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December 2011

December 2011 -- Ships



  • EMG News:
    News for December!
  • Behind the Art:
    Red Moon
  • Ask an Artist:
    Media, Sharpening Colored Pencils, and Sketchbooks


  • Shipping Your Art


  • Fiction: Growing Derelict
  • Fiction: Wile Away

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  • Media, Sharpening Colored Pencils, and Sketchbooks
    Ask an Artist
    by Ursula Vernon

    QUESTION: Is there any art media you'd like to try but haven't, because of cost or intimidation or any other reason?

    ANSWER: Metalworking. That's mostly the terror and the massive amounts of equipment involved.

    More realistically, encaustics. I've seen some lovely work done with encaustics, and I'd love to try it, but it seems to have such a high technical bar to entry (and the waxes ain't cheap!) that I'd really want to take a class or a workshop or something to figure out what I'm doing before trying it myself.

    Most of the other media I've been interested in, I've just gone ahead and thrown myself at with my teeth and toenails, and many of them yielded to this. I generally found oil paints too much trouble after a few experiments -- you can do neat things, sure, but who wants to wait all year for them to dry?

    QUESTION: How do you sharpen colored pencils? Is there a trick to it? Mine frequently break!

    ANSWER: I use a mechanical pencil sharpener. There's really no trick to it, except perhaps to get high quality colored pencils. Cheap leads tend to be more brittle. You also want to store them, if possible, in an area with a certain degree of humidity in the air--really cold or dry air can make the wood more brittle as well.

    QUESTION: Do you keep a chronological sketchbook?

    ANSWER: Well, insomuch as I go onto the next page when I'm done with one...

    I used to keep much more elaborate sketchbooks than I do now. They were partly journals and full of sketches and random commentary. These days, I have so much less to say (as Billy Collins the poet once said, when he was young he had a great deal to say, and now that he's older, he has very little to say, and his poetry has improved immeasurably as a result!) and my sketchbooks have become more utilitarian and last a lot longer. They're mostly for jotting down thumbnail sketches and for when I suddenly get seized with an urge to doodle, which happens once in a blue moon or so.

    I also do a lot of drawing on the computer, so I have a number of pages of unrelated sketches when I'm trying to work out a particular idea or something. Some of those then turn directly into paintings, without ever winding up in a sketchbook.

    I still frequently dig back through sketchbooks from the last few years when I'm looking for ideas -- usually because I've got a convention on the near horizon and I need to get a lot of small pieces turned out quick! -- but my older sketchbooks are mostly entombed in boxes where I will not be forced to confront how innocent of anatomy I was in the early days.

    Ursula Vernon

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