Before filming this video, I primed a piece of watercolour card with white gesso. Then, I added colour using Inktense pencils and water. I added each colour separately, drying them before adding the next. Finally, a layer of clear gesso was added to seal the colours.
I had no particular idea as to how I would add the colour or what I wanted to use the paper for after this. But, as I looked at it, the pink areas just looked like very fuzzy flowers, so that was it! A floral based drawing it would be!
I do not intend to fill the whole area with flowers. I have plans for the ‘white space’ around the designs. But you’ll have to wait to see how that pans out!
In the video, I take you through drawing each flower design, one step at a time. I try to vocalise my reasons for doing certain things too.
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.
Watching some arty videos yesterday, I stumbled upon one that involved creating “Polaroid Pops”, part of a challenge hosted by AALL and Create back in January 2022. In this challenge, you had to create mixed media polaroid ‘photos’ using stamps by a specific artist in the AALL and Create range.
I really liked the format of the images created and thought it could be fun to try this for myself!
Polaroid photos have the following dimensions: The image is 3.1″ x 3.1″ (approx. 8cm x 8cm) The whole photo is 3.5″ x 4.2″ (approx 9cm x 11cm).
So, yesterday I cut up some of my Neocolour II backgrounds to 8cm x 8cm and got to drawing on them!
I really like the square format. At 3.1″ x 3.1″ (8cm x 8cm), they’re only a wee bit smaller than a standard Zentangle tile. And they do look fab when mounted on the white card to create the polaroid.
After drawing a kind of botanical scene in silhouette (not quite my thing, but you have to try, you know.), I tried popping a hand-lettered monogram into the square and using Zentangle patterns to fill in the negative space.
That was much more ‘me’. And in today’s video, I continue with the letter B, though it looks like an R because I deliberately drew it as bigger than the ‘photo’. Duh, didn’t check for it looking weird before inking it in. Luckily, there’s space on the white background to write in what it is!
While the video was uploading and processing, I drew the ‘H’.
I think I may make an alphabet collection for future reference and inspiration! So, if you fancy having a go take a look at today’s video on YouTube.
I wanted to put the letters of “shrouded” overlapping, cwtched close together as if they were covering and protecting each other, apart from that brave S at the front (which I may alter digitally when I’ve finished this off). And that is one of the meanings of shrouded – to be protected and/or covered.
Naturally, stars had to feature in the entangled artwork around the hand lettering. What better to represent “celestial”, though the flowers and plants and seeds are related in a roundabout way.
Our sun is the star nearest to us and the source of natural light. The moon is closer, but it doesn’t generate any light itself, the light we see from the moon is reflected sunlight. Anyhoo, most life, as we know it, on Earth depends on the sun’s energy to remain alive. Without photosynthesis in green plants, there’d be no food. Some living things can exist without any energy from the sun, but they are extremophiles and live around extreme habitats, such as the deep ocean volcanically driven ‘smokers’.
I’ve digressed and slipped into science teacher mode! The point is, that though flowers and plants and seeds don’t seem to have a link to celestial light, they do, as they depend on sunlight to produce food, which gives them the energy they need to live and grow and reproduce and so on. All of us here on the Earth are shrouded in celestial light!
I really wasn’t sure how this was going to work out without a definite frame for the words, but I think by placing clouds and drifts of other things around the lettering it kind of looks like a view through to the celestial night sky, perhaps, with a bit of fanciful whimsy.
I’ve now finished this drawing by adding two organic motifs, both fairly simple.
With the trailing flowers or leaves or stones, the hardest part is arranging them to look like they’re trailing and remembering to decrease the size towards the point.
The other motif, a stack of small seeds on a stem, is easy enough to draw.
After doing this, I thought it needed some colour to bring the motifs to life. So, I dug out some of the Neocolour IIs I’d used for the background and used them a bit like watercolour paints. I scribbled a little of each Neocolor II on my plastic palette, added water, and painted.
I’m not entirely sure about my efforts with adding colour – this is where it can all go wrong for me. Part of me knows I’d most likely be better off if I were to add shadow and texture using pens.
I did use some metallic watercolours to add some sparkle here and there too.
One thing I did notice is that I was glad I tried not to paint over the black lines. The pigment ink in Micron pens is usually waterproof, but, as the Necolor IIs are wax-based and coat the surface of the paper, the pigment doesn’t sink fully into the paper and so water will move the ink.
It’s not a problem, now I’m aware of this. Oh, it also means erasers will lift some of the ink as well as pencil lines. Again, just something to be aware of.
One other thing I did was to cut the paper down to frame the design a bit better. In my clumsy way, I managed to cut it just across the tip of one of the trailing thingies. So, no border around that area.
I will keep going with adding colour and see where it leads me, hopefully not into a disaster! Still, if that happens, it’s only a bit of time, ink, paper and colour and the design can be used as inspiration for the next one. Important lessons about the Necolor IIs are being learned, which is, perhaps, the most important thing.
In today’s tutorial video, I enjoyed drawing on one of my Neocolor II backgrounds. And I’ve just remembered I forgot to scan the background before cutting and drawing on it. Oh well. I’ll just have to make another one!
Anyhoo, I sometimes forget how much I enjoy working on a coloured background. The colours add an instant “feel” to a drawing. This one reminds me of sunrises and sunsets and the joy and awe that I experience when I see them. So, it was natural I’d choose a few of my favourite motifs to start filling this A5-ish sheet with pen drawings.
Of course, it’s lovely to share how to draw these motifs with others, helping them along their arty journey.
Yesterday, I recieved my tin of 40 Caran d’Ache Neocolour II watercolour wax pastels. I finally gave in to a long-held urge to try them. I kept telling myself, “I don’t need them. I have watercolours, distress inks, water-soluble pencils, distress oxide inks, and more”.
However, a couple of suggestions of videos about the Necolor IIs popped up on my YouTube feed. I looked, and thought that these could be perfect for backgrounds for my hand lettering, or drawings, or even for using like watercolours.
The colours stay nearly the same vibrancy when dry, even the rather watered versions. They can be opaque to fairly transluscent, though not transparent. This is great for layering as the translucency still lets the lower layers show through us much or as little as you want.
Although they can always react with wither, drying with a craft heat tool seems to help set them a bit; perhaps by melting the ‘wax’ into the paper. And of course, not working too hard with a brush helps with preserving the layers.
Brush? Did I say brush? I find that adds way too much water for my liking. So, I used a piece of cut ‘n’ dry foam, black side down, to add small amounts of water and blend gently.
I have had a lot of fun playing with them for sure. In this video I make the pinky background seen behind the Zentangle tile. I already have a use for that background!
I used one of my first experiments with Necolour IIs from yesterday to turn into a Zentangle tile (3.5″x3.5″ or approx 9cm x9cm) and to draw this monotangle on it. Instead of using a graphite pencil or chalk pastel or any other medium to add shadow I used varying line thicknesses and pattern to do this. I really didn’t want to take away the vibrancy of the colour, even in the shadows.
Of course there was another reason why I wanted to draw on a Neocolour II background – to see what it was like to draw on the surface with fineliner pens.
It was actually lovely! The Necolour IIs add a slight slickness to the paper that is just noticeable. That made it a bit nicer drawing on the fairly textured mixed media paper for the tile. The points of my pen didn’t catch as much on the texture, though I still got some wobbly lines thanks to the more bumpy bits!
All I need to do now is to remember to scan the background in before I work on it. That way, I will always have a background I love available for use in digital art or, perhaps, for printing out.
After getting my daily quota of sketches done for the next Creative Haven book, I turned my attention to some sketchbook work. This time I chose to do a tangle pattern exploration of Kangular by Tomàs Padrós CZT.
I love all of Tomàs’ patterns, and Kangular is no exception! It’s a charming, geometrical pattern with lots of possibilities for variations. And there’s only a small number here.
Adding shading really brings volume to the individual fragments and overall pattern, as does the use of fairly high contrast.
I had the hand-lettered part of this sketchbook page completed a couple of days ago. I didn’t really know what else to do with it. I knew adding colour with traditional media was likely to be a disaster.
This morning I woke up knowing what to do with this, along with other things. So, I spent some time adding a border around the lettering and starting to add patterns and motifs. And arches, lots of arches!
I then thought it would be nice to share some of the drawing process through a video, which you can see by clicking this link.
It feels like a long while since I did any entangled style art. The hand-lettering isn’t perfect, nor is the frame around it. But that’s OK. I think it goes with the ‘chaos’, the imperfection, the touch of an imperfect human hand.
A couple of months ago, I may have tried to do something like this, and would likely have been really dissatisfied with the result. Mainly because I wasn’t at all happy with my hand-lettering attempt. But now, after just a couple of months of working in lettering sketchbooks, working with different ways to form letters and finally accepting that whatever lettering I do doesn’t have to be perfect – good enough is good enough!
I’m using variations in the density of pattern and ink to create shadows and highlights in the design. I have no intention of using pencil or markers to add grey shadows to this one. If I decide to add colour, it will be in the style of a linocut or hand-coloured print, perhaps with some extra shadow and highlight added by the depth of colour. Perhaps. Maybe. And if I do, digital is the way I’ll go! First, though, I have to finish drawing this design.