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This helpful garden fairy, one of 20 drawings in a show that opens Sunday at The Artists’ Place, is created in colored pencil. I like to start out with a fully shaded foundation drawing in dark umber — it has the same effect as an underpainting in oils, establishing light and dark areas and beginning to build a three-dimensional effect. It’s best to keep your pencil point very sharp during this stage, and work with a light touch. I like to build up the darker shadows gradually, rather than in one layer, so that the deeper values look soft and rich.

Once the foundation drawing is completed, colors are added in thin layers on top of the umber. I use a light touch and a smooth, circular motion so that the tips of the pencils won’t burnish the surface of the drawing quite yet. (Shiny and dense, a burnished surface is not very receptive to additional colors.) Some areas of the fig leaf have four color layers, each adding its own unique spice to the mix. Start with the lighter colors (yellow, pale green) first.

Once I was happy with the colors, I burnished the whole drawing with a cream-colored pencil for an aura of warmth and also to pull the warm tones (the leaf, the fairy’s wings) and the cooler tones (the jay’s feathers and the shadows on the grass) together. You can see the effect the cream pencil has, when you compare the color of the fig leaf in the second image (before) and the third image (after). All done!

Hoping to put up a new video tutorial this weekend… and working on plans for an online class in colored pencil very soon. Happy drawing!