Sketchbook Pages

Yesterday, I made a pair of covers for a custom sketchbook. I also spent some time cutting up watercolour and mixed media paper to go into it. Each piece of paper is approx. 4″ square.

I then added colour to both sides of four of the pieces of mixed media paper (Claire Fontaine brand) using PaperArtsy Fresco paints, Daler-Rowney gold acrylic paint and a piece of Cut’n’Dry foam from Ranger.

I also added watercolour to four pieces of watercolour paper, just on one side. I used this as an opportunity to just play with colour, no idea in my head of what to create.

Later on in the day, I wielded Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens on one of the Fresco paint coloured pages (the one on the right). I just wanted to draw. No preconceptions of what would appear on the page.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve created art like this and I actually got a great deal of satisfaction out of the process. That surprised me, as black lines on colour had really not felt right to me for a long while now. It may be that I just needed a break from this style of art.

This morning, I took another piece of the Fresco paints coloured paper and drew a different design. Again, it was something I really enjoyed doing.

I’m really quite pleased with both designs. I think I’ll be using them for inspiration for some watercolour pieces in the near future. My only problem is whether to draw the designs out in black ink, dark pencil or faint pencil before adding watercolour! I think I’ll need to try these out before settling on a method.

What I also really like is working on a small scale. I’ve always been a ‘dainty’ artist; I find it hard to work on large scale artworks. It’s the fine, intricate detailed drawings and paintings that I enjoy creating, as well as abstract art.

Also, I really like the texture the Fresco paints leave on the paper – both for drawing on and the visual interest they create in the background. I’m so glad I haven’t done that destash and tidy-up yet as I know these paints were some of the items that were due to go. Now, they’ll be kept. I’m also glad I have a good supply of the Cut’n’Dry foam too.

I wish I’d placed the holes in the covers of my custom sketchbook closer together. That way I’d be able to add rectangular pieces of paper more easily. That’s something for me to consider the next time I make such a sketchbook.

I have some discs and a punch for disc binding in my stash. This may be something to consider using for another custom sketchbook as it would easily allow the inclusion of different sized papers in the sketchbook. Now my mind is working on using that! I think I need to jot my ideas down in my journal.

What I like about these kinds of systems is the ability to add different papers in where I want them – to shuffle things around as needed.

Sunday Creativity

Sunshiny watercolours

Last night, I bought a book called “Paint Yourself Calm” by Jean Haines. It’s about playing with watercolours and colour to gain a sense of calm. Not for any other purpose. Not to create great art. Not to produce anything. Just for the sheer enjoyment of working with watercolours and colour.

The concept appealed to me. I do find it hard to let go of the idea that I have to create finished art. I think that’s part of the instinct to start up a sketchbook practice again too. There’s no pressure to complete finished art in a sketchbook.

So, I was taken by one exercise in the book, which is to draw a shape, with watercolour, around five blank areas on the paper, and then colour the rest of the page with watercolours.

I grabbed one of the A5 Arteza mixed media sketchbooks I have. The paper isn’t the thickest and it did warp, but the colour does bloom and flow when the paper is wet in almost as good a way as it does on the high quality 100% cotton papers I have. I was just playing around and, despite the advice in the book, I just couldn’t feel I was wasting some of my best paper.

I used yellow to start with. I needed some sunshine yesterday evening. It had been a dull, grey, high-windy, wet day here in Wales, UK. So, sunshine was needed, and watercolours could provide it.

Once I’d got the area around the white spaces wet with watercolour, I dropped some oranges and reds into it. Small drops that blossom and bloom like tiny flowers and then flow one into another to create patterns of colour.

I also ran water down the page in rivulets to move the colours some more. And I added some pearlescent gold acrylic ink to these rivulets and let it flow and move, blossom and bloom as it wished.

Once it was all dry, I felt the need to add patterns in black pen. I ended up with patterns that remind me very much of plant cells under a microscope.

The whole process was very calming, meditative and settled me down to go to sleep.

Art Journal Covers

To the right of the watercolour, you can see two covers I’ve made for an art journal. I used some really sturdy cardboard and punched two holes in each. This way I’ll be able to use book binding rings to assemble the covers and internal pages. Each board measures 4.5″ x 5″ and I’ll use papers that are a maxium size of approx 4″ square in it.

I covered both sides with white gesso before using PaperArtsy Fresco chalk paints to colour them in a patchy, grungy way. I’m so grateful I hadn’t got rid of them, as I am thinking of having a major clearout of my stash at some point in time.

I wanted the colours to look a bit like the verdigris on weathered copper. Once dry, on the fronts, I added some medium grain texture gel. Once that was dry, I dry-brushed copper paint so it picked up the texture on both the back and fronts of the covers. Finally, I used the copper paint to edge the boards.

You can’t really see the copper in the photos, but it is there! I’m quite pleased with this.

Oh, I was inspired by a YouTube video by Kylie Coo Studio.

So, I’ve had a creative morning so far.

Tranquility

Watercolour

It’s taken me a couple of days to complete this small watercolour. The paper is approx 5¼” x 3¼”. So, it’s tiny and rather detailed.

I stuck to my intention of using blues, teals, greens and purples. This palette gives a rather calming and tranquil feel to the artwork. That was also the mood I was doing my best to create for myself.

I’m usually calm, content when I create. However, events in life can disrupt that to some degree, mainly my ability to relax and settle into my artistic or creative pursuits.

I do enjoy doing these abstract watercolours; the lack of black lines is a change for me, but something I’m learning to be comfortable with. It’s taken me a long time and many, many trials with that. Digital art has been the medium that has helped me find that sense of comfort at leaving out the black lines.

It’s nice that I’m able to translate those skills into more traditional media, particularly watercolours. I love the way watercolours work, but I’ve never found a way for them to work for me. I’ve struggled with them time and time again. However, I think that these abstract watercolour art experiments have helped me.

I love to see people create beautiful botanical watercolours, especially the looser kinds. Whenever I try it, as successful as I may be, it never seems right to me. It never sits ‘right’ in my creative soul. It’s another case of finding out what isn’t me to help me discover, or accept, what is me.

In that vein, my sketchbook is gaining small drawings of abstract designs. Whether I use all of them for paintings is a moot point at the moment. Making use of a sketchbook again is something that seems important at this time. In some ways it’s nice as there is no pressure to get something right or perfect. There’s still quite a bit of the hyper-perfectionist in me, though I’m better at recognising when something is ‘good enough’ to be finished.

RedBubble

Just a little message to say I have a RedBubble shop – there’s a link to it in the sidebar to the right. Please take a look, and a share of the shop would be most appreciated. There’s a wide range of quality products available at prices to suit all budgets.

#RedBubble #findyourthing

Metamorphosis I and II

Metamorphosis II

Last night, I had a play around with one of my latest watercolours in an app that creates patterns from your artwork. The process was mesmerising. I didn’t realise that they now do metamorphosing patterns like these two!

The top image is directly from the artwork, the bottom one has been lightened, the colours more saturated and adjusted slightly.

I fell in love with metamorphosing tessellations thanks to the works of M C Escher, like so many other people. I love the detail, observational skills and the way he plays with the illusion of space.

Anyways, creating these patterns, albeit digitally, was fascinating and something I can definitely lose myself in for hours! Being able to adjust colours in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro or Affinity Photo is an added fascination too.

I like both colour variations of the same metamorphosis above.

I have made both available in my RedBubble Shop on a wide range of quality products. Please take a look and support my art by sharing with others. #findyourthing

Jupiter’s Clouds

100% Cotton rag paper is my favourite for watercolour, so far at least! I started work on this one soon after I’d finished my comparison of papers for watercolour yesterday.

I was inspired by images from the Juno space probe of the clouds on Jupiter. The images intrigued and captivated me, so I used them as an inspiration for the pattern on this piece . I have no idea why I used blues and greys with yellows and browns, but I did. A very unusual choice of colours from me.

The Khadi 100% cotton rag paper stays damp longer than the other papers, including the specialist watercolour ones, meaning I don’t get dark areas where colour overlaps as I’m applying it to one area. When I do work over the area, the pigment doesn’t lift or become blotchy once it is dry. Also, less pigment gives a more intense colour than on the other papers.

It’s the ease of letting colours flow and blend that make all the difference.

One thing I’m not too fussed on is the texture of the paper. I used the smoother side, but it’s still rather rough. I may have to hunt around for 100% cotton paper that is smoother in texture.

I also got to learn a lot more about working with watercolour on this paper, and how I can get it to work for me. As long as I can remember what I did in future artworks.

Despite my odd choice of colours, I’m really pleased with this one. I’ll certainly be doing more of a similar style going forward. Once the design is pencilled out, the process of water-colouring is quite soothing and relaxing. It’s also fascinating to watch the colours move and blend in each other in each section. Although I know this is science in action, there’s also something rather magical about it too.

Comparing paper for watercolour

I was getting vexed, again, about the paper I was using for the watercolour I was working on yesterday (1). It still wasn’t behaving like the one I used at the start of the week (3).

So, after another comparision ‘twixt these two, I realised that the paper was too lightweight to be any of my watercolour papers. It the dawned on me it was a fugitive piece of Arteza mixed media paper in my store of pieces of watercolour paper.

So, I had to try a piece of Arteza mixed media paper to confirm (2), and it was the same paper as (3) with similar effects.

The Arteza mixed media paper is off-white, just like the Canson Moulin Du Roy (5) and St Cuthbert’s Mill Bockingford (1).

As I liked the way the mixed media paper worked, I thought I’d try a piece of ClaireFontaine mixed media paper (4). It’s bright white, in comparison, and the colours are much more vibrant. The watercolour laid down in a similar way to the Arteza paper, but the paper is so much smoother as well.

So, which do I prefer. Although I’ve not done an abstract piece on the 100% cotton rag paper yet, I’m sure that will be top of the list. What surprises me is how much I like working on the Arteza and ClaireFontaine mixed media papers. I do think the Arteza has the edge on the ClaireFontaine, though I wish it was a little less on the creamy-yellow side.

Perhaps I like these papers as I’m not working wet into wet, nor am I doing much in the way of glazes. I find they let me apply the watercolour with a finish that pleases me.

I also know I don’t like working with Daler-Rowney Aquafine paper with the White Knights paints. It works better, for me, with watercolour pencils.

I know I will continue to experiment with different papers and watercolour; I have Daler-Rowney mixed media paper to try, along with the Khadi 100% cotton rag paper too. I don’t know if I have any others hidden away in my stores, but if I find them, I will use them.

Abstract Watercolour WIP

What a grey, cool, windy and showery/rainy, changeable day it is here in the Valleys of South Wales, UK. Such a huge contrast to the three days of a heatwave earlier this week. Mind you, I’m one of those people who prefers to be cool rather than too hot, and on Wednesday and Thursday it really was too hot for me!

I’m still not quite right in terms of mental focus and emotional balance. After the rollercoaster rides I’ve had over the past month, it takes a while for the stress hormones to leach from my system. Each time they had started to lower, I found myself on that rollercoaster once more.

This is nothing that is affecting me directly, other than emotionally. However, it’s the emotional stuff that makes it difficult to deal with, despite me meditating and self-soothing and losing myself as much as I can in creativitity. That’s hard when I can’t settle to anything.

I do find I can settle somewhat more today, but I am still tired and my mind still feels fuzzy and unfocused. So, I won’t be chancing doing any work that requires my absolute focus, not today.

I was up early-ish this morning for a delivery. While waiting for it, I cut up a sheet of St Cuthbert’s Mill Bockingford watercolour paper and washi taped a 5½” x 4″ piece of it to an old cutting plate. I then took a 3mm mechanical pencil and sketched out an abstract design based on clouds, believe it or not.

I’m now part way through adding colour to it with White Knight’s watercolours and a size 2 Graduate round brush by Daler-Rowney.

Yesterday, I thought that this Bockingford paper was the one I’d used for the first of these abstract watercolours. It turns out it isn’t. I’m begininng to wonder if it was some mixed media paper as it is a brighter white than either Bockingford or Canson Moulin du Roy. It definitely wasn’t Daler-Rowney aquafine paper nor Tim Holtz’s watercolour paper. Nor was it the 100% cotton paper either. How curious.

I have enjoyed the process of drawing the design and starting to add colour. The colours are softer than yesterday’s watercolour, but more vibrant than the one I did earlier this week. Perhaps the change in colours is a sign I’m continuing to settle back to my usual chilled out, calm and content state.

So, I’m going to take a break from arty stuff for a little while. My concentration is wavering and I’m tempted to go back go sleep. However, I know that will prevent me from sleeping well tonight.

Abstract Watercolor

This morning, it was lovely to settle down to some watercolor work with the air much cooler and after a good night’s sleep.

I used a 5½” x 3″ piece of Canson Moulin du Roy watercolour paper for this one. I have to say, I’m not at all fussed on this paper. I much prefer the Bockingford paper from St Cuthbert’s Mill that I used for the last watercolour abstract I did. My favourite, though, is the 100% cotton rag Khadi paper, but as I’ve been feeling my way through this, I thought I’d use paper from my stash that is OK but not my favourite.

Oh, I used White Knights watercolour paints, which are usually much smoother and cleaner in colour. The off-white Moulin du Roy paper mutes them down. Also, the colours easily re-wet and move when adding glazes. Definitely not my favourite for this kind of work.

I’ve had heck of a couple of days, again, that have been emotionally draining and mentally exhausting. I think that shows in my choices of colours, which are not as harmonious as the previous version. I was also frustrated with how the colours didn’t appear as I expected them to.

I’ve also made the colours a lot more saturated. I’m not sure if I prefer this, but it could be a reflection of how I’m feeling and what I need at this time.

Nonetheless, there are parts of this piece that I am pleased with, the pointy teardrops as an example.

Still, I really think the colours I used feel really uneasy, which is a reflection of the lingering remains of the emotions of the past couple of days in particular.

Even though I slept really well last night, I’m still exhausted and feel the need to sleep again. That tells me it’s another self-care day. I hope that will recharge my batteries so I can focus on the editing and work I need to do by the end of the month. I fear not focusing well at the moment would result in me not saving edited images correctly so I lose some of the art I’ve done. It’s a necessary, but tedious, task and I need to be able to focus and think clearly. Today is not that day.

Abstract Art WIP

I’ve had some time this morning to do some more to this abstract art piece. I’m still learning about digital art and how it can work for me, but I’m feeling quite pleased with how this is growing, bit by bit.

As I work on it, I’m changing it from the sketch, which is often the case; the sketch is just a suggestion, and outline, a whisper of an idea.

The crisp, clean lines of digital art really appeal to me in this piece, as do the more muted colours.

Plenty more left to do on it, so daily updates will continue.

Pretty Art WIP

I’ve had a lovely couple of hours working on this particular piece of art. It is an abstract pattern, but the emphasis will be on shape and colour.

I drew the design out on paper and scanned it in to complete the artwork digitally in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

I was inspired by the work of Shell Rummel, and it reminded me of the type of art I did in my early arty exploratory days.

I wanted a watercolour feel to the art, so I’ve chosen to use rather soft colours and to try to keep the palette relatively limited. I also want to keep the extra patterns/lines to a minimum, though I do want some more detailed interest in places, such as the dots along the centre line of a leaf motif. This is going to be hard for me to do; I usually insist on filling every space with pattern and colour.

It’s also odd for me to work from a pencil sketch, usually I’m straight to pen on paper (or pen on screen). I do find it a lot easier to get my ideas/outlines onto paper than I do on the screen, and my lines flow. I think it’s because I get a better idea of the overall design as I do have a habit of zooming into whatever area I’m working on.

Overlaying a watercolour paper texture takes the art from the rather mechanical feel of digital art to something more textured and interesting, warmer and ‘human’ in feel.

This will take me a long time to complete, most probably over several days as I do have to do other stuff at this time. But it’ll be a nice thing to do as my ‘warm up’ art in the morning.