Digital watercolours?

Another morning, another play around with watercolours, this time digitally.

Soft balls of watercolour, fuzzy edges, with white ink details added on top. Layers of transparent colour.

I overlaid a watercolour paper texture, which helps give the right ‘feel’.

This is my favourite attempt at digital ‘watercolours’ so far. I definitely like using white ink in this instance; black ink was just too harsh, hard and jarred uncomfortably with the softness of the watercolours.

I tried lots of ways of adding colour; not just brushes, but different brush effects. In the end I was happiest with white ink.

A nice way to spend a couple of hours as I wake up.

Seeking Calm

Another morning, another migraine-y headache. Yet again caused by stress and worry. Painkillers taken, just waiting for the pain to go so I can sleep the remains off.

I also completed this peace of art which I started last night. I painted circles of watercolour on a 5.5″ x 6.5″ piece of Canson Moulin Du Roy watercolour paper and left it to dry overnight.

This morning, I wanted to add pattern to the circles. I tried using a white gel pen, but it wasn’t quite opaque enough. So, I used a fine brush and white gouache. That worked really well. It was also good practice using a brush like a pen or pencil. Is it still drawing if you draw with a brush, or is it painting? I don’t know!

The circles have ended up looking like diatoms, formanifera, microscopic bits and bobs, seeds, sea urchins…

Once the gouache dried, I added some more watercolour to add shadows and details to help bring some sense of dimension or volume. The white gouache works really nicely with the watercolour. Black pen can often feel too harsh to me with delicate colours. The white lines of gouache seems a lot more sympathetic with the delicate colours. It adds a lightness, airiness, delicateness to the design. The opacity gives a sense of more solid support, architecture.

While I like the transparency of watercolour, the way I’ve added the lines and shadows doesn’t quite work being able to see the lower layers, and my head doesn’t quite work right at the moment to work out how to add details from the lower layers that could be seen. Mind you, it does give me something to think about (when ny head will let me think) in doing similar kinds of work in the future. I definitely want to explore using gouache with watercolours.

I did think of adding some metallic dots, but haven’t done so at this time. I can always revisit this painting in the future.

It’s also giving me something to think about in working digitally, though I’m not sure what those thoughts are at the moment.

While I was doing this, I felt calm, content, at peace, and the headache wasn’t so noticeable. Hence the title – “Seeking Calm”. That’s exactly what I was hoping to find while finishing this artwork off.

Detailed drawing is something I love to do. Creating abstracts based on patterns/shapes that I’ve observed in the world around me and in nature is also something I love to do.

Exploring different ways of working with different media to see how I can get it to work for me (or not work for me) is also important. Watercolour is something I do struggle with and would like to work with. This little work of art is something that is a stepping stone on my way to finding a way of working that works for me.

#DYICAD 2020 #ICAD2020 Day 03 “Album”

This index card #ICAD2020 #DYICAD2020 was a bit of fun to create.

I used a mixture of Distress Oxide inks to colour the 6″ x 4″ index card. The colours I used were Old Paper, Bundlesd Sage, Dried Marigold and Chipped Sapphire. I built the background up in two layers, with chipped sapphire lightly dragged across the texture that the spray of water from the first background created. A final spray of water, a dab with some paper towel to leave some bleached areas and the background was done.

I decided I’d go with the typography theme today, so hand-lettered monograms for each letter. I used pieces of Canson XL Bristol paper coloured either with Distress Inks or Distress Oxide inks. After spraying the paper with water, I squished some cling film onto the surface to create abstract patterns in the colour.

Anyway, I used 06 and 03 Sakura Pigma Sensei pens to draw the monograms. Once I was happy with the designs, I edged the monograms with Ground Espresso Distress Ink. Then, I glued them to some brown-ish card, and cut them out with a border. I edged the brown paper mat with Ground Espresso Distress ink.

I then set to adding pattern and colour with Paul Rubens metallic watercolour set. Tiny dots and highlights were sparingly added to the monograms. Then, I used the same 01 brush to draw patterns around each monogram in colours that picked up the background colours of the monograms.

My final step was to edge the index card with Ground Espresso Distress Ink.

This was a perfect little project to practice my hand lettering as well as trying out the Paul Rubens paints. It was also good practice at using a fine brush to draw patterns. I do think a finer brush would’ve worked better.

The scan hasn’t picked up the sparkly, shimmery gorgeousness of the metallic paints.

This was a really nice way to come round after I’d slept off yesterday’s migraine-y stress-come-down headache. It was a small project that I didn’t feel overwhelmed by and there was no pressure on me for it to be perfect, as would be the case for my contracts for coloring books. So, it helped me calm and settle and find that sense of contentment, for a while at least.

ICAD2020 Day 02 Marigold

#DYICAD2020 #ICAD2020 – Day 02 – Marigold

I took an index card and used Dried Marigold and Bundled Sage Distress Oxide inks to colour it. I spattered on water to create some bleached spots. Then, I edged the card with Ground Espresso Distress Ink.

I knew I wanted to draw a marigold, which is what I did. In fact, I drew a few. The large one is a French Marigold (Tagetes sp.). The others are pot marigolds (Calendula sp.)

All the drawings are quick, loose, sketchy ones using an 04 Sakura Pigma Sensei pen. I did use a pencil to roughly sketch out the flowers.

As the theme for week one of the ICAD2020 challenge is typography, I added some hand lettering. I also looked for a couple of quotes about marigolds, which I hand lettered.

Finally, I added a wash of iridescent orange and yellow watercolours to the flowers, sage-y green to the leaves. I also added some graphic lines in iridescent orange to the letters. And I couldn’t resist spattering some of the iridescent paint on the card itself.

I think I may add the ICAD2020 creations into my journal, or maybe make one from them as time goes along. No need to make a decision today, I’m not really thinking straight at the moment.

Experimenting with watercolours

I woke with another raging headache this morning. So, some art was in order until the pills kick in and I can sleep the dregs of it off.

I thought I’d try some ways of adding texture and interest to watercolour backgrounds.

Putting some clingfilm (saran wrap I think it’s called in the US) onto wet watercolour creates a lovely texture. It’s not easy to see but I used it on the pieces at the top middle and top right. This is something I will definitely be experimenting with going forward.

I also tried salt again, on fairly damp, less damp and almost dry. The darker pink tile under the Marigold ICAD was where I added salt to rather damp watercolour and the blooms are just beautiful.

I also tried using white gouache. I spattered it onto a couple of tiles, but I also used it mixed with water to paint into wet watercolour. It adds a really interesting effect, the opacity of gouache looking intriguing against the transparent watercolour.

Finally, I used a straw to blow drops of watercolour around. That was a lot of fun and really created random, abstract patterns.

I added these to my journal with notes on how I achieved the effects so I can reference them in future. Today, I may not remember much about what I’ve done, all thanks to the dratted headache. All due to stress/anxiety/worry yet again.

Adventures in Watercolor

I’ve had a stressful couple of days to say the least and all my plans to edit templates and create new ones went out of the window. It was like I had ‘ants in my pants’ and I just couldn’t settle to anything that required concentration and focus.

Last night I was beginning to settle a bit. I’d had some news that had helped to calm me a little, but not enough. While I was attending an online talk, I drew this design on watercolour paper. I used a 05 Sakura Pigma Micron pen. I also scanned the finished drawing into the ‘puter. I really like this drawing, I have to say.

This morning, I wanted to start the day with something relaxing and meditative, so I broke out the watercolour pencils. I have a collection of Derwent Aquatone and Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer. I used them to colour the trios of large flowers at the bottom left and bottom right. For the small flowers, leaves, tendrils and the large flowers at the top I used White Knight watercolours.

I found the watercolour perncils slow and laborious on such a large scale, and I had to lay down layers to get the intensity of colour I like. However, they did mean I could control the gradients a lot more.

On larger flowers, watercolours frustrate me a bit. I can’t seem to get to the right amount of dampness so that colours will flow one into another.

I also found that by drawing the flowers to begin with, I felt compelled to paint each petal one at a time, and I found that may work against me in terms of making the most of watercolour.

Watercolour has always been a medium that vexes and frustrates me, and it’s continuing to do so at times, even as I explore adding colour. I think I’m realising that the best way for me to work with watercolor is by using it for backgrounds which I then draw upon and add more colour to the drawings.

Or, its where I make use of the randomness of loose watercolour, droping colours into a damp surface where they can bloom, flow and blend as they will, without me trying to make them anything in particular. Then, I can draw on this, picking out shapes and colours, bringing structure to where there is none, and I can get intricate with the details too.

Anyway, with the flowery drawing above, I tried to add details using some Paul Rubens metallic watercolours to add patterns of dots, as well as drawing more black or white lines onto the drawing. I really don’t feel they worked out at all well.

I knew this was going to be a bit of an experiment, and I have plenty of flowers to try out different media, such as Inktense pencils, and maybe adding more lines to to add more detail before I start coloring.

It’s been a nice way for me to spend Saturday morning, lost in art whilst listening/watching season 1 of The Clone Wars. I think I’ll continue to watch that this afternoon as I turn my attention to drawing.

Watercolor and Drawing

Today’s image is a collection of watercolors and drawings I’ve done over the past couple of days.

There’s a coordinating card and envelope (mail art), along with some small panels of watercolouring (approx 1.5″ x 1.5″, so a bit bigger than inchies). I’ve also included my foxglove experiments, which I did this morning.

Sometimes, black pen looks too harsh against the delicate but vibrant watercolours, so for the poppies, I tried pencil instead. I’m really not at all sure about them.

The foxgloves are symptomatic of how I feel today – out of shape, wobbly, ill-defined with harsh edges. I woke with a stinker of a headache again, definitely stress/anxiety/worry induced, as well as a lack of sleep last night. It will pass. In the meantime, I’m watching The Clone Wars on Disney+.

I don’t know if I’ll be doing any art for a few hours; my head and emotions are all bent out of shape at the moment. I’m dissatisfied with all the above; I know that’s me being so frustrated at the moment and it stops me seeing my art for how it really is. When I’m like this, I know that drawing will frustrate me, and the fact I’m not drawing will frustrate me more, especially as I have deadlines looming. However, I logically know that if I try to do things now, I’ll just prolong the feeling of frustration and I’ll end up having to do much more in the long run than if I’m kind with myself until the headache goes and my mood lifts.

The weird thing, however, is that I can sense that touchstone of contentment inside me. It’s very confusing; on one hand my emotions are really unsettled, yet there’s contentment within. My EMDR therapist mentioned that it’s a peculiarly Western view that you can only experience one feeling at a time when I mentioned this kind of thing to her. So I know it’s possible to be both discontent and content at the same time – discontent with some parts of life yet still have an inner contentedness.

So, I wander off now to sit with these paradoxical feelings, to try to relax and let the headache ease off enough that I can sleep off the extreme tiredness it will leave me with.

Entangled Flowers

I was awake before 6 am today, so I settled to do some ‘warm up’ art. I water-coloured a couple of pieces of 100% cotton rag paper. I lightly wet the paper and then added watercolour to it and let it work it’s magic – to spread and mingle as it will. The coloured area is approx 3.5″ x 5.25″, so it’s still quite a small drawing in size, but large in detail.

After letting the paper dry, I set to it with some Sakura Pigma Micron pens (01, 03 and 05) to draw the flowers and leaves. I added some more watercolor to these areas to help them stand out a bit, as well as to add a bit of extra ‘dimension’ to them. Finally, I added an outline and the ‘bubble pattern to some areas.

Mindful. Meditative. Calming. Soothing. Just the kind of activity I needed this morning. I was really irritable and frustrated and sad yesterday, all at once. I think I’ve just been overwhelmed by the events in the world over the past few days and yesterday it boiled over somewhat.

I do feel better today, so far, the cooler temperature and the refreshing rain is helping too. I hope I continue to feel better, emotionally; yesterday was was even angry at the templates I was creating for the Entangled Gardens book. Rather, I was angry and frustrated with myself as nothing seemed to be working out well. Hopefully I’ll feel better about it today.

More Botanical Mail Art

Two fairly quick, small projects this morning – small botanical cards. Simple, cute, whimsical, darling. Little treasures.

These were fun to make, relatively quick too. They’d be darling little cards to receive in the post or in person. They’d also work nicely as an addition to a journal – a place to journal or keep little memory making bits and bobs in the envelope too.

Each card is 3″ x 4″ in size and the panels are approx 3.5″ x 2″ in size. I made the envelopes to fit and decorated them with one of the motifs from the designs on each card. I did a tiny bit of hand lettering on one of them too.

Tiny Botanical Experiments

I thought I’d start Sunday morning off with some experiments with my tiny botanical drawings.

I apologise for the photograph quality – I’m really not a good photographer, something I really do need to work at! The pale colours really don’t help at all.

The artwork on the bottom right is one where I applied rectangles of watercolor on 100% cotton rag paper. Then, I used Sakura Pigma Micron pens to draw designs in the windows. Finally, I added some watercolours to the designs to help bring them forward from the background.

I don’t think I messed the drawings up at all, which was my worry. Mind you, I do have to be careful what colours I do add so I don’t make weird colours.

That led to me wanting to try watercolour pencils and Inktense pencils on different watercolour papers:
top – 100% cotton rag paper
middle – Canson Moulin du Roy paper
bottom – Daler-Rowney Smooth watercolour paper.

On each paper, I drew four rectangles, two of which I coloured with a wash of watercolour.

I used the same colours of Derwent Aquatone and Inktense pencils to draw the stylised/abstract floral design and a waterbrush to activate the pigment. I did my best to apply the same amount of pencil in each case. However, I noticed that the papers grabbed different amounts of pencil even though I was using the same kind of pressure.

The amount of pigment grabbed, however, wasn’t at all indicative of how vibrant the colours would be.

The 100% cotton rag paper seemed to have the smallest amount of pigment from the pencils, yet it gave the most intense colours of them all. This paper is quite ‘hard’ in feel and very textured and I was surprised it didn’t seem to take as much pigment. Appearances are deceiving it seems. This paper also allowed me the longest ‘wet’ time to move the coloured pencil pigment around, and to lift some of it where it had got too intense.

The Moulin du Roy paper was a softer texture and it was lovely to colour with the pencils on it. The resultant drawings have a soft quality to them too that I rather like.

The Daler-Rowney seemed to grab the most pigment, yet the colours are not as vibrant, except the for the Inktense on the watercolour background. I think that’s because the watercolour background was still very slightly damp and Inktense pigment activates with the tiniest amount of water. I also think that’s why this one was the hardest to blend the colour smoothly. This was the paper that was the hardest to add the watercolour background to as it dries so darned quickly, or water just puddles on the surface with a tiny bit more water.

The cotton rag paper is, again, my favourite for working with watercolour and Inktense pencils. The vibrancy of the noticeable too – much less pigment is needed to get a rich colour on this paper.

For the other two papers, I did enjoy drawing the flowers on the plain paper and activating the pigment with a waterbrush. I partiuclarly like the Moulin du Roy paper for this technique, though the Daler-Rowney gave a pleasing result on the plain paper.

Tiny Botanicals

I have been really enjoying drawing tiny botanicals in little ‘windows’. So, I combined drawing with watercolor practice.

The image on the left involved me using a pencil to draw the boxes and their contents, then watercoloring. For some, I tried painting the image in sections and with layers of colour. I really wasn’t happy with the results. I painted the rest of the boxes with washes of watercolour and then either inked or re-drew the designs in pencil. I felt happier with these.

I used Daler-Rowney Smooth watercolour paper and I’ve been struggling to get the paper to stay wet enough for long enough to mix colours wet in wet. Not even on these tiny little windows. It was becoming very frustrating.

A couple of days ago, I’d ordered a pack of 100% cotton rag paper and it arrived early evening. I used a small piece of it for the illustration on the right.

I started by painting rectangles of colour on the paper. I used a waterbrush rather than a paintbrush for this. I used the same kind of transparency of watercolour for each as I did for the illustration on the left. Oh my gosh, did the colours shine and show up so much more vibrantly! Not only that, it was so easy to mix colours, wet in wet. The cotton rag paper is an absolute joy to work with!

I was beginning to get frustrated with myself and watercolors once again. This has been a common feature of my love-hate affair with them over many years. This paper may change that totally.

This morning, after letting the paper dry, I drew tiny botanicals in each window. I used, as in the image on the left, a 005 Sakura Pigma Micron pen to draw with. I was worried it would struggle with the paper’s rough texture. The lines aren’t as uniform as they’d be on, say, smooth Bristol board. I just went with the rougher nature of the lines and was surprised at how much I enjoyed them. They meant I loosened up my drawing style a little.

I really enjoyed creating these little artworks (the one on the left is approx. 5″ x 5″, the on on the right 4″ x 4.75″). There is something I find really satisfying about creating teeny tiny drawings, in the same way I find drawing intricate designs makes something inside me smile.

What I do want to try later on today is adding some more colour to some of the design elements on both drawings using both watercolours and watercolour pencils or inktense pencils. On second thoughts, I think I’ll do some samples to experiment on, annotate and add to my journal, just in case I don’t like what transpires.

Before I do any of that, I woke with a headache. It’s beginning to shift, but as it lifts it’s leaving me feeling really tired.