My Colored Pencil Journey

My Colored Pencil Journey

by Peter Nelson

The Four Jolly Old Men of Lydford - Fred, Harry, George & Henry. Thank you dad for your boyish character.

People ask when I started art. I was always good as I can remember and loved drawing, with early successes, qualifications and worked as an engineering draughtsman. In 1986 I started watercolor painting, finally taking up colored pencils (colored pencils) in 2013. So yes, drawing and art have always been a large part of my life and still are but being a colored pencil artist, for me, has been a relatively short experience.

A lot of people are surprised by the photorealistic results that are achieved, stating ‘is that done with colored pencil’ or asking why I changed from watercolors. Between retirement in 2010 and joining the UKCPS (UK Colored Pencil Society) in 2012, a series of profound events transpired:

1. I couldn’t seem to achieve the standard of work I desired.

2. Fortune occurred in meeting, pastel artist Penelope Milner (Penny) who opened my eyes to study other artist, medias, compositions etc., set targets of advancement and achievement.

3. Inconvenient British weather, watercolors verses rain!

4. Found an old box of Derwent Rexcel watercolor pencils.

5. Completed my first colored pencil drawing, ‘Totally Worn Out’.

6. Read an article by Graham Brace on the use of Derwent Coloursoft pencils and was captivated by the detail.

7. Purchased my first set of colored pencils.

8. Finally, enrolled with the UK Colored Pencil Society.

Since then I have never looked back; colored pencils have given me ease of operation, cleanliness and flexibility compared to other medias and control of detail that I love to achieve. My colored pencil subjects have always been varied, finding that each subject incorporates different challenges, techniques, papers and pencil brands.

My first year 2013/14 based on what I call my coastal themes, expanded my colored pencil collection to the Derwent Artist and Studio ranges. They were pure colored pencil works depicting pebbles, shore waves and battered sea defense structures. Each carried out on different supports for reasons of experience and learning, refining basic technique and understanding. To my astonishment it culminated with my first success at the UKCPS 13th International Exhibition in Birmingham with Reserved Best of Show for ‘Rolling Breaker’ and Best Still Life for ‘Wave Sculpture'.

I suppose my next step with colored pencils involved my wife’s Parchment Craft, the embossing technique on heavy Velum surfaces also takes colored pencils. Oddly enough, whilst attending a course, she experienced the Faber-Castell Polychomos pencils, being advised they were the best for that surface. A full set arrived and it wasn’t long before I tried a few, they have now become a mainstay in my selected brands. 2014/15 saw a lot of pet portraiture with the intricacies of fur and eyes but my main work, the ‘Four Jolly Old Men of Lydford’, gave me my second success Reserved Best of Show at the UKCPS 14th International Exhibition in London, with a High Recommendation for ‘Salt Water Decay’.

Eve's Elixir - Thank you Somerset Cider Brandy Co. 

As mentioned, varying compositions and outcomes can mean varying pencil brands and supports; variety helps to make this media so compellingly interesting. Each different surface support, with the large variety of pencil cores, blending medias, solvents and tooling makes for an unlimited variety of artwork styles. 2015/6 followed this path, venturing into botanical artwork, influenced by Ann Swan. She introduced me to Prismacolor and Tombow pencil brands, solvents and Fabriano 5. That year my work was accepted into the UKCPS 15th International Exhibition, but without recognition.

2016/17 I experimented with other CP brands, Derwent Inktense, Drawing and their Black and White ranges, I also played with fine liner pens and became involved with Patchings Art Festival for the UKCPS. This investigation and experimentation finalized with 3 works being accepted into the UKCPS 16th International Exhibition in London, giving me my fourth success with People’s Choice Award for ‘Eve’s Elixir’ and a High Recommendation for ‘Weathered, Broken & Overgrown’.

2017/18 gave me my greatest successes to date with ‘Eve’s Elixir’ taking second place in the Art & Illustrator Open Media Artist of the Year 2018 competition and my ultimate goal of Best in Show at the UKCPS 17th International Exhibition in Stratford upon Avon with ‘Safe Harbour’.

Safe Harbour - Mevagissey, beautiful Cornish village. Thank you Mark and Shell.

Oddly enough after five years the article by Graham Brace, which started me on the road with colored pencils and the UKCPS, was published in the last Talking Point magazine. Funny that this article should be published at the same time that my most successful picture to date, ‘Safe Harbour’, appeared on the same issue front cover, for winning Best of Show.

The UKCPS has been my main driving force for colored pencils, their support and exhibitions allowed me the platform and exposure to the world of this fabulous media, with inspiration to further my work to higher level and together with other UK & international members push it to the forefront as an accepted art format.

Thank you, Ann, for allowing me to publish my adventures with colored pencils. The future brings more challenges, a human portrait, fingers crossed.

About Peter:

Peter, a self-taught artist, always loved art, but since finding colored pencils, feels he has, at last, found the medium to give him the tools to advance his style to the point of photorealism. This has enabled Peter to reach Silver Signature Status as a member of the UK Colored Pencil Society and by pushing colored pencil techniques and knowledge, alongside other worldwide enthusiastic colored pencil artists, he feels together they will lift colored pencils to levels they deserve, in the total world of art.

See more on his Facebook page.

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