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  • Writer's pictureKevin Roeckl

Cooper portrait in progress 8 - Tools of the artist's life

I wanted to share a few of the photos I took while working in the studio over the course of Cooper’s portrait.

With some tools-of-the-trade...

and the studio setting I see every day…


1

My “working pencils” (the ones I'm using during that session) are on a piece of white paper above the part I'm working on, so I can see my array of pencil colors and grab the right one quickly. A scrap of the "Anise" Canson paper with colored-pencil swatches on it is nearby.


I make those swatches when I start an artwork so I can see how those particular pencil colors look on that paper color. Colored pencil is a "transparent" medium: the paper color shows through a little bit. So the same color pencil will look different on different colored papers. Having those swatches near the artwork while I'm working helps guide me on which pencil to pick up for any stroke of color I need on the art.


Colored pencil portrait of a Doberman running, in progress in Kevin's  studio with colored pencils and color swatches

The pencils are on a piece of white paper and my hand rests on white paper, to keep the artwork clean during the many days I’ll be working on Cooper’s portrait. 



2

This is not a large portrait. The pencils show size. I charge less for smaller portraits of course, but in some ways they are harder to do than larger ones. The pencil work has to be extremely precise, especially when the pencil points are bigger than the actual details. Moving the pencil point just a micro-millimeter to one side or another can change the expression of an eye. 


Close-up of the dog's head in a colored pencil portrait of a Doberman, in progress, with pencils

The brown pencil is about as sharp a pencil point as I can get. I could sharpen the grey pencil a little more. When working on fine detail like this, a have to sharpen the pencil after every 2 or 3 tiny strokes, to keep it this sharp.


Prismacolor pencils have very soft “lead”, so they don’t stay sharp when they’re being used, like a graphite pencil (a regular writing pencil). Artists who use colored pencil refer to Prismacolor’s quality as “creamy”. 



3

This is what my set-up looks like in the studio. 

  • Cooper’s photo on the monitor for reference, with a keyboard and mouse to zoom in and out as I need to. 

  • The pencils I’m using that day, and color swatches on a scrap of the same “Anise” Canson paper as the artwork. 

  • A drafting brush to brush away pencil dust, that belonged to my Dad when he was a young man taking drafting courses to become an Engineer.

  • Eyeglasses for close work. 

  • And of course my trusty pencil sharpener. I don’t know what I would do without it!


Kevin's art studio with artist's tools and a colored pencil portrait of a Doberman, in progress


4

The colors I was using for Cooper’s face….


Close-up of a colored pencil portrait of a Doberman, in progress with colored pencils


5

The color swatches that help guide me on which pencil to pick up, are usually above the artwork on the right or left, out of my way as I’m working. 


Colored pencil portrait of a Doberman, in progress with colored pencils and color swatches


6

This is what I came back to when I took a break to refill my water glass. I enter my studio through a doorway that brings me toward the work-table at this angle. 


When I step away from it, even for a few minutes, it's like getting a fresh view when I come back. It makes me feel happy to see the artwork coming together and that it's looking good. 


Colored pencil portrait of a Doberman, in progress in Kevin's studio with colored pencils and a pencil sharpener


7

This is the view from where I sit when I’m working.


Kevin's art studio with a colored pencil portrait of a Doberman in progress, with colored pencils and a reference photo on a monitor

Portrait of Cooper, in progress. 

A surprise gift from Maura Reilly to Diane and Michael Schurman.

Prismacolor pencil on "Anise" Canson paper.


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