I was contacted a few weeks ago by a representative of Watson-Guptill Publications and asked if I would be interested in doing a book review. Of course I said yes after seeing that it’s a book about coloured pencils, something I use daily for my doll faces.
The New Colored Pencil –
Create Luminous Works with Innovative Materials and Techniques
Author Kristy Ann Kutch
I really like this book, it is 176 pages of coloured pencil goodness. It starts with the bright colourful cover, which will get my attention every time. The size of the book, 8 ½” X 8 ½”, a more compact size making it easier to hold and to fit into a bag to take with you if need be. The book is divided into 3 parts which makes it so easy to find what you’re looking for.
Part 1: Covers - Wax Based Traditional Coloured Pencils and contains 5 chapters.
Chapter 1: This chapter begins with great information about the different brands of pencils and the how the pigments vary according to what brand you are using. The artist brands of pencils compared to student grade with give you a higher percentage of pigment, meaning your depth of colour is be greater. In this section too, Kristy references 13 different brands of pencils and their composition, using terms such as Buttery “Wet” and Crisp “Dry” pencils, terms I hadn’t heard before. Mostly I have just picked out my pencils based on the recommendations of the teacher in a particular class, without really knowing why they prefer a specific brand. For serious artists the information about the pencils in this chapter is an invaluable tool.
Of course it follows that the price of your pencils will vary depending on the brand you choose. There is a very good chart that compares all the different pencils available, how many colours available in each brand, the price points and the key characteristics. This is great information to have when it comes to the type of artwork you are planning.
Chapter 2: Discussion of the variety of surfaces that are compatible with waxy coloured pencils. The different papers, canvases and novelty surfaces that pencils will work with. There are charts that detail how the different papers and surfaces will work with your coloured pencils. There is information regarding the new types of surfaces available, pastel surfaces for coloured pencils and the various surfaces from smooth to grainy, with the look of your finished being determined by what surface you choose. The novelty surfaces touched on include drafting films and real wood paper as examples. The traditional surfaces and the new are discussed in this chapter, you will have a good understanding of what each offers and again, the author provides charts comparing those differences.
Chapter 3: Colour Wheel. This chapter discusses the use of the colour wheel. The colour wheel is often passed over because it seems too daunting or perhaps misunderstood. But, the colour wheel is a great tool to have for understanding the many uses of colour in artwork. This book provides very easy to read and understand explanations. You will come to know the differences between cool and warm colours, how colours work together to give you the results you’re after and simple explanations of how using the colours the right way can enhance your work. Topics covered included creating a value range, cool, warm and complimentary colours and playing with colour contrast.
Chapter 4: You will learn how to create simple line drawings, and tips for lifting pencil colour. I was surprized at the number of ways to do that. From the familiar white vinyl erasers and others, to a battery operated white eraser that I never knew existed. So interesting to read how that works. There is a great section on “Methods for Applying Coloured Pencil Pigment” by building up layers (my favourite thing to do on doll faces), how to sharpen and how much to sharpen pencils for your particular needs. I was also interested to read about using a metal mesh screen to grate colour onto the surface to build up layers that way. Who knew, a technique that I can easily transfer to doll faces. Masking areas of you work is explained giving examples of products you can use such as Frisket Film.
Chapter 5: Describes how to blend colour and create texture with your art pieces. The term “layers or layering” is a common theme and explained well. There are ways of blending colours such as using solvents, blending with brushes and sponges, using non-toxic heat in the form of an Icarus Board. Something new to me as well and would definitely look into if I were creating my art on canvas. The author gives examples of affordable blending tools. Ways to create texture through the use of line impressions, Frottage, Sgraffito, Mottling and Speckling. The chapter concludes with a discussion on the use of negative space. Topics for this include using a toned surface, close-cropped composition and vignettes (vignettes are wonderful). Kristy goes on to illustrate how to achieve these techniques, as she has done in previous chapters.
This is the end of Part 1, Part 2 and 3 to follow in the next couple of days.
There is far more information than I could include or I would be rewriting her book. What I really enjoyed and this applies throughout the book, I would refer to this as an art reference book.
The way it’s broken down into three parts allows me to flip to the section I need to refer to. Once there I don’t get bogged down in too many details. The information, in my opinion, was put together in a way that is helpful for busy people like me that just need a quick reminder or definition of a technique, but there is enough information for a seasoned artist to refresh and renew their skills.