Drawing a Patron’s Portrait on Wood with Colored Pencils

Hi, I’m Kevin Tracy and for this week’s
video, I thought I was going to show you how I fit a small cabinet under my antique Delta
scroll saw; which was given to me by a great family friend named Rick. However, after I cut the wood, for the back
panel and notched out openings for the clamps that hold the saw to the frame, this overwhelming
urge came over me. You see, as I looked at the largest piece
of wood; which was designed to fit in the center of the back; I didn’t see woodgrain,
or plywood, or even cheap shop furniture. I saw a blank canvas. And like a wave crashing ashore, the artist
in me just took over. This is still going to go in the scroll saw’s
frame, but now this video has become an art video and the cabinet a ridiculously over
the top dedication to Rick, an awesome guy whose gifts of this scroll saw and table saw
to my shop enabled me to get really serious about woodworking. What do I mean by “over the top”? I mean drawing a ridiculously oversized, huge
portrait of Rick’s head. Thankfully, I haven’t been able to pick
a theme for this YouTube channel, so I’ve been doing both art and woodworking videos. So, if you’re a subscriber for either reason,
hopefully you’ll enjoy this. And if you do, do me a favor and let me know
by hitting that “like” button. And if you didn’t like it, leave a comment
and let me know why. I’m always trying to improve my videos and
your feedback is very much appreciated, even if you’re being a jerk. About 10 years ago, I first saw the art of
Audrey Kawasaki, who creates beautiful drawings and paintings on wood, I’ve been inspired
to try drawing something on wood. However, I’ve been so wrapped up in The
MSPaint Comic this past decade that I haven’t spent that much time at a drawing desk and
the opportunity has never really presented itself. If you’re curious to see Audrey Kawasaki’s
work, I’m going to leave a link to her website in the description below. As a warning though, if your employer does
not appreciate the fine arts, you may not want to go exploring her art until you’re
on your own time. Whereas this drawing is, for me, a test of
what it’s like to draw on wood, Audrey Kawasaki’s art is much more refined. Here, you see me simply drawing over woodgrain. She draws with the woodgrain, using it to
amplify the sense of motion and flow in her art. When I picked this plywood up at the Home
Depot, it was incredibly smooth on one side. However, after I put it on my drawing desk,
I noticed how rough the surface still was. So, after sketching some lines on the piece,
I brought it back to the garage to sand it down with 120, 220, and 400 grit sandpaper. In addition to providing a slightly smoother
drawing surface, the sanding also provided me with the opportunity to erase some unsightly
construction lines and ill-placed sketch lines. Yeah, apparently drawing in MSPaint for so
long, I forgot how to properly portion a human forehead. My high school art teacher would have a stroke
if she saw that, so I intentionally cut it from this video. To draw Rick’s head, and inspired by some
of the earlier works of Audrey Kawasaki, I decided to use color pencil for this piece. Again, you see me using the same set of generic
artist-quality colored pencils from Hobby Lobby that I used for the World War 2 drawing
last month. If you’re at all interested in drawing on
wood with pencil or color pencil, I have some advice for you. First, make doubly sure that you have a vibrant
set of artist grade colored pencils. When drawing on wood, especially softwood
or plywood made from softwood species, pressing the pencil down too hard on the wood is going
to dent the wood surface. When I was a kid and my sister and I did our
homework on our dining room table, I remember the writing and lifting the paper to my horror
to see my homework answers engraved on the table. My mom never yelled at me, but I sure as heck
expected it. However, it turns out that the tabletop was
made from pine. Besides that, even though I tend to be a heavy
handed artist, when you do that with colored pencils you run the risk of burnishing the
art; which provides a really deep color with tons of pigment, but also leaves a different
texture in the area where you do it; which can be distracting and I’m just not a huge
fan of the look. Instead, I prefer to slowly and lightly add
pigment to an area, overlapping colors as necessary to create shades, contrast, and
depth; until I reach the desired color density. The second bit of advice I want to offer is
to make sure you’re not running low on any colored pencils you’re planning on using. Aside from my initial color swatch, I’ve
only used these colored pencils for one piece of art, so they were in pretty good shape
and relatively new. However, even after sanding this plywood surface
down with 400 grit sandpaper, the woodgrain ate through the pencils at an incredible rate. Granted, some of this was due to the scale
at which I was working. This is the largest portrait I’ve ever drawn
with colored pencils; so it makes sense that I’m going to burn through more colored pencil
coloring someone’s shirt than I would if I was drawing at simply a 1 to 1 scale, or
even smaller. However, the texture of the wood was more
responsible for it in my opinion. By the time I completed this drawing, there
were several colors that I had burned through more than one third of the colored pencil,
about half of which I never used for my World War 2 piece. If you want to try this out, one hypothesis
I have is that drawing or laying down pigment in the direction of the woodgrain would reduce
the amount of wear on the pencils. Going against the grain, I think you might
be running the pencil over more texture than you would going with the grain. For what it’s worth, I didn’t really pay
attention to this at all until I was just about done. However, it seemed like the pencil durability
varied a lot when I was doing this and my woodgrain hypothesis is one possible explanation. If you have any theories of your own or would
like to debunk or confirm mine, go ahead and leave a comment below. I’d be curious to learn about your experience. This is a big deal because artist-grade, non-generic
colored pencils can be expensive. If you’re doing a large piece and burnishing
your art, I could easily see someone burning through $80 worth of colored pencils. Between that, the price of the wood, and the
finish you want to put on the piece, you could easily be looking at over $100. And THAT sir or ma’am, is OUTRAGEOUS! Especially if you’re looking to sell your
art, $100 or more for materials alone is going to cut into your bottom line really hard. You’ll have to either pass that on to your
client or customer or just eat the cost. And if you’re a starving artist, that’s
going to be difficult to swallow. Thankfully, in my case, these were generic
artist-quality colored pencils and the wood was for a shop furniture project that I was
going to do anyways, so the cost of this was considerably more reasonable. With regard to the finish, I’ll show that
in the video where I assemble this cabinet. However, after completing the art, I finished
it with about 10 coats of a UV-protective high gloss spray varnish; which I picked up
for a little under $9 from Hobby Lobby. I then coated it in epoxy. The UV-protective varnish makes the color
pop out a lot more. But the real reason I used that was because
without the varnish, the epoxy might have lifted some of the pigment from the color
pencils. The varnish is was there just to protect the
art, even if it also really brings out the color. I’m using epoxy to seal this because this
antique scroll saw likes to spend its time in my shop leaking oil. At some point, I need to replace the gaskets
on this thing, but since this machine is still filled with oil, the best way to protect not
just the art, but the wood itself from that oil is with epoxy. Still, a varnish is a great finish option
for any color pencil piece drawn on a hard surface… so don’t use it on paper. But if you’re going to use a varnish, make
sure to use a high gloss and spray varnish. The more matte a varnish is, the less it will
bring out the color. In fact, it might even dull the color a bit
from what I’ve seen. Also, if you use a wipe on or brush on varnish,
the varnish will smear your pigment. So make sure to use a spray varnish. But whatever you do, make sure you do it to
all sides of the wood. Wood is an organic material that absorbs and
releases air and moisture. Adding a finish, or even just painting one
side of a board but not the others will cause the wood to absorb air and moisture at different
rates on either side. Overtime, this will cause the board to warp
and ruin your art. Hopefully that helps you in your artistic
journey as much as this art piece informed mine. Up until this point, I was planning on getting
a sticker or decal made to dedicate this antique scroll saw to Rick. I wanted something that would remind me of
Rick every time I used the scroll saw and would say “thank you” to him every time
he saw it in one of my woodworking videos. But come on. I’m Kevin Freaking Tracy. A sticker? What is this, kindergarten? No, when I do something, I do it epically. Why should I do a sticker when I can draw
a giant 4 to 1 scale portrait of Rick’s head and mount it under my scroll saw!? THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is epic and – in
all seriousness – much more expressive of my gratitude for everything Rick has done
to help me out. It’s rare to find good people like this
that will bend over backwards, year after year, always willing to do whatever they can
to help. Despite him living almost 2 hours away,
he shared his stories and experience in military when I was in the Air Force,
he came out for my fundraisers when I ran for public office,
he gave me some piece of mind by offering a second inspection when I bought my first
house, He came out and helped me build my deck,
He donated this antique scroll saw and a kickass tablesaw to my shop, His only condition was that when I eventually
replace this stuff, I donate it to another woodworker who could use it. And while I was making this video, he also
gave me a high power air filter for my shop. It’s not just me he’s helped though. He’s spent a large part of his life helping
others. In addition to serving in the Air National
Guard, he made a career out of being a firefighter and worked as a public servant in municipal
government. For decades, he’s dedicated himself to helping
the blind and deaf through the Lions Club, where he served in various leadership positions
at local and regional levels. So yeah, this giant portrait of Rick’s head
might seem over the top, but he’s gone over the top to help me and others over the years. People like him deserve nothing less. Anyways, I’ll finish the cabinet in another
video and link to it in the description below. Make sure you hit that subscribe button and
turn on notifications so you don’t miss it when I release that video. As always, let me know what you think in the
comments below. And if you have any questions, ask. I read all of your comments and, being a relatively
small channel still, I make it a point to reply to all of them. HEY HEY HEY! Before you go! The video on the left is that World War 2
color pencil drawing and my review of these generic colored pencils. And on the right is a video that YouTube thinks
you’ll like based on all their nerdy computer science stuff. Either way, thanks for watching and, if you
haven’t yet, don’t forget to subscribe!

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