Fifty-something, quirky, arty wordsmith (wyrdsmith). I live in South Wales, UK.
Illustrator for Color Me Calm and Color Me Happy, released Nov 2014, and many more since then.
Freelance artist, digital artist. Available for commissions.
After spending a few hours working on Adorable Dogs templates this morning, I needed a bit of a break. So, I added some more motifs to this sketchbook page.
I started off with them being kind of botanical in nature, but the shape and arrangement has reminded me of fancy fish scales! Yes, it’s only just struck me that this is the case; I can be rather slow!
Either way, they are fun to draw, even the ones that don’t quite work. It’s all part of experimenting and learning, as well as drawing practice and relaxation. After all, this is a sketchbook page.
At the top of the photo is the almost completed sketchbook page for the recent seed pod pattern explorations.
I’ve gone a bit wild with colour! I wanted to see how using graphite under-shadowing worked with Ecoline Watercolour Inks, and to see how that ‘stained glass’, fragmented background would work.
I think, going forward, I need to think more about using different sets of colours for the background and motifs. I don’t know though for sure. I do like this kind of background though.
I’ve not added pattern to any of these background sections…yet. Maybe I’ll look at that in the coming days.
At the bottom of the photo are the motifs I drew in today’s vlog. These are all based on circular/semi-circular kinds of pods, capsules, designs. Some are quite architectural in feel, but also work as botanicals.
Yesterday’s realisation that the bigger seed pods reminded me of the photos taken of horsetail plants by Karl Blossfeldt. He believed that “the plant must be valued as a totally artistic and architectural structure.”
I tend to agree with him! I often describe winter as the season where nature shows off the underlying architecture of the natural world. we can see the support structure of trees and other woody plants. Land that was hidden by foliage and flower is revealed, showing how the swathes of trees follow the contours of the land, it’s streams and rivers and so on.
I don’t like the cold of winter, nor the short days. The limited sunlight tends to lower my mood a lot, and a sunlight therapy lamp is needed on may days to stave off creeping depression and despair at my abilities. But I do like being able to see that architecture, the way the patterns in the world are so different. That makes up for the short days!
It’s hard not to see how architects of the past must have been influenced by nature. The soaring columns with arched ceilings in gothic churches and cathedrals look so much like stone trees.
It’s no wonder, when I think about how much I enjoyed exploring Blossfeldt’s work, amongst others, when I started my artistic journey around two decades ago, that I can see their influence in my work.
This page is now full of various seed pods! From arum lily style spathes, Banskia inspired, to pure imagination, there’s a host of variations here!
I’m sure, as I add colour, some more seed pods will be added, to break up the larger expanses of space. Spaces that are just ripe not only for colour, but for some subtle pattern, perhaps.
Seed pods, along with botanicals and rather architectural patterns/motifs are my favourite things to draw. It’s also a lot of fun, and totally fascinating, to start with a simple shape or two and see where that goes as line and pattern are added.
The way that graphite shadows adds more volume to the line drawings, then the way that colour breathes life into the designs is endlessly enchanting.
There are some strange creations on this page, others that nearly work, and some that I really am happy with.
Finally being able to allow myself to explore, experiment instead of feeling the pressure to always complete a polished drawing is quite…liberating. It’s also kind of exciting too. I never know what will result during my sketchbook times. I usually do start with an idea of a basic shape or pattern; today’s was a circle on the inner edge of a larger circle. And thirteen designs appeared!
Even though very little on the page is completed, there is still a feeling of satisfaction, accomplishment, joy and even some wonder.
And I’ve just remembered what the largest seed pods remind me of – horsetails (the plant, not the animal!). Duh! They’re not exactly horsetails, but I can see the inspiration that welled up from my unconscious image library. One of the smaller ones – to the right – reminds me of a trilobite (one of my favourite kinds of fossils).
I love these sudden flashes of insight I get from time to time! I think my drawing may be more intuitive than I realise.
I took a break from drawing Adorable Dogs coloring templates (nearly all done, at least in sketch form…) to do some art just for fun. And that means, at this moment in time, seed pods. The three to the top right are today’s creations.
I couldn’t remember what plant they reminded me of. I thought mullein, but that’s not right. The closest I could figure out is Banskia seed pods, and these may be a very stylised interpretation of them. But not the stems. Weird stems are my own imagination in overdrive.
Of course, the drawings need shadow, colour and highlight to bring them to some kind of life. So, as I’m enjoying using graphite pencils for shading and watercolour pencils to add colour so much, that’s what I did.
I also tried adding some black line patterns to intensify the contrast and add interest to some of the shapes that make up the pods. That was just to see what happens. After all, this page is part of a sketchbook full of pattern explorations. It’s about giving myself permission to experiment, not to have to finish anything. The end result, I hope, will be something I dip into for inspiration at times when I don’t seem to have much of it.
In the spirit of the day, I’m so grateful for everyone who supports me in my artistic journey, who so kindly communicates with me, who brings my drawings alive in so many, different, wonderful ways. Thank you once and all!
There are so many other people in my life I’m grateful for too. And, there’s so much else I have to be grateful for.
Draw with me … Seed Pods
My day started with, unsurprisingly, some drawing. This time of some seedpods that turned out rather ornate and fancy-schmancy! Of course, I created a video showing how I did these.
Even though I’m feeling totally overwhelmed by Adorable Dogs at the moment, I still think it’s important I take the time to do art that is entirely for me. Making these videos, sharing my thoughts, materials, methods is part of that practice now it seems. I’m so grateful to all who watch, comment, subscribe, like and/or share these videos.
The humble 2B and 6B graphite pencils (the Pitt Graphite Matt versions) were used to create the shadows, the illusion of folds and curls, curves and edges. It took me a while to remember how to do this, to work out the effects I wanted to create. This is, however, like riding a bike – once learned you may be rusty, but you never forget!
There is a simple pleasure in using just the grey of graphite to give more form to these designs. Adding colour over the graphite added to this. I really am enjoying the way the careful shadowing with graphite works with transparent watercolour. Then, there’s the use of white charcoal and/or white ink to bring out the highlights.
If I use ink, I much prefer to use dots white, rather than a solid line or shape. I enjoy the subtle texture it gives as well as that brightness too. I find the white charcoal tends to bleach the colour out way too much, it feels not quite right. I will eventually work out how to do this in a better manner I think. Perhaps trying other colours of chalk pastel pencils maybe, or really making sure that the colour is barely there in the highlights. It’s a work in progress for me, that’s for sure! I may just stick to white ink dots, perhaps trying other colours that work with the colour of the motif.
Using various grades of graphite helps me to get that intensity of shadow that I like, without struggling with watercolour. I can vary the intensity of one colour (and I even tried two colours in one motif!), and let the graphite do the work of darkening the shade of colour.
The metallic looking result I find quite pleasing, now that it’s becoming familiar to me. I find I like the effect far more than adding graphite on top of the colour. The pigments in the watercolour pencil seem to sit over the graphite when they’re activated with water, tinting the graphite in a way that is pleasing to me.
I do love the Graphitint pencils very much, but this method gives me a way of getting more vibrant colours, which are pleasingly toned down by the under-shadowing of graphite.
It’s taken me a long time, but I’m starting to appreciate how important open space is in a drawing. I completed a drawing at the weekend. I hadn’t left much in the way of open space and it just felt really cluttered and confusing. So, progress made!
Even though I knew I wanted to leave some open space, I still needed to make sure that the other collections of seed pods and so on felt like they worked together, that there was a flow and connection. So, I tackled that in this video too.
I knew I wanted to put some texture and pattern in the background. So, I used a white Sakura Souffle pen to add some simple, fairly airy patterns.
Now, I just need to decided how much of this drawing to complete. It’s an exploration of patterns and techniques, a sketchbook page. It’s freeing to accept that I can do as much, or as little, as I wish to this page. It’s a chance for me to practice and experiment with different media and techniques with no pressure on creating a polished, finished piece of art.
Today is the third session of work on this drawing. I’ve added some more ornate seed pods, based on the same simple form as the original ones, and some foliage. Here’s the link to today’s video.
I wanted to see how Graphitint pencils worked with the Albrecht Durer water colour pencils. Mainly, I wanted to see how the graphite in the Graphitint would add shadow to the colour. I did this on a couple of the new flowers at the bottom left. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, but it’s something for me to experiment with more.
I had a ‘ta-da!’ moment as I was talking about where to place the next collection of motifs. I realised that I do think about this, very quickly and not in words. There’s some kind of analysis that goes on that I don’t quite catch, probably because it is in symbols/abstractions rather than words. Having to put words to the thoughts and decisions I was making had two effects. One, my thoughts were slowed down. Two, the words let me realise that I do think!
I’ve mentioned this before, but there seem to be two styles of inner monologue – one is in words, the other rather abstract. Apart from my inner critic, my thoughts tend to be of the abstract kind it seems.
“As in, some people’s thoughts are like sentences they ‘hear’, and some people just have abstract non-verbal thoughts, and have to consciously verbalize them And most people aren’t aware of the other type of person.”
I certainly have to consciously verbalise my thoughts, either by writing or by having to speak them out loud. The weird thing is, I’m often not aware of any opinion or idea or thoughts I have until I do verbalise them. That means I constantly surprise myself!
Anyway, by making YouTube videos, I’m having to vocalise my decisions and thought processes as I draw and that means I’m becoming more aware of what is going on in my head, well in terms of putting words to it. So, this ‘ta-da!’ moment is one of many I’ve had whilst being an arty vlogger. That is a very valuable experience for me.
So, this drawing is coming along quite nicely I think. I’m really enjoying these times to experiment and try stuff out without being invested in a finished, polished artwork. I’ve finally found a way to give myself permission to try things out when I think of them, without worrying about whether they work or not, whether I spoil an artwork or not. It’s a very freeing experience for the hyper-perfectionist part of me.
It’s really nice to draw and share the process with others, allowing them to draw along with me.
In this design, I started with a simple seed pod design, and it’s morphed into other forms, including flowers.
It’s fascinating how one basic form can be the blueprint for so many other designs, often just by making a simple change.
I tried an experiment today – to add shadows with Faber-Castell Pitt graphite matt pencils before adding colour with watercolour pencils and a water brush. The result is rather interesting. It’s kind of metallic without the shine of specific metallic paints, if that makes any sense. I’m thinking about drawing designs in graphite and then adding colour washes over them. Maybe I’ll start with individual motifs though!