Draw With Me – Alcohol markers and gesso – an experiment.

Click on this link to watch my YouTube video that accompanies this post.

I’m most probably not the first to discover this, but it is entirely new to me!

Early this morning, I added some alcohol markers to a pen drawing I’d finished. I’d drawn over a Distress Ink background with some old book pages collaged and gessoed onto it.

I know gesso coats a surface with a waterproof and slightly textured finish. I do know this. But that didn’t occur to me as I added alcohol markers to the drawing.

I was absolutely delighted with the interesting variations in the intensity of colour that resulted. Also, the application of alcohol marker also brought out the texture where the gesso was patchy, even a little bit. The paper soaked up so much more colour than the gesso – duh go me for not realising that first, but that’s not the important thing – it’s the effects that result!

It’s not all that easy to see on the image to the left. But, behind the triangular pattern, I used just one soft blue marker, but you can see the variation in intensity! Usually, it would be a very flat kind of colour. The darker areas are where there is no gesso.

This is something I really want to use as I go forward. I love the crazy, random variations in colour and texture that happen. It seems to me a way to bring a little unpredictability to the rather predictable results you get with marker pens.

Draw With Me – A pattern and motif sampler.

Link to today’s video on YouTube.

This seems to be the natural progression of my work earlier this week where I put motifs in boxes and added background colour only.

When looking at Rebecca Blair’s artwork, which I absolutely love, I got inspired to create the first ‘sampler’ on the left. I say sampler because splitting space up in this way reminds me of needlework samplers created to practice different stitches.

This is a lovely way for me to indulge my love of hand-lettering, patterns, stylised motifs, colour, shadow, texture and boxes split into boxes!

Colour continues to vex me. I think my favourite is the centre example in a monochrome colour scheme. No chance of any weird colour combinations with that one!

I keep saying this about me and colour, don’t I? But I really need a huge sign that lights up and flashes to remind me to stick to monochrome colours, possibly analogous, and with tiny flashes of a complementary colour. Actually, I need the sign to detect when I reach for colour and shout this advice at me!

Of course, I wanted to share my experiments with the world; well, a few hundred people may be, who may find this an interesting idea to try. If you’d like to see the video then click on this link!

It’s been a quiet day for me. My digestive system is playing up, and self-care is the order of the day. That means not doing anything that has to be the best I can do. I know today that it’ll be harder for me to get things done because I’m under the weather. Fingers crossed, I’ll be fine and dandy again tomorrow.

Draw With Me… Fungi and other organic things. An idea for a sketchbook page

I had to revisit this idea by using the correct kind of paper for alcohol markers. And bullet tipped markers.

I really enjoyed doing this. Adding the details made a difference for sure, as did adding some shadows to the motifs.

If you’d like to see me draw these and, perhaps, draw along with me, then take a peek at this video on YouTube.

Draw With Me… Whimsical flowers and foliage – an idea for a sketchbook page

If you’d like to see how I created this partial page for my sketchbook, take a look at this video.

I spent an hour or so doing some warm-up drawing before turning my attention to inking in some colouring pages for “Fanciful Birds”, my next colouring book in the Creative Haven series.

Whimsy is always a welcome thing, flowers and foliage in particular. I also wanted to work with colourful backgrounds for each motif.

I really wasn’t fully awake and didn’t think through the type of paper I was using. I knew I wanted to use alcohol markers to add colour gradients to the background. Did it occur to me to use marker paper? Nope! Of course not! So they bled a tad – the Ohuhu brush markers I used for some of the backgrounds are rather juicy, too juicy for the paper. I liked the backgrounds, however, and knew I could fix the bleeds with a white gel pen.

So, I thought I’d switch to Inktense pencils and a damp brush. Not quite sure that they sit well next to the alcohol marker backgrounds. There’s lots of textureand an unevenness in the colour and gradient. Again, partly down to my choice of paper (all media paper from SeaWhite of Brighton).

So, for the last couple of images, I used some Arteza EverBlend markers for the blue and warm brown backgrounds. The bullet tips let less ink flow onto the paper, minimising the bleed. There was still some bleeding, which I made worse by trying to ‘erase’ it with a colourless blender pen.

I made use of the magic of a white gel pen to cover up these bleeds.

I definitely need to write some reflections for myself to add to this page when it gets put in my sketchbook. For now, I’ll just say that I like the last two I completed the most. Those are the blue and brown backgrounds on the bottom row. I do like the other alcohol marker backgrounds too, but there’s something about the more neutral backgrounds. I just can’t put my finger on what it is.

Right then, time to finish my mug of tea and get some more inking of colouring templates in!

Adding shadows to the hand lettered “I”

Click on this link to see the video where I add these shadows.

I had a request on YouTube from a subscriber to show how I would add shadows to this design. So that’s just what I did, and of course filmed the process.

I used three shades of cool grey alcohol markers. Using alcohol markers is a bit of a dance from light to dark and back to light again, usually. Today, I did some really simple blending, so streamlined the process a bit.

It never ceases to amaze me how much such subtle shadows add depth and volume to the design.

My next conundrum is whether to add colour. I could use alcohol markers, or I could do that digitally. I’m not quite sure what I want to do, yet. I have digital images of both the un-shadowed and shadowed versions, so whatever I do I’ll always have a copy of the original.

Draw With Me … More Whimsical, Imaginative, Stylised Sea Plants

I continued the theme of sea plants today with a row of clusters of variations on a shape. Seriously, just one basic shape with small variations from cluster to cluster. The YouTube video that accompanies these drawings takes you through how to draw them, one step at a time.

Of course, I don’t stop with the main shape being varied. It was a lot of fun to add simple patterns and textures to these plants (or creatures if you will).

Alcohol markers in an analogous colour scheme of violet, blue, blue-green and yellow-green were used. The yellow greens were a late addition as I felt the first cluster needed an extra colour. The yellow-greens also link this row to the first one done yesterday.

The final steps are adding the detailed patterns and textures using both a black 0.1 fineliner and a white gel pen.

Oh, I did use a couple of cool greys to add shadow to the drawings before I added colour.

I’ve just realised I haven’t put any drop shadows behind these plants, or sea squirts, or… Maybe I’ll do that before tomorrow’s video session!

Whimsical, Imaginative, Stylised Sea ‘plants’.

I say ‘plants’ as they all have seeds inside them. They could, however, be critters of the sea urchin family, albeit a bit on the alien side!

I drew all five designs in today’s Draw With Me video on YouTube. I added colour to the first two on the video. But as YouTube was taking its own sweet time to upload and process the video, I decided to complete the group of designs.

There are a few favourite patterns that I tend use to add texture to my drawings these days – tangle patterns tipple, between, and diva dance. I do make use of other patterns involving lines and dots.

I think I went overboard with the tipple on the middle sea plant! Still, you learn by doing…hopefully eventually in my case!

Oh, I used alcohol markers to add colour and shadow. I chose yellow-green, yellow and yellow-orange colours today. Keeping to a limited colour palette really helps me work with colour in a way that is pleasing to me.

It was really enjoyable to do, as drawing always is.

I followed this up with work on my next colouring book. The style of drawing is different to what I’ve been doing of late, so the first template I’ve inked in and added colour to so I can see what it will look like coloured. Well, I’ve partly coloured it. Colour really does make all the difference. I do love black and white drawings/lettering. But for these stylised, whimsical, imagined kind of drawings, like my colouring templates, the colour is what really does bring them to life.

Draw With Me | Part 4 of a sketchbook page full of oyster shells

Click on this link to watch today’s video on YouTube.

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.

Draw With Me | A sketchbook page of oyster shells – Part 3

Click on this link to view the video tutorial for drawing the fourth oyster shell on YouTube

I’m about halfway through filling this slightly smaller than A5 sketchbook page with different kinds of oyster shells. Today’s even has a pearl in it!

I’m using the same peachy-pink and warm grey alcohol markers, but with the addition of a pale dusky kind of mauve colour for the shadow inside the shell.

I never claim to be an expert at colouring. However, using a very limited colour palette works in my favour, that’s for sure! The end result is good enough, which is what I always aim toward these days. Perfection is something that is unattainable. So good enough is just great!

I’ve been wintering on, both in speech and typing, about the purpose of my YouTube channel. Synchronicity struck today as two quotes about art appeared on my Facebook newsfeed today:

“Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

Kurt Vonnegut

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So, write and draw and build and play and dance and live only as you can.”

Neil Gaiman

These two quotes eloquently sum up what I think I want to bring to YouTube, my social media, and to you.

Confidence to create art just for the pleasure of it and in your own way too.

Building self-confidence is the first step, and sometimes that needs help, instruction, step by step methods, and suggestions for variations and making it your own.

We all can draw. We just have to unlearn that drawing isn’t always about photographic representations. It’s about self-expression, and each of us expresses ourselves differently. Maybe in a similar way to others, but uniquely our own.

To have a bit of confidence to do this, in a sketchbook, where no one else has to see until you’re ready to share in a supportive environment, is all that is needed. I wasn’t lucky enough to have a supportive environment for creating art until I was in my 40s. If I can provide a supportive environment here, around social media, on YouTube, and perhaps in a closed Facebook group or some such place, then I will.

It’s nice to find a purpose, don’t you think? I do, and I’m glad I’ve found that purpose for YouTube at the very least.

My current sketchbook page

This page is just a kind of doodleart that I’m exploring, along with working with alcohol markers and trying to understand how I can best work with them.

All these ‘doodles’ turned out kind of organic in a kind of mechanical way, possibly. I’ll be turning my attention to them again this evening.