This post is going to contain a lot of p-words (apologies if you’re reading this out loud for some reason) and a lot of my favorite things – pencils, poetry, painting, and pine trees – I flippin’ love pine trees (ah, Gravity Falls reference)! But the theme this week is pencils, and those utensils of creativity have always held a special place in my heart, from the moment I learned to hold one.
I’ve always had a strange love for pencils (I know, that sounds so weird, but it’s true!). One of the best sights in the world for me is a sharpened pencil. It’s such a representation of potential – a sharp pencil is not only lovely to write with, but an open door to a whole world of wonder. A sharpened pencil can lead to a beautiful play, a fascinating novel, an incredible drawing, a groundbreaking design. A pencil takes those fantastic things from your head and makes them permanent on paper. When you hold a pencil, the world is in your hand.
Prose cannot give the pencil the spotlight it deserves. So to start out this post, I’ve decided to provide some poems about pencils (probably first written with pencils themselves!). These AREN’T my poems; you can find the authors on the poetry sites I found these on. Links are here and at the bottom of the page.
Next, the DIY portion of this post, where I’ll be showing you all how to paint with pencils. “But wait! Pencils don’t paint!” (ah, rhyming), “They draw! They write! But they don’t paint!” Wrong, my friend. Pencils most definitely paint. How else did I make this painting of a cabin in the woods?
To make this picture, you’ll need:
- something to act as a palette
- something to paint on
- 4 pencils that can get covered in paint, two shaped like hexagonal prisms and at least one sharpened
- red, green, black, white, and brown paint (I suggest acrylic)
I used Artist’s Loft paint in the colors Titanium White, Lamp Black, Crimson Red, Raw Umber, and Viridian, but any paint would have worked. However, I do stand by my suggestion of acrylic, as acrylic mixes well and dries quickly.
First, put a good glob of each paint on the palette.
You’ll want the white and black paint to look like they do in the picture, since they’ll mix to form grey.
Next, we’ll get to work painting the cabin. Get a pencil – I chose a red one, since we’ll be using red paint first.
This is important – make sure this pencil is shaped like a hexagonal prism. This will give the cabin texture and make it look like it’s made of boards.
Mix the pencil in with the red paint. The length of the pencil you cover in paint is how tall your cabin will be.
I had videos just to add a little extra help, but the blog doesn’t support videos so please bear with me and my poor photography skills.
Next, press each side of the pencil onto the paper, kind of like rolling the pencil, just one side at a time, forming the closest cabin wall.
It doesn’t look like much now, but it’ll get there! 🙂
Now we’ll make the roof. Grab the other hexagonal prism pencil and mix it in the brown paint. Once it’s thoroughly covered, add white and black to give it a gray, weathered tint. It’s ok if it’s not homogeneously mixed; that adds a bit of texture.
To make the roof, you’ll press the pencil one side at a time the same way you did to make the cabin wall. You can’t just roll the pencil across though, since the roof is at a slant. You’ll have to pick the pencil up after each press and make it parallel to the previous print. (Sorry, I know most of this is a no-brainer, but just to be absolutely clear).
When you’re done with the roof, you’ll need to add the second cabin wall, the one facing away from you. This wall is going to be darker and taller than the first, so mix your red pencil in with the brown paint (and if you’re really daring, a dash of black). You’ll use the same technique you used on the first wall here, but you’ll have to go back over the wall and add more prints to give it that A-frame roof line.
Now for the trees! Grab another pencil (this one can be either a cylinder or a hexagonal prism) and mix it in the brown paint. Cover up a lot of the pencil; you want these trees to be tall.
When you’re done, press the pencil to the paper to form tree trunks. You can push or roll the pencil to create a thicker trunk if you like. Don’t be upset if the paint is uneven – this gives a bit of a bark-like texture.
Space your tree trunks throughout the picture – put some in the foreground, in front of the cabin, and some in the background, behind it. These are a great way to cover up any mistakes or messy parts on the cabin (I know I had a lot of those), so go crazy.
Once you have tree trunks, you need to dress them up with some awesome leaves. I’m actually pretty happy with this technique – in my opinion, it’s a great way to easily produce reasonably realistic needles. You’ll need a sharpened pencil – I went with green, ’cause leaves.
Now roll the sharpened part of the pencil in green paint. Mix in a little brown too. This makes the color a bit less cartoonish and give the appearance of smaller branches throughout the tree. Try not to get paint on the non-sharpened pencil shaft.
Once your pencil is covered in paint, press the sharpened end to create pine needles. Start with the trees farthest in the background and work your way to the front.
The way you distribute the pine needles on the trees is vital to making them appear life-like. Needles thin out the farther away from the trunk they are, so always make sure that the point of the pencil is facing away from the tree trunk. Keep the needles close to the trunk at the top and widen them out at the bottom. Remember that high branches block sunlight from reaching the bottom part of the tree, so don’t put needles there. Finally, remember to space your branches a bit unevenly. Trees don’t grow in perfect, Christmas-card cones. They vary in shape, especially pine trees. Those evergreens have personality! I would suggest looking at some photos to get ideas.
The only thing left to do is edit. For example, look at my painting at this point in the process. You’ll notice the roof is rather thin and undefined. I went back and filled it in and darkened the far cabin wall.
If you’re happy with your piece, good job! You’re done! You are officially a proud pencil painter. Go share your skill with the world!
I had a lot of fun with this project, which combined my love for painting, poetry, pine trees (seriously, I adore evergreens) and, of course, pencils. If you happen to do this DIY, please leave pictures in the comments – unless that’s impossible; I haven’t used the comments section yet. It also was my first blog post! So if you have any criticism, suggestions, comments, etc. please comment and let me know! 😀 I’m new at this, so anything helps!
On that note, CONGRATULATIONS SISTERHOOD TO THE MAX!!!! We made it through our first week! I’m so excited, and I’m looking forward to the many blog posts to come!! Yay!
Links for poems: