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White pencil on black paper

"Moonlight Drink" 12"x 9" Ploychromos on Strathmore Artagain

The theme for my most recent workshop was "Drawing white on a black surface", an interesting and very different subject for not only coloured pencil but for graphite as well, as it is the opposite process in creating the image.

In sourcing the surfaces I had to do a bit of research and the one that stood out with good reviews was the Strathmore Artagain in coal black. I ordered a pad of 24 sheets and road tested it with the above image of the zebra and like the reviews, I was also impressed. The surface is smooth but has enough tooth for layering and achieving lovely whites. The finish allows for a light touch to capture the soft greys and it is receptive for details. I must try this paper out on some long fur, I think it will be perfect.

The other surface we used was Clairefontaine pastelmat in the anthracite colour. This is their darkest colour and definitely not dark enough for the dramatic effect of black and white so we painted it with a thin coat of black acrylic paint. The pastelmat will take a light coat of wet media and it then lends itself to being an ideal surface to draw a white subject to stand out on the now very dark black.

To create the image for the first time is quite a challenge as you have to totally reverse your application and go heavy in pressure for the whites and back off to lighter pressure for the greys and skirt around the blacks. If using graphite on white paper, of course it is the opposite and for me quite an automated process. Although a bit tricky to start with, I found the procedure quite enthralling and am very taken with the results as I was with the process.

The bonus for some of my workshop participants was the fact that they did not have to labour over colour choices and the multiple layering required in using colour, they therefore cruised through their first piece and could work on a second the next day which was very rewarding. I was over the moon with their results and enthusiasm, so much fun, please try it out for yourself!

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