Friday 29 November 2013

A Pheasant Day Out! -Challenge Response Journal Page

Iiiiiiiiiit's Friday!!

Another weekend peeking just around the corner AND the first day of December nearly here too!  I guess it's time to haul out those decorations and make our houses twinkly again!

Speaking of twinkly (awesome segue there), I had the awesome opportunity for a lovely day out with mum this week. What with her being poorly and me STILL trying to beat my agoraphobia it's not an everyday occurrence that we both get outside the house for long. We had a fabulous day at a local garden centre (which is ENORMOUS) looking at all the shiny decorations and festive displays. We had a yummy meal in their restaurant, and bought some homemade jam and treats from their farm shop. It was dark when we left, and the centre have decorated ALL the trees thereabouts with flickering lights - so pretty! Stupid me hadn't taken my camera - I will next time though!

The roads to the garden centre are surrounded by beautiful English countryside, which was blazing with the colours of autumn. Incredible shades of orange, yellow and red against a turquoise sky and bright greens of lasting leaves fluttering in the breeze. Driving along the lanes, it struck me just how lucky I am to be able to enjoy this view, these colours ... the brightness of the sun and the chill of the pre-winter winds and the variety of wildlife, out finding food to help them survive the worst of the winter to come, all in the company of my mum competely and epically awesome.

The challenge this week on Inspiration Avenue is to express 'gratitude' through art. It's hard sometimes, when life sends constant avalanches of lemons to remember how good lemonade really is... There's so much I'm grateful for - family, friends, my kitty cat, music, colour, art and life - it's hard to choose just one image to express it all. But traveling down those roads, surrounded by the colours and bounty of nature...well, that's a feeling that sums it all up for me, so I chose to represent the view as my answer to the challenge.

This time around I remembered to take some process pictures to show you - I hope you find them useful!

I wanted to draw a pheasant standing in bracken - an image that encapsulates the colours and the overall feel of this time of year in the place where I live. Because I wanted the colours to be extra bold, I selected my Derwent Inktense pencils for the task as they're so heavily pigmented with bright, bright inks that they really POP when water's added. I sketched the rough shapes of the pheasant and the surrounding bracken and added some colours roughly just to block the areas in nicely:

There's very little pencil used. Inktense are inCREDible - they're available as pencils or just bars of pigment, and both are exceptional. I added a few layers of colour, but didn't blend them as the water would do that for me.

Ta-dah!  You can see how, by just adding water the colours become incredibly bold and dramatic.  I used the pencil tips like a paint palette (just dabbing them with the brush to transfer colour) to add a little depth in areas and just alter colours here and there to achieve the strong image I had in mind.

Inktense colour sets fast once it dries so it's important to work quickly. It does, however, allow the artist to add colour in layers, which I like a lot. Now, to add some more colour detail, I broke out the Neocolor II solluble wax pastels. They combine BEAUTIFULLY with practically ANY medium and are gorgeous to use with Inktense. Again, I used them like a palette, transferring colour using my brush, rather than using the pastels directly on the paper. This allows for greater precision and also stops drawing lines from marking the paper. I also added some layers of bracken, working in light colours first, then incrementally darker - representations of the leaf shapes rather than detailed botanical illustration, because I want the pheasant to stand out more than the surroundings.

To add more colour and texture I used my Tattered Angels Glimmer Glaze, both by painting it onto the green/blue areas around the bird (colours:Waterfall & Wicked), then by splattering it over the bracken surround (colours: Mellow Yellow & Orange Crush). I heat dried the glaze to make it bubble as I wanted to really build up a texture that would represent the rough look and feel of the foliage.

Once that was done I wanted to add some definition and detail with my gel pens. Because Neocolor II's are wax-based pastels, they're a little tough to draw over, so I added a layer of satin lacquer as a fixitive, which had the added bonus of making the colours slightly brighter. Also - it's handy if I mess up or change my mind as the pen can be wiped off easily with a baby wipe without affecting the image beneath. It's a personal preference, but I really like the feel of the page once the lacquer's added as well. Yummy.

I added detail first with a Uni Ball 0.38 gel pen, then a 1.0 white gel pen, then when I was done I highlighted the lumps and bumps in the glaze with Treasure Gold gilding wax, adding more at the edges of the page to reflect light as the sun had done when we'd driven down that country road.  I also added a couple of lines of poetry which I felt were ideal for the page. You can see the wonderful texture of the bubbles -

You can also see the BEAUTIFUL depth of colour that Inktense pencils and Neocolors can provide:

I'm really happy with the finished page - it will always remind me of a really lovely day out - I really enjoyed painting it too:

I'm linking this post to the challenge at Inspiration Avenue. The people there are both talented AND lovely - very welcoming and encouraging. Head on over and have a look at some of the amazing art that's linked to the challenges - you'll LOVE the blogs you find as a result, I promise!

As always - thank you so much for visiting! Please leave a comment if you would like to, and if there's anything you'd like me to blog about - techniques, products, inspirations...- just let me know.  Thank you to all the lovely people who send encouraging and supportive comments - you're all just completely gorgeous! Here's to a great weekend for all of us! Love and hugs - Shroo :) xxx



  1. I really love this post . You have a really great way of conveying your thoughts through the medium of art ... and you words match your artistic talent . This really reminds me of thhhhe countryside near where I live . Thank you for your pleasant Pheasant !!!

  2. Thank you Daisy - I'm glad you like the pleasant pheasant in his autumny bower! Hope it brings happy memories for you too - love and hugs from Shroo:)xxx

  3. Until reading your last post and this one, I never even knew you could give the mists texture like that with a bit of heat. I need to try those pencils now -your blog is going to be expensive for me! Another truly stunning page :-)

    1. I think pretty much anything with a metal component will alter when it's heated - the best for bubbling are the Glimmer Glam and Glimmer Glaze bottles from Tattered Angels... they're uber fun! Especially if you chuck a bit of extra mica powder on there as well! Give ebay a go for inktense - that's where I got mine as all the art sites were so pricey I'd have had to sell a kidney to pay for them! FRACTION of the price on ebay! They're completely worth the investment I promise! Big hugs - Shroo:)xxx ps - are you going to do more zombie faces? The last one you did was awesome! Look forward to your next post x

    2. I am! I loved doing her! Just getting a few commitments and poorly kids out the way first :D Thank you, you just made my day! Plus cheers for The top tip about the sprays and pencils, I've already been googling the satin spray and have found it in a local hardware store of all places! To eBay!

  4. A nice composition with exquisite colors! Great art in this beautiful pheasant!

  5. Coming from you that's complement indeed - I love your use of colour in your work. Thank you:)

  6. Such a beautiful and colorful bird full with graditute towards life (and art) Lovely blog post. Nice to hear your positive toughts:) makes me happy just to read about your day.

  7. Awww - what a lovely thing to say! Thank you so much! Hugs from Shroo:)xxx

  8. Well Rachael, you've done it again! Your glorious pheasant is every bit as beautiful as your mermaids. I enjoyed reading how you created this and seeing the step by step images. You are so talented! I think you should share your post with the makers of these products-they should keep you supplied for life! I love everything about it-the bracken and glimmery bits, the texture, and the outrageous colors! I'm so glad you shared it with IA this week.

    1. That's just the best thing you could say - have had SUCH a lousy day today that your comment was just the tonic I needed! Thank you squillions. And OH yes - those Inktense pencils are SO yummy! The bars are just as good - I'm hopelessly addicted! Thank you bajillions for your comments - AND your incredible work on your blog, which is totally fabulous. ALL the time! - Best wishes - Shroo :) xxx