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Getting Started with Colored and Graphite Pencils

Lesson 1 of 9

Class Introduction

Mary Jane Begin

Getting Started with Colored and Graphite Pencils

Mary Jane Begin

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

So, I am Mary Jane Begin, author, illustrator and professor Rhode Island School of Design and this course is designed to help introduce the properties of the materials you use in exploring drawings with graphite and colored pencils. I'll review the various pencil types, papers and surfaces as well as the additional tools needed to create graphite and colored pencil drawings. I'll show some examples, demonstrate the properties and materials I introduce and answer questions about the materials and methods. So basically what I'm gonna start with is some illustrations that were done by, in this case, one of my students. This is Tye Nguyen and she was a recent grad and she did these beautiful pencil renderings for what's called The Hunt, a story that she wrote. She used the surface of the paper as well as the variation of the pencil mark making which we'll talk about to make the textures that you see here. And it really is about the reaction of the pencil to the paper as well as what the pe...

ncil will do on any surface and hers are very delicate drawings, they're really quite small actually. They're absolutely beautiful and they use the white of the page as part of the composition. And you can see her marks are built in a kind of tonal fashion, it's sort of, it's a rendering that's meant to modulate and feel like something that's realistic but it's also, it's fantasy based os it's a combination of the two and these drawings took her a fair amount of time, I'd say about a week per drawing and basically what she did was a lot of layering of her pencil mark making. These are very small drawings so it's expansive when you see it on a screen but they're actually quite small, probably only about 11 inches by 14 inches. Now I created these drawings, I actually brought them into the studio today because I wanted you to see how delicate mark making is when we're talking about graphite or colored pencils, it's like the smallest possible mark you can make with a tool. You can do that with a brush but pencils will not make a larger mark than the tip or the point so they tend to be really small renderings and I think it's kind of an illusion when you see them blown up this large so I wanted you to see them, the actual illustrations in real form. This is all with graphite dust and also with several types of pencils, H's and B's and some ebony pencil and I'll talk about those different types of pencils when I demonstrate. Now these are really beautiful drawings by Rebecca Gunn, a student, former student, she just graduated from Hollands University. She's in the graduate program, or was, for children's book illustration and literature and we worked together and she worked on this fabulous series of illustrations for a story that she wrote called Harold and Posy and I just love the texture and the mark making and the delicacy and the softness of her approach. Again, she uses the white of the page which is very common using graphite. She also brought a little bit of colored pencil into this just to give it some modulation. They're really gorgeous. Again, these are tiny little illustrations. They're probably maybe only 8x10, very, very small but on a blown up screen, you kind of lose that delicacy but these are exquisite. And I would recommend that any of the illustrations and any of the paintings, any of the work that I've shown in my different courses that you look to, we're gonna have a resource file with all of their websites so you can find out more about them and about their work and this is Rebecca Gunn. And this more of her work and again, she's playing with the pencil and the colored pencil but in this case, she's working on a tonal ground, this is a very pale yellow. She couldn't work on a really dark ground because it would interfere with the darkest values of the graphite so we picked a sort of lighter tonality for her to work on but it just gets a different feel from the white, it's a little bit warmer and changes the sort of tempo or expression, emotional expression. These are also Rebecca Gunn and this is the story that she worked when we worked in a class together, a portfolio class and she's using her colored pencil in such a delicate fine way, very much like her graphite. She sort of loses the mark except when you get to things like the tail or some of the texture of the sky. She liked very soft modulation, that's very much Rebecca's world and yet she's still trying to push contrast of color and contrast of value to make sure these values don't just fade into the background. But this is all colored pencil and this is something I recommended, a little bit of watercolor underneath these colors helps to give a surface to work against and I recommend that. We won't test that here, that's really mixed media but I do want to mention it because it helped to build up her tones rather than try to do the whole thing with just colored pencil. Now this is a series of landscapes that I did based on a visit to Kansas and again, these are tiny, little tiny pictures. This is only literally 7 by maybe 5 inches. I just wanted to test things so I tried a really small picture and this is all colored pencil on top of watercolor and some paint, this is like opaque watercolor, all these little dots in the front but all of this is colored pencil on top of a tone of watercolor and the tone of watercolor here was actually a kind of pinky tone and you can kind of see that peaking through a lot of areas of the piece. But I wanted this textual relationship, it's on a hot pressed watercolor paper. The colored pencils really rich when you use 'em layered in this way, built up that color and made it really, I think really rich. This is also a colored pencil on top of some shapes of watercolor. The watercolor helped to build a depth to the tonality, a kind of deep value and then on top of that, I did sort of linear strokes to make the grass and some of the textures in the sky. So again, really small piece, this is tiny, it's probably 5 inches by maybe 8, if that. But this is a series that I did, again, exploring colored pencil and exploring how I would use that for a landscape. And finally, I do want to mention, if you're interested in any of my work or the things that I do, check me out @mjbegin on Instagram and for Facebook @Mary.JaneBegin.Art. And I love to hear from people so please touch base.

Class Description

Are you interested in drawing with color or graphite pencils but not sure how to get started? In this course artist and illustrator, Mary Jane Begin will introduce you to color or graphite pencils. This class is perfect for beginners looking to learn the basics of the medium in order to begin a drawing practice. By the end of this course, you will be equipped with the know-how to start experimenting and drawing with color or graphite pencils!

In this class you’ll learn:

  • All about the different types of color or graphite pencils and how they work
  • Which supplies and papers to use when working with color or graphite pencils
  • How to begin making simple marks and shapes to familiarize yourself with the medium

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