Since doing the coloured pencil course last week I have been pondering on a kit to take out and about for plein air sketching in coloured pencil. Up until now I have generally used pen and ink and watercolour in a small Winsor and Newton sketchbook. I very much like this minimalist approach, and can take this small kit in the smallest of handbags or even a coat pocket so it is always to hand.
A coloured pencil kit takes a little more thinking about. Which colours for example? With watercolour it is possible to mix most colours from a basic set of primaries and perhaps a few earth colours, but when I start to look at my cp collection I find it almost impossible to limit myself to just a pencil roll full! During the class I took 120 Prismacolours, 72 Coloursofts, 40 Polychromos and various other Pablos and Derwent Artists and still had to borrow from the teacher because I didn't have the right shade that I needed. And then what about accessories - sharpener, eraser blender etc? I normally use an electric sharpenern at home as I find the handheld sharpeners don't give such a good point and tend to break the leads (especially the Prismacolors).
Where to start? I decided to have a look at what other artists do. By far the most informative blog posts on this subject (and many others) are those of Katherine Tyrrell.
I have just spent the last three days at Cambridge University Botanic Gardens attending a course taught by Janie Pirie. The course was Illustrating fruit and vegetables in coloured pencil and was held over three days this week. The first day was spent watching Janie demonstrate technique and tips and doing practice exercises before starting our finished pieces on the second day, although only few managed to finish by the end of the third day. My unfinished effort is below.
I'm sorry about the quality of the photo, it was taken under artificial light - there will be another pepper to the right of the spring onion when it is finished.
The classroom at the Botanic Gardens
I had a wonderful time and learnt a great deal doing this class. I have attended several courses here but this was the first one in coloured pencil. I would wholeheartedly recommend doing classes like this to anyone as in my opinion it is the best way to improve. You can only learn so much from books and iternet forums (valuable and useful though they are). Janie offered a high level of one to one tuition as well as group demonstrations which I found very valuable.
My Moo cards arrived today, they are so cool! The one's above are business card size with different pictures of my coloured pencil work on the front and contact details on the back. They are a lovely matte finish and "quality"feel to them, I like them very much and can't wait to start giving them out. They come in a cool little box and I also ordered a Troika card case to keep some in my bag.
I actually think these Moo minicards are even cooler, I've made about 20 different designs from my sketches on Flickr and again ordered a neat little holder.
Tom in characteristic pose, i.e. about to fall off something.
Biscuit in playful mood.
Both these kittys were adopted. Biscuit came first from the Blue Cross with his brother Felix, a handsome black and white tuxedo cat. Sadly Felix was hit by a car two months later. He joined the various guinea pigs and hamsters buried in the garden. (If we ever sell this house the new owners will be in for a few surprises if they dig up the flower beds). We thought Biscuit was lonely so when we heard of another male cat of similar age was needing rehoming (next stop RSPCA) we took Tom on trial and he made friends with Biscuit straight away.