Buggy Sketchbook

Time Lapse Video

Drawing

Today is a lazy, artsy day, Sunday. It’s raining, on and off, so I’m disinclined to wander out anywhere.

I started the morning drawing some half insects. Why half? Well, the plan is to scan the sketches in (which I’ve done), ink them in digitally (done too!) and then add colour (started!). Digitally, I can use the symmetry tools to complete the other half of the insect.

Of course, I could create mutant hybrids … but that doesn’t appeal to me much, that’s for sure.

I did film me drawing and wittering about my sketching and other arty stuff. I haven’t published the full-length video; I was very wittery and disjointed. My attention was focused on the process of observing and drawing. It seems that my ability to speak coherently vanishes as my concentration increases!

I enjoyed the half hour or so of quick sketches. I was focusing on creating simplified, stylised drawings, rather than detailed realistic ones.

Thoughts

Some connections were made as I wittered on. One was that when I draw in a stylistic way, I have no problem with using non-representational colours. It’s when I’m drawing more realistically that colours vex me. This is a problem that occurs with traditional media in particular.

I had a memory of falling in love with the work of Kandinsky, Juan Gris, and similar artists while doing my A Level art two decades ago. I particularly love the use of colour to communicate inner emotions, relationships with the art, and symbolism and metaphor.

I found this an interesting connection to make, even though I’m not entirely sure what that means yet. Other than that I’ve always found non-representational colour and stylised, abstract art something I’ve enjoyed doing. Indeed, as I write I remember that in front of me are three oil paintings I did for one of my art exams. They are abstract patterns from locomotive parts and Romanesque sculpture. Fiery reds, oranges, yellows and magentas were used for the locomotive parts. The painting based on Romanesque sculpture was in cool, calming blues. My focus for all the paintings was on pattern and contrast to get a feeling of volume/dimension.

Last summer, I was playing with watercolours and patterns abstracted from rock strata and nature. I used colours that appealed to me in these paintings.

I keep circling around this style of art. I return to it from time to time, enjoying the process of creating such art, often on a small scale too.

Where art comes from is a mystery. It comes unannounced. It has the quality of gift. The source from where it comes is hidden from us. Like all creativity, it stands us in possibility. It comes from impulse and dream, from raiding the inarticulate, from going below the floor of consciousness. To do this we must break free of the confines of the known and fixed. As artists we do this with our materials—with our hands. And in this confluence of mind and matter abstraction is not only relevant, it is essential. —Timothy Hawkesworth

Working from my creative subconscious is something I do…a lot. All my entangled art that just flows onto the page. Mandalas. Using observations of pattern and texture to create something that is non-representational, just, to my mind, pretty, pleasing.

I do the representational for coloring books, but my personal art … well … that can be anything I want it to be. I can use any colours I wish to use for it, and accepting that isn’t an easy thing.

The Inner Critic

I do my best to let colorists know that there are no rules for colour, that if they want purple trees and green people, that’s fine! And I’m able to do this in my coloring template style work. The stylised nature of these drawings allows that freedom. There really are no rules other than the ones we impose on ourselves.. I love to see the different ways people use colour, and the unexpected ways especially.

Yet, I am just realising that I’m very critical of myself when it comes to representational colors.

My problems start when I’m trying to create work that is representational of what I see with my eyes, such as succulents, or plants or anything else.

I can draw these things fairly well. Sketching and line art isn’t a problem, though it could be improved no doubt. But that improvement comes through practice.

My problems come when I start to add colour. If I can work with something that is non-representative then it works out OK, if often full of quite bright colours. Monochrome or limited color palettes really work well for me and produce a coloured piece of art that is cohesive.

It’s when I have a representational drawing that I want to add colour, that’s when my inner coloring critic comes knocking.

This inner critic took up residence most probably in my earliest school days when I was five or six. Well meaning teachers making sure you coloured inside the lines, that the sky was blue, the grass green and so on. If you deviated from these rules, well … trouble followed.

Trying to stay safe by using representational colours, and keeping this inner critic happy isn’t working at all. It’s time to sort this limiting inner voice out.

Moving along

Making observations, creating stylised, imaginative versions of what I see, using patterns and textures I collect and not worrying about realistic colours is my way forward.

As Yoda said, “You must unlearn what you have learned.”

I thought I’d done that, I didn’t realise I was subject to the attentions of the inner coloring critic. Not until I started talking and writing about this as starting to dip into a book full of exercises for creating abstract art.

Time to invoke my inner art jedi master and deal with the self-criticism that is limiting me! “This is Jedi business, go back to your drinks.”

Sketchbook Experiments and Arty Vlog

Saturday is becoming sketchbook Saturday with a vlog on YouTube!

As well as showing the most recent page(s) in my sketchbook and talking about the media/techniques/inspiration, I spend some time working on the current, higgledy-piggledy page.

I’ve become intrigued with using the humble biro / ballpoint pen in art, especially as they are waterproof. There’s some amazing portraits and other work out there by seriously talented artists.

However, I’m working out how they may work for me, especially in my sketchbook when out and about (when that finally happens!).

As well as talking about the various techniques and inspiration for the art on this page, I also talk about how I want to include more writing in my sketchbooks. I’m intrigued with using creative writing record my experiences, feelings, thoughts and the presence of place alongside any sketches done when visiting somewhere.

I’m also thinking that if I take photographs of what interests me, then sketches and further work could be done later. This is going to be important when I’m not by myself and don’t have the luxury of spending as much time as I’d like.

I’d like to create a story that is in words and pictures, recording my whole experience. Perhaps, I may want to share this with others, so that they can get a glimpse into my mind and emotions.

I’m not too bothered about creating a work of fiction, but to capture all those abstract feelings and observations and communicate them with others…

Actually, it would be about sharing them with myself by becoming more aware of them and giving an outlet for those abstract thoughts and impressions I rarely verbalise as I’m unaware of them unless I’m asked to verbalise them.

Something else I’d like to do is to revisit typographic art with all of this in mind. Finding a way to incorporate words and imagery that expresses who I am, rather than taking quotes from other people.

I do love words, always have. During this past year, I’ve had so few opportunities to speak out loud, that I’m finding it hard to dredge up the right word at times. Previously this was so easy for me. So, it would be good to give my vocabulary a good work out as well as add new words to it!

It’s going to be a work in progress for sure. I doubt I can do this, or that it will be interesting to others, or that it will be any good at all. However, if I don’t take the first tentative steps on this strand of my life’s tapestry, then I may never discover if it is something I can do, nor will I discover where it will lead me.

All that it will take are basic supplies, and to create a new ‘habit’ of writing throughout the day, whether I’m at home, or elsewhere, and drawing things that are of interest/importance to me at the time.

A bit of a challenge, but do-able I think.

Template Thursyay!

It’s Thursyay! So that means a new coloring page / coloring template for the members of the <a href="http://&lt;!– wp:paragraph –> <p>It's Thursyay! So that means a new coloring page / coloring template for the members of the Angela Porter's Coloring Book Fans facebook group.</p> <!– /wp:paragraph –> <!– wp:paragraph –> <p>As it's the first Thursyay in July, that also means a new color palette challenge. The colours in my digital palette are at the bottom of the artwork, and were suggested by two members in the group.</p> Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group.

As it’s the first Thursyay in July, that also means a new color palette challenge. The colours in my digital palette are at the bottom of the artwork, and were suggested by two members in the group.

It’s a month-long challenge, with templates completed using this palette being posted on the last Wednesday of the month.

Template Thursday…on a Wednesday?

Wednesday is the day I design this week’s template for the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. The template will be available to group members to download and colour tomorrow.

As it’s the first day of a new month tomorrow, that means a new color palette challenge for the group members. I’ve not decided on a colour palette yet.

This week it has a botanical theme.

While today’s vlog was processing and uploading, I took the time to edit the image digitally and also to add some colour to it. That gave the opportunity to play with a different brush. I’m not sure about the effect I’ve achieved, however.

In the vlog, I share my thoughts on the artwork and what I’m thinking as I draw. This is mostly focused on the art, but I do have a bit of a grasshopper brain that will flit around from time to time.

As the vlog is rather long – 1 hr and 13 mins or so – I’ve also created a speeded up / time lapse version with music if you prefer.

Entangled art and my artistic style

Link to real time video of drawing and chatting
Link to time lapse drawing video.

Today, I started my arty day with some entangled drawing and a chat based around some interesting questions posed to me by various people on social media yesterday. The questions got me thinking and talking about my particular drawing and art style.

What I’m realising is, I’ve never really be provoked into thinking about/talking about my art style and where it has come from! For me talking and thinking are the same thing – there are two styles of inner monologue. One is where you hear thoughts in sentences throughout the

The topic of inner speech has caused a stir on Twitter after the user KylePlantEmoji  put out his own observation on the matter. “Fun fact: some people have an internal narrative and some don’t,” he tweeted. “As in, some people’s thoughts are like sentences they ‘hear’, and some people just have abstract non-verbal thoughts, and have to consciously verbalize them. And most people aren’t aware of the other type of person.”

https://mymodernmet.com/inner-monologue/

I have a mix of them. My inner monologue is one that ruminates on the past, is self-critical and so on. But I also have abstract, non-verbal thoughts that I need to verbalise to be aware of them. So, if someone asks me a question about, say, my artistic style and where it comes from, then I have to verbalise thoughts about it. Until I’m forced in some way to verbalise these kinds of thoughts, I have no idea what they are. Same if I’m, say, sitting in nature, observing the world around me. My thoughts won’t be on what I’m experiencing. Often, there are no thoughts, unless I’m stuck in a ruminating, worrying and self-critical mode, which doesn’t happen all too often.

Until I read this, and other articles, I thought there was something wrong with me, because so many others seemed to think in their heads about lessons, or experiences, or the news. But I never seem to do so. Now, I know and understand why that is. I think in an abstract way that I’m not particularly aware of as such. It just happens.

So, creating these daily (almost) vlogs is forcing me to talk about my artistic style, choices, process, lessons and so on. And such it is making me more aware of myself as an artist.

Most importantly, however, it is helping me to understand the value of all these things validating my art to me.

Yes, I do have a bit of ‘imposter syndrome‘ going on when it comes to my accomplishments in life. But, talking about my artistic journey, and how far back it started and where the observational skills and so on started is helping me see it’s been an almost life-long journey. It’s also helping me to accept and understand my artistic voice(s), style(s) as being an expression of my experiences in life where art and observation are concerned.

There’s plenty about this (though not the inner monologue and imposter syndrome stuff) in today’s real-time vlog. It is around 53 minutes long, so I have created a time lapse version with music as well.

Entangled Drawing WIP

Link to Time Lapse Video of Pen drawing (not adding colour though)

This morning, I spent over an hour starting work on this entangled pen drawing. I did film the process, but it’s recycling day, and the bin lorries and bin men were really noisy this morning. So, I turned the video into a timelapse with music. It lasts about 14 minutes, and the link to it is above this paragraph.

I remember chatting about my influences for this drawing, and they started with me watching a video from the “Journey to the Microcosmos” YouTube channel.

I’ve always loved microscopic images, being able to see things that are invisible to our naked eyes. There’s always a sense of wonder about it, amazement at the different shapes of the various organisms that become visible. That wonder must be the same as Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch scientist of the 17th and 18th Centuries must have seen.

I loved drawing what I could see with the aid of a microscope from the first science lessons when I was 11 years of age, right through my degree and PhD and on through my teaching career too. And of course it was bound to creep into my art!

My memories of drawing diagrams of flowers and rock sections, minerals and scientific apparatus and diagrams are very fond indeed. This has certainly influenced my style of art – observing the tiny, abstracting the interesting (important) patterns and forms. Scientifically, the focus is on the features, structures, the important parts that allow identification or communicate the important features of what was seen. After all, photographs and videos can be made of all the glorious detail and colour.

The diagram is a simplified version, a map, that can help others to navigate their way around. A kind of scientific version of the map of the London Underground system. The map helps in navigating the system, but it bears no relationship to the physical layout of the rail lines and the geography of the city above.

Now, however, I take those observations and turn them into my own arty, entangled worlds of wonder. It is still the small parts that catch my attention, fill me with wonder and awe, are the ones I record, rarely the whole thing. If I visit an old church or abbey, I rarely, draw the building as a whole. I spend time looking and drawing the elements of it that capture my arty attention.

My sketchbook page often ends up of a collage of my visit, the various observations fitting together in a pleasing way. Often, I may join the elements together with imaginary lines or patterns. I may end up not with a drawing of the whole building; instead, I record my experience of the building at the day, time, season and weather I visited it.

The same is true for visits in nature, or to museums. My sketchbooks record what catches my attention, and that may not be the ‘whole’ of something, but just a part.

I’m still a scientist in my approach to art – what are the important forms, patterns, shapes, etc. that are the distillation of my experience, that I’d like to record and, maybe, share with others?

Of course, these observations find their way into my more Entangled art, like this one. The round orbs separated into three lobes were inspired by something I saw when watching one of the Journey to the Microcosmos videos. The flat leaves, by seaweed. The triangular pods are imaginary, though there may be real-world analogues of them from which inspiration was unknowingly gained. Curled, baby fiddlehead ferns are the inspiration for another motif in the drawing.

Inspiration indeed – based on observation, but interpreted and altered in a way that is personal to me.

I’m forever wondering what my artistic voice is, and here it is. At least one of the harmonic notes or chords anyway.

Inky Insects! A sketchbook page

Yesterday was a bit of an odd day. Between a couple of mediation meetings in the day and me still not feeling quite right – fatigued, headachy, tummy still not right – I just didn’t feel up to doing much when I was awake. Except for drawing. Drawing insects.

I started with pencil drawings and then decided to ink them in. I know from bitter experience how pencil drawings can quickly smudge and fade in a well used and referenced sketchbook.

I loved the delicate nature of the pencil drawings, but I know I can always draw in pencil again for future work involving bugs.

If you’d like to see some of the pencil drawings before they were inked in, then have a look at the time lapse video.

I started off with bugs that were quite true, in a simplified and stylised way, to the images I was looking at, Gradually, I found myself being more imaginative.

I now have a fair collection of insects in my sketchbook, and I am quite keen to add more! However, I really do need to turn my attention to the colouring book I’m working on for much of the rest of today.

Mushrooms and Insects!

Today’s Vlog (approx 33 mins long)

Watercolour Mushrooms!

I finished the mushroom painting! I was so engrossed in the magic of watercolour and wanting to complete this work that I spent most of yesterday working on it!

I’m really quite happy with the outcome. It was very much inspired by Danielle Donaldson, but I think I may have given it some little twists of my own too.

I’m also beginning to think that I can make watercolour work for me, with a mix of ‘tight’ shapes, the magic textures achieved by wet into wet, and details with gel pens and drawing pencil.

I added the dots with a mixture of white Posca, Uniball Signo and Sakura Gelly Roll pens. I also tried adding dots of gold from a metallic Gelly Roll pen. I like the metallic dots, though they don’t photograph well.

There’s only one thing better than mushrooms, and that’s more mushrooms!

I enjoyed this so much that I thought I’d do a smaller version on some of the Canson Imagine mixed media paper. That’s the work on the top left. I used Zig Clean Colour brush pens and Caran D’Ache Supracolour watercolour pencils on this one to see how they could work. I’m happy with some of the effects I achieved, but in other ways I’m not at all happy.

Surprisingly, I rather like the softer colours of the Supracolour pencils on the mushrooms at the top. I found I could get a ‘painterly’ effect with them too.

The dye inks in the Zig brush pens will reactivate with the slightest touch of water, which meant I had some interesting colour bleeds.

I think what I like most about this experiment were the different colours, particularly those peachy pink colours! I have a lot to learn about colour mixing of my watercolour set for sure!

Insects!

Well, I thought I’d have a little play around with some cute insects, the start of which is at the bottom left.

I used a 0.3mm pencil to draw the design on Canson Imagine paper and then set to adding colour with Mijello Mission Gold watercolours. I’d forgotten that I wasn’t fussed about using them on the Imagine paper. However, I carried on working with them and worked with how they interacted with the paper. I definitely wasn’t working in the prescribed way of watercolour work. But, I ended up with some effects I rather like.

Small Art

I often revert to working on a small scale. It’s something I’ve done throughout my art journey. I’ve never really been happy with working on a huge scale, except when working with pastels and charcoal.

Even when I create A4 art, which is the biggest I do in traditional media nowadays, my artwork is full of tiny details – the size of those details varies depending on whether it is personal art or art for a colouring book.

I get a lot of pleasure from creating small, precious works of art. If I were to frame them, I’d be tempted to put the tiny art in the centre of a huge frame to give that feeling of preciousness. But that would be very pretentious of me, wouldn’t it?

Mushrooms! A Watercolour WIP

Two versions of a video of this artwork are available:
Full, 45 minute video with chat
Speeded up 10 minute version with music

This morning, I continued with a watercolour painting of mushrooms. This is very much a work in progress. It is inspired by an illustration in a book by Danielle Donaldson called ” The Art of Creative Watercolour: Inspiration and Techniques for Imaginative Drawing and Painting.”

As I am continuing to explore watercolour, I am dipping into books in my stash to absorb more ideas and information and try various exercises out.

In this video, I talk about how I think there are no right or wrong ways of being creative, as what is ‘right’ for one person may not be the way for another. We’re all unique people, creatives, and how we express ourselves, the techniques , media and styles is a very personal kind of expression. We can all learn valuable lessons by watching other artists work, taking courses, reading books, doing exercises. The most important lessons learned are those that show us who we are by helping us work out who we are not.

And this will change throughout our lives as we experience new things that change us too. And that is no bad thing at all. It’s all part of the rich tapestry of our lives.

I think that as long as your joy and passion and personality shows through in your art, then that is the most important thing of all. It makes your art uniquely yours, and that is, as far as I’m concerned, a wonderful thing. It may not be my thing, or to my taste, but then my art isn’t to everybody’s tastes either.

And, that is all fine and well and good. It doesn’t mean one is bad the other
good. It just means we are different, and that is what makes life so wonderful. It would be so boring if we were all clones of each other, wouldn’t it?

This chatter was inspired by a video I watched this morning by The Art of Watercolour, and you can see it here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFMlh3EP1MA

I also chat about how I’m trying to work out how watercolour works best for me. The biggest challenge is that I partly have to learn to accept that wet watercolour has a mind of its own when you add more colour to it. It’s not easy for me to be out of control of the effects achieved, so I really think it’s a good thing for me to explore and learn to work with.