Friday, January 14, 2011


I think I gave the wrong impression in my post after the Thorne show notice from the comments that are stirring in that post. 

Actually not getting in the Thorne is exactly what I needed. 

First,  the idea of the series (that the ballerina girl is in) is just so unbelievably "me" in its weird sense of humor and ties to the past and illustration. The idea behind the series, as I've said before, is a re-imagining of Norman Rockwell's famous covers if they were done today, looking at the weirdness of what we are like now. It is deliberately in a illustration-like style with more "pop" colors than I usually use, partly because this series is based on illustration,but also because it reflects on the consumer/ad centered society we live in.  I plan on touching on issues like technology, roles of wives/husbands in families, etc. I'm kind of thinking of the series as post-pop, or maybe  steam punk fifties, lol. 

 Now onto why I made the comments I did questioning the validity of the series. I was struggling with the feeling of "WHY" when I started the series. I knew I WANTED to do the series and felt it would be fun to explore the psyches of today in a humorous way,  but  just because I really wanted to isn't always a good enough reason to make the drawings, when so much time and money will be put into creating them. The problem I was having was,  I needed to know who my audience was. This is what I was struggling with after finding out that I didn't get in... I needed to know what I should do with the series. Not getting in just made me have to deal with the thoughts I was already having. 

Anyway I've  figured something out.  I have to do this series, whether or not it fits into my current market that I have carved out for myself. I'm going to work on these at the same time as my still-lifes and "Zen" series and eventually will have enough pieces for a show or possibly to put in print.  Maybe this series would do well in a more digital format even... after I get more pieces ready I can explore my options. That doesn't mean I think they have no place in galleries, because I do, it just means they are different than my other work so I will have to figure out where they fit in when I have more of them. 

Anyway I would never stop exploring new ideas, techniques etc, because I know that is how I've gotten to where I am now. I also am not defeated by not getting in the show as I know how shows are judged and understand that it is not a reflection on my validity by not getting in or  by winning... I hope it didn't sound like I was whining, but rather I was doing a necessary self-reflection about the new series, which is such a departure from the work in my current venues. 

Anyway... I have made some progress on my preteen slumber party I've been posting and I did start a still-life today... just the sketch and set up so far though.... my day was cut short by a frenzied daughter who forgot that she was supposed to bring brownies for a bake sale today, so I was baking the first half of the day. Since there isn't much progress to show yet, that is what I will leave you with for today's picture... some behemoth brownies. :-) The recipe is on Bakers unsweetened chocolate boxes and are called cake-like brownies. 


Germán said...

I was just googling "pastels vs coloured pencils" and came across your blog.
I'm now a fan of your coloured pencil works.

What is your opinion on fabercastell polychromos? I read in some of your posts that you use Prismacolors.. Do you prefer them?

I'm starting in coloured pencils (here's my flickr: after being a year painting with acrylics, and my feeling of this is that after a certain number of layers I can't make any changes, unless I really pushdown the pencil with strength.. but then I would lose realism I think,

Anyway, I'd be glad if you gave me any tips.. about technique or pencil brands, whatever :D

Nicole Caulfield said...

Hi German, and thank you. Your work is really good - thanks for sharing!

I think Polychromos are great pencils. I use them on sandpaper for my portraits (excluding my newest series). On the sandpaper they behave a lot like pastel pencils, but on smooth paper they behave like normal colored pencils.

I use Prismacolors and Coloursofts for my still-lifes and my latest series I've been talking about. They are waxy and withstand a coat of varnish to seal them so I don't have to frame them under glass.

I always work on sandpaper so you may find them different for you if you use smooth paper, but I enjoy polychromos on sandpaper because I can smudge and smooth them like pastels. They have great skintone colors too.

If you want to make changes on a drawing you CAN erase... most colored pencil artists use sticky tac to lift some of the layers or even scotch tape to pull off some of the colored pencil. Still you do have to plan ahead with colored pencils because you can't rework large areas easily.

so to recap, for my portraits (see the tab for Zen Series) I use Polychromos pencils on Fisher 400 paper. (sandpaper). They behave like pastels on this paper, but the colors mix together as you layer, (unlike pastels).

For my still-lifes and my latest Norman Rockwell series I use Derwent Coloursofts on Pastelbord (sand textured masonite board) or Fisher 400 paper.

Hope this helps! One great place for colored pencil tips is WetCanvas colored pencil forum, or the Scribbletalk forum.

Germán said...

Awesome. Thank you very much.

The only coloured pencil drawings I've tryied till now were in soft paper (the one that goes in the printer), so I will try sandpaper now.

Thanks, again.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

I'm totally with you on doing projects just for yourself, Nicole, before you figure out if they have any commercial ramifications. I have been messing around with a style/ series that wasn't selling like my other stuff -- it was very graphic, and it made me happy but didn't seem to please the general populace much. It was just too loud for most people's walls. Well . . . now I'm using it for the animated trailer I've been commissioned to do by Scholastic. My regular fine art style would have been way too realistic for this project. And if I hadn't been messing around with the other style? Who knows what I would've done.

Kathy said...

Hi Nicole, Though you want to make a living as an artist, you also have to BE an artist! I totally agree you have to do this Norman Rockwell series since it seems to be in your blood to do so. Anything you do from your heart & soul can only make you grow as an artist. I'm sure you'll find some venue for the series and if you don't the lessons learned in doing the series will be valuable to future artisitc endeavors. I look forward to seeing the series progress!