Copper. Not Just For Pennies Anymore!

I am a featured guest blogger on Ann Kullberg’s website on the Ann's Colored Pencil News & Stuff! page. To read my article, Colored Pencil On Copper. Who Knew!? on her site please visit using the link below! There are a lot of other fabulous things to see on her there, too! Otherwise the article is printed in its entirety here.

Colored pencil is fabulously versatile on paper. But, I also love to see my favorite medium used in unexpected ways and on surprising surfaces. Of course, we’ve all seen it used on wood, fabric, photo paper or clay. Once I even saw some incredible CP work done on Fall leaves! Every time I see something new I vow to try it myself... someday. However, I recently I saw some work by fellow artist, Linda James, in one of the Facebook colored pencil groups. Her post made me stop and get very excited and the moment I saw her work I knew I wanted to try this for myself. By specially preparing a copper plate surface she created fun and unique colored pencil art and jewelry. I was instantly hooked! So I contacted her to ask about her process and she graciously shared it with me.

The timing for this couldn't have been better because I was also getting ready for our annual Colored Pencil Society of America (CPSA) Northwest district art retreat and I wanted something new to work on while there. This turned out to be the perfect project for the week! What’s not to love about relaxing in a scenic area, spending time with your fellow CP artists, and eating well, all while working on a new project you're excited about?

I’ll admit that I was a little intimidated to try this process at first. But, using Linda’s instructions (and encouragement) I added a layer of Gesso to the surface, I prepared my copper piece and began to experiment. For someone like me, who has a heavy hand with her colored pencils, I quickly figured out that I had to ease up a little so the Gesso did not scrape off. But, I tried a variety of pencils from the hard Verithins to softer Prismacolor, Polychromos, and Inktense (both wet and dry) and they all worked well. The copper was light enough so I could cut it with sturdy scissors and even did some embossing to add even more dramatic effects to my projects. As a matter of fact, that gave the work a bit of a 3D effect.

As for the copper itself I found that the combination of the colored pencil against the rich color of the metal made for some stunning effects and unique possibilities. Soon I was deeply into the process and lost track of time!

Playing with process and trying new products is almost as much fun as actually finishing a piece of art for me. So I’m now experimenting with clear Gesso and a couple of other surface prep solutions to see how I like them. But I’m also interested in the possibility of submitting work to the Annual CPSA International exhibition using copper and that means I can’t use anything like Gesso on the surface of the metal. The colored pencil must be laid directly on the copper so I’m also playing with a Dremel tool to lightly rough up the surface of the copper to give it some tooth. Hopefully this will allow the pencils to grab onto the surface easily. I’m going to make some sample strips to see what processes and products I find work best for me. I will post those results on my Facebook art page.

There are so many fun possibilities with colored pencil on copper and I’m more excited than ever. The deep, rich color of the metal appeals to me and challenges me to explore color in a way I haven’t before. I’m going to give some jewelry pieces a try once I explore process a little more and I’ll be attaching some copper pieces to my Ampersand boxes for sure! I’ve even been asked locally to do a workshop on this process and I’m really excited about that - so stay tuned! You’ll be seeing more from me. And who knows what surface will catch my interest next!