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  • Writer's pictureKevin Roeckl

Nadia portrait in progress 8

See that darker square behind Nadia’s front feet? Canson, the company that makes this beautiful art paper, started putting bar-code stickers on every sheet of paper, and it leaves a mark. 😡

This is all part of the life of an artist. (sigh...)

Canson paper has a “bumpy” side for pastel artists, and a smooth side. I use the smooth side….and that’s where they put their dang sticker. This is the only piece of “Flannel Grey” Canson paper I had. Before I started sketching Nadia’s portrait on it I measured to make sure that sticker mark would be in a spot that I could hide it with colored pencil. Most of it will be covered by the podium and Hernan’s pant leg. The part of it that is outside of that, I will have to touch it really lightly with a light-grey pencil in the closest shade I have to the paper color. Even it if it’s not perfect, it won’t be noticeable because your eye will go to the dark figure of Nadia, not the tiny bit of grey paper next to Hernan’s pant-leg.

Close-up of colored pencil portrait of Top Twenty Doberman, in progress

If that sticker mark had been in the middle of a blank area it would have prevented me from using this sheet of (expensive) paper.

I contacted Dick Blick Art Supplies, where I order my art paper and pencils. Apparently it’s not possible to get sheets of Canson paper that don’t have that sticker in that same place on every sheet. The Blick rep I spoke with said I’m not the only artist who contacted them and complained about this. Blick sells a huge volume, and they are going to complain to Canson. Hopefully Blick's weight behind all these unhappy artists it will get Canson’s attention.


Stacked-Nadia is finished. Here's the whole portrait as it looks now.

Now you can see why I kept the other figures pale and light (their darkest areas are grey instead of black). Stacked Nadia, which is the centerpiece of the portrait, really pops out. As she should.

Colored pencil portrait of Top Twenty Doberman, in progress in the studio with pencils

A figure can be made the focal point by placing them in the exact center (the button on Hernan’s tuxedo is the center in this piece), by making the lines of the composition point toward them, or by doing some kind of trick like I did here, to make them stand out as the centerpiece. Hernan’s trousers, which were black in real life, will be grey in this portrait, like his collar and tie. To our eye it still looks like he is wearing a black-and-white tuxedo. But in actuality, stacked Nadia is the only thing in the portrait that is done with true black.

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