I decided that I’d like to turn the sunflower and wheat elements of yesterday’s drawing into a mandala. And this is the result.
I’m fairly happy with it, though I think some parts lack contrast to really give them some visual volume. But it will do, for now. I like the hint of a suggestion of the whole mandala being sun-like. it also reminds me a little of hand-coloured etchings or prints. It would have looked more like a woodcut if I’d used heavier lines and more texture. These are things to try to remember and put into practice in my next mandala like this.
Strictly speaking, Lammas, or Lughsanadh, was yesterday, but I was busy getting all the work for ‘Fanciful Birds’ finished. I know I have a break before my next colouring book contract, and my attention will be on a couple of projects I’ve already started.
Back to Lammas. Lammas comes from the Old English hlafmæsse, which translates as ‘loaf mass’. It was a mass where the first loaves baked from the first wheat harvest were consecrated in thanks for the harvest. This celebration probably reaches far back in time to the first farmers. Having a good harvest was important so that people, and livestock too, had enough to eat through the dark, cold, lean times of winter.
So, I included some ears of wheat in today’s drawing, along with a happy sunflower, which just goes with the start of August and the height of summer.
This drawing isn’t quite finished. Shadow is needed, and colour. I’m likely to do that digitally. I also may use this drawing as the basis for a mandala design as well. But not now. I need another big mug of tea before I tackle that!
Today marks the Lunar New Year celebrated in China and other Asian nations. It is the year of the Tiger.
I thought I’d draw a design based on some of the symbols associated with the New Year celebrations held by Chinese and Asian communities worldwide.
To start, I used various Distress Inks – fossilised amber, ripe persimmon, spiced marmalade and aged mahogany – to colour a 14cm x 14cm (5.5″ x 5.5″) piece of Canson Imagine mixed media paper. Tigery colours!
After marking my border guides in pencil, I drew in the outer border of stylised plum blossoms.
Next, a layer of coins, all with the square hole characteristic of Chinese coinage, but many with imaginative patterns within.
I then realised I hadn’t put a tiger anywhere! So, I popped a cute and whimsical tiger head at the centre, all smiling and happy.
Finally, as far as drawing was concerned, I put some bamboo overlapping in a Zentangle Hollibaugh manner to fill the space.
Then it was time to tackle adding colour. The part that always vexes me. I used watercolour pencils in this instance. I discovered I liked working in a loose, just let the paint and water do what they will, kind of way. I got some interesting textures and patterns, particularly in the spaces between the bamboo.
I’m not entirely sure this was all a good idea, mind you. Part of me really wishes I’d drawn this on plain paper, or maybe coloured paper, but left the colour at that. Some shading.
And I’ve just realised that I haven’t really done any shading in this design! It would be awkward now as I’ve added gold and white gel pens to the design. Oh well.
I’m not all that happy with this drawing. I may spend some time doing a version of it, but on plain white paper. Just to see the difference.
There’s always something to learn from each drawing that is done. Always. However, I don’t always learn those lessons, such as how I feel I struggle with colour when it’s traditional media or the importance of contrast/shadow to bring depth and dimension to a design.
I definitely need to make a list of things to consider when drawing in my commonplace book.
This card is now almost finished. I have learned some things from yesterday’s debacle. Mainly that I’d make a much wider border for the embossed background.
I did add Speckled Egg Distress ink to this embossed background, but it’s such a lovely, subtle colour the camera hasn’t picked it up well.
The embossed layer is so tactile! I used some Micro Glaze to seal it so that being touched won’t affect the distress ink.
Actually, I used Micro Glaze on the top layer too!
I could only find cream coloured card blanks and envelopes, and these layers really didn’t look too good on them. So, hopefully I’ll remember where my card blank stash is, or I’ll make a blank and envelope.
In the video I try embossing an envelope – a case of ‘envelope art’. I’m glad I did. The embossing works well. However, the areas where the flaps are glued together on the back of the envelope make indents in the front. Distress Ink brings these out so much. So, I’ll be sure to emboss the front of the envelope, and colour with Distress Ink, before I glue it all together!
All in all, I’m much happier with this card. Mind you, I do have ideas for others! Probably too late for Christmas now, but … there’s always lots of other reasons for sending greetings cards, including ‘just because I can’.
Winter solstice 2021 Mandala
Winter Solstice Greetings and Wishes to you all to the north of the equator! Summer Solstice Greetings and Wishes to you all south of the equator!
Some sunshine on a chilly, dull Winter Solstice day here in the Valleys of South Wales, UK.
Actually, the title should be ‘How Not to finish up…’. I had a bit of an accident. More about that in a minute.
This morning, I decided to work on finishing up one card design. I knew I wanted to add another layer beneath the panel already finished before gluing it to the cream-coloured card blank.
I dug out some scrapbook paper from my stash. Nothing felt right. The colours were just ‘off’. That’s when I realised I needed to use Distress Inks to colour the lower panel.
I could have used them to colour the panel, then use pens (black, fineliner or metallic) to draw a pattern on it. Instead, I decided to try to emboss the pattern into the paper using a dotting tool / parchment craft ball tool / embossing tool.
Before I did this, I experimented on some scrap paper to see how I could colour the paper (more on this in today’s video).
I decided to emboss the paper first, then add Distress Ink (pine needles) with the black side of a piece of Cut ‘n Dry foam. That kept the embossing white. I found that if I used a blending brush (aka make-up brush!) more ink settled in the embossing. That is also a lovely look, but not what I wanted.
Inside this border, I added some gold ink to create a gold border around the upper panel.
That looked fine and dandy. The horror story came with the next step…
I added some foam tape to the back of the upper panel to add some dimension to the card, along with some glue so I had some wiggle time to make sure I got the panel centred.
The glue was the mistake I think. I had the panel nicely centred until I turned it over to add some pressure to get it to stick firmly. It must have wiggled and become de-centralised.
And when I noticed it was very firmly stuck.
I was so annoyed with myself as I know this is something that nearly always goes wrong when I try to make cards.
The only way I can ‘fix’ things is to cut out that central panel and re-make the embossed border and reassemble the card once again. This time I’d consider having the embossed pattern going under the central pattern so that if it is a little off it won’t be quite so noticeable.
I’m not, however, going to do that. This time, I’m going to make notes in the card about what I did, the media used, what I like, what I don’t like, and what I need to be very, very mindful of the next time I make a card.
Reflecting on the card creation
I know I’m fairly happy with the design. I like the central motif of holly leaves. The sutble pattern in the border around it is nice too, as is the embossed border.
I do wish I’d not used chalk pastels to add colour to this panel. There’s something dusty and muted about it that I’m not at all sure of. I think that keeping things mostly monochrome on a coloured background works best for me, with touches of gold and white, with some shading perhaps.
It’s that thing again. I love colour, but making use of it always has me feeling that it’s where I mess things up, unless I keep the colours really simple. Simple as in black, white, the background colour, and a shadow colour, and maybe touches of metallics for some sparkle and shine.
I do better with colour when I work digitally, but in traditional media I always feel like I struggle.
It’s always a learning experience, more so when things don’t go as planned or when I’m not entirely happy with what I produce. My problem is I try the same kind of thing over and over and expect it all to improve. I think I’m hoping that I’ll work out how to make the various media work for me at some point.
I say, often, I’m going to stick to monochrome, and then go and try working with colour, often with the same kind of feeling at the end. The feeling I like the pen drawing, but the colour/media isn’t what I’m looking for.
Perhaps time for me to make use of this colour printer and add colour digitally and print it out!
Number 1 has some really intricate details in the inner rings of the mandala. Number 2, not quite so many.
They may be tiny, but I managed to add colour with the bullet tip of Arteza Everblend markers. So it’s not impossible to do, just a tad challenging. But I do know some people like that challenge.
One way is to colour the whole section in one colour, or a gradation of colours, and let the drawing just be like it’s etched into the colour, a texture if you will.
Another way is to take a larger section of pattern, and just colour it all in, like the small squares in template 1.
Whatever you feel comfortable doing is fine!
There’s no video today. I’ve tried a couple of times, but have spilled ink on the paper, made a total pig’s ear of colour, and so I need to focus on getting as many of the templates for Adorable Dogs inked in as I can. I only have a few left to do, and I haven’t done any over the last two days due to the stress of appointments. When I’m totally stressed/anxiety-ed out, I become incredibly tired and lacking any kind of focus for anything. The priority then is self care. Naps, quiet time, nothing that will get me stressed again as it will be all to easy to get stressed once again.
I’m not saying I’ve totally destressed, but the frustration with videoing today shows there’s still a fair amount there. Self care. Do what I can. If I get frustrated, take a break, even if it’s a break until tomorrow. When I’m not stressed, work flows and gets done more quickly than pushing myself and I end up redoing it all when I’m calm again.
Sometimes, you have to go slow to go fast. Not an easy lesson to learn, given the way that being productive is in your face everywhere, from adverts to social media influencers.
I’ve learned, the hard way, that taking care of myself has to be a priority. Taking those breaks knowing that by nurturing my mental and emotional wellbeing and getting that into a good shape I’ll soon get all the work done that I need to do.
In the spirit of the day, I’m so grateful for everyone who supports me in my artistic journey, who so kindly communicates with me, who brings my drawings alive in so many, different, wonderful ways. Thank you once and all!
There are so many other people in my life I’m grateful for too. And, there’s so much else I have to be grateful for.
Draw with me … Seed Pods
My day started with, unsurprisingly, some drawing. This time of some seedpods that turned out rather ornate and fancy-schmancy! Of course, I created a video showing how I did these.
Even though I’m feeling totally overwhelmed by Adorable Dogs at the moment, I still think it’s important I take the time to do art that is entirely for me. Making these videos, sharing my thoughts, materials, methods is part of that practice now it seems. I’m so grateful to all who watch, comment, subscribe, like and/or share these videos.