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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > January 19 > Coloured pencil techniques

Coloured pencil techniques

Alyona Nickelsen explains how you can adapt painting methods and techniques for coloured pencil work whilst continuing to enjoy the amazing benefits of this dry medium

Alyona Nickelsen

is a contributing writer for Colored Pencil Magazine and the author of Colored Pencil Painting Bible and Colored Pencil Painting Portraits: Master a Revolutionary Method for Rendering Depth and Imitating Life. She has exhibited widely and won many awards.

As a painter at heart and a natural control freak I want to enjoy the spontaneity, fast application and the ability to develop values from dark to light and vice versa that is offered by paints. At the same time, I do not want to give up the precision, control and absence of extended drying times that are the hallmarks of coloured pencil.

Coloured pencil artists accept the medium is slow and tedious, they preserve the white of the paper for the brightest highlights; they gradually darken values to develop shape; and are aware that the number of layers is limited by the properties of the working surface, etc – none of which suited me well, so I began looking outside the box to remedy the situation.

Fast background rendering

First, I changed my support from a traditional cotton-based paper to a sanded paper because it can withstand many rounds of layering, blending and erasing. This sped up the coloured pencil application process and encouraged me to move my work to a larger scale, which is a goal of many coloured pencil artists. Also, contrary to the general belief that sandpaper ‘eats’your pencils, this approach turned out to be very economical. Sunset Roses (below left) is the largest piece I have created in the shortest period and with almost no waste of coloured pencil.

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About The Artist

Welcome to the first issue of 2019 to inspire and inform your artistic development, including all the information you will need to plan your entries to the best open competitions throughout the year in our extensive 5-page guide. We also see the start of two new series, by Ruth Buchanan on how to draw and paint animals with confidence, and Mark David Hatwood on all aspects of marketing and how to make money from your artwork. There are practical articles and demonstrations showing you how to adapt your painting techniques for coloured pencil work, with amazing results, how to paint a self-portrait as well as a stunning faded rose, both in watercolour, and how to make your watercolours more dynamic by using watercolour grounds. Our top artist contributors also share their expertise on best practice for working on the spot, how to plan a complex composition, paint your first realist still life in acrylic, use your sketchbooks to work out your ideas, how to paint successfully from your photos and which colours to mix in oils to achieve a sense of space in your landscapes. With all this and much more, there's plenty to keep you drawing and painting over the festive period. Enjoy!