The Creative Plan – Day 2 Colour Pencils



I’ve never formally studied fine art or art history but ever since I was introduced to the works of Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec by my high school art teachers I’ve passionately tried to absorb as much as I can. 

9a em Poul Friis Nybo (Danish artist, 1869-1929) Reading Woman 1929
Reading Woman by Poul Friis Nybo. Image taken from 

When I handpick artists to reference for these exercise it’s coming from accumulated knowledge and familiarity with their work and not necessarily because they’re the definitive masters in this style. If anyone can recommend other artists that might be relevant please feel free to let me know.

The Tub by Edgar Degas. Image taken from Hill-Stead Museum

The reasons why artists like Nybo and Degas, as shown above, came to mind is because of their use of colour painting everyday scenes, sometimes even omitting the use of black. They create this wonderful atmospheric light that I love. 


The images I drew came from photos I took of the old family homestead after we cleared it out to sell. I didn’t use a flash or tripod so the picture’s are quite grainy but for the purposes of this exercises they were perfect! 

Day2_ex3_Interiors_1_photoThey were very pixelated so I had to be careful not to misinterpret flecks of colour that comes from a poor quality photo with colours actually in the scene (hope that makes sense). 


Day2_ex3_Interiors_1When I approach a new drawing, particularly with an image as reference, I tend to let the subject dictate how I draw it. The style I drew this bedroom scene isn’t my cup of tea but in order to capture the softness of the light I felt layering the colour would suit it more. Building up the layers is very labour intensive and having a short attention span I had to learn to be patient. 

Day2_ex3_Interiors_1_finishedI like the small accents of light blue in the picture. Initially the blue was meant just for the window light but as it gave the whole picture contrast I added more to other areas, strategically placing it in a circular shape so that it not only ties the whole image together but subtly guides your eye around the composition.


Nude in Bath by Pierre Bonnard. Image taken from the Carnegie Museum of Art.

door-into-the-garden-1947.jpg!LargeDoor into the Garden by Grace Cossington-Smith. Image sourved from

What I love about the paintings of Bonnard and Crossington-Smith is the flickering light-play that bounces off the surfaces. It’s quite easy to only see the big picture colours, like the pale green bedroom wall or the salmony pink toilet, but all surfaces reflect more than one colour whether it’s coming from surrounding objects or natural light that’s filtered. 

Day2_ex3_Interiors_2_photo Although the amount or variety of colours one can see could be put down to artistic licence, however, if you allow your instincts to play a part, you can see a hint of purple in an apple or pink swishes on an ocean surface. It might be a fleeting glimmer or a trick of the light but it’s there. Even on the purest white surface there is colour other than soft greys or blues. The chance you have to take is trusting your eyes and what I’ve found through this exercise is that it pays off.


I enjoyed making this one as I treated it more as a drawing than a colouring-in picture. I’m really happy with the play of colours and had to stop myself wanting to add more and more. It’s actually a good example of balancing all the pinks and yellows with it’s complimentary colour blue, not to mention all the warm tones against some cool tone.


col_pencil_day1_exercise4All these images were sourced from a website called The creators, for whatever reason, have generously obliged the online community with really decent image reference of the human body for artistic purposes. If you are averse to full frontal nudity please beware if you visit this site. For me, it’s two thumbs up for sharing without profiteering.


I used to do a lot of life drawing but very few times with colours. I don’t know if there is a rule of thumb about what order you apply tones but maybe traditionally it’s light, medium then dark..?

I followed this for the first drawing which was done in natural tones. I became to heavy-handed with the mid tones which was something I kept grappling within my graphite pencil exercises. See this post.

Day2_ex4_col_penc_life_drg_1This time I decided to draw light, dark, then mid. As I was limited to only three colours I decided to turn this into a complimentary colour exercise, so if you’re still unsure what a complimentary colour can do to lift a drawing hopefully these next two showcase that.

Day2_ex4_col_penc_life_drg_2This worked a lot better. Everything is a lot more balanced because I used the dark and mid colours more sparingly. 

Day2_ex4_col_penc_life_drg_3The third was laying down the dark tones first followed by light then mid. I’m not sure how I feel about this one. I like it, I think the eerie green colour is putting me off a bit, and starting off with the dark tone accidentally made me slip into using it as an outliner which I was trying to avoid.

col_pencil_day1_exercise5Apart from discovering the joys of colour pencils this project is also aimed at pushing my own boundaries which is to think solely in colour and use the breadth of colours available.


That’s why I chose a subject like a mushroom, it would push me to use colours other than beiges and browns.


Despite purposely avoiding natural colours, the ones that I used were those that I could see in the image, ie I wasn’t picking them based on what colours worked well together.

day2_ex5_mushroom_1For comparison sake I decided to use the same colours for the expressive scribbly version.


Then going completely left field from everything I’ve been doing lately, but more in keeping with my design background, I came up with this one. 


It was fun to play around with so much colour as well as try out different styles. So far it’s a medium with lots of potential and I’m definitely leaving behind my childhood conception of colour pencils.

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The Creative Plan – Day 3 Colour Pencils

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The Creative Plan – Day 1 Colour Pencils

6 thoughts on “The Creative Plan – Day 2 Colour Pencils

    1. Hey Luke,
      Its a beautiful painting. I love all the colours in the shadows and the girl dropping her basket! When painters create that warm lighting its very comforting and nostalgic even when its from a completely different time period!

  1. I love that the Creative Plan has you in the Coloured pencil world. Coloured pencils are my favourite medium, Copics are a close second, I love the control I have with them compared to other mediums. I’m loving your drawings and your use of colour. That pink toilet scene is gorgeous.

    It’s been really great to learn about what influences you and your art journey. I get so inspired by other people’s journeys xx

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