Draw With Me | Pattern Exploration – Arch Motifs

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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.

4. Reflections

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.

Monogram ‘B’ (and a couple of others!)

Click on this link to view today’s video tutorial that goes with this design!

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.

Pattern Exploration – Kangular by Tomàs Padrós CZT

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 enjoyed my time with this pattern, and you can see my explorations in today’s YouTube video.

Draw With Me | Part 4 of a sketchbook page full of oyster shells

Click on this link to watch today’s video on YouTube.

In part 4 of this video series, I draw a couple of oyster shells, one of which I add colour, shadow, highlight and pattern to. The other I’ve left until my next video.

I really enjoyed drawing these oyster shells. The one I’ve completed has used a kind of variation of the Diva Dance tangle pattern to construct it.

I’m really quite happy with how this one has turned out. I actually think I’ve done a fairly good job on adding colour – so unusual for me! Alcohol markers really do seem to be working well for me. Something to seriously consider going forward, that’s for sure.

I like how the areas of dense black add a lot of contrast. But I like how I’ve added white dots to soften the harshness of them and make them feel they belong in the pattern.

As I was wittering and musing during filming, I realised how much I enjoy creating line art. I enjoy the elegance of simplicity, focusing on the key elements that make the drawing instantly recognisable. This hearkens back to my time studying science and then the 28 years I spent as a science teacher. In science, observational drawings have to focus on the essence of what you see, making sure you get the essential identifying features correct. I was always a bit of a maverick going a little further than the bare essentials and even adding some colour! I got a tad chastised for that, but it didn’t stop me.

Now, this love of focusing on the essentials, the basic line art, shows in my artwork so much. In fact, it’s essential for me to do this otherwise I try to incorporate everything I can see into the drawing. Then, the drawing ends up so detailed it’s not really recognisable!

There seems to be a lot of sudden realisations and connections being made with my relationship to art and my particular style lately. Signs, I hope, that I’m finally settling into what is ‘me’ and recognising where my artistic roots lie and what I really enjoy doing.

Speaking my thoughts and reasoning out loud for the videos brings this process into awareness. I’ve often written about how I don’t think in words, but in feelings or abstractions. I have to be forced to put them into words by being given the opportunities to speak them out loud to people, or sometimes to write them in journals or blogs.

I hope that by sharing these thoughts and processes with others it will help them to find ways to discover and become comfortable with their own artistic style, as well as gaining some confidence in expressing themselves artistically just for the pleasure of creating art.

The other thing that working with the bare essentials line art style is that there are plenty of spaces for me to get creative with pattern and texture! I’ve learned over time how not to become overly ornate. What I like about today’s artwork is how I didn’t try to fill every section in with intense and intricate pattern. Oh, there’s plenty of white highlight dots scattered around, but the tangle pattern style of textures are thoughtfully placed and not too many of them.

This is something I’m still developing – not to overwhelm the drawing with pattern/texture. How much to use, and how much ’empty’ space to leave.

Draw With Me | A sketchbook page of oyster shells – Part 3

Click on this link to view the video tutorial for drawing the fourth oyster shell on YouTube

I’m about halfway through filling this slightly smaller than A5 sketchbook page with different kinds of oyster shells. Today’s even has a pearl in it!

I’m using the same peachy-pink and warm grey alcohol markers, but with the addition of a pale dusky kind of mauve colour for the shadow inside the shell.

I never claim to be an expert at colouring. However, using a very limited colour palette works in my favour, that’s for sure! The end result is good enough, which is what I always aim toward these days. Perfection is something that is unattainable. So good enough is just great!

I’ve been wintering on, both in speech and typing, about the purpose of my YouTube channel. Synchronicity struck today as two quotes about art appeared on my Facebook newsfeed today:

“Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

Kurt Vonnegut

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So, write and draw and build and play and dance and live only as you can.”

Neil Gaiman

These two quotes eloquently sum up what I think I want to bring to YouTube, my social media, and to you.

Confidence to create art just for the pleasure of it and in your own way too.

Building self-confidence is the first step, and sometimes that needs help, instruction, step by step methods, and suggestions for variations and making it your own.

We all can draw. We just have to unlearn that drawing isn’t always about photographic representations. It’s about self-expression, and each of us expresses ourselves differently. Maybe in a similar way to others, but uniquely our own.

To have a bit of confidence to do this, in a sketchbook, where no one else has to see until you’re ready to share in a supportive environment, is all that is needed. I wasn’t lucky enough to have a supportive environment for creating art until I was in my 40s. If I can provide a supportive environment here, around social media, on YouTube, and perhaps in a closed Facebook group or some such place, then I will.

It’s nice to find a purpose, don’t you think? I do, and I’m glad I’ve found that purpose for YouTube at the very least.

Draw With Me … Whimsical Floral Motifs

Click on this link to view the YouTube video that shows, step by step, how I draw and add pattern to these motifs.

On Wednesdays, I draw the weekly colouring page (or template) for members of Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. As this week’s template (and next weeks too) has a fair few floral motifs in it, I thought I’d make them the focus of today’s video over on YouTube.

The flowers are all rather whimsical and stylised, but that’s no bad thing. I’ll never stop thinking that we need some more whimsy in this turbulent world (and that’s putting it mildly!). If I can create a little world of beauty and whimsy with pen on paper, then I think that’s a good thing. And it’s even better if others can use colour to bring the worlds to vibrant life, or can learn how to draw their own whimsical worlds too.

I was a science teacher for 28 years, until I left to focus on my mental and emotional well being as well as art. My desire to help others gain confidence and inspire them to learn new skills, to find enjoyment in this process, then that’s a good thing too.

Draw With Me … Monogram A and Tangle Pattern A-Frame

Click on this link to view the tutorial video that accompanies this image.

Today, I woke with the idea to create an ATC (Artist Trading Card) using a monogram from one of the hand lettered alphabets I’ve been drawing in my lettering sketchbook.

The monogram is a simple one, with some of the spaces filled with tangle patterns. The background is formed from the tangle pattern A-Frame by Angie Gittles CZT. When I chose it, I wasn’t fully aware it was based on the letter A; I really can be a bit dense at times!

Some indigo chalk pastel and a tortillon to add shadows and some gold watercolour paint to frame the monogram and all was done!

I enjoyed the process of drawing. I’m fairly happy with the end result. However, I think a more organic background may have worked better with such a strongly geometric shape. It’s all a experimenting, exploring, experiencing and learning.

I may end up doing a series of monograms. It’s a good way to work with lettering and to get some practice in of figuring out how patterns and letters/words can work for me.

Today’s YouTube video is a step by step tutorial of how you too can create this ATC.

Draw With Me … Tangle Pattern Exploration of ‘Nova# by Beth Gaughan

Click on this link to view the video of the tangle pattern exploration on YouTube.

It’s a funny old day today. I think I’ve overextended myself in exploring/experimenting with art. I just felt I needed a bit of ‘comfort art’ today. It’s like comfort eating, but healthier! Something familiar, not too taxing, soothing to the senses and mind. So, some pattern exploration fitted the bill!

The pattern I chose to look at is Nova by Beth Gaughan. It’s a lovely pattern but not one that I would ordinarily choose. Just challenging enough to make things interesting, but not so challenging that I get more and more disheartened with artwork.

It turns out that Nova was a good choice. There are some interesting variations to be explored for sure.

I hope you’ll come and join me in drawing these variations over on YouTube. This kind of exercise is good for getting the creative juices working, coming up with ideas in my sketchbook, and continuing to work with and understand how to vary tangle patterns. In turn, these things have an effect on my other art.

“Blooming Kangular” – A Tangle Pattern by Tomas Padros CZT | Pattern Variations

Come #DrawWithMe some of these variations in today’s YouTube video. Just click on this link!

I have a big fondness for Tomas Padros’ tangle patterns, particularly Taiga. Blooming Kangular is new to me, and it’s lovely as is. But, it’s fun to do some pattern exploring to understand the tangle, and it’s possibilities, more.

Some of these patterns remind me of snowflakes. Another of star anise. And of course there are plenty of flowers too!

I had a lovely time drawing these, and I hope you will go take a look at the video and have a go a drawing along with me too!

Saturday, Saturday…

Do you ever have one of them days when all that you try seems to go awry? That’s today for me.

I tried three times to create a video and ended up with total messes. I then tried a stop motion project. My camera wouldn’t hold autofocus. So, I think I’ll give up on this for today.

So, instead, I have an oldie of mine, but with words that perhaps make sense. Maybe today I’ve not been working delicately, trying to force it. A rest may be in order.