - a pale warm grey.

The paper had a tooth - I tried it on a small scale with cartridge paper and though it did work it wasn't quite as good as this rougher paper.

Lindsay said...

Thanks for the technical information. I going to try this too. You got such rich darks with the vine...and it's such a sensitive medium.

Sherrie said...

A lovely piece, Vivien! Well done!

vivien said...

thank you Sherrie :)

I look forward to seeing your experiments Lindsay :)

Gesa said...

Many said this before me, but I think this is excellent! I love the moodiness of it, and in particular the orange/peachy hues offset the charcoal just perfectly.