Mr. Frog


Above is the final work on Mr. Frog. But who is Mr. Frog?

I bought a book on colored pencils back when it first came out, back when I had no time, no studio, little experience, and the aforementioned attitude. The book is Creative Colored Pencil Workshop by Carlynne Hershberger and Kelli Money Huff. In 2007, it didn’t teach me what I wanted simply because I was not ready for it. Today is another story, and to be truthful, I am so glad I kept this book. It is opening my eyes to other ways of creating a drawing or a painting by demonstrating, though clear exercises, what can be done beyond a “pure” medium.

I started their exercise using watercolor and colored pencil. The study is a frog in a bit of shallow water. Step-by-step instructions. I did this exercise years ago, liked the result, but the purist in me was not happy with mixing the two together. Now, having started using colored pencil on a “serious” level, I appreciate the underpainting of the watercolor before the surface addition of detail in colored pencil. Below are the varying stages the final iteration of the picture about had to go through . . .

I scanned the original line drawing from the book, enlarged it, and then used Saral transfer paper to draw it onto a piece of Arches CP 140# paper. Initially I thought of using HP 140#, but changed my mind. The third picture shows the green watercolor laid in on frog and water plants, as well as varying blue watercolors for the pond. From there, browns and reds were added to the frogs body. These were all the watercolors used, essentially providing an underpainting for the colored pencils.

Scanning this picture, in its final rendition, was a disaster. You can see what it looks like below.

Scanned on Epson V600 Scanner

I use the Epson scanner for all my artwork shown on this blog. However, this picture is much different than a pencil drawing or painting. Instead, this picture is made of multiple layers – first watercolor, then a lot of layers of wax-based color pencil, and finally a blurring of the pencil with Gamsol (odor-free mineral spirits). I think the reflective nature of a scanner cannot handle the layers and made them excessively dark. The picture at the very top is a digital photo I took with my Fuji X100V and edited in LR. It is close to the original, but still not accurate.

Technology helps us to a point, but it also is important to think about why it fails or succeeds, just as with a drawing or painting or anything else you do. Analyzing a problem helps you work it out. Doing this painting /drawing / whatever made me realize that hot press paper is probably a better choice for such work. The cold press just had too much texture and it required a lot of layers to make the pigment fill in the valleys of texture. I used the Gamsol to smooth it out. I may do another painting, or this one again, to see how it works on hot press paper.

Anyway, fun in the sun with one of my favorite critters. I just love frogs!

2 comments on “Mr. Frog”

    1. Thanks, Fraggy. It is a bit more subdued in real life, but overall the colors are okay – not really happy with the result but the point was to experiment and to learn!

      Liked by 1 person

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