Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Fundamentals – This Time with Colored Pencils

1/18/17 Derwent colored pencil, Bristol paper
I’ve taken a number of classes at Gage Academy over the past few years. Whether the focus is sketching quickly, life drawing or pen and ink, one thing I really appreciate about the Gage philosophy is that regardless of the medium or subject matter, the class is always based on the fundamentals of classical drawing. At this point in my sketching experience of more than five years, I can’t really call myself a “beginner” anymore, yet I always gain something from these fundamentals, even if I’ve heard the principles many times before.

Such is the case again this quarter in the class I began yesterday in making landscapes with colored pencils, taught by Suzanne Brooker. (Last quarter when I had signed up for a colored pencil class, it was cancelled, much to my disappointment, so I’m especially thrilled to be in this one.) Reviewing the fundamentals again drives home the point that even when the application of a particular medium is very different from another, the basic principles of two-dimensional art don’t change. Paintings and drawings are always about the relationship between light and dark – that V word again, values.

Source photo
Although it was clear from the course description that we would be working from photos as our source material, my secret hope is that I’ll be able to apply what I learn to using colored pencils on location. It won’t be the same, of course; the techniques we are learning require lots of time applying layers and layers of colored pencil to compose something closer to a painting than a sketch. But as I keep saying, I want to explore ways to make colored pencils work for me in the field, so the more I understand how they are used in the studio, the better equipped I am to figure out how to make that conversion to meet my needs. (I’m excited that we’re already talking about using a very limited primary palette – something I’ve been exploring on my own, and I seem to be on the right track!) And as far as reviewing those fundamentals of drawing goes, it’s never a waste of time.

For our first exercise, we are using a selection from the instructor’s collection of photos of trees as the source. Shown here is as far as I got during the first class. Stay tuned for the ongoing work in progress.


  1. Beautiful! I look forward to your future posts as you go on with your class!

    1. Thank you for the encouragement! I'm looking forward to the class!

  2. It's fantastic that you get to take these classes. I'm constantly reading and re-reading about classic drawing principles. I think you have to revisit this stuff often. As we climb the learning curve we start to see more and more in those teachings that we didn't see the first few times through it.


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