A surreal clownfish on a waterlily worked in colored pencil with powder blender on sanded paper.

This is my first time working with Brush and Pencil’s powder blender. I’ve seen some great works created with it, and what really appealed to me was the faster working times. I have very little time to work on pieces so I have to work small. But this surreal clownfish was an idea I had that begged to be worked larger. So I got the powder blender and the sprays. It was quite a learning experience.

Watch the time lapse or skip down for more.

Sanded Paper

I have never worked with sanded paper before but it is exactly what I expected, literally sand paper in an archival, art friendly format. The paper had a tendency to grab the pigment and working with a light hand was difficult. Several times I found myself pressing too hard. The powder blender doesn’t work well if you press too hard, so I had two things going against me. It took a little while to get the hang of working on the sanded paper but once I did, it was nice even without the powder blender. I could lay down color fast and was even able to smudge colors together to blend them.

Powder Blender

The power of the blender is the ability to move around the light layers of pigment and create a soft, smooth look. It is designed to take the light layers of pigment sitting on top of the sanded paper and move them around, blending and covering. This is one reason why the layers need to be light, a heavy hand will force the pigment into the paper and not blend out smoothly.


I love underpaintings, I have mentioned this before. Here is where that process really shines. By creating an underpainting, I can get my highlights and shadows in the correct place for my values and using the textured fixative, I can them seal them down. I now have a monochrome value map of my picture that I can use to tint with color and build up my colors onto my values. And after I have all my colors down, I can seal them down and even add white on top to put in highlights or shine. If the white is too white, I can add fixative and tint the color with light layers over top.


This clownfish was a lot of fun, I added in a lot of the magenta from the flower to help place the fish into the picture as well as helping to make the orange pop more. I also put in a lot of the magenta and orange into the white sections of the fish to create values and the illusion of the colors of the flower being reflected back onto the fish. I had a lot of fun with this piece and I hope you like it.

What is next?

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Patreon. I’m currently working on an anemone. Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed the surreal aspect.

Equipment (affiliate links):

Have at least one eraser of some type. Masking tape will work but might be too sticky, stick it to your pants a couple times to reduce the tackiness so it doesn’t rip your paper. Paper is rather important, it is important to use a non-absorbent paper like sanded or gessoed. You can buy a large sheet and cut it down to size. If you work on a block or pad, you may be able to skip the easel and art board.

Colors used:

  • White 101
  • Light Chrome Yellow 106
  • Cadmium Yellow 107
  • Dark Cadmium Yellow 108
  • Dark Cadmium Orange 115
  • Light Cadmium Red 117
  • Deep Scarlet Red 219
  • Permanent Carmine 126
  • Rose Carmine 124
  • Pink Madder Lake 129
  • Light Purple Pink 128
  • Light Magenta 119
  • Light Red Violet 135
  • Middle Purple Pink 125
  • Fuschia 125
  • Magenta 133
  • Red Violet 194
  • Sanguine 188
  • Terra Cotta 186
  • Warm Grey II 271
  • Dark Sepia 175
  • Black 199

The affiliate links are for both Amazon and Blick Art Materials, they don’t cost you anything to use them, but by using them you help support me in making videos and writing blog posts.


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