Friday, March 30, 2012

WIP - Day One

Well now, I think I am ready to begin a new colored pencil drawing using the techniques I am learning from "Colored Pencil Painting Bible" (Techniques for Achieving Luminous Color and Unltrarealistic Effects) by Alyona Nickelsen.

I really want to work on the flesh tones in my next illustration so I picked a photo that is mostly head and hands.  I made a rough sketch and cleaned it up by tracing over it using tracing paper to provide clean lines, after which I traced it onto Stonehenge 100% cotton art paper for coloring.  Once it was on my new piece of paper canvas I began working on layering on flesh colors and laying out my shadowing.

Today I found that by using my pencil in an under handed fashion I have more control of the lightness which I apply.  I've noticed that when I use my pencil in the traditional fashion (for writing) I tend to apply too much pressure and too much color too soon (boy, that's a lot of too's).

Following is the progress which was made today .....
                    Photo                           Tracing Paper Sketch               Begin Flesh Tones

I still have not decided what I will title this piece, so if you have a suggestion, please let me know!

Happy Day!
Karen Anne Brady

Monday, March 26, 2012

"Bowl Of Cherries" Day Six ... Finis!

Today mark's the completion of my "Bowl Of Cherries" illustration.  It has been an interesting, challenging and educational journey that I have thoroughly enjoyed!

Last night, using masking fluid, I placed a small spot on each cherry so that when I began to color in the morning the dried masking fluid would leave white areas on each cherry as a highlight.  I was so intent on getting the spots on correctly that I also spilled a nice dollop onto the deck rail (whoops!) but not to worry .... I just let it sit to dry and then lifted it off, all the while hoping I had not damaged the illustration.  Thankfully, it did not!

For the cherries I started out with a base of yellow, followed by different shades of oranges, and reds. burnishing each with a canary yellow Prisma Premier pencil.  Once I was satisfied with the colors I removed the masking fluid and revealed the highlights, they made a big difference!  All in all, I think this picture turned out pretty well, at least I am happy with the results.

I want to thank each of you who has followed me on this colored pencil adventure, I have very much enjoyed your company.

Finally, if you'd like to learn this and many more colored pencil techniques, pick up a copy of  "Colored Pencil Painting Bible" (Techniques for Achieving Luminous Color and Unltrarealistic Effects) by Alyona Nickelsen at  It is certainly one of my better investments and I highly recommend it to all colored pencil artists!

Happy Day All!
Karen Anne Brady

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"Bowl Of Cherries" Day Five

Today I added more shadowing to the face, along with more details (eye lashes, eye brows, etc.).  Added the hair and completed his "Cherry Earring"!  I have to admit, however, that when it came to the hair I did use brown, black and orange ink pens to achieve the fineness of the strands of hair, in addition to the colored pencil layers.  I didn't do any blending in the hair because I like the strands to show ... to me it provides a more natural look and feeling.

Next I decided to work on just the bowl that holds the cherries.  For a reference I pulled out an old bowl that has been in the family for eons!  From since I can remember, Jim's Mom would fill it will whole nuts at Christmas Time and it would be sitting on the coffee table during the entire Christmas Season offering up tasty nuts of all kinds with several sets of nut crackers.   

Anyway, back to the drawing, I completed the bowl with several layers of brown shades and some yellow and ochre....then I used a "stub" (a paper stick that has been tightly rolled and sharpened on each end) to burnish the multiple layers.   
Tomorrow I will begin working on the cherries, Jim's parents had many cherry trees in their backyard; I liked the flavor of the Bing cherries best, but the beautiful colors in the Royal Ann cherries has always intrigued me, so I will be filling this bowl with Royal Ann's!

As an aside, today I contacted Alyona Nickelsen to make sure it was OK to be referencing her name, her book, and her website in my blog.  I was quite delighted when she responded back and said it was fine for me to do so.  She is quite a remarkable woman!  
That said, if you like working with colored pencils it would be a wonderful asset to your art library to purchase her book  "Colored Pencil Painting Bible" (Techniques for Achieving Luminous Color and Unltrarealistic Effects) by Alyona Nickelsen at  Her blog also has available a wonderful wealth of information, be sure to check it out!
Happy Day!
Karen Anne Brady

Saturday, March 24, 2012

"Bowl Of Cherries" Day Four

I began today by removing the masking paper from the arms and neck areas.   I began with a light peach Prisma Premier pencil and added darker shades in layers, this time I used my lightest peach colored pencil to act as the burnishing pencil after which I added shadows using terra cotta and dark brown followed by some additional light burnishing with the terra cotta color.  Then onto the cherries ....
Next I removed the masking paper from the head and started coloring in the flesh of the face.  In the past I have a troubles adding pink to the cheeks so this time I put a layer of a light pink in the cheek areas after which I started layering different shades of peach followed by terra cotta for the initial shadowing.  At this point I was getting tired and decided to call it a day....
There are no instructions in the book  "Colored Pencil Painting Bible" (Techniques for Achieving Luminous Color and Unltrarealistic Effects) by Alyona Nickelsen at for coloring flesh so this is all ad-libbed using the techniques I have learned.  We'll see how I do tomorrow!
Happy Day everyone!
Karen Anne

Friday, March 23, 2012

"Bowl Of Cherries" Day Three

Today I completed the woodwork on the deck rail.  For the wood I burnished the layered colors with a burnishing pencil and then used a black raspberry Prisma Premier colored pencil to add details and some additional shadowing.  I also completed the tablecloth on top of the table, after applying several layers of oranges and reds I burnished the layers with a burnishing pencil and then I used the tip of an Xacto knife blade to scratch a scored design.  Once again, I sprayed the finished work with workable fixative (meaning I can color over the fixative once it has dried to make any wanted changes).

With the completion of the woodwork I decided my next move would be to work on the lad's shirt, so I used the knife blade to cut away the masking paper leaving the shirt exposed and ready for coloring.  I felt a plain shirt was just .... well, too plain ... and I added a little celtic design to add some character.  Kids love to wear clothing with some fun design.   

First I colored in the design and then added a layer of light blue to the shirt, I burnished the blue using a white colored Prisma Premier pencil.  Slowly I added more layers of deeper blues, burnishing each of those layers (lightly) with a burnishing pencil, after which I applied a light coat of workable fixative.   The following is the result of all of today's efforts .....


I'm not sure where I will go tomorrow ... the boy or the bowl of cherries ... hmmm, something to ponder while I study the piece tonight.

Remember, if you want detailed instructions for using these techniques, refer to "Colored Pencil Painting Bible" (Techniques for Achieving Luminous Color and Unltrarealistic Effects) by Alyona Nickelsen at

Happy Day!
Karen Anne Brady

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Bowl Of Cherries" - Day Two

So far today I have completed (for now) the shrubbery in back of the deck rail.  I applied several layers of different green colored pencils, indigo blue and black, and some dark brown in a camouflage type pattern; after which I applied mineral spirits with a Q-tip in a dabbing manner.  Once this was finished I added more black to add contrast and a bit more brown to the green, but I was lacking highlights I wanted so I took an exacto knife with a sharp blade and scratched little bits off of the top of the green areas and this provided some dimension to the background without its overpowering the composition of the illustration.

After which I applied a coat of workable fixative so that I would not smear the background area as I begin work on the deck rail.  I also lightly traced around the figure of the boy and the bowl of cherries with the same knife blade and removed the masking paper just from the rail area, leaving the boy protected from smudging as I begin coloring the woodwork.

"Bowl Of Cherries" Background completed

Well, I have now started working on the top of the deck rail and have the slats in the rail blocked in.  With the rail, I am using a burnishing pencil to blend the layers of color, then I used a sharpened pencil to add in detail of the wood grain.  But, I have been working on this so intently that I am too tired to do any more coloring ... so I am calling it quits for the day before I begin making all kinds of mistakes.    The following is the rest of today's progress.

Til tomorrow ... Happy Day!
Karen Anne

PS  These are techniques I am learning and applying from reading and studying the book "Colored Pencil Painting Bible" (Techniques for Achieving Luminous Color and Ultrarealistic Effects) by Alyona Nickelsen.
If you want to learn more about these techniques in depth, I highly encourage you to purchase this book, it is truly amazing!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bowl of Cherries - A Colored Pencil Illustration in Progress

A BIG HI to everyone!  I want to try another colored pencil illustration and for the subject I have chosen an old photo (circa 1993) from our family album of my grandson when he was about 3 years old outside on the back deck.  I had just taught him how to make earrings out of cherries, something fun I used to do when I was a young child.

What I am going to do is, at the end of each day I will share with you what I have accomplished for that day.  Today I made a rough sketch and then refined it by placing a piece of tracing paper over and traced the basic lines I wanted (I would have shown the pre-sketch but it had so many erasures and smudges that I could not get a decent scanned copy); then I flipped it over and saw some of the drawing  didn't look right, so I flipped the paper back over and erased the parts I didn't like, then I flipped the piece over again and redrew the areas I didn't like on the back, when I flipped it back ... the parts I hadn't liked looked good!  Nice new little tool ... use tracing paper (front and back) to get proportions relatively correct!

Once that was completed, I took the tracing paper drawing and taped it to the back of my art paper then traced the drawing (using a dark brown Prisma Verithin pencil) onto the good piece with the aid of a light table.  I used dark brown colored pencil to eliminate any problems that might occur if I had used a graphite pencil.  I also made a tracing of the boy and the deck rail on some masking (I think is called fisker paper?) paper so that I could protect the tracing from smudges while working on the back ground.

So .... first I will show you the photo I am working from, followed by the tracing paper sketch that I applied to my piece of art paper .....

"Bowl of Cherries" subject photo

"Bowl of Cherries" Tracing Paper Sketch
As you can see, even the tracing paper sketch is pretty smudged too!

My goal with this project is not to try to attain a photo like rendering, but rather a good semi-realistic illustration with vibrant colors using a fun subject.  As you can see in this sketch, I have added a shirt, a cherry in his once empty hand, plus a "Bowl of Cherries" on a table in front of the little guy.  "Artistic License"?

I hope you will enjoy going along with me on this learning journey.

Happy Day!
Karen Anne

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Little Girl - Finis on Day Three

I finished my little girl today and I must say, overall, I am very pleased with the results. 

Today I worked on the wood couch arm and the couch cushion, implementing many of the techniques from the book "Colored Pencil Painting Bible" (Techniques for Achieving Luminous Color and Ultrarealistic Effects) by Alyona Nickelsen. 

The many layers of color on the wood created quite a realistic rendering, even the couch cushion doesn't look too bad.  I also added more shadowing to her hair and face. I like contrast.  Then the background was looking pretty pale so I added another dense layer of an olive green shade of my Prisma colored pencils and then slowly dabbed minerals spirits with a Q-tip to the freshly applied color. 

These new techniques I am learning are taking some adjustments on my part, but I am liking the results I am able to achieve.  This new world of the use of colored pencils is quite inspiring and most exhilarating!  Try it, you may find you like it!

"Little Girl in Plaid and Black"

Happy day to all!
Karen Anne

Friday, March 16, 2012

Little Girl - Drawing In Progress - Day 3

Today I mostly worked on her outfit, but I did add some contrast to the skin tones and hair.  I was able to achieve the black in the dress by first laying a base of deep blue over which I colored black; then I took a small paint brush, dipped it in mineral spirits and dabbed it onto the black of the bodice, this evened out the pencil strokes.

Then, using a flat wide brush, I gently stroked the mineral spirits onto the black of the skirt which left it looking a bit like velvet, which is what I had been hoping for.  I can now see that I must have mixed up my colors when doing the plaid because some areas look pinker than other parts.  Oh well!

Finally I began working on the grain of the woodwork on the mission style couch.  Looks like there is a good chance I will finish it up tomorrow!

If you would like to learn more about these techniques, refer to "Colored Pencil Painting Bible" (Techniques for Achieving Luminous Color and Ultrarealistic Effects) by Alyona Nickelsen.   This is a highly informative book and one of the best investments I have ever made!

Happy Day!
Karen Anne

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Little Girl .... A Drawing In Progress

I have begun working on a new drawing that encompasses using new (to me) techniques in colored pencil layering and blending.  I did the background yesterday and today I worked on the face, hair and hands.  I thought it might be kinda fun to share each day's progress with you.

When doing the background I layered 4 different colors of Prisma Premier colored pencils,  then I took a cotton ball wetted with mineral spirits  and dabbed at the colored area until all the layers began to fuse together.  The mineral spirits kinda act like a melting agent when dabbed onto the colored pencil and give a unique effect.

When I was working on the face today, I had over layered colors so much so that her skin appeared muddy, so I took some magic tape (the kind you buy in any ol' store) and slowly lifted off the excess layers.  To get extra highlights in the hair, I gently laid a piece of magic tape over the area where I wanted more highlight, and with a pen gently drew the highlight on the tape, removed the tape and the tape removed the excess and gave me the highlight I wanted.

With a fine point pen I added the details of the hair which provided more depth to the picture.  To smooth the skin and the hair ribbon and the dress collar, I gently applied a blender pencil so the shadows appear softer.

So ... here is what I have as of today ....

Tomorrow I plan to work on her outfit ... so tonight I will study the drawing and try to decide the colors that will best work.

See you tomorrow!

Karen Anne

FYI:  The paper I am using is by Stonehenge, 100% Cotton, Vellum Finish, 250 GSM, Acid Free, and made in the USA.   It is amazing - it doesn't warp when wettened!  And believe me, the Mineral Spirits wash I applied really saturated the paper.  You have to wait until all is dry before proceeding.

          Also, important note, when using magic tape to remove excess color, be sure to lift it gently .... at one point, I jerked the tape off and removed a thin layer of paper & had to really work to correct missing patch!  Gentle is the key word when using magic tape to "erase" color.

        Finally, I used masking paper to cover the girl when I was applying the background and then the mineral spirits wash.  Well, the mineral spirits worked their way under the masking paper and desolved the masking paper adhesive leaving behind a sticky goo ... I tried removing it with rubbing alcohol and created a mess .... so I let that dry and tried some lighter fluid ... it worked great!  Removed the goo and the mess the alcohol had left... This is truly turning into one big learning experience.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My First Etsy Treasuries .....

I have been intimidated over creating an Etsy Treasury for ages and ages!  I finally tried and found, much to my delight, that creating a treasury is actually quite I thought I would share my first four treasuries with my friends.

 "The Many Faces Of Art"

"Original Prespective For The Term Bubble Wrap"

"Things With Wings"

"Artwork To "Crow" About"

If you have the chance to visit them, I'd appreciate your critiques ....

Happy Day!
Karen Anne