Abstract art… with colored pencils?!

Colored pencils are not the media that comes first to mind when we think about abstract art. And yet, humble pencils are very versitile and interesting media.

I first started playing with them while traveling. I was on the road for a while and missed making some colorful art, my hands just needed something to do! I’ve started playing with doodling, blending, mixing, watched a couple of YouTube videos and started a whole intuitively drawn composition on a smooth A4 size watercolor paper.

Dimensions Abstract – Pencils on paper, Nelli Horrigan

Colored pencils are slow. Very slow. But there was this nice meditative quality to this process. Making lines, shading, patterning, without any hurry, slow, deliberate, feeling, and enjoying this simple yet such a marvelous process of creating something new. And it was so easy, just a piece of paper and a pack of pencils. No need for anything special, studio, easel, expensive paints, just me and a creative meditation…

I’ve spent several months traveling in Thailand, happily chilling out in a hammock slowly and meticulously drawing my strange intuitive compositions. I was surrounded by intensely saturated colores of tropical vegetation, flowers, blue sky, blue water – and it all was definitely reflected in my drawings! Maybe a bit too much saturation, oh well, it was just too much fun!

Jungle Abstract, Pencils on paper, Nelli Horrigan

When I had a chance to stay in one place for a while I bought A3 watercolor pad and some ink and started this monster of complexity which took me like a week to complete. I called it “Clarion calls” as there is a lot of loud cheery action going on. I really enjoyed blending that turquoise blue and cool greens and go overboard with red and yellow. This is probably my loudest artwork to the day!

Clarion Calls Abstract – Pencils on paper, Nelli Horrigan

If you want to give a try this interesting media – just start doodling and experimenting. It can be a wonderful meditative exercise to calm down before going to bed, kind of like coloring books. You can start with simple compositions, geometric or organic. My way is just letting my hand to draw something, to wonder on the paper without thinking or planning.

Sometimes I feel I want one particular color – like red or green and will make a somewhat solid area of this color – like the main theme in music composition. This color would call for some balance and rhythm, so other colors would have to join, some shapes would appear, tonal values for depth, the artwork just taking on its own life – a somewhat mystical phenomenon probably very familiar to many artists!

by Nelli Horrigan

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