I’m really not feeling too grand again today. Tummy cramps kept waking me up through the night. I know what the cause of them is – hormones is all I’ll say. But I am so tired today, but I don’t want to sleep as that will impact on my sleep tonight. So, quiet art time it is!
I like the idea of pattern and motif sampler pages in my sketchbook. However, I like to work on paper on the worksurface rather than in a book. So, I dug out one of my Distress Ink coloured papers to work on.
I used a selection of Zentangle tangle patterns for the first row. They are, from left to right Savana by Yvette Cambell CZT Holly by Linda Farmer CZT ‘Nzepple by Zentangle Inc Dorsal by Anita Aspfors Westin Crazy ‘Nzeppl by Zentangle Inc Pufanflower by YuRu Chen
I used alcohol markers to add shadow to the patterns and a white Gelly roll for the highlights.
This will be a series of posts with accompanying videos until the page is done.
This was a lovely way to spend an hour or so on a sunny Saturday morning! I’ve often said it and will say it again and again, I do enjoy drawing things of whimsy.
Houses are one of my current themes. As they’re all imaginary, I can ignore any architectural/structural rules. Towers I love, in particular. I’d love to be able to afford to buy or build a wonderful, quirky tower to live in. I’d like a dome on top so I can watch the night sky or thunderstorms clearly. For now, though, I can dream of living in a tower and create what I can imagine on paper with pen and ink.
I hope you’ll join in and try your hand at whimsical buildings and create your own village full of peace and harmony!
It was one of those mornings when I wake up with what seemed to be a good idea on my mind. Then, I execute the supposedly good idea to realise it’s not working out as expected, and it may not have been such a good idea at all. That is what is happening here!
I think the idea of doing my hand-lettering like this may have some mileage in it. I do feel I have problems pleasingly arranging lettering. If I work on pieces of paper and cut out the words, I can arrange them on the paper until I’m happy with it. So that’s fine. A good plan.
But, I’ve ended up with a birdseye view of an “I” shaped moat around a blocky castle “rolls eyes”. Having “choose to shine” inside a capital I works rather well – I choose to shine. But what possessed me to use blue Diva Dance around the letters? I really didn’t think it through or see the consequences of that choice. Duh!
Of course, this may just be that part in drawing where I think it’s all awful and I should just give up. But I’ve learned to be a bit stubborn and push through to the end, with a drawing at least. Adding colour is an entirely different matter.
So, I will push on and see what happens. Who knows, it may work out nice enough in the end. Or not. Either way, there are plenty of opportunities for me to learn some stuff.
Sheesh, I really can drop some rather heavy clangers at times. But it’s through these that we learn, grow and develop as artists. In my case, I seem to drop the same clangers time after time after time and never quite seem to learn. One day the pennies will drop!
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.
In today’s tutorial video, I enjoyed drawing on one of my Neocolor II backgrounds. And I’ve just remembered I forgot to scan the background before cutting and drawing on it. Oh well. I’ll just have to make another one!
Anyhoo, I sometimes forget how much I enjoy working on a coloured background. The colours add an instant “feel” to a drawing. This one reminds me of sunrises and sunsets and the joy and awe that I experience when I see them. So, it was natural I’d choose a few of my favourite motifs to start filling this A5-ish sheet with pen drawings.
Of course, it’s lovely to share how to draw these motifs with others, helping them along their arty journey.
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 had the hand-lettered part of this sketchbook page completed a couple of days ago. I didn’t really know what else to do with it. I knew adding colour with traditional media was likely to be a disaster.
This morning I woke up knowing what to do with this, along with other things. So, I spent some time adding a border around the lettering and starting to add patterns and motifs. And arches, lots of arches!
I then thought it would be nice to share some of the drawing process through a video, which you can see by clicking this link.
It feels like a long while since I did any entangled style art. The hand-lettering isn’t perfect, nor is the frame around it. But that’s OK. I think it goes with the ‘chaos’, the imperfection, the touch of an imperfect human hand.
A couple of months ago, I may have tried to do something like this, and would likely have been really dissatisfied with the result. Mainly because I wasn’t at all happy with my hand-lettering attempt. But now, after just a couple of months of working in lettering sketchbooks, working with different ways to form letters and finally accepting that whatever lettering I do doesn’t have to be perfect – good enough is good enough!
I’m using variations in the density of pattern and ink to create shadows and highlights in the design. I have no intention of using pencil or markers to add grey shadows to this one. If I decide to add colour, it will be in the style of a linocut or hand-coloured print, perhaps with some extra shadow and highlight added by the depth of colour. Perhaps. Maybe. And if I do, digital is the way I’ll go! First, though, I have to finish drawing this design.
In today’s YouTube video, I show and try to explain verbally, how to draw a different kind of shell, one step at a time.
This shell is, perhaps, a bit more challenging than yesterday’s. However, when broken down it’s not much more difficult.
Again, I add shadow to the drawings using a graphite pencil and a paper stump/tortillon or, in the case of part of the second shell, pen lines and density of pattern.
I also added some colour to the second shell, using a damp brush and lime green and turquoise Karin Brushmarker Pro pens. The graphite shading shows through the transparent watercolour inks from the pens.. I think this combination makes the image look quite metallic. Not surprising as graphite, as an element, is rather grey and shiny and metallic looking! Actually, it’s just the cool grey tones of the graphite that makes this so!
It’s really a lot easier to show than to explain in words, spoken or written. This is why I’m creating videos. It also makes that part of me that is a retired science teacher happy to use my teaching skills and feed my passion for helping others learn and grow.
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.