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Today we have an awesome guest post from Dion Dior.
Tutorial: Neocolor II & The Sweet Child
Hi everyone, Dion Dior here. I’m so excited to be this week’s guest blogger for the very talented Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. I’m an avid follower of Balzer Designs and a very willing participant in Art Journal Every Day. I was thrilled when Julie asked me to share some of my Neocolor II secrets with you. These little sticks of lusciousness are one of my favorite mediums and I use them all the time, often in harmony with other mediums. They’re perfect for art journaling and can really make a page POP. Caran d’Ache, the makers of Neocolor II’s produce a wide range of artist materials, but these little water soluble crayon sticks are by far their best product.
For those of you who know me and follow my blog, you’ll know that I have an ongoing love affair with color. I don’t feel like a journal or sketchbook page is complete unless it’s jumping off the page with color and brilliance. I particularly like vibrant color on a dark or black background; I often spread my journal pages with black gesso as a base layer. Not all color mediums work on black and even less work on black gesso, but after years of playing around I found a way to make the Neocolor II’s work for me.
I started this page with a basic pencil sketch over black gesso, which I let dry completely, usually overnight. The next step is to go over the pencil lines with masking fluid. Keep the lines basic and eliminate the detail. Masking fluid can be a challenge to control and it’s better when you are not trying to put down fine detail. There are many masking fluids around and in this case, I used “Incredible White Mask Liquid Frisket.” Don’t use a paintbrush to apply it; you’ll destroy it with one dip, use a special nib or a skewer or stick of some kind.
Once the masking fluid is completely dry, you’re ready to put in some color. Writing with the Neocolor II for any small spaces will drive you crazy. You’ll find that the frisket is volatile and will peel up with a firm sweep of the crayon. Instead, dip your brush in water and wash it thoroughly over the tip of the crayon. This way you’ll pick up the pigment and will be able to lay it down like paint. Gesso is not traditionally ‘water’ medium friendly so if you use too much water it’ll bead up. The more pigment you use, and the less water you have the better chance you have of getting the color to stick to the page. Lay down a first layer of color this way, with particular emphasis on the edges of the frisket. Just paint right over the top of it, it won’t bleed through.
Once you’ve put down your first layer of color, you may notice that it looks kind of washy and transparent. Don’t worry; this is only the first layer. When it’s dry, take your crayons and star coloring in. Be careful to avoid touching or sweeping the frisket or you’ll lift it up. Lay the colors down thick, play around with combinations and textures. Pick up a brush and with minimal water, wet and blend the colors. If it washes out too much, just wait for it to dry and lay down more color with the crayon.
When you’re happy with the colors and consistency, you can put in the background. In this case, I used Folk Art Metallic Acrylic paint. It’s a wonderful contrast to the crayons. It’s shimmery and makes the vibrant matte of the Neocolor’s literally POP off the page. Put down your first layer with a paintbrush, then grab a sponge and lightly and gently work your background with a contrasting color. When it’s all completely dry grab your clean sponge, dip it in some more metallic paint, and start sponging it over the crayon. I used a combination of amethyst and peridot. Be very careful as too much acrylic over the crayon could ruin the picture and if you’re too heavy handed, the wet acrylic paint will react with the Neocolor and swoosh it around. Subtlety is the key here.
When it’s all dry, use an eraser or a silicone remover, which sometimes comes with the frisket, and remove the mask. Be very gentle and light. The mask will come off just by peeling it back with your fingers, and if you’re too heavy handed you’ll smear the crayon into the black lines. Gently clean it up once all the mask is removed. Sometimes I go along the edges with a gel pen and sometimes I don’t. Most pens won’t write over the crayon, it just clogs the nib, but I’ve found certain Sakura Gelly Roll gel pens will write over it quite nicely. I often use a dark metallic gel pen or something in the silver or gold range, depending what I am trying to achieve.
I find that less is more when it comes to using Neocolor II’s on black, and when I say less I don’t mean with the layering of the Neocolor’s. I mean with the layering of other mediums on and around them. These crayons are so brilliant in their own right that you only need to enhance and highlight, not overwhelm. However, you need to play around with them yourself, get to know what they can do. They are truly a ‘must have’ for any art journaler and I guarantee that once you get to know them, you won’t be able to live without them.
Born and raised by the ocean in Australia, Dion now lives in rural Iowa where her attempts at growing a veggie garden are disastrous. An artists, writer and self-styled adventurer, she believes her art journey begins and begins again. Dion spent years travelling the world as a woman alone, painting, sketching and writing about her life-changing experiences. She met her husband on the roof of the world while trekking to Mt Everest Base Camp and they now share the greatest journey in life with their two children. Her work, held in private collections around the world, is known for its color and vibrancy, and her journals and sketchbooks are filled with luscious, vibrant, shimmering pages.
Please visit Dion's blog.