‘Tis the first day of autumn in the northern hemisphere, astronomically speaking. The day started bright and sunny, but the clouds have closed in, the breeze has picked up and the temperature has dropped a little.
Even though today may not be a typically autumn day, today’s arty offering has warm, fiery tones reminiscent of autumn leaves and bonfires. Of course there’s a black and white, graphic moth illustration.
This moth is an iteration of the first moth I drew a few days ago. it’s fun to work with images, alter and change them and create something new and different each time. It’s also a good way for me to experiment with line to achieve volume and texture in the illustration.
Having the mandala of acorns, leaves and berries become a texture upon the background means it doesn’t detract from the moth. It does add interest and another hint that I created this with autumn in mind.
This morning I needed a quiet, slow, simple time with some arty stuff.
Firstly, I get so frustrated working in a bound sketchbook. The binding always gets in my way even though I like the paper. I much prefer working on loose sheets of paper. I want to keep a sketchbook, or series of sketchbooks. So, the pennies dropped that I needed to put together a discbound sketchbook filled with acid-free cartridge paper and bristol board, and other papers I may wish to draw on.
Yes, I know I’ve got a disc bound sketchbook filled with papers coloured in many ways to draw on. But, my recent forays into art, the realisation that black and white line art is my favourite way of working, needed a solution too.
So, after a while of sorting out such a discbound sketchbook, I thought I’d like a cover page for the Slowtember part of my this sketchbook. It gave me a chance to practice some hand lettering, and to mess around with Tombow Dual Brush markers.
I also added drawings for pancake plant, the prompt for days 10 to 12 which I missed out and went straight to rubber plant!
I suspect that by the end of the month I will have a visual reference for leaves of these indoor plants.
Naturally, I messed up the numbers for the dates for each prompt. My hand lettering isn’t wonderful, nor are the leaves around the title. Let’s not mention the colouring. However, it will do; after all it is a sketchbook page not a finished, polished piece of art. That means no pressure on myself to get it perfect, or as near as I’m happy with. It’s about trying things out and if they don’t work then it’s an opportunity to reflect and learn more about my skills and artistic voice. It’s also a chance to use media that I wouldn’t normally use, and possibly to remind myself why I don’t usually use them as well!
Yesterday afternoon and this morning I’ve spent time catching up with #Slowtember by @megaelod on twitter. Here’s the sketchbook page I created for the prompts monstera (Swiss Cheese Plant), areca palm and rubber plant.
I took the opportunity to practice my hand drawn typography / hand lettering, as well as my use of line to add volume to a line drawing.
I’m not the best with colour, or with traditional media to add colour, but I think I’ve done OK with some of these. I like the simple washes of gradient colours in the areca and rubber plant leaves. The line work is nice, but the colour brings it to life. The monstera leaf done in coloured pencils works well as far as a sense of volume goes, but I’m not the best with coloured pencils, even using blending solution.
I even found some microscopic images of cells from monstera and rubber plant leaves and stems. So, I just had to do quick drawings of patterns from these, with some imaginary colour added to them.
It’s nice to do this challenge. It’s not as full on and intense as Inktober is, and even if I fall behind there’s not so much to catch up with. It’s also nice to work in a sketchbook (or digitally) as there’s no pressure to complete a finished piece of work. I like how I’ve left some of my drawings partly coloured so I can compare how colour adds (or not) to the design.
When I’m looking at my page and writing about it I always have ideas about how I could’ve approached an idea, or get new ideas. Time for me to go and jot them down before I forget them!
I decided to do Slowtember. I like having prompts to challenge me, take me a little outside of my usual style. However, Inktober can be a bit full on with daily prompts. Slowtember gives that breathing space, and I can work it in around my other commitments.
Thanks to @megaelod on twitter for the idea and prompts!
So, the first prompt was a choice betwixt pothos and chill. I decided to combine them! I like foliage, and the word gives me a chance to try out some hand drawn typography/hand lettering.
I sketched the quite stylised design on dot grid paper, inked it with Unipin pens and then scanned it in. after some digital clean up and slight adjustments, I added some simple colour and shadow.
You’d think adding simple colour would be easy, yes? Nope! Choosing the right greens wasn’t easy for me. And then there was the typography. I lost count of how many times I tried different ways to colour the letters. Eventually I decided enough was enough and the gradient I had was good enough.
As I think now, after breakfast and some mocha, I could’ve done the word as a flower pot, or used it to add shadow to a flower pot. Maybe I’ll give that a go for the next prompt (monstera and water).
Complex drawings are my stock in trade. Going simple and stylised is not quite so easy! Still, it was fun to do, a bit frustrating at times, but the result is perhaps good enough, though I’m not sure about that.
Seven more days of the pandemic over and done with and gone to the past. That means seven less days before it comes to some kind of end! Always trying to look on the plus side of things, not always succeeding.
In the past week we’ve also left August behind us and entered September.
This week, I’ve created one of my signature ‘Entangled’ designs that includes seed pods, flowers, berries, foliage and plenty of arches with abstract, geometric patterns.
I drew this template on Canson Bristol Board with 05 and 03 Uniball Unipin pens. I’ve added colour digitally.
As I can feel autumn ready to burst forth soon, I’ve chosen colours that represent that season. Of course, any colour palette will work well. The aim is to have fun, relax, and take time out for creativity. There’s no coloring police to tell you you’ve done wrong, apart from our own inner critics.
As always, I look forward to seeing how everyone brings this template to life with colour!
I started doing the Inktober52 challenge at the start of the year, but quickly fell off the wagon, so to speak.
I really enjoyed doing Inktober last year, though I didn’t use the official prompt list as it really didn’t do anything for me. Instead, I used two alternative lists – one of skulls, the other of fungi.
I’m thinking of using this year’s list to practice typographic art. Mind you, that depends on what alternative lists I stumble upon, as I may use one of them instead.
I also discovered this Slowtember challenge on twitter from @megaelod:
I am tempted to use this for this month. I’ll see what happens!
Wednesday is WIP day! WIP is work in progress, and this is one of my current one.
I’m working on A4 (29.7 cm x 21 cm) Claire Fontaine Paint-On mixed media paper with 05 and 01 Uniball Unipin pens.
It’s taken several hours so far, and there’s several yet to go! I’m enjoying creating such detailed drawing in just black and white. Lots of botanical elements, but there’s also arches and spirals and geometric patterns in there too.
I never have much of a plan in mind when I tackle a drawing like this. I know what patterns I like, and if I lack inspiration I can always refer to my visual dictionary or design motifs and patterns. It’s all about intuition. It’s not entirely mindless. I do make conscious decisions about what design element to use, how to use line and pattern to add volume and contrast.
I sometimes wonder, when I see my work like this, why I try to work with colour. I always feel I struggle with colour, but black and white, with or without grey, always seems to work so well for me.
I love to play with the illusion of volume in a drawing, and whether that is done with density and shape of line/pattern, or with colour (even though I really do feel I struggle with colour).
I will persevere with this illustration, drawing, artwork over the coming days. In fact, I may spend time on it today. I’ve completed my morning errands, so I can remain at home, which is where I need to be. I’m tired today; I didn’t sleep at all well last night, or for the past few nights and my mood and ability to concentrate is suffering as a result.
I finished the top right design, and have completed the ‘A’ illustration on the bottom left. That leaves one space to be filled, no doubt later today.
I’ve used either Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens or Uniball Unipin pens to complete the drawings on ClaireFontaine’s Paint-On mixed media paper. This paper is fairly weighty (250g/m²) and has a lovely velvety feel to it.
The only pencil lines I’ve used have been to delineate the ‘boxes’ to draw in, and for a couple of the design elements in the top left image as well as the A.
Reflecting on the designs
The white space in the top left design works really well I think, and is quite an accomplishment for me. The same is true, to a lesser extent for the top right design. In both cases, the white space brings attention to the design.
In contrast, the densely pattered area helps to bring out the monogram A, making the white space the focus of the design.
I think I’m going to work on some more monograms in this style. They are fun to do, and dense, entangled patterns are one of my signature artistic voices. It’s been a long time since I’ve completed art like this, with a lot of detail to bring out dimension/volume in the design.
In fact, I’ve enjoyed using line and stipple to add volume in all the designs, exploring how I like to do this as I go. All the work I do with colouring books means I have put this to one side. It’s interesting how I’ve circled back to this style. It’s even more interesting to look at how my drawing skills have developed and evolved over time as well.
I found some peace, contentment and joy while drawing these, and feel a sense of accomplishment, particularly with the two on the left.
Do I prefer digital or traditonal drawing?
A difficult question to answer. I think it depends on what I’m creating.
I really do enjoy using pen on paper. I get a better sense of the overall design. Paper and pen is very portable too – whether I’m sketching when out and about, or drawing in different places at home.
Drawing on the screen of my Surface Studio with a pen is a lot like drawing on paper. The smoothness of the screen makes it a very different tactile experience. It also is great for inking in sketches. It also makes correcting mistakes or re-working areas a lot easier, and there are techniques I can use that are near impossible or very time consuming when working traditionally.
Sometimes, the lines produced digitally are too perfect. I’m still working on developing the brush styles that will mimic the unevenness of an inked line. I do have to use some element of line-smoothing as I draw; without it the lines are really wobbly, but with it they can be too perfect and I lose, to a degree, that personal and unique way that my pen moves on paper.
I also find it difficult to have a sense of proportion or detail when working digitally, even though I can look at the design at the same size as it will be printed. The ability to zoom in and work on a small area means I lose all sense of relative size and complexity/detail of a design. So, if I’m going to work on a drawing digitally, I prefer to start with a sketch to give me that sense of scale.
I rarely sketch out my design when I work on paper, except if I need the outlines of a design element as I’m drawing. I do tend to work very intuitively.
So the answer is, I prefer each for different purposes, and also to suit my different moods and purposes.
Of course, once I’ve drawn a design, I then have to decide if I want to add colour, and then what media I will use – traditional or digital!
I know, it’s that page in my Arteza watercolour sketchbook again! However, there are some changes, most noticeably the bottom left design.
I have added some depth and contrast in colour using coloured pencils to parts of the designs, and left other parts as just watercolour. I have used a blending solution and paper torchon to blend the pencils in most instances, but not all. Sometimes the blending just isn’t needed.
The bottom design was done today. It took around three hours to complete. Drawing the design with Pitt Artist pens, followed by the background washes of watercolour, finally the coloured pencils.
What I’ve learned
I like using coloured pencils on watercolour paper, and over a watercolour wash.
I find it really difficult to get the intensity of contrast with watercolours alone. Using coloured pencils makes that a cinch, especially on paper with a good ‘tooth’ to it, like watercolour paper.
I got a good sense of satisfaction as I completed the bottom design. I’m not all that happy with some of my colour choices, but that wasn’t my main consideration today; that was trying coloured pencils on watercolours on watercolour paper.
This week, I’ve harked back to my Doodleworlds book with cute monsters and critters. I’ve included some family portraits which hang above a background of more monsters and critters and my signature entangled style drawing for coloring books.
I got lost in colouring this template this morning. It was fun to use different styles of digital brushes and colour combinations in this one. Sometimes it’s just nice to do art with no expectations other than enjoyment, relaxation and comfort.
I drew the template with a Pentel 07 Energel pen on Rhodia dot grid paper. I scanned it in to the Surface Studio and cleaned the image up digitally. Then, I partially coloured it digitally in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, adding a background texture that isn’t present in the downloadable image.
Last night, there was the most amazing lightning storm I think I’ve ever seen. It lasted for more than an hour and there were multiple flashes of lighting most minutes. I really need to learn how to use my camera to take photos of lightning – natures very own fireworks.
Sadly, I haven’t been able to see the Perseid meteor shower this year, and I missed the Neowise comet too. I have seen amazing photos of both, though, and of course the lightning storms of the past few days that have coruscated over the UK.
It’s a little cooler in the house today thanks to the clouds shrouding the sun. It’s humid though as the couple of brief showers last night have been evaporating slowly.
The heat meant I didn’t sleep well again last night. But, waking early meant I had plenty of time to edit the coloring template and add colour to a section of it.
I’m not sure if it’s cool enough to take a walk this afternoon. There seems to be a bit of a breeze picking up from time to time. I really don’t do well in the heat; I wilt very quickly. But I’ll see once I shower what it’s like outside.
I’ve been working on another portrait of Nye Bevan while I take a break from the first one. I really think I’ve gone over the top with detail in this one. I wanted to do one of him in one of his typical oration-giving stances, but I really do feel I’m messing it all up. I really think that’s because I am trying to get too much in the way of quotes into the portrait.
So, I’ll be going back to the drawing board (or in my case, the Surface Studio screen) to try this one again.
Having said that, I’ve had a lot of hand lettering /hand drawn typography practice and have played around with the brush settings to find one that will work for me!
I also have just noticed that there’s not much differentiation between the different weights of text in the second version, and that adds, I think, to the more confusing appearance of it.
I was struggling with the values of the gesturing fist in the second image. So, I put the photo into Affinity Photo and used the Posterise tool to simplify the areas of shade for me. There’s still a personal interpretation to be done on how I translate these areas into spaces of text.
Hands, feet and faces. These were always the parts of humans I struggled with when doing life drawing.
Drawing typographic portraits is a new endeavour for me. I’m learning, experimenting. One of the main lessons I have to take away today is to not over complicate such a portrait! But there is a fine balance betwixt having enough detail to capture the essence of the person, and having too much so that the essence of who they are is lost.
The first portrait I did, on the left, does look better, but I do think it lacks a bit of detail in the face.
The second one, on the right, is way too busy!
So, my task is to find that point where less really is more.
So, I’ll take a break from them, again, and regroup and try once more!