This was my second effort for the recent black and white challenge, a single white cosmos flower in white colored pencil on black paper. Simple and elegant, but simple is not always synonymous with easy! The foreshortening on the nearest petal was tricky at first, when I had tried this image before in regular graphite pencil in my sketchbook, but reversing the paper and pencil colors actually helped for this version, along with highlighting the white of the cosmos’ petals.
If I were to redo this in color, I would only be adding the shades of warm yellow for the center, and some green for the stem, as the petals rendered beautifully in just white on black. When I first finished this drawing, I wasn’t certain I had the look, but now over a week later I can say I accomplished it, and am pleased with it.
While I experimented with the bald eagle head for the third day of the challenge, I returned to the theme of white flowers for the remainder of the challenge where I actually drew something. More on that in the next post.
A head study of a noble bald eagle, worked in white colored pencil on black paper. This is actually the third in my white-on-black series, and the only bird in the series, and is itself a continuation of a page from my sketchbook (if you want a print of the sketchbook page, grid still on it, I have that uploaded to my Pixels store here). As a shortcut, I transferred the outline over to my black paper, and while I am extremely pleased with how the eye turned out, I am not so sure about the rest of the drawing. I just cannot pin down what seems off to me, though I do know exactly what I did that made the eye suddenly look so lifelike, so on that point this drawing is a success.
Thoughts on this drawing
Not every image is suited to being rendered in white on black. Some look better as black on white, and others just don’t look right either way. After doing this in white on black, I decided I would rather have done it in charcoal, preferably on a warm white or sand-beige toned paper, with white pastel pencil to do the highlights. This being a strict black and white challenge meant I’ll have to get around to that idea later. This drawing did convince me that my white-on-black is best suited for white flowers with strong shadows, so that is what the others (save the last) are. I still really like how the eagle’s eye turned out, a week later. I suppose an all-white bird might work with this style, so that is something to revisit later perhaps.
After the blue-feathered bird series, I shifted gears as the next art challenge was black and white, or greyscale in photo editing terms. No other hues, not even hints of actual color other than black, white, and the neutral greys in between. I did not start out with a particular theme-within-a-theme, but I did end up staying in one major category and did all seven challenge pieces with white colored pencil on black paper.
First drawing: magnolia bloom in mostly shadow
I started out with a lovely reference photo of a white magnolia bloom in mostly shadow, with just the furthest forward petals hit by sunlight. While I’ve wanted to draw this image for a while, I knew I didn’t want to do it in the traditional black on white paper. Since I had been experimenting with colored pencil on black paper, and laying down a white layer first (see A Single Candle and Christmas Candle) I knew as soon as the theme was announced that this would be my first work.
I actually had to use two different brands of colored pencil to get this effect, but I had just bought five new white pencils that work great for laying in most of it with a more translucent white. (The two brands are Dick Blick and Prismacolor.) The really fun part of these pieces was that instead of working to darken in shading, I worked to bring the lights lighter as needed.