Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"Fox Friend" August 2014 CPM Art Challenge

The August 2014 CPM (Colored Pencil Magazine) "Fox Friend", with reference photo from Patricia Sue Overton, was an intriguing challenge so I decided to take it on.  This time I forced myself to use a soft touch and tiny pencil strokes, which is so difficult for me!  Tackling animal fur was another challenge all unto its own.  This one is actually about 99% totally colored pencil, I tend to lean heavily on my art pens but in this one I purposely strove to use extremely sharp pencils for the fine details ... except for the whiskers and around the eyes.

I found some drafting vellum that Jim had brought home about 20 or so years ago and decided to use that for this piece.  I like working on vellum ... it is tough and stands up to my abuse (erasing and scraping off excess pencil)!  I thought I was finished with the piece yesterday and brought it down to show Jim, he looked at it and said "this is really nice, but the rear looks like a fluffy ball, not like an animal's rear haunches.".  Well, I wasn't too happy about that comment and kinda huffed around a bit. Then I looked at it again and "yep" it looked more like more like a scrubbing pad ... so I put it away.

I had gotten so caught up in the pattern of twists, twirls and curves of the haunch fur that I had neglected to take highlights and color variations into consideration.  As I was studying it this morning, I decided that area already had too many applications of colored pencil and determined I should try to remove excess pencil rather than add more.  I took an X-acto knife in hand and slowly began gently scraping away excess pencil to reveal highlights in the fur.

I finally got to the point where I figured if I worked on it any further it would quickly go from bad to worse.  I will say one thing, I am getting a bit better at animal fur yet I sure have a long way to go!

"Fox Friend" entry:

original photo by Patricia Sue Overton

Hope you like my efforts.   If you'd like to point out what I could have done better ... I promise I won't "huff" but take your kind critiques into serious consideration.  Thanks a bunch!

Big hugs,
Karen Anne 


  1. The fur on your fox looks very realistic. You've done a beautiful job with the shading and highlights. As much as I admire your other work with the fine pens I think this piece is a step in a whole new direction for you and one that will produce some wonderful things. You've inspired me to start working with my pencils again. Great job Karen Anne! HUgs

    1. Thanks Maddy Rose! I am happy to learn you are going to start working with your pencils again and look forward to seeing new pieces from you!

  2. Karen Anne, your work is truly breath taking! I know I always say that, but it is true! I am in aw of your Fox! Beautiful my friend ;o)
    I bet your huff is very cute ;o)
    Big Hugs xoxox

    1. Thank you Stacy, you really are too kind! I was going through my treasure box of ACEOs from others and your Crow pieces are among my favorites, each one makes me smile. 8)

  3. The fox and the foreground is very well done! Bravo!
    My one suggestion is the background tree trunk. In order for it to look like a tree trunk (it resembles shale rock more than bark), it needs a tad of moss green and brown in it and deeper ravines. I think the highlights are fine where they are, but modeling into the ravines would help. Slightly more green, blacks and brown in the background will help the fox "zing" too.
    I have always had a hard time with bark, even in the clay medium -- it is one of the most difficult to depict, and monotonous and perplexing, and a challenge (!), all right! I guess that's the point of these contests though: challenge.

    1. Wow! Thanks a bunch for all of your helpful suggestions! You are right on all points! When I have some time, I'll put them to use. Thanks again for a great critique Lise!


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