All of life is a journey. Art is no different. No matter your age, you begin an art journey the first time you pick up a brush, pencil or sculpting tool. If you’re reading this post, chances are good you’re on a colored pencil journey of your own.
And you’ve found it to be challenging, frustrating, and captivating. In other words…
…the adventure of a lifetime!
Food for Thought
I recently talked about 12 Reasons to Love Colored Pencils. As often happens, that simple list started a conversation. It began with this comment by John, a reader.
You pretty much covered all of the reasons Colored Pencils are wonderful, but I may have one more….
I like CP’s because it feels like taking a journey with an old friend when working on a drawing. Like they say it’s the journey not the destination….
John is right. Colored pencils are a form of journey. His comment started me on a train of thought that will probably never be completed in this lifetime. The colored pencil journey, in all its glory.
The Colored Pencil Journey Begins
The journey begins with a spark of interest in the subject. Something attracts your eye. A exquisite piece of art you thought was a painting, but that turns out to be a stunning colored pencil work.
Artists you admire talking non-stop about the medium they love. Can you really do everything they claim can be done with colored pencil?
Maybe your journey began with an adult coloring book, and working with color on paper to relax reminds you of the hours of fun you had coloring and drawing as a child.
Or maybe you passed a display case somewhere and the rainbow of colors caught your eye and drew you in.
Before You Know It, You’re on Your Own Colored Pencil Journey
You have your own collection of colored pencils, a pad or two of paper, and an intense desire to make your mark. You don’t know how., and you don’t even know if this is for real or is merely the latest fad. But you have to try.
Something clicks mentally and emotionally with the first mark. The feel of the pencil gliding over the paper. The resulting line and color. Suddenly, this is more than just a fad, or even a hobby. This is serious! You must do another one. Then another and another.
Line, color, and shape all contribute to entice you into considering a journey to a completed piece of art. Something more than the sketches or doodles you’ve been doing.
Something of your own making from start to finish.
A Series of Little Journeys
The more you draw, the more you find each drawing is a journey all it’s own.
And within that journey are other, shorter jaunts.
The drawing stage is preparation for the journey, but it’s also its own journey. You learn about the subject. Is this really something you want to do? A place you want to go? The possibilities seem endless. The prospects of the journey boundless. It’s going to be so much fun!
Drawing completed, the journey begins. By now, you know the subject well enough to have developed a kinship with it. You know the places you look forward to exploring as well as those that might present a rough spot in the road. You have a good idea how to capture the spirit of your subject, and what colors will best express that theme.
The first few days of the journey are fun and exciting. The subject begins to come alive with your attention. Shapes form. Color blossoms. What a delightful subject! What a wonderful trip!
Roadblocks and Detours
Alas, as with most long journeys, there comes the moment when you become aware of a creeping thought. Like a child in the backseat, a little voice asks, “Are we there yet?”
You dampen the thought. Colored pencil is not a quick medium. One stroke at a time, one color at a time. A lot of strokes have been made, a lot of steps taken. The destination is in sight.
But there’s still oh so far to go!
So you keep going, one stroke after the last.
Sometimes you have to force yourself to work. Thoughts of giving up and starting a different journey multiply. Hounds of discouragement yap at your heels. Get away!
The Sprint to the Finish Line
Then one day, you look at your artwork and discover it’s almost finished.
Colored pencil is funny that way. It can go from hopeless to complete in an amazingly short amount of time. Almost like going to bed looking at the city of your destination far off on the horizon, then waking in the morning to find it’s a lot closer than you thought.
Filled with enthusiasm, you push on. Time no longer matters. The right color, the right intensity, the right detail here or there… that’s all that matters.
By the time you finish, leaving it behind is like saying good-bye to someone you’ve come to know very well and whose company you have enjoyed despite the rough spots and, perhaps, an occasional disagreement.
And you know what? That drawing may not be everything you imagined at the beginning, but it’s the best one yet, and you can’t wait to start the next journey.
How about you? What is your colored pencil journey like?