How to Use Texture in Portraiture For Powerful Results

Why You Should Add Texture to Your Portraiture

To an artist, texture means so much more than a sensation brought on by touching something physical. It can tell a story and make something two-dimensional appear three-dimensional. It can be applied, established through paper choice, scratched into a surface and built upon, layer after layer. The possibilities of texture in art are practically limitless.

What’s more, texture can also be used as a tool to spark a certain emotion from the viewer. This is especially true when used in an art genre like portraiture. Texture can help to capture a glimpse into the mood, personality and thoughts of the subject while also assisting in making the viewer feel a certain way.

To inspire you to incorporate more texture into your art, here are 10 remarkable portraits with brilliant textural elements from artists featured in Strokes of Genius 8. Enjoy!

Caught in the Moment

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Adolescence by Veronica Winters, colored pencils on Canson pastel paper


On a family vacation, I took a picture of my son. It was a lucky moment: His eyes were a lot more telling than posed smiles. I aimed to depict the intensity of his gaze, the look of adolescence seen in the thoughtfulness and contemplation of that moment.

Colored pencil drawing requires the use of smooth paper. Here I deviate from the norm and draw on pastel paper instead. The unfilled spaces of the colored, slightly textured paper mix optically with the colored pencils, revealing the texture of skin and hair.

I work on details with very sharp Caran d’Ache Pablo pencils and shade everything else using soft, permanent Caran d’Ache Luminance and some Lightfast Premier Prismacolors. 

— Veronica Winters

Hard Lines, Hard Times

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The Patriot by Clark Louis Gussin, Mars pencils on Strathmore bristol


The more I got to know my son-in-law, a career combat soldier, the more I was compelled to make his portrait. I traveled to Texas for a formal sitting where I was able to control the pose, the lighting and the mood.

After choosing the desired pose from the photography session, I was excited by the challenge to render the textures and crypsis (i.e., camouflage pattern) of his uniform, and hopefully capture the hard years etched on his face and resonating from his gaze. It took me three months to complete rendering and modeling.

The value transitions of the surface textures were achieved using General’s charcoal pencils and charcoal powder applied with stumps and tortillons.

— Clark Louis Gussin

Bringing an Idea to Life

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Wileman by David Sandell, Derwent Studio and Caran D’Ache Luminance pencils on PastelMat


This drawing started life as an idea for an oil painting, then it developed its own credibility so I ran with it. The subject is an old friend and renowned painter, Peter Wileman. I felt it was important to reflect his character through the texture and landscape of his face as affected by light from a nearby window.

I developed the basic drawing from my own photographic studies, drawing with Derwent Burnt Carmine and white, then bringing in the warm and cool halftones on either side of his face with Luminance Burnt Sienna, along with pinks and grays.

— David Sandell 

Erasing Unease

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Out of the Blue by Jennifer Rowe, pastel on Canson paper


Using reference photos allowed me ample time for experimentation with this portrait. Feeling dissatisfied with my initial results, I grabbed a Prismacolor Magic Rub eraser and made random strokes with its edge.

When I stepped back I saw that the eraser marks had serendipitously framed the face, which I was then inspired to further refine. The juxtaposition of the loose textural background and the tightly rendered visage brings a heightened emotional quality to this piece and leaves room for the viewer’s imagination.

— Jennifer Rowe

Creative Experimentation

Texture in Portraiture | Portraits | Drawing | Drawing Portraits | Strokes of Genius 8 | Artists Network

Kevin by Chris Page, Black PanPastel and General’s black and white charcoal pencils on Strathmore gray-toned paper


I did this portrait of New York model Kevin as a kind of creative experiment. First, I painted Kevin from life, using a monochromatic palette of Terra Rosa and Venetian Red, both by Vasari, on a gray-toned panel.

Next, I photographed both the painting and Kevin in black and white. And, finally, I created this drawing from those sources. My primary intention was to first gain a solid structural understanding of my subject, and then hope that it translated into a solid piece.

–Chris Page

Lost in Thought

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Thoughts by Catherine Creaney, Soft pastel and pastel pencil on Fabriano Tiziano paper


Thoughts portrays my mother’s partner and caregiver for more than 20 years. His appearance often reminds me of philosophers or biblical characters, and that is how I wanted to depict him in this portrait.

Working from photography, I can capture fleeting moments and expressions. I used a combination of soft pastel and pencil in both the underdrawing and final drawing stages, adding highlights and hair and skin texture with putty rubber, an eraser stick and a few touches of white pastel pencil. I merely hinted at certain areas so as not to overwork it and lose the vitality.

— Catherine Creaney

Paper Power

Texture in Portraiture | Portraits | Drawing | Drawing Portraits | Strokes of Genius 8 | Artists Network

Laurie in Profile by Marnie White, charcoal on paper


This is part of a drawing series of my friends and acquaintances. The background noise has been stripped away to draw attention to form and texture. In these quiet drawings, I focus on my subjects and investigate the poignant humanity of daily life.

The texture of the paper accentuates the drawn texture. Smooth areas like Laurie’s skin are juxtaposed with looser strokes in the hair and sweater. I prefer to work from life but also use reference photographs. I find preliminary sketches from life essential to keeping my work looking fresh.

— Marnie White

Taking a Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes

Texture in Portraiture | Portraits | Drawing | Drawing Portraits | Strokes of Genius 8 | Artists Network

Hard Times by Wendy Layne, Polychromos colored pencils and white gel pen on cream Stonehenge paper


Walking in downtown Houston, Texas, I came across a man with tattered clothing perched on a concrete bench with a large duffle bag beside him. The lines in his face told a thousand stories. He gazed at me with gentle eyes, so I approached him. After a long conversation about his life, I asked permission to photograph him for my Faces of Humanity series.

I started the drawing with the eyes — the single most important detail to convey emotion. The gel pen added a depth to the beard and highlights to the thread in his knitted hat. I left the background simple to represent how his surroundings were insignificant compared to his own physical requirements to merely survive.

— Wendy Layne

Thinking Outside the Box

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Defense Mechanisms by Mark A. Hanavan, charcoal and acrylic on Canford cardstock


Defense Mechanisms is from a recent series where I turned my focus toward my animation students. This unique subculture contrasts with traditional societal norms. Contrasting textures, then, become a visual metaphor for this feature of the sitter.

The oval format unifies as it repeats the ovals in the image, but contrasts by the fact that the sitter is not the customary subject of an oval format. Even the space above the figure was intentional, suggesting that the subject is not fitting into our frame of reference.

— Mark A Hanavan

Seeing the Soul

Texture in Portraiture | Portraits | Drawing | Drawing Portraits | Strokes of Genius 8 | Artists Network

Good Place for a Handout by Nina Ashraf Asmi, Conté crayon on Mylar


Drawing portraits from life, I seek to portray our shared humanity. I start with no preconceived notion of the finished portrait.

An interplay of random marks, textural strokes and empty spaces lets the viewer inside — with the intention of revealing a glimpse of the soul. I like Mylar because it is receptive to different kinds of strokes without dictating any textures of its own.

— Nina Ashraf Asmi

How do you add texture to your art? Tell us in the comments!

And, if you are looking forward to the release of Strokes of Genius 9, which is all about creative discoveries, pre-order your copy here.

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Intaglio Printmaking Made Simple | Here Are The 5 Key Processes

Often, when viewing an exhibition of prints, we’ll look at the labels and discover the names of printing media we don’t fully understand. What’s the difference between a drypoint and an aquatint? Between a monotype and a monoprint? Between a lithograph and a linocut?


Intaglio | Artist's Network | Stephen Parrish

Venice by Stephen Parrish, ca. 1885, etching


For starters, there are four traditional printmaking categories: relief (which includes such processes as woodcut and linocut), planography (lithography), serigraphy (silkscreen) and, finally, intaglio.

Below, artist Richard Pantell walks us through the last of these categories, intaglio, and its five principle processes. Enjoy!

Intaglio Explained

Originating in Italy, the word “intaglio,” with a silent “g,” refers to prints made from plates in which the areas that carry the ink are recessed below the surface of the plate. The plates are most often made of copper, but zinc, brass and other materials are also used.

The method of creating the recessed areas differs with the technique, and in a moment we’ll learn how each one works. But once the plate itself is complete, all five processes share the following steps to produce the finished intaglio print.

First, the artist applies ink to the entire surface of the finished plate, often using a roller. The ink is then squeegeed across the plate, forcing the ink into every recessed line and area. The plate is then wiped with a rag called a tarlatan. This removes the ink from the raised portions of the plate, leaving only the ink in the recessed areas to be printed.

The plate is then placed onto the bed of an etching press, a rectangular steel slab. A dampened sheet of etching paper, larger than the plate itself, is laid on top. Two felt blankets are placed on top of the paper.

The bed is then cranked between two steel rollers, pressing the blankets into the softened paper and forcing the paper down into the recessed areas of the metal plate, where it grabs the ink. After the bed comes to rest at the other end of the press, the blankets are lifted off. The paper is removed to reveal the finished print, or impression.

The look of the final print is affected by numerous factors, including the choice of ink, the method of wiping the ink from the plate and the choice of paper — in addition to the choice of printmaking process and the artist’s treatment of the image. The contours of the plate leave an embossment on the paper called the platemark, and the residual ink on the surface is called plate tone.

Prints are usually worked through an evolution called states, with the artist printing a sample impression, then working the plate further until it is completed, when the final proof is taken. At that point the plate is ready for editioning — the creation of multiple impressions, which the artist signs and numbers.

There are five traditional intaglio processes: engraving, etching, drypoint, aquatint and mezzotint. Each produces prints with a distinct look and feel, and many prints are created through a combination of two or more of these processes.


Intaglio | Artist's Network | Coenraad Lauwers

Portrait by Coenraad Lauwers, 1649, engraving


Engraving was developed in the Middle Ages, making it one of the oldest printmaking processes. The artist creates lines by cutting into the copper plate using a tool called a burin. It requires patience, strength and practice.

Curved lines are created not by pushing the burin in a new direction, but by turning the plate while pushing the burin straight ahead. It is a highly linear process, and shading is accomplished largely through hatching and crosshatching.

Burins are available in several sizes, but even a single burin will give the engraver great control over the line. The tip of the burin is diamond-shaped. As the pointed tip is pushed deeper into the copper, the line becomes wider.

As the cut finishes, the line becomes thinner, much like the line of a crow-quill pen. Engravers create much of their tone using this thin-to-thick-to-thin approach.


Intaglio | Artist's Network | Richard Pantell

Studio Corner by Richard Pantell, 2006, etching


Etching dates back to the early 1500s. Traditional etching is still practiced today, as are a large number of derivative techniques developed since then. In sharp contrast to the painstaking medium of engraving, etching is very fluid and spontaneous.

At the start of the process, the metal plate is coated with a thin layer of an asphaltum-based, acid-resistant substance called etching ground. Using an etching needle, the artist draws lines through the ground, exposing the metal. The plate is then lowered into a mild acid bath where the exposed areas are etched, or bitten, by the acid, leaving them recessed beneath the surface of the plate.

The longer the plate is left in the acid, the more metal is eaten away, resulting in deeper and darker lines. Multiple bites are often used to create a variety of line thicknesses. Unlike an engraved line, an etched line generally maintains the same thickness from start to finish.


Intaglio | Artist's Network | Richard Pantell

The Old Steeple-Cab by Richard Pantell, 2002, drypoint


Like etching, drypoint involves fluid and spontaneous drawing. Unlike etching, it does not involve acid. Used since the early 1600s, the technique involves scratching the image directly onto the surface of the plate with an etching needle or a diamond-pointed needle.

As the needle makes a shallow mark beneath the surface of the plate, it also raises a thin ridge of metal called a burr. The burr holds most of the ink, rather than the recessed line itself.

Drypoint produces a warm, soft line with a small amount of ink reaching away from the line. Drypoint lines, like engraved lines, range from thin to thick to thin again, but they possess a softness not found in engraving.

Due to friction from wiping the plate, burrs break down quickly and can only be pressed a few times. To enable the printing of a large edition, the artist must employ a process called steel facing to make the surface of the plate more permanent.


Intaglio | Artist's Network | Karen Whitman

Still Life With Light Breeze by Karen Whitman, 1975, aquatint and etching


Aquatint, developed in the 1600s, is actually a variation on etching. However, it is used to such a high degree and includes so many variations of its own that it is widely considered its own medium.

It differs from line etching in being primarily a tonal process, somewhat similar to commercial halftone printing, which uses small dots to create tones. In the case of aquatint, tone is created by small, nearly microscopic light dots within the dark field. Aquatints are often combined with traditional line etching or other etching techniques.

The artist begins an aquatint by dusting the plate with fine rosin powder. The plate is heated until the powder melts into droplets that adhere to the plate. These droplets are acid-resistant and protect small, relatively evenly distributed dots on the plate when it is lowered into the acid bath. When the plate is printed, this results in tiny light dots within fields of ink, which our eye reads as even tone.

To craft the image, before submerging the plate into the acid the artist paints the areas where no tone is desired with an acid-resistant substance called asphaltum, or stop-out. The plate is then submerged into acid and bitten.

The longer it is left in the acid, the deeper and darker the resulting tone. The plate is removed from the acid, rinsed in water and dried. In most cases, the artist then repeats the process, painting more areas with stop-out to preserve them at the current tone, and then re-submerging the plate in acid, producing still darker tones in the unprotected areas.

Aquatint tones are even and flat but can be altered by burnishing or by utilizing other etching techniques. Areas can also be made to fade from light to dark by slowly sliding the plate into the acid bath. The areas that are submerged first spend more time in the acid, making them darker than the areas that are submerged last.


Intaglio | Artist's Network | Carol Wax

Photo Reelism by Carol Wax, 1999, mezzotint. © Carol Wax.


Mezzotint has a known inventor: Ludwig von Siegen (1609–ca. 1680), of Amsterdam, who developed the process in the 1640s. It is the only intaglio process that is worked entirely from dark to light. It produces unique velvety tones that can appear quite painterly.

The artist begins by preparing the metal plate to print as an even dark field. This is done through a tool called a rocker, which has a handle on the top and a curved, serrated metal bottom containing teeth.

The artist grasps the handle firmly and rocks the tool across the surface of the plate in a tight, orderly fashion. The plate is rocked in multiple directions, one at a time. The teeth pierce the surface of the plate, creating countless small indentations to hold the ink. If a fully rocked plate is inked and printed, a solid black image will appear.

The artist creates the image using a selection of metal tools called burnishers and scrapers to smoothen the textured plate. Burnishers can be used for everything from soft tones to sharp lines and edges. Areas that are burnished more retain less ink during printing and vice versa.

This article first appeared in a past issue of Drawing magazine. You can peruse through past issues here.


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Intuition, Emotion and Expressiveness in Watercolor

Thomas Schaller_watercolor art

Stir the Emotions!

Thomas Schaller’s watercolor paintings alone are enough to stir emotion in the viewer. But add to that his journey, and you’ll have a new level of appreciation for what he brings to the table.

Schaller is one of our featured artist-instructors, and his story inspires me to want to paint, explore and mostly live an artful life. Enjoy his work, his words of wisdom and his hard-won art tips! Cheers!


The Hand of the Artist

Watercolor painting inspiration by Thomas Schaller |

London–Fog 2 (watercolor on paper, 22×11) by Thomas Schaller. Article contributions from Cherie Haas.

I was drawn to watercolor while studying not fine art, but architecture, at The Ohio State University. I specifically valued the technically precise use of the medium as best exemplified by the concepts of the Beaux-Arts movement, wherein ideas about design and the ideals of classicism — not the skill of the artist — are of utmost importance. Any graphic expression of these ideals sought to minimize the role of the individual — in a sense, to deny the very hand of the artist.

A great many watercolors produced by masters of the Beaux-Arts movement are exquisite in their clarity, precision and luminosity, yet they’re intentionally devoid of individual expressive characteristics. It was in this vein that my work progressed for years, as I attempted to perfect the gradations and transitions of transparent, luminous watercolor washes.

Still, something was missing. Gradually, I began to long for my work to have something of the same expressive power seen in the work of John Singer Sargent, John Sell Cotman and then later, Edward Seago and Robert Wade. I no longer wanted my work to deny the hand of the artist. Technical expertise just wasn’t enough — it was time for emotion to play a part.

Exploring Emotion

So, while studying with Joseph Zbukvic in 2009–and in part with his encouragement–I began to follow a new path. I began to build on a base of technique while also exploring the role of intuition, emotion and expressiveness.

I do believe that at last, my skill as an artist is finally beginning to flourish. I still have much to learn, but it’s such an exciting journey. And I’ve never looked back.

~Thomas W. Schaller

A New Lease on Your Watercolor Skills

Learn Schaller’s watercolor painting techniques in the Design Powerful Watercolors with Thomas Schaller Collection, which is only available at North Light Shop. It is the newest collection from Schaller and is giving hundreds of artists a new lease on their watercolor art. Join in to claim those same skills for yourself!

Excited to hear more? Subscribe to the Artists Network newsletter for inspiration, instruction, and ideas, and score a free download on Watercolor Painting for Beginners: The Basics and More.


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Avoid This Love-Hate Relationship & You’ll Be Fine

Flower paintings that combine interesting color concepts allow the works to stand out!

Flower paintings that combine interesting color concepts, from the simple to the complex, allow the works to stand out!

Vibrant Flower Paintings Are a Complement Away

Do you need to understand physics like a scientist to paint lush, colorful flowers? Do you really want to understand color scientifically? If you are like me, it is a “nope” on both counts! Instead, all you need is to play with color to create something you really enjoy, especially when you make flower paintings.

Color makes your art unique. Line up 10 artists to paint a red rose, each artist portrays it in a different style and with different colors — shaded red, tinted red, purple red or just plain red.

How you use color is completely and always up to you. But there are basic concepts that can help guide us, especially if you are exploring how to paint watercolor flowers and want to avoid muddiness and wasted time.

Here is a “tip sheet” from Soon Warren’s popular resource guide, Painting Vibrant Flowers in Watercolor. It is filled with all the essentials you need to make your next flower paintings a show-worthy success. Enjoy!


Flower Paintings in 1, 2, 3

Complementary colors are vibrant when placed side by side. The muddy color you get when you mix them can be scary, but it is also a richer, more complex "dark" than any you'll find in tube.

Complementary colors are vibrant when placed side by side. The muddy color you get when you mix them can be scary, but it is a richer, more complex “dark” than any you’ll find in a tube.

+The primary colors can be combined to create pyramids of yellowish hue (Aureolin; Cadmium Yellow Deep, Medium and Light; Lemon Yellow; etc.), reddish hue (Permanent Red, Cadmium Red, Indian Red, Carmine, etc.), and bluish hue (Cobalt Blue, French Ultramarine, Prussian Blue, Pthalo Blue, etc.).

+If you mix equal parts of all three primaries, you’ll produce black. But using two at a time, you can create an endless variety of colors.

+The secondary colors — green, orange and violet — are the result of mixing two primary colors. They have less intensity (saturation) than the primaries.

+Tertiary color is produced when three or more different colors are combined.You usually will create these by mixing one primary and one adjacent secondary color.

+You can always tell which colors are complementary because they appear on opposite sides of the color wheel. Orange complements blue, violet complements yellow and red complements green.

+Complementary colors have a love-hate relationship with each other. When they are side by side, they make a brilliant color combination. Mixed together, however, they cancel each other out and make a gray, muted color.


How to Paint Flowers in Watercolor | Painting Flowers | Vibrant Flowers | Color Combinations | Soon Y. Warren | Artists Network

Explore primary, secondary, tertiary, and complementary colors in your upcoming flower paintings. Whew, what a ton of options!


+Using complementary colors will consistently make brilliant, colorful paintings that convey a happy feeling. Don’t be afraid of them.

+Use the muted complementary colors you mix in the background or in less important areas of your flower paintings. It will help more intense, adjacent colors shine.

+Complementary colors also make rich darks and they keep you from resorting to black, a dreaded, dull color!

Experiment and Have Fun

Remember, there are no secret formulas that apply to every situation, so have patience and have fun with color. Experiment, learn and let your personality flow through every stroke you make. Sounds good, right? Well, that is advice straight from Soon Warren, so be sure to check out Painting Vibrant Flowers in Watercolor.

And, if you want to learn even more watercolor techniques from Soon Warren, watch the preview trailer of her video workshop, Vibrant Watercolor Techniques: Painting Flowers, for a sneak peek into her painting process.






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Drawing Trees: Improve Your Art With These Tips


You Have to Give Nature a Helping Hand

Nature isn’t always pretty. Trees, hills, sky — they come in all shapes, colors and sizes, and some of those are definitely NOT painting worthy … at least not until the artist gets a hold of them. Then it is up to us to put a spin on these elements and make them our own.

Johannes Vloothuis is on the same page, and here you will find his tips on how to draw trees from his DVD, The Complete Essentials of Painting Trees. With this video resource and the insights in this post, you’ll be creating landscape elements that are as eye appealing as your next painting deserves! Enjoy!


Be a Shape Collector

How to draw a tree | ArtistsNetwork.comNature doesn’t often give us pleasing artistic shapes. If you’re interested in landscape art and drawing trees, it’s a good idea to have a collection of artistic and abstract tree shapes in a library. An artist needs to be a shape collector. Your sense of aesthetics, to determine an attractive shape, should be innate.

What constitutes an abstract shape for a tree?
1. Draw an imaginary line down the middle and compare both sides. Each side should be different.
2. The shape should not end up symmetrical by being too circular or oval.
3. The contour line should have lost and found edges.
4. There should be color variances within the shape.
5. There should be indentations and protrusions to give a three-dimensional effect.
6. When grouped together, all the negative spaces that form between the trees should be different.

How to draw trees |

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Circle or Oval

Which of the two shapes below is the more appealing, the circle or the oval?

Landscape drawing |

Your best bet for drawing trees is to create shapes that are more oval.

I hope you voted for the oval because that’s the right answer! Why? Because it has a different height than width.

If a tree shape fits inside a circle, no matter how realistically you render it, the shape will not be attractive. Tree drawings look better if their foliage is oval rather than circular.

The same applies to a square format versus a rectangular format. If a waterfall or a rock fits inside a square, the abstract design is compromised. You would want to change the anatomy of a waterfall and stretch it to fit in a rectangle rather than a square.

The bottom line is that it’s not what you do inside the shape that makes the symbol look good. It’s the shape per se. The key is in making the overall shape appealing. Details within the boundaries of the shape are less important.


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Master Colored Pencil with This Step-by-Step Demonstration


Ribbon Fantasy (colored pencil and Neocolor II wax crayon on paper, 7×10) by Arlene Steinberg


I could stare at the work of Arlene Steinberg all day. Her vibrant colors and use of reflections in her artworks are mesmerizing. Below, Steinberg demonstrates how she drew the eye-catching still life titled Ribbon Fantasy, above, using colored pencil. Enjoy!

Mastering Colored Pencil, Step-by-Step

Colored pencil is translucent, so as you layer and blend colors, those in the lower layers show through, allowing you to create luminous effects and subtle shifts of value and hue. This takes time, but working on a heated Icarus Art drawing board cuts the time drastically.

In this step-by-step demonstration, I identify Prismacolor Premier colored pencils with a “P” and Caran d’Ache Luminance 6901 colored pencils with an “L.”

1. Establishing the Background


1. Apply frisket film and begin background.


After transferring my compositional drawing onto the paper, I colored the curled stem white with Caran d’Ache Neocolor II water-soluble crayon. I then placed drafting tape along the line indicated in the image above to preserve the back edge of the table.

After this, I covered the entire drawing with a sheet of frisket film. Then, with an X-acto knife, I cut away the portion of the frisket covering the background. At this point, I taped my paper surface to the warm side of the Icarus board and turned the board to a low heat level — 1 or 2.

Using a circular scribbling motion, I colored the right side of the background with Neocolor II water-soluble wax crayons, using steel gray on the right and light gray on the left. I then loosely blended the colors by scribbling one on top of the other.

2. Blending the Grays


2. Blend background colors


I turned the Icarus board to its highest setting (8). When it was hot, I placed a towel under my hand and blended the grays into each other with the side of a paper stump, using a circular motion. I didn’t have to press hard because the heat softened the crayon.

Starting my blending strokes on the frisket film and working upward kept the crayon from bleeding under the film. To finish the background, I then turned the drawing upside down and, working from the frisket down, I smoothed the Neocolor II background with straight up-and-down strokes of the side of the stump.

3. Starting the Layers

3. Apply layers of local and complementary colored pencil colors to the ribbon loop

3. Apply layers of local and complementary colored pencil colors to the ribbon loop


I cut away the frisket film on the left side of the ribbon loop. Reducing the Icarus board’s heat setting to 4, I applied colored pencil colors close to those of the actual ribbon: beryl green (L), dark English green (L), middle cobalt hue (L) and grass green (L).

I then darkened the bottom of the loop with black cherry (P). I lightened the green on the right side of the ribbon with canary yellow (P) and white (P), and blended beryl green into the green on the left side of the ribbon. I continued layering color until almost no paper showed in this area.

4. More Blending


4. Blend loop colored pencil colors and layer the next ribbon section


With a colorless blender, I blended the ribbon colors on the left side of the loop, letting the heat from the board help. I then uncovered more of the ribbon by cutting away additional sections of frisket film.

Next, I moved my drawing to the cool side of the Icarus board and colored the stem of the cherry on the right in white (P). Moving back to the warm side of the board, I began layering colored pencil on the newly exposed areas of ribbon. Working from darker areas into lighter areas helps prevent the darker colors from migrating into lighter colors, so I went from crimson red (P) to scarlet lake (P) to cornelian (L) to orange (L) to apricot (L) to golden bismuth yellow (L).

To create shadows on the red areas of the ribbon, I layered black cherry (P) followed by a lightly applied complementary dark green (P), followed by crimson red (P). To create the shadows on the yellow and orange areas of the ribbon, I layered the complementary colors ultramarine violet (L) and gray-blue (L).

Over the lavender and blue, I layered more of the oranges and yellows. I blended lightly as I layered the colored pencil colors, and I continued layering until almost no paper showed in the area where I’d been working. Then, going from lightest colors to darkest, I once again blended with the colorless blender.

5. Coloring the Stems


5. Color the stems and begin the cherries


With an electric eraser, I removed the white pencil from the two stems on the left and cut the frisket film away from the left and right cherries and the third stem. I shaded the stems with black cherry (P) and dark green (P) colored pencil. The complementary hues help shade each other.

For lighter areas of the stems, I used green ochre (L) with touches of crimson red (P) and canary yellow (P). I left the lightest areas of the left stem white. I then lowered the Icarus board heat level to 2 and moved my painting to the cool side where I added white highlights to the exposed cherries.

Once the Icarus board had cooled to the setting of 2, I moved my painting to the heated side and applied Neocolor II purplish red to the cherries. I then turned the heat to the highest setting and blended the purplish red with a paper stump.

6. Shading the Cherries


6. Shade the red cherries


I turned the Icarus board up to level 4 and applied a layer of black cherry (P) colored pencil to the cherries. The lighter areas of the cherries received lighter applications.

Then, on the darker areas, I layered a complementary dark green (P) followed by indigo blue (P) in the very darkest areas. I continued layering colored pencil colors: more black cherry (P), plus black raspberry (P), crimson red (P), pumpkin orange (P) and, finally, canary yellow (P). I blended with a colorless blender, then I erased the white colored pencil highlights.

7. Applying Colors to Remaining Ribbon


7. Apply colors to the remainder of the ribbon


I cut away the frisket film from the remainder of the ribbon and began applying colored pencil in local colors: beryl green (L), dark English green (L), middle cobalt hue (L), spring green (L), grass green (L), and yellow ochre (P). On the shadowed areas I added touches of nectar (P).

On the shadowed areas, I added touches of nectar (P).

8. Working on the Highlights


8. Blend ribbon colors and layer colors on the middle cherry


Using a colorless blender, I blended the ribbon colors I’d just applied. Then I moved my painting to the cool side of the board and lowered the heated side to level 2.

I cut the frisket away from the middle cherry and colored its white highlights. I moved the painting to the heated side and applied Neocolor II yellow to the cherry. Then, with the heat turned to its highest setting, I blended with a paper stump.

Next, I lowered the heat level to 4 and layered yellow ochre (P) on the lightest areas, pumpkin orange (P) on the midvalue areas, and raspberry (P) on the darker areas. Following this, I layered crimson red (P) over the raspberry (P) and the areas I wanted to be lighter red.

In the red shadowed areas, I layered complementary kelp green (P) colored pencil. In the yellow shadow areas I layered complementary manganese violet (L). I then applied more yellow ochre (P), followed by canary yellow (P) in the lightest areas of the cherry.

9. Adding the Final Touches


9. Apply table shadows and reflections and finishing touches to Ribbon Fantasy (colored pencil and Neocolor II wax crayon on paper, 7×10) by Arlene Steinberg

To finish the yellow cherry, I blended with a colorless blender and erased the white pencil from the highlight. I then removed the rest of the frisket film and, with the Icarus board at level 2, I colored in the lightest areas of the table with Neocolor II silver gray.

I then layered Neocolor II light gray in the diamond shape between the red and yellow cherries. Next, I applied Neocolor II steel gray to shadowed areas on the table. With the Icarus board at its highest level, I blended the lighter table colors with a clean stump.

Using a fresh stump, I blended the shadow colors. I reduced the heat level to 4 and, when the board had cooled, added reflected colors to the shadows, using colored pencil colors I’d used in the cherries and ribbons.

To make the shadows interesting, I made sure I layered in complements, and I didn’t worry about going too dark because I knew my next color, cool gray 30% (P) would mute the values. Working on the cool side of the Icarus board, I added touches of red, yellow and turquoise colored pencil throughout the painting to give it additional “life.”

With my sharpened white pencil, I added some subtle stitching lines to the ribbons. To replace highlights, I added Neocolor II white to a little water in a watercolor cup and rubbed the white against the bottom of the cup until I had a creamy white liquid. With a small round watercolor brush, I touched up the highlights.

Having completed Ribbon Fantasy, I could sign it and spray on four to six coats of workable fixative, waiting several minutes between coats. And, there you have it!

This article first appeared in a past issue of The Artist’s Magazine. Peruse through past issues of the magazine for more art demonstrations, tips and techniques, advice and interviews, here.

The post Master Colored Pencil with This Step-by-Step Demonstration appeared first on Artist's Network.

Cool Weather = Warm Colors | 7 Fall Trees to Help Welcome Autumn

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” — Albert Camus

Fall trees possess a magical quality that makes them endlessly inspiring to artists. Here, seven pastelists share seven paintings that capture the breathtaking beauty of autumn. Enjoy!

Tom Bailey | Fall Trees and Portraiture

Fall Trees | Pastel Artist | Tom Bailey | Artists Network

The Lookout (pastel,16×20) by Tom Bailey


Some paintings of fall trees take on a feeling of portraiture, as in Tom Bailey‘s The Lookout. “One tree, like a solitary human figure, can convey everything from an inspirational hero to [an] abandoned victim,” he says.

His placement of this tree is meant to “reinforce the feeling of being alone and watchful. Subtle paths of light, line and color lead the eye toward the stark trunk and set the tree farther away from the surrounding landscape.”

Nancy Nowak | Bring on the Warm

Fall Trees | Pastel Artist | Nancy Nowak | Artists Network

Morning Has Broken (pastel, 12×16) by Nancy Nowak


“My intention was to bring out the full spectrum of warm fall colors in the leaves,” says Nancy Nowak of Morning Has Broken. “By painting the trunks and shadow areas a cool blue — the complementary color of all those lighter shades of orange — I was able to intensify the richness of those warm tones and make them sing.”

Teresa Saia | Capturing Fall Light

Fall Trees | Pastel Artist | Teresa Saia | Artists Network

Inner Glow (pastel, 20×20) by Teresa Saia


Inner Glow by Teresa Saia is based on a photo taken along a creek in Santa Fe, N.M. “The photo was mainly in yellow and greens, but the light pattern was fabulous. I wanted to capture the light as it bounced and filtered through the cottonwoods.”

She painted on a piece of mounted UART 320 paper. She toned the surface with an acrylic wash that she applied loosely using a “hot” mixture of transparent red oxide and cadmium red light.

Mary Denning | Interpreting Fall’s Shapes

Fall Trees | Pastel Artist | Mary Denning | Artists Network

Autumn Glory (pastel, 14×14) by Mary Denning


Mary Denning says she generally pays attention to overall shapes more than details. She also takes an interpretive approach to color, as seen in Autumn Glory. “I think of a painting as a chance to play with color and consider what will make it ‘pop,’ she says.

“So, reds end up redder and yellows yellower,” continues Denning. “Colors run into one another in a random frenzy. The presentation is, therefore, more whimsical than factual.”

Judy Evans | Fall’s Reflections

Fall Trees | Pastel Artist | Judy Evans | Artists Network

What the Rains Brought Down (pastel, 25.75×18.5) by Judy Evans


It was late autumn when Judy Evans was walking in her favorite woodlands looking for inspiration. “I thought it might be too late to find it,” she says. “Then I looked down — not up — and there it was, not in the trees, but floating in a puddle.”

Evans used black sanded paper for What the Rains Brought Down to create the ultimate contrast. And, trees are still a part of the painting, seen reflected in the water.

James Kasperek | Stop While You’re Ahead

Fall Trees | Pastel Artist | James Kasperek | Artists Network

Fall (pastel, 30×40) by James Kasperek


“I focus not so much on subject matter, but more on design, light and color,” says James Kasperek of Fall.

“The most challenging aspect is knowing when to stop,” he adds. “I strive to say just enough for the viewer to feel what I’ve felt about the subject, while still leaving it fresh, loose and open for individual interpretation.”

Susan M. Story | Embrace Diversity

Fall Trees | Pastel Artist | Susan M. Story | Artists Network

Woodland Sundance (pastel, 12.5×19.5) by Susan M. Story


“Every tree is unique,” says Susan M. Story. “The older they get, the more interesting their character as they become gnarled and textured,” as in Woodland Sundance.

“When I look at tree limbs, they remind of a person’s legs and arms,” explains Story. “Our joints are similar to the bulbs and crotches on a tree, where other branches and twigs will grow with a change in direction or angle.”

She adds, “We all grow, influenced by our environment.”

Ready to Paint Your Own Fall Landscape?

In the preview below of Liz Haywood-Sullivan’s video workshop, Landscape Painting in Pastel: Fall Color, the artist discusses the importance of establishing value relationships for a bright fall landscape. Enjoy!

You can paint along with Liz throughout all four seasons by streaming her videos on

What is your favorite season to paint or draw? Tell us in the comments below!

The post Cool Weather = Warm Colors | 7 Fall Trees to Help Welcome Autumn appeared first on Artist's Network.