by Ute Koskie
'Whoa', Prismacolor on Art Spectrum Colourfix smooth black, 40x60cm., own reference. This piece took 70 hours to complete and was the most difficult one to date.
From an early age I recall of having a paint brush or pencil in hand and leaving my mark on anything I could find, and it did not stop there and, to date, it has still not stopped. I recall visiting a childhood friend, who was drawing a horse for a school project. I was in awe and decided there and then that I would draw horses, a great love of mine.
At the age of 9, I experienced the loss of 2 family members. I locked myself in my room, becoming a recluse for months. Eventually I began tracing things from books, then copying the colors used. I began drawing objects in my room creating still life drawings of my own. My mother noticed this and began purchasing art supplies in her bid to encourage me. At that time I didn't realize that art was to become the greatest therapy for me, it would benefit and ground me on numerous occasions throughout my life and continues to do so.
Eventually I ventured out and refound my love of horses. Riding at every opportunity and drawing them every chance I got. My early attempts were unimpressive, but as the years progressed, my interpretations and understanding of the horse became second nature.
Whilst working in inner Melbourne as a Graphic Designer and Electronic Publisher, I became seriously ill. It was at this stage in my life my husband decided that we are going to move to our farm. Having recovered from surgery, we then focused on the important things in life, happiness, less stress and my artistic future.
Up until 2001, I was self taught and felt I was blocked in moving forward. Then, as a mature aged student, spent the next 3 years studying all aspects of art; painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture. At the end of all the hard work and studying I gained my Diploma of Visual Arts, graduating with honors including 3 majors. This in turn gave me the confidence to enter various competitions and held 4 successful exhibitions (3 solo and 1 joint).
'Mr arising', Prismacolor on Art Spectrum Colourfix Smooth black, 19.5x28cm, own reference. This is from my Blue Moon Series, and only using a minimal number of colors.
It was in 2015 that I took up colored pencils seriously. I found them to be fascinating and challenging, and I do love a challenge. I began exploring different brands of pencils, different surfaces and methods of use and found that I truly enjoy working with them.
My preferred brand of colored pencils are Prismacolor. I simply love their range of colors and their blendability. I also have Faber-Castell Polychromos and a set of Caran d'Ache Luminance. Yes, I must admit that I was terrified of using the Luminance at first but have found them to be beautiful. All these colored pencils work very well together and on different types of surfaces.
In my experimental stages, to find how they work on various surfaces, I made color swatches of each color and pencil to see how they will benefit me, and have always find this an advantage. During this experiment I have found that Arches HP (smooth) 300gsm watercolor paper is brilliant in many ways. It can take layers, easy to blend on, easy to erase with minimal disturbances to the paper itself. I have also found that Zest-It or Odorless Turps work well in this paper. Yet the smoothness, depending on the subject, can be a little annoying as there is little or no tooth. I am yet to apply some 'Pastel Primer', to which you are also able to add acrylic for a tint, to the paper for some tooth to make working on this paper even more enjoyable.
I have also produced a few wonderful pieces on Art Spectrum Colourfix Smooth, which also comes in various colors. The surface does have a fine texture, which I find perfect for my equine art. I tend to work on this as I would with pastels and using the color of the paper in my favor. Whilst drawing on this surface I tend to start with light pressure and build up to hard pressure giving good totals. For any erasing I tend to use a kneadable eraser to lift color off instead of rubbing which may damage the surface.
Mi-Teintes Tex is another great surface to work on and has similarities to the Art Spectrum Colourfix, however, the texture is very toothy and tends to 'eat' my pencils.
'Arab', Prismacolor on Black Art Spectrum Colourfix Smooth, H20.5 x W28cm, own reference. This one is also from my Blue Moon Series, here you can see how I use the color of the paper to my favor.
I have found that with each new piece a new challenge presents itself which in turn gives a new determination to work through the challenge. I believe my work is growing and developing from strength to strength.
I have begun entering various challenges and competitions over the last 2 years and I am thrilled and humbled with the results, by winning numbers awards, honorable mentions and being invited to enter equine art competitions in Australia and internationally.
In the future I hope to develop a Step-by-Step tutorial on colored pencil horse portraits for those wishing to start, improve, develop and follow their dreams in the colored pencil art world. From there, the future, who knows but I do intend to continue to follow my dream of bringing my artwork to all.
My advice to anyone wanting to work in colored pencils, it takes time, patience and practice to get to a particular self imposed standard, so the main thing is to enjoy the process, have fun and remember, you will get there.
Ute Koskie lives in country Victoria, Australia, working in oils, acrylics and sculpture. It was from 2015 that Ute became serious in working with colored pencils as it lends itself very well to realism and fine details.Her inspirations come from her country surrounds, be it rocks, old rundown houses, animals and predominantly her beloved horses. Ute has won numerous awards within Australia and Internationally, and is a Signature Member of the Coloured Pencil Community of Australasia.