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The Macaws Heart Drawing – Auction Ends Soon!


Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! What a perfect day to be talking about my recent drawing, the Macaws Heart! There’s only two weeks to bid for my Macaws Heart colored pencil drawing, so get your bids in soon! Click here to bid. (Deadline February 28th, 2018!)

About The Auction/Exhibit

Rustic Roots, a fantastic little restaurant in Shelburne, VT, is currently having its second annual heART Show. This exhibit is a charity event with over 80 artists (WOW!) who participated to draw, paint, or otherwise create an original piece of artwork on wooden hearts. Each piece is being auctioned off HERE, and 50%-100% of the proceeds from each one will benefit this year’s charity.

Last year you may recall the Kitten Heart drawing I created for the inaugural heART Show, and the proceeds from that auction benefited Spectrum – Youth & Family Services.

Kitten Heart
In colored pencil on wood

This year I decided to draw two Macaws on my heart, and the proceeds from all the works of this auction will be donated to the Janet S. Munt Family Room in Burlington.

All 80+ pieces of heARTwork are currently on display at Rustic Roots, so make sure to go check it out! It is a sight to behold!

But also don’t forget to MAKE YOUR BIDS NOW for the online auction, as time will run out soon!

It’s Valentine’s Day. Will you show the love for this charity (while also snagging yourself an awesome original piece of artwork)?

The Drawing Process

The Initial Idea

As always, the first task of creating this piece was to decide what I wanted to draw!

This year I really wanted to take the heart shape of my wooden canvas into consideration, so as I sifted through my piles and piles of reference photos, I kept the heart shape in mind for what would be the best composition.

When I came upon this saved image of the two Macaws, a photo by photographer Emmanuel Keller, I knew I had a winner. So I bought the right to use this image for a reference photo, with permission, and got to work.

Working On The Drawing

As with every drawing, I started out with a line drawing to map out the proportions of my animal subjects. This is slightly more difficult on wood because it’s harder to see my initial drawing, but it’s also harder to erase those marks when I want to get rid of them as I draw over those areas. So it’s a bit tricky!

Then I began to add color, working on the left parrot first, and moving to the one on the right second.

Pencil lays down differently on wood than on paper or mixed media board, it doesn’t allow for nearly as many layers, so I’ve learned to choose my colors differently than I would for a normal drawing. Instead of layering up in a number of shades of color, only a few are used to create the full color and effect.

Also, an x-acto knife is not nearly as effective on wood as on my regular drawing surfaces, so I decided not to use it at all. Both of these things means that there’s less tiny details in this drawing than there might be if I drew it on media board, but the overall image and impression is the same and still striking.

I like how it turned out and working on wood gives me the freedom to move a little more quickly, laying down color in fewer layers and not worrying quite so much about all the tiny details, while still making a vibrant, fun finished drawing that shows the animals’ character (final image below).


Once the drawing was finished, I let it sit overnight to make sure it was done. I decided to leave the little bit of background blank and have the wood grain be the background.

Then I varnished it with an acrylic varnish to make it shinier and seal in the colors, while also protecting them from damage and sunlight.

Finally, I put two layers of polyurethane on the piece to seal the whole piece and bring out the color and grain of the wood background a little more.

The last step was to sign it and hand it back to Rustic Roots for them to put it on display.


Bidding on each of the 80+ heARTworks starts at only $75, for an original piece of artwork, one that may not have reproductions made because of the unique shape. 

Interested in making a bid? Check out my piece in the auction here, and the whole selection of heARTworks available here

Make your bids now, as the deadline is February 28th, 2018! And feel good that 50-100% of the proceeds from each of the pieces sold are going to such a great cause! 

Make your bid for my Macaws Heart now. 


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Behind The Scenes Of The Luna Moth Stool Drawing

One of my most popular drawings of this year is my Luna Moth colored pencil drawing. Part of its allure is that it looks 3D, like the moth just landed where I drew it. The other part is the fact that it was drawn on a wooden stool! 


How The Idea Developed

This year was full of experimental artwork for me, which was therapeutic in a number of ways, especially because with my health and life, this has been a rough year. 

In January, you may remember I participated in a charity fundraiser using artwork, done by Rustic Roots in Shelburne, VT. The fundraiser was called the Heart Show, where each artist received a laser-cut piece of wood in the shape of a heart as our canvas. Over 75 artists participated and the proceeds from those pieces, which were auctioned off, went to one of my favorite organizations: Spectrum Youth & Family Services. 

Kitten Heart
In colored pencil on wood
Sold in auction

When I first received my wooden heart, I didn’t think I’d be able to draw on it with colored pencil. I thought I’d have to cut out a piece of paper to adhere to the wood and draw on that, but I was shocked at how well the wood held the pencil. Above you can see the final product, Kitten Heart, and how well the color showed up on the wood surface. 

After that piece, I went and bought more wood with which to experiment. It was so much fun! Below are just a couple of the pieces I did after that, experimenting with the color on different types of wood. 

Mandarin Duck
In colored pencil on wood
Tiger Eyes
In colored pencil on wood
Tree Swallow
In colored pencil on wood


The Next Step: Furniture

There’s a great place in Burlington, VT that makes unfinished (and finished) furniture called Sam’s Wood Furniture. I walked in there one day with the idea that I might want to try drawing on a piece of furniture, and found a room full of gorgeously crafted potential wood furniture for me to draw on! 

Knowing that sometimes I can be too ambitious, I held myself to only getting two pieces of furniture, one a stool, and one a small coffee table. 

When I told the owner of Sam’s what I was going to be doing with them, he was surprised and fully supportive, excited about what the finished products might look like. That kind of enthusiasm really helps drive the creation of pieces like these! 

The Drawing

On the next nice day we had, I found myself dragging the stool out to my deck and starting a drawing of a Luna Moth. I was so focused, I didn’t take very many photos as I created the drawing. 

Luna Moth
Work in progress

I started with a line drawing, like I always do, in graphite, which I learned quickly does not erase from this type of wood! Thankfully, that worked out okay, but if this drawing had been any lighter, that graphite line would have shown through more and been a problem. 

Luna Moth
Work in progress

After the line drawing, I started layering in the color. This wood is very smooth, meaning it doesn’t allow for too many layers of color, something else I learned the hard way. I’m used to adding 10-40 layers of color, and this drawing has about 4-5 at its maximum because of the smoothness of the wood. 

Luna Moth
In colored pencil on a wood stool

I knew I wanted this piece to look 3D, so adding the shadow was going to make or break the drawing. Thankfully, it turned out well and helped the drawing look like the Luna Moth had just landed on the stool. I’ve never done a drawing quite like this, with such a distinct shadow, so it was an experiment all its own!

The Finishing Touches

Luna Moth
In colored pencil on a wood stool
Varnished and urethaned

After the drawing was finished, I had to varnish it with a clear acrylic varnish, with multiple layers, and then I urethaned the entire stool a number of times. 

The varnish deepened the colors of the drawing, making it look more vibrant, and then the urethane did the same for the rest of the wood. I very carefully finished the entire stool with polyurethane, adding many layers so that it is well protected and shines. Then I signed it and urethaned it one last time, to seal the signature in. 

Product Details

This piece is for sale! This stool, with an original drawing on its surface, is only $350, not including shipping. The stool is approximately 14 inches in diameter, flat, and can be used as a stool, a little table, or just a decorative piece of artwork! It’s functional and beautiful. 

If you’re interested in buying this piece, contact me. 


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Behind The Scenes Of The Black Rhino Drawing


Many of you know about my African Elephant drawing I completed last year, shown below. That was the first drawing in a series I’m dedicating to Endangered Species. (Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom to let me know which animal I should do next in the series!)

My African Elephant graphite and colored pencil drawing, 18×24 inches big. 20% of proceeds from prints sold will go to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

This specific series is bigger than my other drawings, with each piece being at LEAST 18×24 inches big, most of which will be even larger. They’re all in black in white with a stark white background, not only to bring attention to the animal, but to indicate their habitats are disappearing and eventually, these animals will be extinct if we don’t do something.

The Second Drawing Of The Series

My Black Rhino graphite and colored pencil drawing, 24×30 inches big. 10% of proceeds from prints will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund.

I have now finished the second drawing in this series, my Black Rhino graphite and colored pencil drawing, which was finished just in time for World Rhino Day (September 22nd).

Rhinos are critically endangered, likely with 5,000 or less left in the world. 10% of the proceeds from this drawing and prints sold of it will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund. The WWF created the first Rhino sanctuary in Kenya and the plight of the Rhinos is one of the reasons the WWF was created!


Starting The Drawing

This drawing is quite large, at 24×30 inches big, and larger than my drawing table! In order to work on this drawing, I had to move my drawing table away from my wall and bring over a large piece of cardboard as a backer. Of course then I realized that as I was drawing, the lines from the cardboard were showing through in my drawing, so I also had to put a large piece of smooth mat board behind it to help keep it sturdy and provide a smooth backing for me to work on.

It took a while to just grid this paper and draw the outline drawing of the Rhino. Then, like with most of my graphite pieces, I started from the top left and moved down and to the right. I do this because graphite smudges easily and I’m right handed. I also have the habit of resting my hand and arm on the piece I’m working on, so I smudge my work easily! Working from top left and down to the right, it helps avoid this problem and lets me work the way I like without too many worries.

Line drawing and the beginning of drawing the Black Rhino.


Making More Progress

I started this drawing in the beginning of the summer, but I had a commission and some other projects that needed to take priority, so I had to set it aside for a while. It sat on my drawing table looking like it does above for a couple months until I finally had a week where I had no commissions and I had some time to draw my own work again.

That’s when this piece started to take shape, and quick progress was made.

I started with the left side, the top, and the left ear. I layered in three different shades of graphite (2H, HB, and 3B), and then used a black colored pencil for most of the textures and the darkest areas.

Next was the face and the horns, which are one of the main reasons Rhinos are killed today. In the past many were killed because they were considered pests. Now many are killed because their horns are valuable to those who believe they help with longevity or as cures for other ailments.


Finishing The Piece

I knew World Rhino Day was Friday, September 22nd, and it was that week that I was finally able to work on this drawing. Therefore, my goal was to finish the drawing by that day, if I could!

I worked for hours each day that week and kept posting the progress shots on social media.

Thursday, the day before World Rhino Day, came and went and I was almost finished, but not quite, so when I woke up Friday morning, I went to work straight away on the drawing and finished it by about 11am!

What’s Next? I want your opinion!

Now you can buy prints of the Black Rhino here, and prints of the first drawing in the series, the African Elephant, here.

You can also buy photographic (not archival, but cheaper) prints of them and others in my Etsy shop here.

Now I am in the process of deciding what my next drawing will be in this series! Here’s the options and tell me which one you think I should do next in the comments!


Which should be the next in my Endangered Species series? Tell me in the comments!

  • Sea Turtle

  • Snow Leopard

  • Gorilla

  • Orangutan

  • Lemur

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Behind The Scenes Of The Tree Swallow Drawing


I’m currently working on a string of commissioned drawings, which is part of why I haven’t posted about new drawings much on social media lately. However, this weekend I decided to have a little fun with a quick drawing of my own since I had a couple days before I could start my next commission.

This was the result!

My Tree Swallow colored pencil drawing on wood. No official title yet.

Planning The Piece

This drawing started because I knew I had a couple days in between commissioned drawings and I wanted to make a drawing for myself. This meant it would have to be a quick one! So when I came across a photo of this cute little Tree Swallow by Mary Villazon, I knew I had my project.

With Mary’s permission I used her photo as a reference and decided to draw this piece on one of my wood plaques, hoping the final result would look like the bird is popping out of the wood.


Starting The Drawing

I started the drawing by using a stencil to create a circle where I was going to draw. Then I sanded that circle because I wanted the wood there to be smooth for use as a drawing surface, where the wood on the rest of the plaque could stay rough.

You can see the difference between the sanded circle and the rest of the wood.

After the sanding, the line drawing was done to map out the basic shape of the bird. Then I finally took my colored pencils out and started with the eyes and beak of the bird. At this point, it looked pretty creepy.

This shows the line drawing and how I started with the eyes and beak in colored pencil.


Adding The Layers Of Colored Pencil

After working on the eyes and beak, I moved to the chest and belly of the bird with my white and yellow pencils.

Starting to add layers of colored pencil.

To add depth, I added some gray and browns to the edging of the belly and sides, creating shadows and starting the sense of 3D.

At this point I also started adding layers of color around the eyes, making sure to make my strokes short to look like the little feathers on the bird.

Then, keeping those small strokes and working them in the direction of the feathers, I added the first few layers to the head and back of the bird, working from light to dark.

Layers being added to the rest of the bird, and the black hole being started.


Creating The 3D Effect

The whole idea of this piece was to make it look like this bird was really sitting in a hole in this piece of wood, so the next steps were to keep adding layers to the feathers, and make that circle look like a hole.

More layers to the bird and the black of the hole blending into the feathers as a gradient, creating shadow.

I had to make sure to leave the correct areas for the wings and feet when I added the black of the hole. I also had to add the black as a gradient on top of the feathers to make it look like a realistic shadow instead of colorful feathers and then suddenly the black background.

The black background is mostly done, leaving room for the wings and legs.


Finishing The Drawing

Finally, it was time to draw the wings and the legs, making sure there were plenty of shadows where appropriate to make the bird look like he’s popping out. I made the top of the wings come out over the circle and made part of the feet come out over the circle and added shadows beneath each of them to give depth.

I then drew a couple circles around the black background to make it look like an actual opening in a piece of wood, like a birdhouse. With a little bit of shadow added with a light brown to the very edge of the inner circle, it looked rounded and 3D.

My Tree Swallow colored pencil drawing on wood. No official title yet.


Now all that’s left to do is varnish, urethane, sign it, and attach a hanger!


If you’re interested in purchasing this piece or a print of it, contact me! It will be available soon. OR, have suggestions for a title? Let me know in the comments! 

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The Look On Their Faces – My Favorite Part Of Exhibiting My Art


From what I’ve seen, colored pencil is one of the most misunderstood and underestimated art mediums out there.

Colored pencil is something we use in grade school to scribble in coloring books. It’s something we use to highlight pieces of text in books and make light sketches. What people don’t realize is that it can also be used to create vibrant, detailed fine art drawings.

That’s why people are so shocked when I tell them that my artwork is done in colored pencil.


A Typical Encounter

The typical encounter when someone views my artwork goes something like this:

Someone walks into the gallery where my art is displayed and after wandering around a little pauses briefly to look at a particular piece more closely.

I walk up to the person, having noticed their interest, and say, “This is one of my favorite pieces.”

The person glances my way and nods. “Are you the artist?”

“I am,” I say, keeping my gaze hovering over the piece they’re looking at. “All of my artwork is done in colored pencil, including this piece.”

Their face turns toward me in shock.

After a moment of confusion, the person says, “What?”

I smile, trying to hold back a laugh. “All my artwork is done in colored pencil.”

The person is still staring at me in disbelief and then suddenly turns back to the drawing and steps closer, almost pressing their face against the glass to analyze it up close.

Then they turn back to me. “Are you sure?!?”


My Favorite Part Of Exhibiting

Yep, I’m pretty sure. I’m the one who spent hours upon hours adding layer after layer of colored pencil to draw each piece, so I would know!

It makes me laugh every time. And it makes me feel good.

When I shock someone by not just telling them, but SHOWING them what colored pencil can do as a fine art medium, I get almost giddy. Yes, it can do this! Yes, it really is colored pencil! No, I didn’t use any water or solvent or brushes, I swear!

It is one of my absolute favorite parts of exhibiting my artwork and being there in person to talk to the audience. I love the look on their faces!


One Of My Artistic Goals

If you’ve ever read my artist statement, either here on my About page, or at a display, one of the things I talk about is helping colored pencil be better recognized as a fine art medium. This is one of my biggest artistic goals.

I’ve gone into galleries in the past to talk with the curators and as soon as I say colored pencil, the door has been shut. They’re no longer interested, without even seeing my work.

That’s why I now have small samples of my artwork ready to show anyone who asks, BEFORE I tell them the medium. I’ve even gone into the same galleries that turned me down before and showed them samples of my work first, then said it was colored pencil, and have received a different response.

There’s a stigma with colored pencil in the art world, it seems. Pastel artists and watercolorists have gone through it at some points as well, as though it can’t be a fine art medium.

But it can.

I want my artwork and the amazing artwork of my colored pencil artist friends to help change the notion that colored pencil can’t create fine art. It can create beautiful, amazing artwork. I had no idea until I started playing around with them in 2010, and it’s a medium that takes a lot of patience, but it’s worth it.

Some of my colored pencil artwork from 2016.

Spreading The Word

I want to thank all of my supporters for helping me spread the word about colored pencil. Every time you share my work or the work of other artists, you help educate people about this medium. Every time one of you comes up to my artwork with a friend and says, “Can you believe this is colored pencil?!?” it is amazing for me and then YOU get to shock that person too.

I love working in colored pencil. It’s a taxing medium in a lot of ways, but I love the results and I love shocking my audience when they see it or the first time.

Thank you for all your support and please keep sharing and shocking the world!

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Behind The Scenes Of The Jada Commission

I was recently asked to do a commission for a friend of their show dog, Jada, who passed away last year. Having met Jada, a black field spaniel, on a number of occasions and knowing how beautiful she was and her friendly, loving spirit, I was more than happy to take on that task!

Below is a behind-the-scenes look at how I drew this commission, including the difficulty of drawing black fur!


Line Drawing And Initial Strokes

As with every drawing I do, I began with a light line drawing in graphite. I do this in graphite so that I can easily erase the lines if I need to, to either fix a mistake or make sure they don’t show through the colored pencil layers when I draw over them.

I started with a line drawing in graphite and then sketched in the elements of the face.

After I finished the line drawing I started sketching out the elements of the face, such as the eyes, nose, and mouth. This way, even if my line drawing gets smudged or erased, I knew exactly where everything was.

I love drawing eyes, so that’s something I usually draw first in a drawing like this. Then I move on to the areas around the eyes and the rest of the face.


Initial Layers On The Face

The hardest part about this drawing is that the fur is black. Black fur is difficult because if you use too much black, it will come out looking flat and have no detail or depth. If you use too many other colors, the fur will look too light. I wanted to get the look of black, shiny fur.

Using a light under layer and grays and black on top, I started layering the face.

To get that look, I put down a layer of white in just the areas I knew had bright highlights. This included the upper and lower lips, around the eyes, part of the nose, and the eyebrows. Then I went over those areas with a medium gray.

I started layering the fur of the face with various grays and then added black on top, adding the black earlier to the darkest sections to map them out on the drawing.


Layering And Creating Highlighted Fur

As you can see below, I layered the fur from light to dark, with the darkest sections having mostly black, and the lighter sections having less black. Then I went back over some of the highlighted areas, like the bridge of her nose and eyebrows, with a light gray, keeping my strokes even with the ones underneath.

This technique blends the pencil some, and also adds that highlighted look to the fur.

As I went along, I also used a blending stump to help blend some of the color together. It can be difficult sometimes to blend black with anything else and not have it come out looking very flat, so I used the stump carefully, as though I was drawing more fur strokes with it, instead of blending them all together. With enough layers your blending stump has the potential to smear all of your strokes together and take away that detail of the fur. So I was selective where I used it and made sure to maintain those strokes.

I layered the fur from light to dark and then added light on top of the highlighted sections.


Drawing The Ears

The ears were one of the more challenging parts of this drawing. Black fur is a challenge. Long fur is a challenge. So when you add the two together, you have a double challenge!

The ear was a challenge, with the highlights and longer fur.

For the ears, I had my initial line drawing that mapped out the really distinct dark sections of them to begin with. Then I added a layer of white where there were the most highlights, so the majority of the left ear, and about half of the right ear.

After that I continued as I did on the face, layering up with grays and then adding black to the darkest areas. The only difference is that I used different strokes because it’s longer fur. So my strokes for the ears were looser, longer, and wavy.


Finishing The Drawing

The finished drawing of Jada, 11×14 inches big, in prismacolor pencils on mixed media board.

I did the same thing on the right ear as I did on the left, except that I added more highlights to the bottom half where the sun was hitting the ear, creating a shadow for the top half.

For finishing touches, I took out my handy x-acto knife and went back over the highlighted sections of fur and etched away the pencil color. This brought back the lighter under layers I had laid down there and allowed me to create fine details in the highlights. I went over the ears, the eyebrows, the lips, and around the eyes.

Then I took my light gray pencil and went back over those details to make them blend more with the rest of the drawing and added the background coloring you see above. I took a white pencil and went lightly over the eyes to create that sheen, and then took a blue pencil and added a little blue to the highlights on her face, because her fur was reflecting the sky.

The final image, matted and framed.

The client and I picked out the frame together, and now Jada has officially been delivered to her owner!


Prints and products of this piece will be available soon, so contact me if you’re interested!

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Drawing With Corrina – Session 3 – Using An X-Acto Knife


As most of you know, I’ve created a new YouTube series called Drawing With Corrina. This is a series of videos that helps explain drawing techniques, with some sessions explaining just one technique and some showing how to draw specific things, like how to draw an eye, or how to draw fur, etc.

Session 1 and Session 2 were about how to layer and how to blend in colored pencil to create opaque, vibrant colors.

Session 3 was just uploaded to YouTube and it’s all about how to use an x-acto knife to create small details in your drawing. For those of you who want to watch Session 3, check it out below! For those who want to read about using an x-acto knife instead of watching, keep reading!

Drawing With Corrina – Session 3 – Using An X-Acto Knife

Making Your Own Scratchboard

Most people don’t realize that you can use an x-acto knife to etch away layers of colored pencil in order to help create finer details in a drawing.

When you want to etch away details with an x-acto knife, use a light color as the first layer of your drawing. That way, after you layer your other colors on top, you have a base layer that is light, which is what will show through as you etch.

This turns the drawing surface into something similar to a scratchboard. If you’ve never used a scratchboard, it’s a drawing surface that already has pigment on the surface, and you scratch it off to create your artwork.

Remember: DON’T put a medium or dark color as your base color because it won’t work without a lighter color as the base.

Different Angles Makes Different Strokes

X-acto knives come with a number of different blades. Some blades are flat, some are pointed like the one I use in the video. Different blades will create different etch marks. Also, with this type of blade, you can create thicker or thinner strokes depending on the angle of the blade. If you have the blade at a lower angle, it’ll create a thicker stroke. If the blade is at a higher angle, it’ll create thinner strokes.

I suggest getting a few different blades and experimenting with them on splotches of color like what I’ve done in the video. This will let you know what strokes you can make before you go and try it on an actual drawing.

I made the mistake of trying it on a drawing the first time and ripped right through my paper!

What You Can Use The X-Acto Knife For

What I use this technique for the most is when I’m drawing fur. You can use the x-acto knife to etch away individual strands of fur to create fine details.

In colored pencil

You can also use it to help in the same way with feathers, which is something I use it for a lot as well.

Another reason to use an x-acto knife is to create really well-defined edges, like in my Hermit Crab drawing.

Hermit Crab
In colored pencil

You can use this technique for a number of different textures, like helping to define wood, stone, edges, scales, fur, feathers, hair, clothing, etc.

Remember: Be gentle! You don’t want to cut or rip through your drawing paper!

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Drawing With Corrina – Session 2 – How To BLEND Colored Pencil


Hi Everyone! Welcome to Session 2 of Drawing With Corrina!

For those who don’t know, I’m in the process of creating a series of quick tutorial videos for YouTube that each either teach you ONE technique for creating realistic, vibrant colored pencil drawings, or teach you how to draw something specific, like an eye or fur, etc.

Session 1, which you can read about and view here, was all about LAYERING.

Session 2, which you can watch below, is all about BLENDING!

I’m creating a blog post for each of these tutorial videos, both to explain them and to give my audience more options for learning. I know some of you would prefer to read about these topics rather than watch a video, and that’s what these blog posts are for!


How To BLEND With Colored Pencil

1.) Using A Lighter Color To Blend

One way to blend with colored pencil is to use a lighter color, or white, over the top of what you’ve drawn, with a good amount of pressure to blend those colors together.

Using the lightest green to color over a green gradient to blend.

Things you want to remember with this method of blending:

  • It WILL lighten your piece, so you may want to go back over it, or prepare beforehand for that lightening effect
  • You NEED to use either white or a color that is a lighter shade of the color you’re blending. For example, use a lighter green to blend greens, or a lighter blue to blend blues, but do not use a lighter blue to blend greens, etc. White is good for this purpose.
  • You NEED to have enough layers down to blend. Like you learned in Session 1, layers are important for creating that vibrant color. The more layers you have, the easier it will be to blend them together with any of these methods.


2.) Using A Blending Stump To Blend

This is my personal favorite, although I use the method above a lot too. It always depends on what effect you’re trying to get for each individual piece.

A blending stump is something you can buy at an art supply store, and it’s a pencil-shaped tool made of tightly packed paper. When you use it like a pencil over the top of colors of pencil, it helps blend the color by smearing it into the little white grain of the paper that may be showing.

Using a blending stump to blend a green gradient.

Things to remember with this method of blending:

  • You NEED enough layers in order for this method to work. If you don’t have enough layers down, you won’t have enough pigment on the paper to fill in all the white of the paper. The more layers you have, the easier this blending method will be.
  • It DOESN’T change the color of the layers below. So where the previous method lightens the drawing, this method leaves the colors the way they are without changing them.
  • BE CAREFUL if you have used the blending stump with one color and are then blending another. The blending stump will pick up the color your blending, so if you blend a dark color and then move to blend a lighter color, it will transfer and you could end up with a dark streak across your lighter color. So make sure to wipe the blending stump off or sharpen it and get rid of that risk. Test it on a side paper to make sure it won’t leave a streak on your drawing!
  • This method MAY reduce the amount of detail you have in the drawing. But that’s okay! Use this blending method not at the end of your drawing, but about 75% of the way through, when you have enough layers and want to fill in the grain of the paper. Then you can go back over it and create the fine details that will give you your finished drawing.
If you don’t clean/test your blending stump after using one color, you may end up with a dark streak across your drawing!


3.) Using Layers Of Color To Blend

As you saw in Session 1, you can get a good amount of blending from colored pencil if you use enough layers. The colors will naturally start to blend together as you add more layers, especially if you vary the direction (slightly!) of your pencil strokes to really fill in the grain of the paper.

So you CAN use just layers and layers of color to blend.

Using layers of color can blend naturally by themselves.

Things to remember with this type of blending method:

  • This can be tedious. If you have a large area you’re wanting to blend, it may be faster and easier to use one of the methods above to blend after you get a certain number of layers down on the paper.
  • It’s harder to make sure that you get ALL the little white specks of the paper covered with this method.
  • Pencil strokes may show up more with this method, if you’re not really careful to keep your strokes really even and vary the direction of your strokes slightly to fill everything in.


4.) Using Oil Or An Odorless Paint Thinner To Blend

One way that a lot of people use to blend colored pencil is by using linseed oil, or turpenoid, or some other paint thinner.

When you do this type of blending, you can use a paintbrush, a tissue, or a q-tip, etc. for the application. Choose whichever one fills your needs the best. And experiment! Try each and see which one you like best.

This method has you wet your applicator (q-tip, paintbrush, etc.), which for me was a q-tip, and then use it lightly over your colored pencil. This will turn the pigment on the paper into a wet paint, which you can then use to cover all the white grain in the paper.

Using a q-tip dipped in odorless paint thinner to blend.

Things to remember with this blending method:

  • This method turns your colored pencil into a PAINT. So it is wet, and you need to be careful with that. Don’t smear it, because it will leave paint-like smears that cannot be erased.
  • Because this is more like paint, it may be more difficult to get clear, crisp edges, so be careful with your applicator.
  • Also because this is more like paint, you NEED to let it dry before applying more layers on top. Otherwise your next layers won’t lay down properly.
  • The NICE thing about this method is: you don’t need many layers. You can only have a couple layers and still blend and fill in the grain of the paper. This is because of the paint-ness of it. So this method could potentially be a major time saver for you.
You don’t need as many layers to blend with the paint thinner or oil.


BONUS! (Not In The Video): Using Heat To Blend

This is something I didn’t include in the video, but there are also a number of people who LOVE using heat to help blend the pencil in their drawings.

There’s a woman and fantastic artist named Ester Roi, and you can check out her website here, who has invented a drawing tool called the Icarus Board. You can read more about it by clicking on the link.

This is a drawing board that has different amounts of heat. To use it, you lay your drawing paper down on it and use the heat to lay down color more quickly, because it essentially melts the pigment.

I have never used this method before, so I can’t tell you much about it. But I know a lot of people who do use it, or heat in general, and I wanted to let you know it’s an option too! Feel free to experiment and let me know what you think!


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Drawing With Corrina – Session 1 – How To LAYER With Colored Pencil



As you may know, I have begun creating short tutorial videos for YouTube as part of a series called, Drawing With Corrina. Each session is meant to teach you one technique about drawing with colored pencil or graphite, or go through a quick step-by-step tutorial on how to draw something specific, like an eye or cherries, etc.

If you want to watch the 12-minute video, you can do so here:


I know, however, that many of you prefer reading to watching videos. That’s why I’m pairing each video release with a blog post explaining the video for those who’d prefer to read about it!


Drawing With Corrina – Session One

How Do I Create Vibrant Color In Pencil?

When people are looking at my artwork, one of the questions I get the most is: How do you create such vibrant color in pencil?

The answer: Layers.

That’s why Session One of Drawing With Corrina is all about layering! I find that layering is the number one most important thing to know and learn in order to create vibrant, opaque color with colored pencils.

A selection of my colored pencil drawings, showing the vibrant color you can achieve!


How Does Layering Work?

When I say “layers,” what I mean is how many times you go over the same area of the paper with the colored pencil, whether it’s with one color, or many.

In the video, I start by showing you how I layer reds to get a bright, opaque color. I start with a light red/orange, and then move to a slightly darker red, and then a slightly darker red, until I’ve made layers with all 5 of the pencils I had of reds.

As I began making layers with the reds, from light to dark.

As I’m coloring in each color, one over the next, I’m going over that area multiple times to make sure the color is even and try to make my pencil strokes show up as little as possible.

As I add layer after layer of color, you notice two things: 1.) The color is getting more opaque as each layer fills in more and more of the grain of the paper. 2.) The pencil strokes of the darker colors show up a little more and are more difficult to keep even.

The layers are filling in the paper, but pencil strokes are showing up more.


How Can Layering Create Smooth Color?

After the initial layers of red, I took the second darkest red and did another layer at a SLIGHTLY different angle. YOU DON’T WANT TO GO PERPENDICULAR. If you try to color one direction and then start to color the next layer at the opposite (perpendicular) angle, it will show as a crosshatch and won’t blend as smoothly as you’d like (you’ll learn more about blending in Session Two)!

So instead, choose a slightly different angle with that layer, and then add another on top with the darkest red again.

Then go from a slightly different angle yet again, this time from the bottom in order to fill in the rest of the stubborn white grain of the paper.

Vary your pencil strokes by going in slightly different angles.


How Much Pressure Should I Use?

Everyone has a different amount of pressure they naturally prefer to use while drawing. Some are considered “hard-handed” and some are softer.

I tend to fall in the middle of this scale, but you want to learn to use all sorts of different amounts of pressure to create different effects.

For these layering purposes, I suggest using a medium amount of pressure for most of your layers, and a little bit lighter pressure for your darker layers, as they show up more.

Then, your last few layers can have more pressure as you fill in the grain of the paper completely.


What About Other Colors?

Next I did the exact same thing with blues. I took 5 different shades of blue and layered them from light to dark, just like I did with the reds.

A few layers in to the blues.

Then I took the second darkest color and the darkest and added layers with my pencil strokes at SLIGHTLY different angles again, filling in the white grain of the paper to make a bright, opaque blue.

Filling in the last of the remaining white grain of the paper.


What About A Light Color?

The next part of the video is me showing you how to create a light blue, with only two colors of blue. I use the lightest and second lightest blue in order to layer and create an opaque light blue.

I start with the lightest blue and then add the slightly darker blue on top, and then go back to another layer of the lightest, and back and forth. Again, I use slightly different angled strokes in order to create a smoother color.

Layering just the two lightest colors back and forth creates a lighter blue.


What If I Just Want One Color?

That works too! Even if you want just one color, for example the darkest of the blues that I was using before, it works the same way. Instead of going from light colors to dark, you just use that one pencil and color in the section, remembering to go at slightly different angles, to fill in all the grain of the paper and make that opaque color.

Still use layering even with a single color until the paper is fully saturated.

Remember: This is the same dark blue I used before to make that vibrant, brighter blue, but as you can see, when I used it on top of the lighter colors, it wasn’t nearly as dark. So when you’re drawing, KEEP IN MIND: drawing on top of lighter colors will lighten that color, and drawing on top of darker colors, which isn’t really recommended, will drastically darken the lighter color.

Just remember, if you decide you want to lighten that area up later on (shown in the upper left corner of the last image), light colors DO NOT show up very well over the top of dark colors, so even if you use white, that area is not going to lighten up very much. This is one of the reasons I teach people to go from light to dark when layering.

Final Thoughts

Layering is the best way to make that bright, vibrant color with colored pencil. It can make the process time consuming and you need to have patience. But it’s worth it!

Some of my colored pencil drawings.

So practice using different mixtures of colors and different angles with your pencil strokes until you get comfortable knowing how to fill in the grain of the paper. 


IMPORTANT: Different papers have different tooth, or grain amounts. So  smoother papers will fill in more quickly, and some that are rougher will take more layers to fill it in!




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How To NOT Get Overwhelmed With A Complex Drawing


Sometimes you think of a drawing or you see (or take) a photo that you want to draw, but as much as you want to draw it, you hesitate because it’s complicated. Some drawings have a daunting amount of detail. You look at it and pull back because trying to draw it makes you nervous. Here’s the techniques that I use to keep myself calm while attempting complex drawings.

How to not get overwhelmed with a complex drawing.

Work One Section At A Time

The best way to not get overwhelmed with a complicated drawing is to work one section at a time. If the drawing is VERY complex, then make the sections small. Sometimes they can be bigger.

The African Elephant drawing was complex because of all the details in the elephant's skin. So I worked section by section, some smaller, some bigger, until it was a whole drawing.
The African Elephant drawing was complex because of all the details in the elephant’s skin. So I worked section by section, some smaller, some bigger, until it was a whole drawing.

The African Elephant drawing was a rather complicated piece, and as shown above, I worked on it piece by piece until it was a whole drawing. I worked in smaller sections than shown above, especially for the middle of the drawing with all of the little wrinkles and sections of the elephant’s face.

The Kingfisher was another overwhelming drawing due to its complexity. Just look at the splashing water! It was an ambitious piece for me to try and draw, but when I saw the photograph (taken by Wendy Salisbury, who I’m grateful let me use the image as a reference photo!), I knew I had to draw it. It was just too fantastic to pass up.

The Kingfisher drawing, section by section.
The Kingfisher drawing, section by section.

For the Kingfisher drawing, I started with the head, and even while drawing the head I first drew the eye, then the section of the fish, then the section of the blue-green feathers, then the orange feathers, etc.


Work Slowly And Map Things Out

Common Loon In colored pencil
Common Loon finished drawing
In colored pencil

Sometimes, like with water, you can work a section at at time, but it’s better two work on the whole thing slowly, so that it looks uniform. Take my Common Loon colored pencil drawing as an example. Water is challenging, no mater what it looks it. This water was very challenging with all the ripples and disjointed reflection. Therefore, I moved slowly as I mapped out the darkest areas of the water. I moved throughout the entire piece, layer by layer, to make sure it was uniform. I focused on each little section of shadow and highlight and medium coloring as I was mapping, and then moved on to the section next to it.

Mapping out the Loon and the water, layer by layer.
Mapping out the Loon and the water, layer by layer.


Don’t Sweat The Little Stuff, So They Say

One of the best things to help you keep from getting overwhelmed is to ignore some of your inner perfectionist. If you want to get through a complicated drawing unscathed, you need to keep in mind why you’re drawing it in the first place. It’s challenging, it’ll help you grow as an artist, you just LOVE the image, and drawing is something you enjoy doing (and possibly, because you’re getting paid to do it!).

Keeping those reasons in mind, ask yourself: Does this drawing need to be perfect? What’ll happen if I make a mistake? Anything?

Even with commissioned pieces, all you can do is your best, and at least from my experience, people tend to draw better if they enjoy doing it. Therefore, don’t scare yourself and fret so much that you ruin the experience for yourself.

Try not to get too caught up in every tiny detail if it stops you from making progress. If a section is giving you trouble and it’s messing with your enthusiasm or confidence about the drawing, move on and come back to it. Keep moving forward!


Find A Mentor/Ask For Advice

Sometimes you come across a section of a drawing where you just don’t have the experience or knowledge to confidently attempt it. When that happens, you can always just try your hand at it, of course, or you can seek out someone who has done it before. It’s not hard to find artists online (or in your community) who have done similar pieces of artwork. If you have no idea how to begin a section of your drawing, ask for help! Some artists will decline to tell you their “secrets,” but others (like me) will be more than happy to help you out and give you advice. Then it’s up to you to attempt the feat!

I hope you attempt every drawing or painting or sculpture or musical piece, etc. that gives your heart a little flutter when you think about, no matter how complex it is! It may not end up perfect, I know mine certainly haven’t, but they are absolutely worth trying to create, despite the challenges.


Let me know about complex drawings or creations that you’ve tried in the past!