March 28, 2021

3/21/2021, wall and poppies (Prismacolor colored pencils on acetate) and 3/22/2021, wall, poppies and car (Prismacolor colored pencils on Bristol board)

If you’ve been following one CA girl for the many weeks and months we’ve been under the weather with the pandemic, you have surely noticed the many worldwide virtual online sketching trips I’ve taken. We have been averaging one every other Sunday since our first trip to Porto, Portugal August 8, 2020 (posted September 5, 2020). But as the time has passed our group seems to have filled up the other Sundays with other kinds of art activities as well. One of those mornings a member shared his amazing tiny sketch pad filled with local SoCal street scenes done in gouache. For another odd Sunday another member showed us how he liked to sketch people on the Metro line with a ball point pen—of course this was pre-pandemic. And one Sunday morning I even took the group on a live webcam sketching event at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We sketched sea turtles, various fish swimming in and around the three story kelp forest and a tank full of jellies. 

Something old becomes new again!

As it seems we will be home sketching a bit longer our leader (last Sunday) asked us if we had any ideas for possible upcoming art events we might like to host. Some suggested more virtual trips and some suggested sketching demos. One member suggested he could show us how he drives around LA, doing quick sketches at stop lights. I got kind of over excited about sharing something I might do. Not really sure why, but I volunteered to demo something I really haven’t done in years—how to use Prismacolor colored pencils on a variety of surfaces. I started out using them in the late 80s and early 90s. And my favorite surfaces to draw on at the time were acetate, Bristol board and illustration board. (see 9/23/2017 of Alligator Gar from 1990) Oh, I still have bags and bags of those colored pencils and a few random sheets of Bristol board and acetate, plus illustration board. But I wondered if I would be too rusty to demo something I used a lot in the past, but not so much lately. Too late for that now as it appears I have committed myself to remembering how to use them. Here are a couple of my most recent attempts—same spot on different days. One is on Bristol board, the other on acetate. It was fun to sit out on my front porch a couple warm afternoons—capturing these scenes using my long ago favorite colored pencils. I think these sketches came out fine, but look very different from my late 20th century drawings. Oh, and while sitting outside to do these that first afternoon I’d forgotten that the luscious waxy texture these pencils produce is great as long as you keep them out of the sun. If you don’t they will melt into a big unusable mess. And I was sitting in the direct sun! Once I realized my mistake I quickly moved me and my stuff to the shade. I had to wait a few minutes to be sure the lead had hardened a bit. By the second afternoon I knew to set up in the shade.

In the late 80s and early 90s I was employed to do pen and ink botanical and entomological drawings at the CA Academy of Sciences. My botanicals were done on Strathmore smooth Bristol board. My wasp drawings were done on a more heavy duty acetate. All of said scientific illustrations were done with Rotring Rapidograph pens with points that ranged from .13, .25 and .30. (Those are pretty fine points and I spent a fair amount of time unclogging them.) Also during that time of very technically tight drawings I was amusing myself by using Prismacolor colored pencils on smooth Bristol board and acetate of various thicknesses and finishes. I should also mention that about that time I became obsessed with using the same Prismacolor colored  pencils with watercolor on hot press illustration board. (See 20th century botanicals on 4/6/2020 and 5/2/2020 posts and 21st century botanicals 4/25/2020, 6/7/2020, 6/27/2020, 7/18/2020, 8/1/2020, 8/15/2020.) As you can see, I am still obsessed with doing such detailed Prismacolor colored pencil and watercolor botanicals on illustration board.

Pansy vignette, 3/24/2021 (Prismacolor colored pencils on acetate)

Here’s another one from the other side of my front porch. Again, it was fun to sit (in the shade) and sketch a simple spring vignette of pansies. When using colored pencils the finished product is usually not very big. As I sat and applied that wonderful waxy pigment to the acetate I was reminded why I liked using them so much. When you are done you have this tiny bright gem. I’ve written about the appeal of creating such jewel-like bits of art. I was glad to be reminded of that. So, maybe I was a little rusty—almost melting some key colors I love. But I think I will be ready to share these materials with my sketching buddies on some upcoming Sunday. I have quite a history with this medium. I wonder if they would be interested in hearing my Prismacolor colored pencil journey? Of course not! If they are like me, they just want to hear about it and then try it out on their own, right?

…A little late with this week’s post. I got my second COVID vaccination on Thursday (March 25, my mom’s birthday) and had a rather nasty reaction. But all done with that for now. And Happy Birthday mom! I miss you!

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