April 16th, 2014

Feather Mixed Media Exercise

British mixed media artist Vivien Blackburn created this two-page spread of feather drawing as an exercise for her mixed media class. “I’ve been teaching some individual classes as well as my usual weekly ones and this drawing was a demo of mixed media for new students. I find that feathers are a good subject for beginners because it’s possible to place the feather right next to the drawing; the student’s visual memory hasn’t far to travel, helping build observational skills. Students start off thinking it’s going to be too difficult but end up delighted with the result, surprising themselves.

Feathers are a challenge with their subtle colours and lovely changes of texture, the soft fluffy base, the hard spine and sleeker areas further up. Raggedy ones are even more interesting. This drawing was done in my Zeta Series sketchbook; the paper is ideal as its heavy weight and smooth surface allow me to create the textures I want with no interference from the paper’s own texture.

To create this image I used Derwent Graphitint water-soluble graphite pencils with touches of watercolour for added detail, colour and texture. I also used water-soluble pencils, normal coloured pencils and a little Conte pencil as well. The fine lines were drawn out with the ‘wrong’ end of the paintbrush from areas of wet paint (and at times a twig) and some with Graphitint pencil. I just pick up whatever is going to make the mark I want, I don’t consciously set out to ‘do mixed media’ and it just happens! And I’m not good at travelling light even when sketching plein air! As a result, my descriptions of materials or tools used often include “kitchen sink” as I can’t always remember it all!” Vivien Blackburn’s work can be seen on her blog at this link: http://vivienb.blogspot.com/

MEDIA: Graphite, watercolor, water-soluble pencil, colored pencil
SURFACE: Zeta Series – 180 lb – 270 gsm – White – Smooth Finish

feather (2)


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