I started with just my black-and-white graphite sketch of a young fairy and his mouse friend, printed it on vellum paper in archival ink… then I added multiple layers of rich colored pencil by hand, so that the finished image is a one-of-a kind original. In thanks to readers of The Illustrated Garden blog, I will make 20 of these artworks available for $40 apiece… each signed, numbered and matted in an acid-free 8×10 inch mat. I’ll also provide free shipping anywhere in the United States.
Oh! And one more thing… each piece of fairy art will come with a packet of heirloom herb or vegetable seeds from my garden, tucked inside a hand-embellished seed package. Email me to order.
Color makes such a difference — here’s the dragonfly hitchhiker after a layer of colored pencil. I used umbers (light and dark) and pumpkin orange for this autumn fairy’s body and wings, then combined peacock blue and true blue for the bluejay feathers and for the shadows on the dragonfly’s wings. I finished it off with a layer of cream color over the entire drawing, which adds a little extra warmth. All done!
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!
With several illustration assignments behind me now, I have happily returned to working on “A Field Guide to Fairies.” Here in the southeast, where ‘possums are plentiful, fairies use the gullible creatures as a form of mass transit. Since a ‘possum is insatiably curious but not very good at analytical thinking, he will walk all day to find the source of a blade of bahia grass tickling his nose — never suspecting that the other end of the stalk is held by a clever passenger. This drawing is Prismacolor pencil (two colors: white and dark umber) on buff BFK Rives paper. Enjoy!