Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Sketch and Neocolors I Review Redux

Sorry about the photo. It's about 35 degrees outside and taking a picture in natural light today is not going to happen. Working on a photography setup is on the agenda for the New Year!

It's always best to end my studio time on a high note. That doesn't always happen though and so last night as I was trying to sleep I was also thinking about the current drawing  that I am working on. Yesterday I started a new drawing using one of my sketches and the Neocolor I crayons with which I have been experimenting. The drawing didn't turn out really well and at the end of the day I wondered what I was doing wrong. I really want to use these crayons, to like them, and incorporate them into what I do. So what's up?

After some thinking I figured out that not only was I trying to use a new medium but that I was also approaching my process differently. I have made about a dozen pieces now using a new-to-me process and I like the way things are working. These drawings use a different set of steps though. It took me a while to figure out that this deviation in process was what was throwing me off. 

The other problem is that these crayons are a new medium to me. Just because I can use paint and paper doesn't necessarily follow that I can color with crayons successfully. I have experimented with them but I was really missing the point of their essential nature. The crayons can be used as single hues or can be layered. (You can also use solvent to blend them but this isn't what I am after.) When they are layered, the results are a sort of optical and actual blending. The colors mix somewhat but you can also see the color underneath. Well, this is somewhat akin to using your primaries to mix your secondaries. Or similar to what we learned as kids: yellow over green will make a yellowish  green. Red over purple will make a reddish purple. The underneath layers show through also so if black is your first layer and you put yellow on top, you get a sort of olive color but also still see the black and yellow. And of course the more layers you put on, the more opaque things become. The white crayon tends to lighten and deaden things. And some crayons have white or black in their mixture so you have to think of that also. Dark over light produces a darker mix. Light over dark produces a more medium  mix. 

The good news for me is that this is all stuff I know about. Color mixing with primaries? You betcha! I can do that in my sleep at this point. Black and white in the mix? No problem on that either. Layering to get a deeper color? No sweat! I also figured out that it doesn't take long to have too much crayon on the paper. The trick to more successful layering is clear gesso between layers. This helps to put on a third and fourth layer of color; to build richness. The white of the paper underneath eventually goes away though so be aware of what you want things to look like beforehand. 

The point for me with these drawings is to have a color idea before I start in with an actual painting. Sort of like a thumbnail sketch in color rather than black and white. I also want them to more closely resemble the color ideas of my finished paintings.

OK, off to do a mock up of the above and to paint some papers. Thanks for reading and commenting.


  1. I noticed the texture was different, but I would never have guessed what caused it. It was good learning about figuring out a new process and how it can effect established results. I think you are great sharing all these steps.
    Looking forward seeing where it ends up.
    I only seem to use the crayons for line work or a spot of color.
    It's going to be a creative New Year!

    1. Julie,

      I suspect the crayons are intended just for what you described: lines and a spot of color. They can be precise though which is good for me. They are soluble with mineral spirits too so I bet the color is better enhanced that way. And the clear gesso has been really useful for providing additional tooth and for allowing better coverage and layering. I guess it is just all an opportunity to learn.

      I am sure hoping for a creative year, for both of us. Take care and stay warm and dry:)



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