Conte Crayon and a DIY Spray Varnish Fixative Experiment

"Conte Crayon and a DIY Spray Varnish Fixative Experiment" (blog post) | |

Obviously, painting varnish on a conte crayon piece, with its dusty chalkiness, would only result in smudging the image. But is there a way to use varnish without smudging the conte crayon drawing?

It seemed worth a try because using fixatives with conte crayon has its disadvantages — mainly, the smell. If you live in an apartment or anywhere simply not having an open-air space for good ventilation, the fumes can be too much. Using a regular acrylic varnish gets rid of the problem of the fumes.

Adult coloring books are great for experimenting — especially when they’re licensed under Creative Commons. Conte crayon seemed to go well with an Egyptian papyrus concept, and a couple of images from were perfect for this experiment (see image credits below).

The paper used is extremely important, as we’ll get to later. The images were done on beige Strathmore textured paper (though now, the label is gone). Shown are the conte crayon drawings before they were spray varnished.

"Conte Crayon and a DIY Spray Varnish Fixative Experiment" (blog post) | |

"Conte Crayon and a DIY Spray Varnish Fixative Experiment" (blog post) | | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.comThe DIY Varnish/Fixative Experiment

Once the images were finished, a small spray bottle was filled with matte varnish: nothing special, just regular Liquitex matte varnish. I’ve used it many times for varnishing acrylic paint, and it works great.

The image was sprayed with the varnish, and the first thing that most people worry about with varnishing non-paint mediums is the pigment getting darker. The image did get slightly darker — but if you’re prepared for this, it may not be a huge deal, depending on the final result you’re looking for.

The Result: It All Depends on the Paper

The problem was obvious once the spray settled a bit, though: It made the pigments bleed. What were previously nice edges turned into blobs of color seeping outside where they were supposed to be. Clearly, the image was ruined. The paper pilled, also.

But what about mixed media paper? Would that fare any better?

It seemed it did, though that part of the experiment was quick and not as thorough. Basically, if conte crayon was drawn onto some mixed media paper and sprayed with the same varnish, everything seemed to hold up. However, the paper was pretty heavy at 140 lb. (sold in single sheets at Hobby Lobby). This quick tryout may work in the future and will maybe become a future experiment; for now, if trying it out, use with caution!

For now, it’s safe to say that DIY spray fixative is a possibility — but the paper will make all the difference.

Coloring Pages Used:
Anubis as a black-coated jackal by Jeff Dahl (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license)
Souls of Pe and Nekhen by Jeff Dahl (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license)

Materials Used:
Conte Crayon Matchbox
Conte Crayon Boxed Set


Follow Artistically Writing by Email



(Art) Experimenting With Various Media

"Experimenting with Various Media" (blog post) | |

One of the funnest things about art is trying out different media. Taking a good drawing class is a great start—and the best drawing classes not only teach you to draw but encourage trying out different things to draw with.

Some examples follow from a couple of great art classes that really inspired us students to experiment and find media that worked for each individual artist.

Graphite Drawing from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

"Experimenting with Various Media" (blog post) | | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.comThis piece was a final project for a first-semester drawing class. We had to choose a hard subject to draw—something complex—and this scene from the movie fit the bill nicely. It took some time, of course, but the end result worked out well.

Interestingly, the night of final presentations, the teacher asked how I felt about the final. Hearing an answer of “okay,” the instructor then said that it must have turned out really well—that usually, the artist says, “I wanted to do this with it and that with it.” She was right, actually; for once, the final drawing was not cringe-worthy. 🙂 (It does, however, look a bit warped in the photo, because of the angle at which it was photographed.)

"Experimenting with Various Media" (blog post) | | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.comChalk Pastel Piece: Model in Ad

This is a piece done in chalk pastel, which is unfortunately not quite as blendable as some might hope; then again, some people swear by it, so there’s living proof that what works best all depends on the person.

The image was taken from a magazine ad showing a model sitting on a couch with some sort of fashionable purse.

Charcoal and Conte Crayon Drawing: Sheltie

"Experimenting with Various Media" (blog post) | | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.comMy first sheltie was the subject of this drawing, and unfortunately she didn’t receive any justice at the hands of my lack of charcoal skills at the time. Still, charcoal is a beautiful medium. It has been used for ages and has the most amazing look that just draws the eye in.

The only bummer about charcoal is that it smudges so easily that it must be set with an art fixative. If there is plenty of ventilation, that’s fine; but it’s something to be aware of.

Chalk pastel also requires fixative for the long term.

"Experimenting with Various Media" (blog post) | | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.comChalk Pastel Piece: Violin on Top of “Memory” Sheet Music

This was another final piece for a drawing class, this time the more intermediate level.

This piece was done from a photo I took of a miniature violin and lute sitting on top of sheet music (though the lute does not show too much in the final).

At least as of this writing, this piece is shown in the main header.

Ink Drawing: Seashells

"Experimenting with Various Media" (blog post) | | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.comSeashells are popular ink drawings, and it’s easy to see why. Their shape and the patterns on them can really be brought out by ink.

If you are using an ink pot and nib, it can get messy. Just be careful. If using a “regular” pen, this can be avoided, but it lacks the fun and antiquity of using a nib.

"Experimenting with Various Media" (blog post) | | authorbrennapierson.wordpress.comOil Pastel: Collector Barbie

This is the first oil pastel I ever worked on after learning to draw, and a piece like this can get you hooked on a certain medium—not that it’s perfect, but it definitely is one that’s a little more artistic. This Barbie is actually from a group of collectable dolls: the Midnight Tuxedo Barbie from the 90’s.

Another collector doll oil pastel is in the works…to be posted at a later time.

The only bad part about trying out various media is the cost; but if you can do it, it’s totally worth it.

Follow Artistically Writing by Email


#art #pastel #drawing #painting #lotr #barbie #fanart

(Art) Porg Art: It’s All in the Eyes

"Porg Art: It's All in the Eyes" (blog post by Brenna Pierson) | |
“Mr. Cranky Porg.” Oil pastel and conte crayon on canvas.

It started with the best intentions: drawing a porg in mainly oil pastel to show a cute porg on a sunny day.

What resulted was a cranky-but-cute porg (hopefully)…but looking at the cranky porg, I can see what went wrong. And it was a good lesson.

How the Porg was Drawn

Mr. Cranky Porg started out as a sketch on canvas paper of the outline of an owl. He was mostly filled in with oil pastel, with his “feathers” being suggested by conte crayon marks.

The conte crayon worked really well on the oil pastel to show thinner, yet definite, lines. Oil pastel seemed like it would be too thick for this purpose. Only quite dark conte crayon worked and only on top of oil pastel colors that were noticeably lighter.

What Makes This Porg Look Cranky?

Looking closely at the porg, one can easily see what makes him look cranky. It’s in the eyes—or in a way, a lack thereof. His eyes are just too small. Porgs’ eyes are huge and take up a good amount of their face, but this porg failed in the eyeball department.

Well, better luck next time—and there will be another porg drawing for another time. They’re just too fun not to draw and paint them. 🙂

Follow Artistically Writing by Email


#porgs #porgnation #porglife #art #sundayblogpost