Monday, June 30, 2008

Really Whale Down Those Colors

Whew. I'm back from my two-day colored pencil workshop at the Apple Tree in Springfield. It went really well. Much caffeine was had by all. As it's the last workshop I'm teaching for awhile, I thought I'd reveal a few of the secrets of the world here on the blog. Well, secrets of my workshops, anyway.

Here they are -- do with them what you will.

  • We spend half the workshops getting over the fear of failing. The path to success is littered with bodies. For every successful colored pencil piece I turn out now, there are at least twenty quite hideous colored pencil things (not even fit to be called 'pieces') laying moldering in some garbage pile somewhere
  • We do three versions of each piece. A two minute value sketch (like the black and white sketch of the books), a 10-15 minute color sketch (like the color version of the books) and a final piece that takes 2-4 hours (like the portrait of Moose at the top)
  • All the time that you spend staring at your art, trying to decide what to do next or what color to pick up -- that's time you could be using to slap some color down. All those "ums" "ahs" and "ers" really add up. That's what preliminary sketches are for.
  • I have discovered that if I were made into a doll with a pull string on the back, I would say the following phrases: "push those dark values." "Whale down those colors." "Super sharp point on that pencil, ladies." "Do I need to come over there and heckle you?" and "Pick out some wild colors!"


Mary Sheehan Winn said...

I think most of the time, getting over the fear of failure is half the battle. Also, I remind myself everyday that not every piece (as you so aptly pointed out) even deserves to be called a 'piece'.
Some turn out to be just practice.

Recently, I've begun to 'consistently' do a small value sketch before I make a move on the painting. It's so much easier when you already drawn it once! Duh!

Rita said...

Fantastic post Maggie, and Moose is looking just as inspiring as ever (although i wouldn't tell him that lest his ego becomes too swelled).

I think it's great that you push students to get over their fear of failure because, really, when it comes to art they're "learning experiences", not failures. Thanks for sharing this info!

SHERI C said...

My entire pursuit of both an artistic and writing career is blocked by that nasty hurdle you named as fear of failure! Now I need to KNOCK down that hurdle and just GO GO GO! Thanks for sharing your tips. As always, much success to you Maggie!

Jennifer said...

Great tips! Thanks for the post.

Paulette said...

Excellent post!
I am sure you would have to heckle me non stop.LOL

Jo Castillo said...

Thanks Maggie. Good stuff to ponder. You always inspire.