Photo reference for colored pencil painting, Buckles & Belts in CP
Original Colored Pencil Painting
11 x 14 Rising Stonehenge Paper, 90lb, Pearl Grey

My last post on this project ended at mid-week. The reason is that I made a decision on Wednesday that necessitated damage control Thursday and Friday. Bad for me, but good for you because I decided to document the ‘trouble-shooting’. So we’ll take a bit of a ‘detour’ so I can show you how I fixed the self-inflicted problems.

Let’s begin with the poor decision on Wednesday.

Original Colored Pencil by Carrie L. Lewis, Buckles & Belts in Colored Pencil
Colors Used: (Verithin) Goldenrod, Pumpkin Orange, Terra Cotta, Peacock Green, Indigo Blue, Dark Brown, Orange, Tuscan Red

As you will recall, I decided in the previous post to paint out the nose band on the blue halter for compositional reasons. You can read about that here.

The process went so well that when I started work today, I decided to paint out the rest of the halter, beginning with the cheek strap. I applied one layer of each of the colors listed above in the order listed above over the cheek strap to replace halter color with horse color.

I layered colors in random order, gradually darkening the area that had been the halter strap until it blended in with the surrounding horse. I also used Verithin pencils because they have harder leads and are excellent ‘blending’ tools.

I then painted out the headstall over the poll and the rest of the halter, layering colors in the same process one time through, then adjusting according to the surrounding areas.

Original Colored Pencil by Carrie L. Lewis, Buckles & Belts in Colored Pencil

The painting day went very well, but a couple of potential problems were revealed. Namely, the cast shadow across the cheek and the apparent ‘deformity’ behind the throatlatch. I hadn’t taken those things into account and wasn’t sure how best to deal with it. Since it was the end of the painting session, anyway, I decided to sleep on the problem.

Thursday – Removing Color
Anyone who has used colored pencils for any length of time knows it’s next to impossible to cover dark colors with light colors. You can alter the darkness of the darks by glazing a lighter color over it, but you cannot cover it.

So the first step today was lifting color from most of the halter with ‘sticky stuff’. I hoped to get most of the color removed but soon found that some of the colors stained the paper to such a degree that removing them was impossible.

I also discovered that using sticky stuff wasn’t the best choice. It did remove color well, but it left the paper surface the slightest bit slick and made further color application problematic. It would have been much better to have removed color with tape (very carefully) or with an eraser. The best course of action would probably have been an electric eraser and a very light touch.

But the decision was made and the work done. This is what I ended up with.

Original Colored Pencil by Carrie L. Lewis, Buckles & Belts in Colored Pencil

Original Colored Pencil by Carrie L. Lewis, Buckles & Belts in Colored Pencil

Thursday – Adding Color
Colors Used: (Verithin) Goldenrod, Indigo Blue; (Prismacolor) Goldenrod, Dark Brown, Indigo Blue, Dark Green, Black Cherry
Mediums Used: Rubbing Alcohol
Special Tools Used: Old Toothbrush

The process for the rest of the afternoon was color application. Perhaps damage control would be a better description. I began by attempting to replace the cast shadow from the throatlatch, which is the part of the bridle most directly affected by the removal of the halter. I redrew and strengthened the shape of the throatlatch, then outlined the cast shadow. I had to move the cast shadow a couple of times before it looked correct.

The intention was then to begin layering color with Verithin pencils, but the paper was so slick that Verithin pencils made very little impact. Reluctantly, I switched to Prismacolor. Beginning with Dark Brown, Indigo Blue and Dark Green, I darkened the cast shadow and layered Goldenrod over the cheek and poll.

To conclude this session, I layered Dark Brown, Dark Green, Indigo Blue and Black Cherry over the area that was once the cheek strap in an effort to more completely blend remaining edges.

I then used rubbing alcohol to blend the colors. I used an old toothbrush to apply the alcohol and scrub a little to further blur the remaining edges, then set the painting aside to air dry.

Original Colored Pencil by Carrie L. Lewis, Buckles & Belts in Colored Pencil

Colors Used: (Prismacolor) Yellow Ochre, Goldenrod, Mineral Orange, Pumpkin Orange, Dark Umber, Indigo Blue, Tuscan Red, Sienna Brown, Black

Once the alcohol blending was dry, I discovered with some disappointment that it, too, had been a poor decision. I was well past regret by this point and thinking about a drastic crop.

Sometimes, though, a painting gets to the point at which I think no further damage can be done and that I may as well try one more thing. If the ‘one more thing failed’, I could then consider a crop. So I picked up a pencil and began another round of color application.

The colors above were layered in random order throughout the jowl above and below the head stall. My goal at this point was to restore the ‘natural’ color of the horse’s coat in this area. I had hoped to completely conceal the edges of the now absent halter, but I ran out of time and natural light and decided to stop for the day at this point.

At the end of the day, the painting wasn’t very appealing.

Colors Used: (Prismacolor) Dark Brown, Pumpkin Orange, Yellow Ochre, Sand, Black Grape, Indigo Blue, Dark Green

I expected to see ruin and disaster when I looked at the painting this morning. I was disappointed! There was none! The painting looked pretty good in person and when I photographed it, the digital image looked good, too.

This is what I saw. What a delightful surprise.

Original Colored Pencil by Carrie L. Lewis, Buckles & Belts in Colored Pencil

I needed additional reference materials, so I retrieved photographs of heads, necks, and shoulders, as well as the original photograph of the primary reference photo.

I then spent an hour painting the horse, focusing on the jowl, but also working through the poll and face, building color and saturation as I also corrected the problems remaining from yesterday.

Because I was working over previous work, I used heavier pressure this time around. 5 to 7 on the 1-t0-10 pressure scale throughout that area. Over the poll, I was able to get away with lighter pressure (3 to 4) because I hadn’t used the sticky stuff to remove that color.

Original Colored Pencil by Carrie L. Lewis, Buckles & Belts in Colored Pencil

In the end, the painting looked at least as good as it did before I made that fateful error in judgment. I believe the more monochromatic color theme will be an improvement over the composition that included blue, but there’s still a lot of work to do.

One thing I do know… Buckles & Belts in Colored Pencil will not be completed by the end of March. But that’s okay. Considering the fact that it looked like an abject failure only a few days ago, I’ll be happy to have it finished whenever that happens!