My colored pencil cat portrait is coming along, although it may not look like much progress! I blended the whole background, it is solid now with no specks of paper showing through. The chair also has another layer, this time I used Jade Green. And kitty got more white mapping out his stripes and then a layer of Prismacolor Peach followed by a layer of Pumpkin Orange. I work the whole piece pretty much all over at this stage. I see pieces in three stages, the blocking in, which was finished last demo, the middle stage of refining and layering of color, which is where I am now, and finally, the "detailing", which honestly is the FUN stage. Right now, it looks like there is NO WAY it will turn out, I know!
This is what we colored pencil artists often call "the Ugly Stage". Don't worry, you won't hurt my feelings! I have done enough portraits to know, this will work out in the end. Here's a double portrait I did of orange tiger kitties a while ago that shows the final stage...it once looked like the stage we're at now!
Each time I work after this, it will be more interesting and way more fun. Now there are colored pencil artists who work fur hair by fur hair, completing one section at a time before moving onto the next. I either can't "see" that far in the future, or just am too lazy to do such a detailed drawing that I know within a hair's width what goes where.
Colored pencil is a unusual, and relatively young, fine art medium. Most folks think of them for commercial art andilllustrations they are fabulous for them. But more and more artists are finding their versatility to be unsurpassed. There are a variety of brands of colored pencil, if you want to explore them, consider purchasing ones you can get open stock. That includes Prismacolors (which I use mostly) and Derwent Coloursofts. The Prismas are softer and wax based. You can mix and match, they all play well together.
The most important thing to remember about colored pencil is that it is somewhat translucent. The layers underneath affect what you put on top. Somewhat like watercolors. So you can't put white ontop of black and get white. You'll get a gray.
Many colored pencil artists like to apply it in very tiny scrumbled circles with a needle sharp point. The next layer will blend optically by the eye where the second layer strokes hit the paper, and blend on the paper where it goes ontop of the first layer. Some like a zillion layers and have the patience to do that. Gorgeous. But that's not my style, no optically blending for me.
The fun thing about colored pencil is that there is no absolute rules. For instance, there is no "fat over lean" rules that have to be followed for the integrity of the medium to hold up. And it works on so many supports, I've seen all kinds of paper, pastel paper, crescent board, sanded board, suede board, wood and even canvas! I tried canvas last week and love it.
And colored pencil can be combined with other media! Lots of artists combine pastels and colored pencil, ink and colored pencil, acrylics and colored pencil, watercolor and colored pencil with fabulous results. I'm a purist, though. I have tried al of the above and still like my colored pencils the best!