Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bell peppers with spumoni gelato

No, that's not a photo-realistic colored pencil drawing. It's a photo of the spumoni gelato that I just served myself as consolation for messing up a drawing that I've been working on yesterday and today. I suppose it's important to share failures as well as successes, so here's my sordid little tale:

It all started out well enough. Not finding inspiration around the house, I headed over to my neighborhood Safeway to peruse the produce aisle. It never disappoints. Here are my purchases/models-to-be:

The beautiful bright orange bell pepper (not as red as it looks in these photos) was calling my name, so I set it up on my desk,

and chose my pencils (using my indispensable swatch cards).

My plan was to draw the outside and then, next to it, a cross-section showing the inside. I even remembered to take some work-in-progress scans:

I was really happy with how the top and left side of the pepper were shaping up. Instead of going for the blended, burnished look, I was trying to keep that softer colored-pencil texture while conveying a smooth shiny surface. (Does that make sense?) Working on the shaded right side, I was trying to layer the colors without reaching that saturation point where the paper won't take any more of the wax-based Prismacolor pencils. Now, this scan is being kind, but if you click and look closely, you'll see that, all of a sudden, the darker colors shading the right side were coming out all blotchy and overworked looking. (Trust me, the original is far worse than this scan.). I tried burnishing, smoothing, and in desperation, used my blender pen which caught a stray crumb of pencil from somewhere and made a dark streak on the upper right of the pepper. Soooo, I tried to hide that "scar"...the whole thing was like trying to fix your bangs when you cut them crookedly. Ugh.

Now, maybe I could fix it digitally, but do I really want to spend any more time on a drawing that will never be the way I want it to be? No. I'll chalk it up to a lesson learned...and enjoy my ice cream while I ponder doing some "looser" drawings instead of these time-consuming ones. Food for thought...literally!

What do you do when a piece goes awry? Do you live with it? Toss it? Eat gelato?


  1. I'm afraid the answer is: Eat. Always. Tonight if anything goes wrong I could eat my new box of Girl Scout cookies, chocolate mint. But that's just me.
    Have you considered drawing your jar of colored pencils? Very pretty. Of course, you'd have to use them to get the colors right so that would be tricky.
    Hang in there--

    1. Yummm...I like how you think, Marcia! And I like the idea of drawing a jar of pencils!

  2. I'm pretty sure spumoni cures all disappointments? One suggestion, using the side of an X-acto blade, try scraping off the offending layers and draw over it. Sometimes that works. Keep drawing!!

  3. It's interesting how one views her "failures". I would tell you to present the drawing to one of your friends who would love to display it in her home. Yet, she would be wise enough to put the drawing away whenever you come to visit.

    Don't throw it away.

  4. I certainly wouldn't toss it. I think it looks great, but I also can understand your frustration. This is a really interesting I think, one way or the other, you have made the best of it!

  5. We've all had 'one of those' days. I must admit, my failures tend to be more EPIC -as my daughter loves to say. Knowing me, I would have a go at fixing it, inevitably taking it to ruin.
    Thanks for posting your process -including your remedy for redemption!

  6. I tend to scrape the offending oil paint off or move it around a bit... So yes, I try to rescue pictures. In fact, I recently went back to some dry oil paintings and attempted to rescue them with oil pastel! (You'll find the results of one of them here - I haven't made a "proper" blog post on the subject - yet).

    Your post is fascinating and probably reveals more than a completely successful drawing could have - I'm also intrigued by your use of colour swatches!

  7. I think this is a wonderful lesson, not a failure! Thank you for sharing your struggle with your medium. I love colored pencils and I am still trying to figure them out. I'm like Amanda, very intrigued by your colour swatches. I hope you elaborate on these and how you use them in a future post! And I hope you share future fails. You are not only an artist to enjoy, but a teacher as well! I have enjoyed your lesson for the day!

  8. What encouraging comments from all of you....I'm inspired...

  9. I am constantly in awe when I come here. I am running out of words. All I can say is I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE your art. Just love it. Had to read this first because you mentioned this on your current post.