by Carol Doran
I've always enjoyed drawing. From a very young age I could be found with a pencil and paper in my hand. I loved animals and horses were my favorites. As I got older, I enjoyed other crafts as well including knitting, crochet, cross stitch and dressmaking. I started work at 16, got married at 19 and had my first daughter by the end of that year. There was no time for art and as the years went by it got forgotten.
In my opinion these drawings were completely awful but our Facebook friends seemed to love them. As a result of this I got a few friends asking if I could draw this that and the other for them, which I did, but I was never satisfied with the results.
Cherry Blossom, 9x12 inches. Spring is my favourite time of year and I love to see the blossom on the trees at this time.
After being made redundant about 6 years ago, I thought about re-kindling my love of drawing. Not knowing if I could still do it I got hubby to take me to a local craft store to pick up some pencils and paper. That evening I drew a poppy on black paper with my tin of 36 Coloursoft pencils and a couple of horsey sketches in graphite. My hubby was so blown away with these that he took photographs of them with his phone and posted them all over Facebook. In my opinion these drawings were completely awful but our Facebook friends seemed to love them. As a result of this I got a few friends asking if I could draw this that and the other for them, which I did, but I was never satisfied with the results.
I joined a few Facebook Colored Pencil groups, bought a few books and watched countless YouTube videos on colored pencil work. I was in awe of some of the work people were turning out with colored pencils. I wanted to be as good as them. I then fell into the trap of buying all the art supplies that other people were using to create their stunning pieces on. I tried different techniques demonstrated by other artists but still that ‘something special’ was missing.
Poppies, 9x12 inches. I used to love lying in wild flower meadows in the summer, listening to nature and watching the sunlight dancing through the stems.
I had seen some beautiful colored pencil works created on pastel paper. I purchased a test pack and gave it a try. I found it amazing. It allowed me to do all the things I couldn’t do on smoother paper. I also discovered that colors would mix and blend so much better on this support. I drew a series of birds. All came out as I had hoped, but they needed a background. The test pack samples I received were all dark tones and the birds were a little lost in the dark background. But then they were only practice pieces. I then went on to create a landscape featuring two vintage aircraft for a competition. This got a lot of attention and I considered getting prints done. I still had a steady supply of pet portraits coming in and with each one I was learning something new, which I applied to the next one.
Suddenly my colored pencil work had become more enjoyable, more fulfilling, but I still felt I needed to stretch myself further. I felt I needed more of a challenge. Whilst scrolling through the reference free sites I came across a photo of some cherry blossom that, to me, had that ‘Wow’ factor. I looked at it and thought I could never draw that in a million years. My Hubby said ‘you don’t know until you try’. So true! You just don’t know until you try to apply that little extra effort.
Yuletide Peace, 15.5 x 9.25 inches. Yule is a special time of year for us. A time to reflect on the year just passed and to look forward to the longer, warmer days to come.
The sketch was complicated enough. Then I started to apply the color. Absolutely way out of my comfort zone with this I was thinking. Apart from white, there wasn’t a single color in my collection that matched anything in the photo and how on Earth am I going to draw the background out of focus flowers when I can’t even see any detail in them? Well, there’s the key isn’t it. Draw what you see, not what your mind wants to see.
If I was to give anyone advice about starting out in colored pencil, it would be never be afraid to experiment, never be afraid to challenge yourself and stay focused on your goals.
So I kept most of the reference photo covered and worked just one little block at a time. I found I was ‘painting’ with my pencils, not just drawing. I was using them on their sides to get the various glazes in to create the color. mixes I needed. I was using a paper stump to blend and blur the various elements. I only sharpened a pencil if some fine detail was required. I became totally absorbed. I worked on it during the day, evenings as well. I was actually enjoying the process. A colored pencil work had never quite absorbed me in this way. I don’t know how many hours I spent on it, but it took me 3 weeks. For once, I was actually pleased with the result. I had got somewhere near to where I wanted to be. My ‘Cherry Blossom’ painting has been a huge success and has even won a couple of prizes.
I then went on to do several more pieces using the same techniques and materials. All have been hugely successful on a personal level and as a result my confidence and skill has grown. I finally feel that my art is starting to take some direction. If I was to give anyone advice about starting out in colored pencil, it would be never be afraid to experiment, never be afraid to challenge yourself and stay focused on your goals.
A self taught artist living in the UK, Carol began pursuing colored pencil art in 2013 at the age of 56. Her work is inspired by the beauty of the natural world and she tries to reflect that in her subjects. She has exhibited both locally and nationally. Her work has been featured and published in an international publication. Carol received her Signature Status with the Coloured Pencil Community of Australasia in August 2019.
See more at: https://www.carolannart.co.uk/