It’s been really cold here the past few days in Michigan, and combined with new, heavy snowfall, I have cabin-fever and am craving Spring more than ever. And that’s what inspired the Verdigris Rabbit—I need some greenery!
This little fellow is a single illustration on page 23 of the Ruby Charm Colors Creative Companion for 2019. I won’t go through the tedious step-by-step process of the whole coloring, but will point out a few things that might help you explore (or avoid!) in your own colorings with a little mixed media including the wax-resist technique in some small areas.
I started out with several light layers and shades of Caran d’Ache Luminance and Pablo colored pencils for the base greens of the body. Most all of the greens were in the Olive family, though I also used Moss, Titanium Buff (one of my “can’t live without” pencils), and Ocher Brown 10%. I used a few blues as well—Luminance Steel Grey (which has blue overtones) and Prussian blue, plus Pablo Bluish Grey. Lots of light layers, and once I got my colors where I wanted them, I burnished those areas with the Caran d’Ache Blender Bright and a Prismacolor colorless blender.
For the left ear, I used the Indigo Irojiten pencil to outline the stars and draw small circles. I like the Irojiten pencils for detail work because they are fairly hard and I can get the points nice and sharp. I also used a little Titanium Buff inside the stars, then blended with the Blender Bright to soften the Irojiten lines.
For the blue areas (the stripes, inside of the ear, and parts of the flower design, I used the wax resist technique. The Prismacolor Sky Blue light was used for the circle shapes first. Once I had them all drawn, I used the Indigo mica paint (handmade by Karen Spencer) with a Caran d’Ache water brush to paint over the areas. The paint soaked into the paper leaving the waxy Sky Blue circles exposed. I had to swipe over them a little with a semi-dry brush in areas where the paint was a little too thick and stuck to the wax.
I have noticed that mica (and metallic or pearlescent) paints are a little less inclined to “break away” from the wax than solid (non-mica or metallic) watercolors. My guess is that the actual mica fragments are naturally “sticky” because they are composed of tiny bits of mineral. But, if you give the paint a chance to soak into the paper for a few seconds, it’s fairly easy to gently brush it off your designs with a damp (even almost dry) brush. Once the Indigo was nearly dry, I dabbed a little gold mica paint into the center of each circle. Once these areas were bone dry, I then used an extra fine black Pitt pen to give the circles a little more definition.
Another note about the wax-resist method … the wax from the pencils has to be thick enough to truly resist the liquid (paint) you brush over it. It works fairly well on the paper in my books on Amazon, but even better on card stock if you print copies of the designs at home on your own paper. Experiment on different different paper types if you want to explore this technique. Also, try going over your pencil lines a few times (pretty hard) so you get good wax buildup, and choose the right pencil. In my experience, the Prismacolors, Pablos and Holbeins seem to work the best. Your wax designs must be impermeable enough to push the water away.
I used a white Sakura Souffle gel pen for all my dots. What I like about the Souffle pens is that once dry they puff up a little bit, and they dry with a somewhat matte surface. When my white dots dried, I used a darker blue metallic UBRANDS gel pen to dab in the middle of a number of the white dots. The UBRANDS gel pens took forever to dry!
I had to go over my blue dots again in the morning because I left a piece of scrap paper between my pages while it dried overnight. When I color something in my art journal, I close the book and keep it under my laptop so the pages flatten out a bit. It usually works pretty well, but this morning when I pulled the scrap paper off my bunny, a few of the blue dots went with it! And I smudged a few of the coppery colored dots I put down in places.
Up close and personal, things look a little sloppy, but from a distance it looks pretty okay. Aside from the terrible lighting in my studio today.
The UBRANDS gel pens are fairly inexpensive (I got a pack of 30 at Target for under $15) and I like them, but they do take a while to completely dry—especially the metallics. Also, they don’t have the best reviews due to leakage. I haven’t had that happen yet but I store mine in their case, horizontally. There is a nice mix of metallic, clear and opaque pens, and so far they seem to work fairly well. The opaque pens are great on the black pages of the Creative Companion (like the calendars) and are fun to use on the black art pages as embellishments. A little blobbing and skipping now and then, but that’s to be expected with nearly all gel pens in my experience. Be aware of how you store them, keep the tips clean, and the caps on for longer life.
Below is a pic of the primary pencils I used for the rabbit. Far left is the Caran d’Ache Blender Bright (and the dark one next to it is a Polychromos Sepia). And my Prismacolor blender is getting too short to comfortably work with.
I may have mentioned this about the Caran d’Ache Luminance before, but I really do love them. They are expensive, yes, but I only buy the colors I need/want from Blick through open-stock. I can’t afford the full set yet, but they will always be a coveted part of my coloring toolbox. Same with the Pablos and the Polychromos which are more affordable but perform so beautifully.
That’s all for now! I am going back to my line drawings for the rest of the weekend. More fanciful insects in the works for an upcoming book, and a little surprise in the Ruby Charm Colors Etsy shop to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year starting Feb. 5. More on that later!
Happy coloring! And if you have questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments!