Project: Seagull on a Post, Part 2

Welcome to the second and final part of my Seagull on a Post project. I left off with just the seagull standing on the post.

For the tires, I tried the dark umber/ indigo blue trick again and it worked well! The Prismacolors blend beautifully. I liked that I was able to go back in and use black and white to suggest the tire treads.


I’m very happy with how the shadows on the bottom of the post turned out. Using just the colored pencils and the colorless blender pencil I was able to achieve a painting-like quality. I used a pencil to add in the details of the water (very faint in the photo).


Then I got to the water itself. I actually chose the water background because it scared me. I wanted to challenge myself. If I never do, how will I improve? I had practiced on scrap paper and come up with which colors to use but not really perfected the look when I finally decided that I just needed to dive in (pun intended). I wasn’t happy with how my first attempt at the water came out and even resorted to using paint thinner, which I don’t love, to try and blend the colors better—it’s a pretty big surface area to blend with pencil or even the colorless marker. The paint thinner lets you push the pigment around on the page, but you have to make sure there is enough pigment down first or not much happens. Besides the color being overly green, my main problem was that I made the water too dark for the foreground. I tried to burnish with cloud blue and then added some white, but it didn’t make a noticible difference; there was already too much pigment on the paper. First  I pouted for a while, and then I realized that all I needed to do was adjust the color values for the water farther back (make it darker) to result in a realistic, if not ideal, background.


I kept working on the water, adding an additional, darker blue tone as I got further into the background. I found that the paint thinner was, if not enjoyable (it feels like painting, which I don’t like—yet), necessary. It seems a bit like cheating, but it’s very hard to imagine filling in the entire background and getting enough pigment down only using the pencils and a blender. Maybe someday…This could be a case where mixing media, such as adding watercolor, would be useful.


I finished the water, continuing with the placing pigment, spreading with paint thinner method and, after it dried, added some directional strokes to get the colors a bit closer to what I wanted. I also did some final burnishing. It was so tempting to call the drawing done before it was, and even when it actually was! I have trouble letting go of the idea of perfection. The finished piece:

IMG_3032 Watermarked

Seagull on a Post, colored pencil on Mixed Media paper, 2017 (11×14)

All in all I would describe my water as “vibrant”—not what I was going for to start with, but a pleasing effect nonetheless. For my first piece with professional-level colored pencils, I think it turned out pretty good. I ended up using about 30 colors for this project. Now I just have to spray it with Workable Fixatif so the wax doesn’t bloom (make a cloudy film over the surface). Unfortunately it’s about -1 billion degrees outside…

I hope you are enjoying following along with my art!


  1. Kudos to you for taking on water on your first time with colored pencils! I look forward to see what other projects you tackle with this medium. It’s one of my favorites.


  2. Paint thinner! Smart! My blenders, all 5, are nubs and I actually got a blister from one. Does the paint thinner bleed through to the other side of the paper?


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