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.

Draw With Me | Embrace Beautiful Chaos – Part 2

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I spent some lovely time adding a bit more to this drawing. In the video, I share how, step by step, I draw some of the motifs so you can use them too!

Peace, calm, and just creating for the contentment it brings me.

Draw With Me | Two More Organic Motifs

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I’ve now finished this drawing by adding two organic motifs, both fairly simple.

With the trailing flowers or leaves or stones, the hardest part is arranging them to look like they’re trailing and remembering to decrease the size towards the point.

The other motif, a stack of small seeds on a stem, is easy enough to draw.

After doing this, I thought it needed some colour to bring the motifs to life. So, I dug out some of the Neocolour IIs I’d used for the background and used them a bit like watercolour paints. I scribbled a little of each Neocolor II on my plastic palette, added water, and painted.

I’m not entirely sure about my efforts with adding colour – this is where it can all go wrong for me. Part of me knows I’d most likely be better off if I were to add shadow and texture using pens.

I did use some metallic watercolours to add some sparkle here and there too.

One thing I did notice is that I was glad I tried not to paint over the black lines. The pigment ink in Micron pens is usually waterproof, but, as the Necolor IIs are wax-based and coat the surface of the paper, the pigment doesn’t sink fully into the paper and so water will move the ink.

It’s not a problem, now I’m aware of this. Oh, it also means erasers will lift some of the ink as well as pencil lines. Again, just something to be aware of.

One other thing I did was to cut the paper down to frame the design a bit better. In my clumsy way, I managed to cut it just across the tip of one of the trailing thingies. So, no border around that area.

I will keep going with adding colour and see where it leads me, hopefully not into a disaster! Still, if that happens, it’s only a bit of time, ink, paper and colour and the design can be used as inspiration for the next one. Important lessons about the Necolor IIs are being learned, which is, perhaps, the most important thing.

Draw With Me … Five of my favourite organic motifs

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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.

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.

Whimsical houses, and other stuff…

In today’s video, I draw these three cute, happy, whimsical houses, and I always feel I mess them up when I add colour.

The first part of the video is a chat about organising artwork, using a dot grid notebook as a visual reference/collection of my favourite patterns and motifs and variations. I also talk about some requests/suggestions made.

But the very, very first part is a huge thank you to all my subscribers on YouTube for clicking that Subscribe button (which is totally free to do!). I hit 750 subscribers a couple of days ago and I’m amazed, surprised and a tad humbled by this. So, if you’re one of those subscribers, thank you so much!

Draw With Me | Stylised, whimsical, imaginative seashell No.3

Click on this link to view the YouTube tutorial video.

Day 3, shell 3. This time a little more complicated, or so it seems. I took some imaginative liberties with this one, and that’s fine! I’m not trying to accurately draw these shells, just get the essences that make the shell identifiable. Then, I want to add my own ideas of patterns and colours and alter things a tad.

Making those imaginative changes was an enjoyable thing to do. I hadn’t realised how much I do this in my art generally. Sometimes, it takes a while for me to have that kind of insight – this one took about 20 years!

I’m also really chuffed that my YouTube channel has hit 750 subscribers! I was amazed and humbled when I achieved one subscriber. 750 is beyond what I imagined. I’m both amazed and humbled by this. So a huge thank you to all who have subscribed.

Draw With Me | How to draw a stylised, whimsical shell using a reference – No 2

Link to the accompany video tutorial

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.

Draw With Me – How to draw stylised shells from a reference image

In today’s YouTube video tutorial, I do my best to describe and show how I draw a stylised seashell or two from reference photos.

I had a request from one of my subscribers to do this. I find it hard to put into words how I do this, I don’t have conscious thoughts/words about it – I just do it. So, this forced me to slow my mind down and put into words what goes on. And I do hope those words make some sense.

The end results are good enough for my sketchbook, and the spiral shell is perhaps my favourite of all time that I’ve drawn, including realistic, diagrammatic, whimsical and stylised.

I’m particularly fond of stylised drawings. The spaces within them are perfect for adding pattern and texture. All my favourite things combined! Shading, highlight and/or colour can be the icing on the cake or shell.

This was a nice diversion from the lettering projects I have on the go. It was also something quiet, relaxing and soothing and perfect for me. Today, I’m exhausted after a stressful yesterday. It was a good kind of stress, but still stress/anxiety. I knew I’d be doing something yesterday a week ago, and so the stress built up gradually over the week. I’ll gradually recover, but today is a quiet, down-day with plenty of self-care, but not any naps as I’ll need to sleep properly tonight.