I decided that I’d like to turn the sunflower and wheat elements of yesterday’s drawing into a mandala. And this is the result.
I’m fairly happy with it, though I think some parts lack contrast to really give them some visual volume. But it will do, for now. I like the hint of a suggestion of the whole mandala being sun-like. it also reminds me a little of hand-coloured etchings or prints. It would have looked more like a woodcut if I’d used heavier lines and more texture. These are things to try to remember and put into practice in my next mandala like this.
Strictly speaking, Lammas, or Lughsanadh, was yesterday, but I was busy getting all the work for ‘Fanciful Birds’ finished. I know I have a break before my next colouring book contract, and my attention will be on a couple of projects I’ve already started.
Back to Lammas. Lammas comes from the Old English hlafmæsse, which translates as ‘loaf mass’. It was a mass where the first loaves baked from the first wheat harvest were consecrated in thanks for the harvest. This celebration probably reaches far back in time to the first farmers. Having a good harvest was important so that people, and livestock too, had enough to eat through the dark, cold, lean times of winter.
So, I included some ears of wheat in today’s drawing, along with a happy sunflower, which just goes with the start of August and the height of summer.
This drawing isn’t quite finished. Shadow is needed, and colour. I’m likely to do that digitally. I also may use this drawing as the basis for a mandala design as well. But not now. I need another big mug of tea before I tackle that!
This morning, I finished all the pen drawing for this design. And filmed it for YouTube!
I’m fairly happy with this design because I felt myself breathing out and relaxing into it. I found myself smiling as I drew. And I felt creatively comforted as I returned to something that is so part of my arty heart – entangled, intricate, abstract, stylised botanical drawings.
Next step? Colour, shadow and/or highlight. But I’m not sure what media to use, or colours! So, I’ll need a bit of time away from this particular drawing to figure that one out!
In today’s YouTube video, I started to draw the design on the right. While the video was uploading, I finished drawing it. Also, I drew some motifs on a separate piece of paper so I could practice using alcohol markers (Arteza EverBlend).
Colour combinations do vex me, continually. And they certainly do on this practice sheet! But it’s best I practice somewhere before adding colour to my completed drawing. But first I’ll scan that drawing in so if all else fails I can add colour digitally!
Either way, it’s been lovely to spend time drawing and adding colour just for the joy of it. It is far too warm to do anything else.
One of my YouTube subscribers (Chen Keith) requested I draw some simple flowers and show how I’d use coloured pencils to colour and add contrast.
Drawing, not a problem! Colouring? Yeuch colour choices! But I do show different approaches I use to adding colour with coloured pencils, or rather what I’ve done in the past. I rarely ever used coloured pencils now. Digital coloring or marker pens are my mediums of choice, with Inktense and the Karin Brush Markers close behind.
While the video was uploading and processing, I did try out other ways of adding colour and/or contrast. It’s way too hot here in the Valleys of South Wales for me to think clearly and explain things at the moment. The heat is making me feel very, very tired.
I had a really, really cruddy, broken night’s sleep. So, doing art that doesn’t have a bit more than good enough was in order.
Getting the pen drawing done for this cute bird I started a couple of days back was just the thing!
It’s always interesting to look at my art, whether finished or, like this one, a work in progress after a day or so’s break from it. With fresh eyes there’s a different perspective. With this drawing, I needed to alter the design and size to get it to work. Not sure I’ve got it right, but it’s better than it would’ve been if I’d carried on as I originally planned.
The next decision to make, and the trickiest, is whether to just add shadow and highlight or whether to go with colour. The next tricky decision is what media to use to this.
I’m so aware that my colour choices can be … quite dire. And so I am tempted to add colour digitally initially. Maybe. Perhaps.
A little break from it will be in order before I make that decision.
This was a lovely way to start my day. At the bottom is a tangle pattern that is new to me – Zhuer by Yuru Chen.
I also wanted to add a motif across a couple of boxes in the sample. This one ended up like a stylised ear of wheat. As I look at it now, I wish I’d had it going behind the boxes and maybe the top bending towards the left and reaching outside of the upper box. That’s something to think about for the next motif I add.
Still, it was a nice half hour or so before my attention turned to inking in colouring templates.
Step 1 – Create a Gesso and Neocolor II background
Yesterday, I had a delivery of Finnabair Art Basics Clear and Heavy White Gessos, made by Prima Marketing. Neocolor II backgrounds are a lot of fun to make, but they do leave a smooth, waxy finish to the paper. I like drawing on it, but my pens aren’t too keen.
So, I wanted a way to seal the Necolor IIs into the paper and a surface I could draw on. Yesterday, I tried some glassy gel medium from my stash. It worked well, and the colours appeared more vibrant. It was OK to draw on, but the pen took a long while to dry, and I’m not sure how permanent the Micron ink would be on it.
Synchronicity-like, some suggested videos cropped up on YouTube where gesso had been used to prepare the paper and then seal in the Neocolor IIs, even using the gesso instead of water.
I have used gesso in the past, but it always felt very rough and gritty. However, the Finnabair Art Basics gessos had reviews that suggested they are smooth and chalky in feel. So, I had to try them.
I’m glad to say that they are smooth and chalky! I did spend a little time last night testing them out and gessoing some “polaroid pops” image tiles.
In today’s video, though, I wanted to quickly show what gesso is and how I’m thinking of using it, particularly in my sketchbooks with paper that won’t take much water.
I covered a page in my Hahnemuhle D&S sketchbook. The paper in this book is for drawing and sketching and is not designed for water-based media. I can get away with a barely damp brush on the paper, but only one, maybe two layers are possible before the paper starts breaking down. Gesso solves this by sealing the paper’s surface and creating a thin, flexible layer that can be worked upon. I used the heavy white gesso to do this.
Gesso dries really quickly, but a craft heat tool (or hairdryer) can help to speed the process up.
The next step was to add colour with the Neocolor IIs. I used water to activate them, though I could’ve used gesso. I wanted to create an uneven, weathered or worn kind of background. I started with the browns, sealed them with clear gesso. After this had dried, I added the blues and finally another layer of clear gesso.
Then, I was ready to try drawing on this.
2. Drawing on the gesso surface
I really didn’t know what would happen. I know I’ve used gesso in the distant past, but couldn’t remember if I’d used pens to draw on it or not.
As it happens, it was really lovely to draw on! The Sakura Pigma Sensei 04 pen did feel like it caught on the tooth of the gesso from time to time, but nothing more than a rough-surfaced paper. It may be my imagination, but the ink seemed darker on the gesso, perhaps because it dries on the surface and doesn’t sink into it, like it would with paper.
I did a test to see if, once dry, the ink would be affected by water or gesso. There was a tiny amount of pigment that seemed to move, but nothing noticeable.
3. The arch motifs/fragments
I really love round arches! It stems from my love of Romanesque architecture. I use them a lot in my artwork. So, I thought it was about time I explored individual arches as if they were fragments of a tangle pattern.
I’m so glad I rediscovered gesso. I’d forgotten how it could be used. I know the rough grittiness of the gessos I’d used in the past really did put me off using them again. However, this lovely, chalky smooth gesso is really nice to draw on. It also opens up more ways to create backgrounds and use colour. I’m sure I’ll continue to experiment and explore it going forward.