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Gemma GyllingGemma Gylling   AFC, CPSA Gemma Gylling
Wildlife and Animal art in Colored Pencil
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Reflections Work in Progress
While in Montana a few years ago I took this photo of this Mountain Lion. I love how the reflections reflect the face in full view along with the splash of the water and ripples as he is stepping in. I got several shots of this Mountain Lion and hope to do several of them with Colored Pencil and maybe do a piece in pastel.

I decided to do this one on beige Suede Board. I will be filling in the drawing completely, there won't be any of the suede board showing as I did with the Rottweiler below. I love how the suede board works with the colored pencils. The interesting thing with the suede board is you can add your highlights on top of dark pencil and it shows up quite nicely. The suede board works very similar to a sanded surface. If you haven't tried it you should.

I now have the contour drawing done and I'm starting to color it in.

Reflections Work in Progress
Here is my start on my colored pencil piece titled "Reflections". This is the upper left corner of the piece. The size of this artwork is 10" X 24". As you can see I tend to start in the upper corner (or the eyes) and work my way down and across.

I chose Moccasin Suede Mat board as the support. I love applying colored pencils on the suede board. It allows me to lay the layers down as if I am painting. I can add the highlights on top of the dark colors and still have them really pop. Typically I would have to save my highlighted areas because Colored Pencil is transparent, but with the suede board it reacts as if it is opaque.

I start out by drawing a very detailed contour drawing and then transfer it to the Suede Board. When I'm doing the fur on suede board or a sanded surface I tend to lay down a layer of medium color and then feather in the dark and light hairs. That tends to give it that real fur look. I used the same approach on the log, lay down a layer of medium color and then added darks and lights on top of that. I also use Gamsol to blend some of the areas. This helps dissolve the pencil down into the tooth of the suede board.

When I am creating my colored pencil artwork I break each piece of the reference photo down to little squares. This way I am looking at lines, shades, color and shapes. This approach makes it much easier for me to get the realistic look. If you decide to try this approach yourself you may want to take notes of what colors you used for the different areas. I personally don't take notes because I have worked with colored pencils long enough I almost always use the same color of pencils to achieve a certain look, but at first, I did keep notes. If you have any questions let me know and I will be happy to answer them.

Reflectitons Work In Progress
This is the upper right section of the drawing so part of what has been drawn on the left is cut off in this section of the image.

I'm using lots of different brands of pencils on this one. I'm using Prismacolor, Derwent Studios, Derwent Colorsoft, Lyra and Polychromos. I really like the way the Derwent Colorsoft pencils work with the suede board. It almost behaves like pastel, it is very cool.

One of the things I really loved about the reference photo is the dramatic morning lighting. The subject is very light on one side and dark on the other. This type of lighting gives the painting a very dramatic feel and a warmth that catches the viewers eye. Hopefully I will be able to pull this off because this is what, I feel, will make or break this painting.

I'm layering lots and lots of colors to give it the real fur look. In the lighter areas I laid down the lighter colors first and worked in some darker colors and then went back to the lighter colors. In the darker areas I laid down the medium color and then the lights and dark on top of that.

One of the things I noticed in my last update was, I didn't get the values quite right on the log and the shadows from the lion on the log needed to be darker as well. This is something I corrected in this update. Personally I like the log much better now.

If you have any questions just ask and I'll be happy to answer what I can.

Keep Scribbling!! Gemma

Reflections Work in Progress continued
I finished the lions face and started working my way over to the grasses on the right side of the artwork.

I have about a third of it done now, I sure hope I can finish it before the Colored Pencil Society of America Exhibition deadline. The deadline is March 31st. so if I keep working hard at it I should be able to finish it. I tend to work very slow but I am trying really hard to finish this in time.

As you can see the grasses are starting to grow out of the water. Water is always fun to create but doing it on this suede board makes it so much easier. You can lay down your dark colors and then draw the reflections on top of the dark. It is so much more like painting than colored pencils usually are done on Stonehenge or Watercolor paper. I did the grasses also by laying down the darker colors and then drawing in the individual grasses on top of that. Then I came back with black and drew in some negative space to give it the depth I was trying to achieve.

I also like the softness I am able to get on this suede, it is wonderful to do animal fur on. The Suede Board can be hard to find at times but all you need to do is go to your favorite Framer and ask them to order it for you. It comes in sheets of 30" X 40" and in lots of really nice colors. You do want to be careful and not choose a color to dark because you may have a problem covering the suede board.

If you have any questions or comments just ask away. Keep Scribbling! Gemma

Reflections Work in Progress Continued

Well I'm moving right along on this one. I really don't have a lot to say about it at this point. I've been using the same colors and technique and just moving my way down the support.

Oh.... I do have one thing to say, hahaha. When it came time to do the splash, I found I was having a bit of an artist block. So I decided to do what I preach to my students in my workshops... well fancy that, LOL. I cut a little square in a white piece of paper to make a very small window. I placed the window over the area where the splash was on my reference drawing and Voila..... it no longer was a splash. It suddenly became nothing but colors, shapes, lines and values. Another thing I will do at times is have my laptop near by with the reference photo on it and zoom way in on a small area, that helps too.

If you have any questions at all let me know.... and.... Keep Scribbling!! Gemma

Reflections Work in Progress continued
Well... here is the next update. I'm continuing to work my way down using the same techniques as before.

One of the things I noticed about the suede board is it actually seems to work better if you use a duller pencil. Although; I am using a fairly sharp pencil when laying down the fur. It's interesting.... drawing on the suede board really doesn't feel like drawing, instead it feels more like I'm painting. I just love it and I have to say I think this will be my support of choice more often than not.

I can't remember if I told you where to get the Suede Mat board.... I get it from my framer so, if your looking for it check with your local framer. It can be quite pricey but it comes in a very large sheet of 30" X 40" so you can do several pieces from that sheet. The color I used on this one is called Moccasin. One of the things I learned from a fellow artist is you don't want to work on the darker colors of the suede board, you will have a problem covering it.

If you have any questions just fire away and.... by all means keep Scribbling!! Gemma

Reflections Work in Progress Continued
Yayyyy!!! I finished it, what a relief!

When creating the water I laid down a layer each of Moss Green, Dark Green and Dark Umber. I then used Gamsol to blend the three layers into the tooth of the Suede. When doing this I use a bristle brush, load the brush with the Gamsol and then dab it on a paper towel before I start blending the three layers.

I then finished the reflection of the lion completely. Now that the under layers of the water is down and the reflection of the lion I start glazing Moss Green, Bronze and Artichoke over all the water and the lion. I then went in and added some blue and light reflections.

I then sprayed it with fixative. It's all ready to enter into the CPSA Exhibition..... lets keep our fingers crossed.

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Gemma Gylling
3481 Priscilla Ct.
Valley Springs, California
USA 95252
Tel: 209-772-1164
  Artists for Conservation Group
Email: gemma@glassgems.net
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