This is a itty bitty blog post about the color white. As in how do you get a really good white base to work on, in the middle of a BIG black colored pencil board?
I've started another colored pencil piece using black illustration board as my base. It's sorta like the old Elvis prints on black velvet......an artist gets to take advantage of allllll that lovely black background to paint or draw on. Any colour we use will just POP! Right off the canvas.
My coloured pencil piece called for some areas of really brite colours and others need to be a bit more subdued . I figured a bit of experimentation was called for. I wanted to try a combination approach, but keep the piece mostly all in slightly to really subdued colours.
I took a waste piece of board and laid out three leaf shapes. The first was just a filled in outline of a white coloured pencil base coat. The second was a thin bristol board inlay. The third was a two very light layers of gesso. Gesso is an acrylic primer that painters use on their canvases to seal the fabric canvas and to make it extra white.
The white thin bristol board inlay was done by laying the bit of white bristol board over the black illustration board, and using an Xacto knife held perpendicular to the boards, cut out the entire leaf shape, thru both surfaces. When finished I had the white bristol board cutout EXACTLY the same shape as the shallow cutout in the black illustration board. On the black board, I took the knife and gently pulled up the top black layer of the illustration board, spread a bit of glue (in this case acrylic gel medium) and inserted the white bristol board in the hole. After a bit of burnishing around the edges, I had a lovely inlay of white bristol board in the sea of total black illustration board.
I then drew the yellow leaf with a bit of shadow, in coloured pencil, using the same colors on all three sample leaves.
The first coloured pencil leaf was the most subdued of the three, but just fine if you wanted to stay with coloured pencil throughout the entire piece.
The second leaf (with white paper inlay) ended up being both the brightest and the cleanest in shape. I don't know about the archival quality of this technique....but I have to assume it would be about the same as the entire piece. 'Bout the only drawback is I sometimes would run over the slight ridge of the inlay. Next time I might use a brayer to further flatten the surface and get it flush with the black illustration board.
The third leaf, with the gesso coating as a foundation fell somewhere in between in terms of brightness.
For the inlay technique, I wanted to give a hat tip to Rob Howard, who wrote the Illustrator's Bible. It was originally published all the way back in 1992, but many of the traditional media art techniques it gives still hold up today. This was waaaay before Photoshop saves of today. His index didn't even list computers! He gave the inlay technique as a way to save an illustration “gone bad”.