Tranquility Within

23 July 2014

Blog post


Tranquilness, peace…

is what I am portraying from this piece. I was fascinated by rock pebbles after my previous piece, Stillness Speaks. I find doing rock pebbles calms me. It gave me freedom to play with textures and colours. Rocks pebbles are not rigid in forms and textures, there is no definite definitions to paint a rock, I just let my eyes and hand do the work.

rockredHere is the reference photo that I took during my short holiday break in the island of Langkawi. I was skimming by the beach, looking for inspiration when I happened to look down and saw these beauties. It was on very shallow water surrounded by huge rocks. Immediately, I know what my next painting will be. The ripples of the flowing water makes everything look so serene.

It is obvious to see that my painting does not look exactly like the reference photo and THAT is exactly the way I want it to. I have intensified or dramatized the colours, gave more definitions and depths to each and every pebbles rather than just paint the whole picture as it is.


I decided this time I am going bigger, using a larger paper, 23.5 x16.5 inch (59.5x42cm). It is a hot pressed, Lanaquarelle watercolour paper. Oiled based Faber Castell polychromos coloured pencils, which I love very much. They are very good for detailed work and their colours are vibrant with a touch of sheen to it.

I started off with an overall rough sketches, using light pressure with graphite pencil, for composition.  As a right-hander, I always begin the colourings on the right as not to smear the paper.



Each rock contained so many layers of different colours in order to make it come to life. After layering the colours, I need to blend it to give a smooth shiny feel to it. At that time, I have not discovered the beauty of a blender so I used light colours such as Ivory or Cream over it. It was not as good as using a Blender because I cannot use it on the darker pebbles. But if I use a dark colour to blend it, It will look like a blob of something instead of a rock.

After doing some research and getting advices from other coloured pencil artists. I bought a few Derwent Blender to give it a try.

True enough, it was so much easier to blend without altering the original colours. Derwent Blender are grittier and that is good to really push the pigments onto the paper to give it a smoother look.


Look closely at the water bubbles. Since Polychromos white is of a warm tone, I cannot get a true white on these many layers of colours. The only way for me to do is to use a electric eraser to lift off the pigments. Have to be very careful with the pressure as it actually eats up the paper. So far I have been using Derwent battery operated eraser and it worked like a charm.

bub (1)

To get very white with colour pencils are quite difficult. Some artists I know just leave the white space as it is, means no colours whatsoever at the area. With this, one must use a very white paper in order to achieve that.


I have learnt through trial and error that if I could not go any whiter, then go darker on the opposite side, negative/positive values. Like these rocks on the left. There are so much whites, to accentuate the whites, I have darkened the surrounding and therefore the whites popped. It may not be the whitest of white but because of the overall, it will look white enough.

Now, remembering that all these rock pebbles are underwater. It has to have the blurry unfocused feel to it. It cannot be like my previous rocks that were so clearly defined. In order to achieve that, I used Ivory and Warm White to softened the edges except for some coloured shadowed area where I have to intensified the colours. This will give depth to the overall painting.

I thoroughly enjoyed doing this piece even though it took me almost 250 hours to complete. I love that it gave an abstract look and feel to my work. Perhaps this could be a turning point of my art work, who knows. But I do still love doing photo realism art, which I will be doing next. I intend to do a series of these rock pebbles as a collection.

Well, we shall see…



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