How I pre-colour paper for my sketchbook

Today’s vlog is a little bit different. I had a query about the coloured paper I use for my pattern explorations sketchbook. When I said I coloured it myself with Distress Inks, I was asked if I’d make a video of the process, so I did today.

Here’s a list of the materials I use:
* Distress Inks, though you could use any other ink pads
* Cut ‘n’ Dry foam and blending/make-up brushes
* Stencils
* Paper – today I used Canson Imagine mixed media paper, A5 in size
* A spray bottle of water if you want to create a bleached, grungy kind of finish.

The video shows, far better than I could put into words, how to colour the paper. And the techniques I show are but a start!

Why do I colour the paper?

White paper is just fine for drawing on, but it can be a tad stark, clinical. I think having a background colour, with some texture to it either from the unevenness of colour or stencils, gives some life to the drawing right from the off. I find it a more visually appealing way to start drawing.

It’s also a fun and fascinating thing to do. You never quite know how it’s going to turn out. Each colour combination gives a different ‘feel’ to the background, as do the stencil patterns that are used, or stamps, or methods to further distress or increase the texture.

The colour from Distress Ink can be subtle or more intense. I prefer the more subtle, mostly. What tool you use to apply the ink can help with this, but it’s all still a bit random, and I like that! Mind you, that randomness may be my way of applying the inks; I’m not interested in a perfectly even application – I want the variation!

I do find it easier to get a more subtle effect with the blending brushes. They pick up less ink than the cut ‘n’ dry foam. The cut ‘n’ dry foam is useful for adding ink around the paper edges to create a darker border.

Do I have to use Distress Inks? What about other media?

No, of course not! There are many other ink pads available. I personally prefer the dye-based inks for paper I’m going to draw on.

The only pigment inks I’ve used are Distress Oxides and the powdery nature of the pigment particles clogs my pens up quite quickly. I’ve not used other pigment inks to know whether this happens with them. I know pigment inks can take a goodly while to dry, though you can speed this up using a heat tool specifically for craft work, though the heat can warp the paper.

Other media? Of course! You can colour the paper with whatever media you have in your stash or that appeal to you. Watercolours or watercolour pencils would work brilliantly! I would, however, consider the paper you use for this. You’d need one that wouldn’t be damaged by the quantity of water you’re planning on using.

There’s many other media that could be used, I’m sure. The supplies available to both mixed media artists, card makers, paper crafters as well as artists are multitudinous!

I stick to Distress Ink, with the occasional very controlled spritz of water, because I don’t like working messily. I like the color palette available and the more grungy, aged, vintage, distressed effects that can be achieved with them.

Does it affect other media used later?

Yes, and no. It all depends on the coloured media you’re using and also how much ink you’ve used to colour the paper.

If you use watersoluble media, the Distress Ink is likely to dissolve in the water. That means you may get a blended colour, particularly if there’s a lot of Distress Ink on the paper or it’s one of the darker colours. This isn’t a problem for me, generally.

If you’re using dry media or alcohol markers then the Distress Ink isn’t affected. However, as alcohol markers are transparent, there will be some visual colour mixing.

Are Distress Inks Archival?

Distress Inks are acid-free, so they don’t affect the paper. However, they are not light fast and will fade/discolour in time when left in bright light. This doesn’t worry me as this is for sketchbook work, kept out of the light in book form. Even when I use this kind of paper for other artwork it’s fine as I tend to scan the artwork to use in a digital format.

Here’s the video:

Pattern Exploration No.2, Day 2 | Stylised flower

More variations of stems as well as the view of the flower itself today. In today’s video, I talk through how to draw the flower and to add colour to enhance the sense of volume to the bloom.

It’s been so heart-warming to receive such kind, supportive and encouraging messages about my YouTube videos. It’s a really nice feeling, a warmth in my heart and soul, to hear that people are enjoying creating along with me, or being inspired to draw and create.

Here’s today’s video, in case you’d like to join me in drawing some pretty flowers too.

Sketchbook Saturday | My Week in Art

Saturday morning is the time I look back on my art this week.

I’d like to say thank you to all who’ve subscribed to my little arty corner of YouTube, as well as those of you lovely people who have liked my videos and left such lovely comments. You are all very, very much appreciated.

Tomorrow, I will take a look back at the whole of Inktober Tangles 2021 in another video. And think about how to go forward now too.

Sketchbook Saturday – My week in art

Saturday is the day I look back over the art I’ve done from the past week, and a bit older than that too!

Inktober and Inktober Tangles 2021

Naaki by Nadine Roller CZT and ‘suit’ are the two prompts I worked with today.

Instead of creating one drawing, I decided to try out variations of the tangle pattern. And I included the symbols for the four suits in playing cards too.

I may do this for the rest of Inktober. It’s a lot of fun to do, no pressure to create a finished ’tile’ or ‘picture’. And no pressure on me is just what I need at the moment.

Buggy Sketchbook

Time Lapse Video

Drawing

Today is a lazy, artsy day, Sunday. It’s raining, on and off, so I’m disinclined to wander out anywhere.

I started the morning drawing some half insects. Why half? Well, the plan is to scan the sketches in (which I’ve done), ink them in digitally (done too!) and then add colour (started!). Digitally, I can use the symmetry tools to complete the other half of the insect.

Of course, I could create mutant hybrids … but that doesn’t appeal to me much, that’s for sure.

I did film me drawing and wittering about my sketching and other arty stuff. I haven’t published the full-length video; I was very wittery and disjointed. My attention was focused on the process of observing and drawing. It seems that my ability to speak coherently vanishes as my concentration increases!

I enjoyed the half hour or so of quick sketches. I was focusing on creating simplified, stylised drawings, rather than detailed realistic ones.

Thoughts

Some connections were made as I wittered on. One was that when I draw in a stylistic way, I have no problem with using non-representational colours. It’s when I’m drawing more realistically that colours vex me. This is a problem that occurs with traditional media in particular.

I had a memory of falling in love with the work of Kandinsky, Juan Gris, and similar artists while doing my A Level art two decades ago. I particularly love the use of colour to communicate inner emotions, relationships with the art, and symbolism and metaphor.

I found this an interesting connection to make, even though I’m not entirely sure what that means yet. Other than that I’ve always found non-representational colour and stylised, abstract art something I’ve enjoyed doing. Indeed, as I write I remember that in front of me are three oil paintings I did for one of my art exams. They are abstract patterns from locomotive parts and Romanesque sculpture. Fiery reds, oranges, yellows and magentas were used for the locomotive parts. The painting based on Romanesque sculpture was in cool, calming blues. My focus for all the paintings was on pattern and contrast to get a feeling of volume/dimension.

Last summer, I was playing with watercolours and patterns abstracted from rock strata and nature. I used colours that appealed to me in these paintings.

I keep circling around this style of art. I return to it from time to time, enjoying the process of creating such art, often on a small scale too.

Where art comes from is a mystery. It comes unannounced. It has the quality of gift. The source from where it comes is hidden from us. Like all creativity, it stands us in possibility. It comes from impulse and dream, from raiding the inarticulate, from going below the floor of consciousness. To do this we must break free of the confines of the known and fixed. As artists we do this with our materials—with our hands. And in this confluence of mind and matter abstraction is not only relevant, it is essential. —Timothy Hawkesworth

Working from my creative subconscious is something I do…a lot. All my entangled art that just flows onto the page. Mandalas. Using observations of pattern and texture to create something that is non-representational, just, to my mind, pretty, pleasing.

I do the representational for coloring books, but my personal art … well … that can be anything I want it to be. I can use any colours I wish to use for it, and accepting that isn’t an easy thing.

The Inner Critic

I do my best to let colorists know that there are no rules for colour, that if they want purple trees and green people, that’s fine! And I’m able to do this in my coloring template style work. The stylised nature of these drawings allows that freedom. There really are no rules other than the ones we impose on ourselves.. I love to see the different ways people use colour, and the unexpected ways especially.

Yet, I am just realising that I’m very critical of myself when it comes to representational colors.

My problems start when I’m trying to create work that is representational of what I see with my eyes, such as succulents, or plants or anything else.

I can draw these things fairly well. Sketching and line art isn’t a problem, though it could be improved no doubt. But that improvement comes through practice.

My problems come when I start to add colour. If I can work with something that is non-representative then it works out OK, if often full of quite bright colours. Monochrome or limited color palettes really work well for me and produce a coloured piece of art that is cohesive.

It’s when I have a representational drawing that I want to add colour, that’s when my inner coloring critic comes knocking.

This inner critic took up residence most probably in my earliest school days when I was five or six. Well meaning teachers making sure you coloured inside the lines, that the sky was blue, the grass green and so on. If you deviated from these rules, well … trouble followed.

Trying to stay safe by using representational colours, and keeping this inner critic happy isn’t working at all. It’s time to sort this limiting inner voice out.

Moving along

Making observations, creating stylised, imaginative versions of what I see, using patterns and textures I collect and not worrying about realistic colours is my way forward.

As Yoda said, “You must unlearn what you have learned.”

I thought I’d done that, I didn’t realise I was subject to the attentions of the inner coloring critic. Not until I started talking and writing about this as starting to dip into a book full of exercises for creating abstract art.

Time to invoke my inner art jedi master and deal with the self-criticism that is limiting me! “This is Jedi business, go back to your drinks.”

Watercolour Practice and Wittering

Link to today’s vlog.

Watercolour Practice

This morning, I spent some time watercolour wrangling. I had started this work yesterday, but kept getting myself into more than a little bit of a pickle with it.

So, after a day away from it, I thought I’d try an idea I’d picked up from a Domestika course by Lapin to see if I could recover some of the parts I’d made a bit of a mess of. That idea is to use Gelly Roll or other pens to add highlights/colours/add details. But in this case I wanted to try to ‘hide the crimes’ and use these pens as a kind of watercolour resist in the tinier areas that were seriously vexing me yesterday.

I’m not entirely sure my experimenting is successful. But, it’s something to ponder on and work with going forward.

In my vlog I mused about how the watercolours were, or weren’t, working for me and starting to make connections.

No matter how many books I read, videos I watch, courses I take on watercolour, translating that knowledge/information into practice just doesn’t seem to have worked for me entirely. Experimenting for myself is the only way forward I think. As is finding the balance between controlling the medium and allowing watercolour magic to happen too.

I think the best way for me to work is by allowing two colours to merge along a wet edge, so that I get a modicum of control, but the mixing of wet into wet can still happen.

Wittering

I was out of action in terms of social media yesterday. I went for a walk on Saturday, didn’t watch where I was putting my feet and my right foot twisted over and I ended up on the ground on my hands and knees. One left knee with multiple cuts/grazes. One bruised, sore and aching right foot. And I was a bit shocked too. So Saturday went out of the window as far as anything arty was concerned.

Yesterday, I woke with various bits of my body aching from the jolt of the fall. I tried to do some art – the first steps in this particular painting – but it just kept going wrong. I started swearing, so decided to put it to one side.

Instead, I put my energy into editing some of the templates for the Whimsical Cats book, then inking in some of the sketches that have been approved (and declared “adorable”).

So, today I’m going to focus on inking in some of the sketches that need doing before getting some more sketches done.

I’m still feeling a bit out of sorts. I didn’t sleep well last night. So, I may crash and nap later on. So, now’s the time to get some work done. Inking in. Not too taxing, less likely to become frustrated with my artistic efforts while I’m tired and out of sorts.

Inky Insects! A sketchbook page

Yesterday was a bit of an odd day. Between a couple of mediation meetings in the day and me still not feeling quite right – fatigued, headachy, tummy still not right – I just didn’t feel up to doing much when I was awake. Except for drawing. Drawing insects.

I started with pencil drawings and then decided to ink them in. I know from bitter experience how pencil drawings can quickly smudge and fade in a well used and referenced sketchbook.

I loved the delicate nature of the pencil drawings, but I know I can always draw in pencil again for future work involving bugs.

If you’d like to see some of the pencil drawings before they were inked in, then have a look at the time lapse video.

I started off with bugs that were quite true, in a simplified and stylised way, to the images I was looking at, Gradually, I found myself being more imaginative.

I now have a fair collection of insects in my sketchbook, and I am quite keen to add more! However, I really do need to turn my attention to the colouring book I’m working on for much of the rest of today.

New Watercolours, & arty lessons learned

New Watercolours

Late yesterday evening, my new set of watercolours arrived. I’m now the proud owner of a set of 36 tubes of Mijello Mission Gold Class watercolour paints, and a pretty neat palette too.

It was too late last night for me to think about adding the paints to the palette and setting up some colour swatches,. So I set to that this morning with a big mug of tea and a headache.

I used them to continue adding colour to this drawing, and I can easily tell the difference between the Mission Gold and Cotman Watercolours, not just because I know where I added each colour, but from the intensity and vibrance of the colours.

I know I got more vibrance from the Cotman colours when I was adding colour to this by adding water to the pans and letting them sit for a while to soften the pigments. But, it was so much easier with the Mission Gold to do this. Indeed, I had to be careful that I didn’t use colour that was too intense!

Some insight into watercolour and me

It was, and will continue to be, an absolute joy and pleasure to use watercolour paint tubes. I’m so glad I splurged out on them after I had a memory of using tube watercolours years and years ago.

They were such a pleasure to use, both to create the swatches and in adding colour to this drawing. Bear in mind that this drawing wasn’t done on watercolour paper, but on creamy coloured Arteza mixed media paper! Also, I created the swatches on SeaWhite all media cartridge paper, which is a lovely bright white colour.

Now, I realise that a lot of my frustration with pan watercolours is with getting colours intense enough for my taste. That won’t be a problem with the Mission Gold set I’m sure.

I also feel that exploring and learning more about watercolour and colour mixing is something that I’d like to do now, and that I may not be quite so frustrated as I have in the past.

Coloring Template doubts and frustrations

Yesterday, I got a couple more templates drawn and edited, so I now have ten out of the thirty-one I need completed, editorial team’s feedback allowing that is.

However, I was really doubting whether what I’d done would work, was good enough. So, I thought I’d try colouring the template I was least happy with to see if that made a difference to how I viewed it, and hopefully the others.

That really did the trick! Just by adding a background colour/texture first, I started to feel better about it. Once I’d added colour and the line-art started to come to life, I started to feel even more confident.

This is something I need to remember going forward, when I doubt my ability to create colouring templates. All I need to do is see if they work with colour!

A bonus was that I really enjoyed adding colour.

Vlogging along …

I touch on all these things in today’s vlog, as well as showing the swatches and adding colour to the drawing.

I’ve also decided that I’m going to mostly keep my vlogs to no more than around 20 minutes, whether that’s real time or a time lapse version. I think they may work the best, though I may still record longer ones if there’s a need to do so.

Willingness – Part 2 – Starting to add colour

I’ve been awake since stupid o’clock. After trying to return to sleep, I decided, around 6am, to get up and do some arty stuff.

So, I thought I’d record my next stint at adding colour to ‘Willingness’. I’m doing this digitally, and I had figured out the colour palette I’d like to use for it. I made some adjustment to the dusky purples I had in the palette and added some brighter versions, but they’re a tad too saturated and bright, so I’ll adjust those colours and re-colour the areas in which I’ve used them.

I love how the peaches and yellows almost glow against the soft blue-grey background.

I spent nearly an hour on just a few bits and pieces, and while I was working I was chatting away. I then realised I’d started having a bit of a rant about a couple of poor shopping experiences I’d had with businesses abroad, and how products sent to me weren’t what I’d ordered or were not as they were described. Not just that, but the huge difficulty in getting a refund of any kind from them. With the latest one, I just feel like throwing the towel in. I’m out of pocket with product that is not fit for purpose, but they’re whinging about how they’ll lose profit if they refund me, even if I return it all to them, at my own cost, so either way I’ll be out of pocket, not them.

Sometimes, I really think it’s just not worth the hassle and stress.

Anyway, that made me turn the video into a timelapse with music. Nearly an hour of art condensed into about seventeen minutes. You can view it here.