The Journey of a Kaleidoscope

31 May 2015

Quite recently I completed my second large scale coloured pencil painting, which I titled ‘Kaleidoscope’. It all began when I happened to see a stunning photograph by a wonderful artist Shirley Davies, whom I’ve had the pleasure to get to know through Facebook – Shirley’s Pencil Art

One wonderful thing about this social media site is the many fantastic connections I’ve made with artists from all over the world, whether it be of a similar passion for colour or graphite pencil or simply the love of art.

Shirley announced through her Facebook page to other artists, a fun challenge she herself would take part in of producing a work in whichever medium chosen by the artist, using the photograph provided. The final piece could also be used in whatever way the artist chose including sale. There are other artists and photographers who are happy for artists to use their photographs to be used as a reference and others who do not. Copyright is something every artist should be aware of and respect and also to be very careful of. It’s always best to assume every photograph is copyrighted, until it can confirmed either way. Copyright can be very tricky and difficult to understand. I’ve erred on the side of caution and have always used reference photographs provided by clients for commissions, with permission from photographer friends and I am also beginning to take my own photographs to use as reference.

I wanted to paint a large scale drawing once again, which would be approximately 42.0 x 59.4cm/16.5 x 23.3 inches or size A2. As with ‘Death of a Gum Tree’ I used Canson 220gsm white paper. I used a grid to enlarge the reference with a under-drawing or in other words, a preliminary sketch made on the paper with a 2H graphite pencil. I often make these under drawings so light that I struggle to see them when I start the painting process with colour pencil!

With this painting I used Faber-Castell Polychromos oil based pencils as I really love the soft creamy texture and wide range of vivid colours, the leads are extremely break-resistant, they have maximum light-fastness and when using solvent, the colours blend extremely well for a painterly effect that I like to achieve.

I combined the Polychromos with Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils which I learned have the highest light-fast permanent colour of any other pencil. I purchased a tin of 36 pencils with some of my prize winning money and I absolutely love them. The colours are striking and alive, and although wax based combine with the polychromos pencils beautifully.

The process of bringing ‘Kaleidoscope’ alive took at least three months. I did complete a couple of commissions in between and working on the painting for only a couple of hours in the evenings was quite frustrating to say the least. Once my children were close to going to bed or already there, I could settle down to draw with my hot cuppa (and maybe even a slice of cheesecake) but sometimes I felt like I was just getting on roll and into the zone when I’d glace at the clock and see the time, knowing I’d be getting up only six hours later. My youngest child is currently at kindergarten two days per week so I’ve make sure I use some of that quiet time to draw although the housework might be forgotten on purpose sometimes.

Even so, this painting took quite a while to complete. I can admit that I am quite a perfectionist with my work and cannot help but to try and capture every single detail that I can see to the best of my ability. I want the viewer to be able to appreciate the painting in two separate ways, from both a distance and up close.

As an artist, my hope is that you the viewer, may see what captured my imagination when I first saw Shirley’s photograph. I was immediately drawn to the colours and shapes of the pebbles. I couldn’t help but see the movement of the water and how the continuous ebb and flow would change these colours and shapes. When I first began to paint I was thinking about the huge variety of colours I had laid out before me, that the pencils became a rainbow. Sometimes I need to concentrate and consider the possible titles for my work, other times they pop straight into my head immediately. This was the case with the title ‘Kaleidoscope’. My husband who meant well, explained the tube shaped toy containing mirrors and coloured glass where the reflections changed patterns. Whereas I knew the meaning of kaleidoscope also represented constantly changing patterns, the sequence of elements and composition of colour. To me, this portrayed exactly what I wanted this pencil painting to be and I believe has now become. I hope you think so too.

I would like to thank Shirley Davies for permission to use her beautiful photograph. I am very appreciative.

‘Kaleidoscope’ 2015 – Coloured Pencil on Paper 42.0 x 59.4cm $1800