I had a request from one of my subscribers on YouTube asking how I create this kind of art. Well, a nice request has to be met with a response, in this case, a YouTube video.
I’d tried out this way of working a week or so ago. I’m trying out different ways of combining hand-lettering with my kind of entangled kind of abstract art. In fact, I’m trying to work out my hand-lettering artistic voice. It’s very much a work in progress.
I’m really rather pleasantly surprised with this page. It’s not finished but is a melange of different ideas and pen types. There are a lot of ideas to take away from this and a lot to think upon.
I particularly like how I eventually worked out I could have patterns weaving in and out of the letters, again messing around with volume/dimension/space. I’ve yet to work out how this could work, but I’ve made a start.
My fingers are itching to get to work on something similar to this. I am, however, feeling totally exhausted. I didn’t sleep well last night, and my eyes are constantly on the point of closing as I fall I asleep where I sit.
I have a delivery due soon, I hope. And after that, I’m going to crash and have a nap. Then, I’ll see what happens this evening, as far as art goes!
Looks like yesterday and today are my ‘weekend’ this week. I do know, from past experience, that if I try to do some serious work while falling asleep, I’ll just mess up and have to repeat it again. So, time for self-care for sure.
How I spent my afternoon – adding colour to this particular design. The colour isn’t even, but I’m fine with that as I do want to add subtle patterns in the coloured sections eventually, I think.
I’m now taking a break from this as I just don’t know what to do next. Do I add more colour? Or is it time to add more pattern or texture? Or, do the patterned areas need shadows and highlights added rather than colour. Dare I add any sparkle and shimmer in places?
I just don’t know at the moment. What I do know is I quite like this way of combining words and patterns – two things I love very much.
A second thing I know is that it’s time for a mug of tea, a biscuit, maybe, and some slow stitching. Oh, and watch episode 3 of Obi-Wan Kenobi!
My page of whimsical houses is now done. Well, the drawing is at least! I think I’d be happy to live in any one of them, except perhaps the one that has a loooooooong ladder to climb up to. Need to have that changed to an elevator!
It’s always a happy and joyful time to draw houses of whimsy. In fact anything whimsical. It always makes me smile.
I’ve started adding colour to this drawing with Inktense pencils and a damp brush. I have a plan as to how I’m going to add colour – I talk about that in my video. All I have to do is remember what that plan is! Having said that, this is a sketchbook drawing so whether it gets finished or not is another matter. Colouring is not my favourite thing to do, nor an activity I feel I do well. Still, leave a comment if you’d like to see it finished!
In the video, I show, step by step how to draw the last couple of houses. Draw along with me! Follow my steps or change, adapt, or invent as you fancy. I’d love to see what you come up with, so tag me on social media.
I’ve seen a bit about slow stitching recently. It kept on catching my attention, so time to take a look at it a bit more.
Permission is given!
I lost my way with textile art many years ago – my attention went to other things. I still have a sizeable stash of threads and beads and sequins and so on. I got a couple of Slow Stitching books on my Kindle, had a quick read/flick through and had a realisation. Slow stitching gives me permission to create with stitches with a similar mindset to my more abstract art – to lose myself in the flow of creating, of just letting things happen and going with it and enjoying the process!
Being given permission – that is such a powerful thing! So often many ‘rules’ seem to be set about how you ‘should’ use a particular medium, or how you ‘should’ draw or create. It’s so refreshing when someone gives you permission to just do want you want, whatever brings you relaxation and pleasure (talking about stitching here!).
The stitching doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to look like anything. It’s just creating pattern and texture with colour and so on in a way that is pleasurable to you, to me.
It’s taken me a long time to give myself permission to draw the whimsical art I draw, or the more abstract stuff I do. But sometimes it really does take someone else to give that permission, either overtly or tacitly.
So, last night I dug out some felt and embroidery threads and needles and just started to stitch – cross stitch, seed stitch, running stitch and French knots. I’ve never been able to do French knots before!
Fond stitchy memories
As I stitched I had fond memories of Friday afternoons in primary school, I must’ve been 9 or 10, and being able to take out a sturdy cardboard box that stored my sewing project. Everyone in the class had one of these – boys and girls. A rectangle of navy blue Aida fabric, with the holes forming fairly large grids. A blunt needle was carefully stored in the fabric, and there was a selection of embroidery silks on the teacher’s desk to choose from.
Each week, we added another border or row to this fabric, learning different kinds of decorative stitches as we went. The Aida fabric made it easy to do, the only tricky things were not pulling the thread too tight and getting twisted, tangled and knotted thread!
Eventually, a panel was completed and the entire project was turned into a kind of pouch for pens and pencils. I had to add a linking – bright red – and stitch everything together by hand.
I remember being really proud of what I’d made and I treasured that pouch for years, even when black ink stained it, in one corner. I don’t know what happened to it. It just seemed to disappear at some point never to be found again by me. I remember being a bit upset at it going missing.
When I was in University, studying Chemistry and Environmental Pollution Science, I often used to get acid splashes on my jeans. So, rather than throwing them out, it seemed sensible that I use simple stitches to turn the holes into flowers and extend that pattern beyond the holes.
Over the years I’ve dabbled with cross-stitch and stitched tapestry and patchwork, but nothing really grabbed my attention until I did a lot of textile work during my A-Level art in my early 40s. Yet, that went by the by as other art took over, particularly when I started to work for publishers. I even won an art competition with one textile piece.
Returning from a little trip down memory lane, I wanted to take a look at this slow stitching. It feels right that I revisit stitching with the aim of incorporating it into my drawing and hand-lettering work. It may take me a while to work out how I’m going to do that, but unless I make a start it may never happen.
Felt is OK to work on, and I may return to needle-felting beautiful fibres onto black felt and then using slow stitching and beads to embellish the work. First, I have to get some black felt! I have loads of the rest of the stuff in my stash!
I also want to explore stitching on paper, using the stitches as a way to collage papers and so on. Like in the photo above.
Working on paper also gives me the opportunity to draw and/or paint patterns or textures alongside the stitches; giving me the opportunity to find different ways to combine my favourite things!
It may not be everyone’s cuppa, but my first attempt is making me smile and there’s a small sense of achievement.
I have no idea where this will take me, nor how persistent I’ll be with the stitching thing. It is, however, one more technique to add to my toolbox of arty techniques to choose from. And another one that is both relaxing and pleasurable, especially now it’s ok for me to do what I want when it comes to stitching!
I finally finished this experimental page a few minutes ago. I’ve been working on it over the past four days as I continue to experiment with the use of patterns with hand lettering.
To complete these particular examples of hand lettering I used a selection of Sakura Gelly Roll Moonlight pens. Working out which patterns work best for me is going to be quite a task. Still, it’s always fun to experiment!
Oh this was a lovely pattern to explore for a page in my sketchbook. It’s quite simple to draw, but it has so many possibilities that I’ve barely touched upon in this video.
The page I’m drawing on I coloured with various Distress Inks – Mustard Seed, Wild Honey, and a touch of ripe persimmon around the edges. I also used some Abandoned Coral to add subtle patterns through a stencil.
It’s always a pleasure to draw on paper that is coloured. The colour always brings some interest to whatever is being drawn, or so I think. Not that I’m averse to drawing on white paper, but colour adds something I can’t quite put into words.
As well as using black 05, 03 and 01 Sakura Micron and Uniball Unipin pens, I added some vintage red from an 0.5 Zebra Sarasa gel pen.
For shadows, I used a purple-grey Stabilo Carbothello chalk pastel. White highlights were created using a white charcoal pencil from General’s.
Exploring a totally new tangle pattern may not have been the best choice for me as I wait for the last pain of a migraine to go so I can sleep the rest of it off! Plenty of mistakes and not good choices here, but plenty of opportunities to learn from.
In today’s video on YouTube, I first make some Distress Ink backgrounds, then I explore this lovely tangle pattern, mangling it completely at times! This isn’t a problem as it’s all sketchbook work!
I really do enjoy exploring tangle patterns, as well as all my favourite motifs. They are such a good way to get creative juices flowing, but also of practicing your drawing skills, as well as other techniques, such as adding shadows or colour, or further patterns.
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.