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STEP BY STEP EXERCISES 5 : Cottage Entrance
This is a mixed media exercise on black paper using pastels along with Wax pencils This Step By Step Exercise will show the techniques for using Pastel Pencil as the starting point for a scene on black paper which will be finished using traditional wax type coloured pencils.  This technique was featured in my Knuston Hall Intermediate CP course in March 2012, based on old black and white photographs. First the reference (below) to give you an idea of what is proposed.  It is a black and white photograph taken by a superb photographer, Edwin Smith, who died in 1971.  Edwin was a major architectural photographer in the 1950’s and 1960’s and with his second wife, Olive Cook, compiled several books.   Samples of his work can be seen on the website of the Chris Beetles Gallery  ( http://www.chrisbeetles.com/gallery/artist.php?art=2860 ). and copies of his masterwork on English Farmhouses and Cottages are still available from Amazon.co.uk. The Photo was taken in the 1950’s and is of a cottage doorway at Underhowe near Grasmere in the English Lake District.  The Image is Copyright  but I have not been able to trace any details of the current copyright owner.  You are not in breach of copyright using the image for study purposes, but may not sell any copy of the image you may make. As no fee is taken for the providing of this exercise, I am unable to see that any breach of copyright has been made in making this image more widely known. If you are the copyright owner, please contact me and I will be happy to discuss.
For this exercise, I am using a sheet of black Hahnemuhle Lana pastel paper,  a small selection of pastel pencils, a can of spray fixative and a set of Faber Castell Polycromos pencils. The majority pastel colour used will be white, with some tones of grey and brown and also some cream and green. An essential component will be black in both Pastel Pencil and CP. After establishing the centre line of the picture ( both height and width ) I have drawn in the blocks of light with a white pastel pencil and adjusted where necessary using the black. If you get a line wrong and need to remove any of your white lines, lift off the powder white off first from the black paper with a tacky pad of Blue/white tac, or alternatively use a kneadable eraser, or - at a pinch - a strip of adhesive tape wrapped round your finger with the tacky side out. Once the base lines are in position, you can build up the blocks of light.  The major area is the polished floor and you need to establish the correct positions and shapes for the two black cats and try to keep the ‘cat ‘ areas clean of any pastel. Perhaps a bit trickier are the lines of perspective that you see from the dresser on the extreme right hand side, the bookcase shelves on the left and the nearer left hand side shape of the grandfather clock.  I think it is the front edge of a chair on the left, sticking out a bit near the door. Going to the extreme left of the picture there is a window that could perhaps be made a little smaller, and what I believe to be the slope of a bureau or writing desk front just behind the clock. I will probably change this shape. There is also a small piece of floor showing light which helps establish the overall composition. Outside the door is a stone wall ( dry stone wall, as is common in Northern UK ) and some mixed vegetation which I guess will need to be greens and browns.  The colour coming in through the door and window openings will be virtually the only colour in the picture.  I will be working the light and shadow areas inside the cottage in white, cream, grey and browns - with black to establish edges and correct where necessary. Having worked the base of the picture, I have blended ( pressed ) the pastel into the paper and then fixed the picture. This first fix kills most of the light tones, but this is not a problem.  We can carry on building up a stronger base coat and then do a final fix of the pastel before starting with the wax pencils Drawing freehand, You finish up with your own version of the scene. The cats are not identical, the clock is different, and you can see I have made the window smaller.  The effect is similar to the photo though.   I may change to outline of the mat on the floor as we do the next stage. After the spray with fixative, the picture looks like this (left) You can see how the pastel has been ‘washed’ into the paper, and the brown colour of the mat and the stone wall outside has disappeared.  The next layers of pastel pencil will bring this back and we will fix, again, leaving a better result. Image Number 3 shows the return of Pastel Pencil to the surface after the first fixative spray. This time the pastel goes down with a much denser layer and forms a solid base for future work. Some of the light areas have been simplified, but the detail will go in later - at the moment we are just building up the foundation. The relative roughness of the black paper surface shows up floor surface nicely. Image number 4 and a further spray of fixative has taken the lightness back again - though not nearly as far as the first time Image number 5 and we can now apply some base colour to the scene outside the door. You will see that I have added a chair in the window of the room to the left, and put some shadow into the light floor of the hallway to show the uneven nature of the polished floor. Stonework has been included in the wall outside and also there has been some foliage added and some red and yellow to represent flowers in a small garden outside. The mat inside the hallway has had a layer of warm grey to help outline the two cats and some shadow has been applied to the clock to show the door to the case. A front door has now been added with catch and a small window. This image is now about ready for a final fixative spray before we start work with the traditional oil based Coloured Pencils which will give us more controlled detail. Our aim will be to keep colour to outside the cottage and only modest colour inside - mainly white, cream, greys and browns. IMAGE No 6 I have now started with the Oil based Coloured Pencil. The brand of choice here is Faber-Castell Polychromos because it has a good choice of greys which will be the colour of choice for the interior. I have started on the scene outside the door to establish the main focus of the picture - and as it will be used as a demonstration piece for a college open day, the picture needs to have a fully completed section to the picture to show up most of the stages and make a discussion point.  I tend not to get a lot of work done on these occasions as most of the time is spent talking! With a protective sheet of clear plastic over the bottom half of the picture, I first worked over the beams above the doorway and defined the door opening.  I then put some colour on the door using a lighter brown for the area nearest the light and a darker brown for the side of the door away from the light.  I sharpened the edges of the cat in the doorway with black, and then steadily built up the wall from the ground level, working in layers, stone by stone using a mid grey pencil.  I then added a strip of light across the wall top and picked out spots of light catching protruding stones ( see detail image 7 ).  Darker shading was added nearer the wall base and some grey/greens and mid browns were introduced to the stones to give more warmth. Random scribbles in green and green/gold were added to the area of foliage and the bright feature colours of red and orange re-worked to represent flowers. The path outside was worked in grey, cinnamon and white.  A green strip of weed was put in at the wall base.  I shall leave the area of foliage outside the door for the moment and see if I need to add anything later once the rest of the picture has been done. Image 8 may not look as if much has been done, but I spent a whole day demonstrating ( and talking ) about Coloured Pencils using this on the drawing board. As you can see there was more talking than doing ! I have added light outlines to the cats and worked on the entrance hall furniture in Polychromos CP. Some of the white areas will go darker as I add more detail with greys on the top and the floor will have further treatment. You probably can’t see it in the image, but there is also a slight pattern in the mat.   The bookcase to the left has also had some attention.
This is the reference photo of the doorway of the cottage at Underhowe
1. This is the initial pastel pencil drawing of the scene based on the photo. White is the colour mostly used, but there is some brown in the mat and the wall outside and a touch or green on the foliage above the wall
3… Much stronger white pastel now settled on the pape. this is the real foundation for the picture now that we have established the position of everything
5 … Some detail now applied with a sharp point on the pastel pencils before we move on to final fix and then wax pencils
6 … The oil based Polychromos pencil starts to develop the colour outside the doorway. We get a good feel for the stone wall and some flowers add attraction for the eye, outside the door.
7 .. detail of work to wall and garden outside
We come to image 9. This picture is virtually completed. The white furniture has now had a touch of colour, the outside view has been built up further using Luminace soft wax pencils, and edges have been sharpened up using a sharp pointed white and a sharp black from the Caran d’Ache Luminance range. Because LUminance is a softer and more waxy pencil, we can get fine detail on top of the Polychromos colour There may be some final touches to the picture when it is about to be mounted and framed, but for now, this is the finished picture. It shows the effect of using black paper and a pastel underpainting with oil based and wax based finishing pencils. The effect of the polished floor is down to the surface of the Lana paper.  I am not too happy with some of the perspectives in the furniture, but the principle of using the pencils has worked well and I am happy to go with the finished picture.
Cottage entrance at Underhowe, Grasmere, Lake District, UK, based on a black and white original photo by Edwin Smith taken around 1950. Picture here using pastel pencils, and Polychromos coloured pencils with finishing details using Luminance pencils. The surface is Hahnemuhle Lana Pastel paper in Black