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.

Sketchtember | Days 6 to 10

Over the past three or four days, I’ve been quietly working at Sketchtember. I’ve veered away from the list of herbs to enjoy drawing, and colouring, all kinds of seed pods – real and more imaginative.

Working with alcohol markers – Chameleon and Arteza – is the only way to get to grips with them. Marker paper does make it a little easier to blend. But not much more than the drawings on the SeaWhite all media paper that I’ve been using.

Adding highlights, lowlights, and embellishments with various Sakura and Uniball gel pens is a lovely thing to do. I have, possibly, gone a bit over the top on the poppy seed heads! Still, it’s all experiencing and learning from it.

I have quite a few more seed pod drawings done to add colour to, though not enough to see me through to the end of Sketchtember. So, I may change my theme for daily sketches when I start to come to the end of them.

Spectrum Noir Illustrator pens – Review

Today, I popped into my local craft shop – Dandie Crafts (Dandie Crafts Facebook Page)- in their new premises in Caerphilly.

The shop is larger, smells fresh and new, has more space for stock and much more space for classes and demos.  The warm welcome was very much the same.

I had gone there to stock up on paper for my printer; I like their own range of acid-free heavy-weight paper (usually 160g/m²) and found the Spectrum Noir Illustrator  twin-tip alcohol markers in stock.

I bought the six packs of pens, which cost £12.99, so the pens work out a little over £2 each, which is about half the price of a Copic Sketch marker, Promarkers you can get for a little over £1 each at the moment.

Debbie, the lovely lady in charge today, told me they’re supposed to be a new formulation of ink that blends more easily with quality Japanese nibs.  One of the nibs is a bullet nib, the other a brush nib.

On the Illustrator marker packaging it says:

For smooth, natural linework and detailed colouring.  Fully blendable, streak-free coverage.  Perfect for drawing and illustration.

So, I just had to buy and try them out!

I drew the design using the True Black marker and the bullet tip.

The bullet tip isn’t as fine as I thought it would be.  The tip is softer than the bullet tips found on the Promarker pens.  Personally, I’d prefer the bullet nibs to be firmer.

The pen drew nicely with plenty of ink in the new pen (something that hasn’t always happened with my experience of Spectrum Noir pens in the past).  Also, the ink seems jucier in a different way that I can’t describe.  It does seem to be a different formulation.

The black lines are thicker than I’d usually draw, but I’m hoping they’ll give a stained-glass kind of feel to the art.

Once I’d inked out the design on 160gsm smooth white card, I started to colour in the design using just two colour blending.  That was going to be a bit of a challenge as I have eight of the six pen sets which aren’t the full range of colours in the Illustrator pens.

What I did notice is that the colours do blend much more easily than the original Spectrum Noir markers, and also the Promarkers and the Copics!  The ink in the Illustrator pens is definitely different to the others.

Also, where I coloured fairly large areas with one colour, there was no streaking!  Admittedly I didn’t colour a huge area, but so far so good.  The lack of streaks was the case with both the bullet nib and the brush nib.

For the green leaves, I also used a tip-to-tip method to transfer a little of the darker colour on to the lighter colour to help blending with two quite different shades of green. That worked well.

The brush nib is made up of fibres that do spread out – more like the Chameleon pen nibs than Copics.  I don’t now how that will affect their ability to get into small nooks and crannies as they are used over time.

I also noticed that the inks are a lot more vibrant and ‘cleaner’ in colour than the original Spectrum Noir pens, which is a huge plus for them.

The only downside is that as I was colouring, the inks would blend out the black ink, so some of the lines have bled where I don’t want them to bleed.

I do need to test them out with the usual pens I use for drawing and also with the Epson Ultra-brite ink I favour, which hasn’t been affected by alcohol markers previously.

Overall, I’m happy with the pens.  I most probably will get the full set of 96 and will use them along with my other alcohol markers as I’m sure they’ll work well with them.