I did spend some time working on a second typographic portrait of Aneurin Bevan yesterday, using a photographic reference that had more detail in it in terms of grey scale.
Before bed, I wanted to relax with some colour (1). For some reason, I pulled out my set of Tombow Dual Brush pens and tried working with them on an A5 piece of Arteza mixed media paper. Hand lettering with gradients, with and without black outlines resulted, and then I wanted to try drawing with colour gradients.
To create gradients, I held the tip of one pen on top of the tip of the other. I then used the lower pen to draw or write with. I used the bullet nib for the lower examples. I used the brush nib for the larger lettering and also the leaves and flowers and so on.
I made some notes as I went, to remind me what I did and what I liked about them. I used a Uniball Signo DX 0.38 pen to do this, which is also waterproof. So, I used it to add lines.
This morning, I wanted to start my arty day experimenting with alcohol inks, once again (2, 3 and 4). All because I’d watched a YouTube videos where people use a straw to blow the ink and alcohol blending solution/rubbing alcohol/isopropyl alcohol/propan-2-ol around the yupo paper.
One helpful piece of advice I heard along the way was it’s best to use only a small amount of alcohol ink. Which is what I did. One drop to start with and then add more ink of the same or different colour(s) as needed.
It took me a while to work out not to blow as hard as I could, and to try different angles to hold the straw at, as well as moving the ink in different directions.
I’m much happier with the results this time, though the scans have bleached the colours out a little. I really must work out the best settings on my scanner so that this doesn’t happen.
Anyway, I need to find a way to seal the alcohol ink so I can draw on top of it without wrecking the pens. I also want to do some better scans so I can make use of these alcohol ink backgrounds in digital art.
Today I want to continue work on the typographic portrait. This second one seems to be building up more quickly than the first one. I think that’s all due to me becoming familiar with the process and accepting that my hand lettering based on my handwriting is good enough. I’m also working out my own ways to fit letters to curves and the shapes at the ends of the sections.
So, all of these activities – using waterbased media, hand lettering, hand drawn typography, and alcohol ink backgrounds all have one thing in common – practice, practice, practice!
I’ve been enjoying watching the daily YouTube tutorial from Lavinia Stamps, particularly the ones using alcohol inks. So, I thought I’d dig out my small stash of alcohol inks, blending solution and Yupo paper to give it a go.
I can tell you, Lavinia stamps makes it look a helluva lot easier than it really is, as you can tell from my attempts above. The photograph makes them look worse than they are, but they’re still not what I was hoping for – fairly pale coloured, smoky, swirly, interesting backgrounds full of abstract texture and pattern, with seams of gold.
I have now bought a book about using Alcohol Inks and really hope that helps me. Apparently, you need to create a wash of alcohol inks or blending solution on the Yupo first to help the colours flow more easily. That may be why I have so many open patches in the colours.
I also used fairly small pieces of Yupo paper, which may not be the best size to work with.
For the record, I used a mixture of Piñata inks from Jacquard, Ranger Alcohol Inks. I had a gold mixative in the Piñata inks and that was most fascinating to watch work.
I tried a hair drier to move the ink around, but all I ended up with was a blend of the inks with a few ripples of tones of colour in them. I also tried blowing with a straw.
I was surprised how sticky the inks were when they seemed dry. However, after being left overnight, that stickyness is now gone, though I’ll leave them a while longer before doing anything with them.
I have ordered some alcohol lift reinker to try taking a print of the alcohol ink onto paper. That should lighten the colours somewhat. I then hope that I’ll have backgrounds to use for digital art, once I’ve scanned them.
As well as alcohol lift ink, I’ve ordered some Yupo card stock, which is thicker, less floppy and could work better for this. The book I bought suggests using a heat tool, carefully, for spreading the alcohol ink. It also has a recipe for making your own blending fluid for a fraction of the cost of the branded ones. So, I’ve ordered some isopropyl alcohol to go with the glycerine I already have in my stash.
It’s always fun to try out new techniques with media new to me. It can be incredibly frustrating until I work out how it can work for me!
As a side note, I really do need to order some gloves to use; I have really badly stained nails at the moment. A VOC respirator may also be a good idea; I don’t want the fumes to irritate my asthma or cause more respiratory problems. If I decide to draw on the alcohol ink backgrounds, then I will need to order some kind of varnish/sealant that I can draw on top of so my pens don’t get ruined. That, though, is for another time. Today, I’ll be using my more familiar media and tools.
I’ve become a bit obsessed with making art journal bits and bobs over the last couple of days. This morning has been no exception, other than the more I do and watch, the more ideas that come to me.
Yesterday, I created some blank, printable, templates for inchies, twinches and tea cards. I printed them out on plain paper so I could draw in them. I also made a list of themes I could tackle for them too.
I spent an hour or two filling in a sheet of inches with various designs. Then, I printed them on plain paper and also vellum for calligraphy. The vellum has a rough texture, interesting colours and subtle patterns in them. I have a laser printer, so wasn’t sure if it would print on the vellum; it did, however the print does come off if I’m a bit rough with it.
Nevertheless, I coloured some of the inches with Distress Inks and then adhered them to some 1″ tiles of thick chipboard card. I edged them with tresure gold wax from Imagination Crafts. Then, I gently applied a thin layer of Ranger’s gloss multi-media medium, to see if it would seal the laser printing; it did! It also brought out the colours of the Distress Inks.
These are simple enough to make. There are plenty of tutorials online for them. I made them from ordinary printer paper, then coloured them with Distress Inks.
Next, I added some dot embellishments using a small ball tool with Imagination Crafts’ Starlights metallic paint in rich gold. This is a beautiful, glittery, shiny paint that leaves some dimension when applied this way.
Finally, I adhered the inchies I’d made, along with some vintage book paper, to the envelopes.
I’m not sure if these envelopes are finished. I do want to use them to store either journaling notes in, or little pieces of art or mementos in them.
I haven’t been at all sure about tags and using them. However, I thought I’d see what I could do with them after yesterday’s mucking about with a tri-fold tag that turned into one single tag.
I wanted to make some templates for cutting the corners at the top of the tags, so I did that, using various widths of paper and slopes to remove the top corners.
I then realised I needed something to store them in, so I made an envelope for them.
The envelope has a more rectangular top flap and a plain front, perfect for embellishments.
Something occurred to me this morning while watching someone make tags using background paper. I thought that I could use my colouring sheets and entangled designs as my own background paper. So, I thought I’d try to use some.
I found some old designs on my computer and printed a couple of them both as the black line originals and with a grey line.
I made a tag and cut out a piece of one of the designs. I coloured the design with Distress Inks and used them to subtly colour the tag.
I didn’t like the way the neatly cut out background pattern looked when I placed it on the tag. So, I tore the edges. I still wasn’t happy, so I tried tearing it into strips. That looked better, but I still wasn’t happy with it, but I stuck the pieces down.
I used a gold glitter gel pen to add lines and patterns between the torn pieces, which created some pattern and interest.
Finally, I added a distress ink coloured belly band along with a word, “creativity” to the tag. For now, I tucked one of the seed packets behind the belly band.
The background drawing may be just too busy, detailed, and varied to work well. I need to bear this in mind going forward.
I am keeping notes of how I make tags, pockets, and other bits and bobs in an A5 dot grid notebook, along with ideas for other things to do or try. It’s turning out to be rather useful as a reference.
I’m struggling with accepting that what I’m creating for my art journal is “good enough”, “attractive enough”, “pretty”. It’s not like others I’ve seen, which is part of my problem.
I seem to like, mostly, neat edges, borders on work, very organised, neat, and carefully, geometrically arranged elements in my designs. I know I want to use my own artwork to create a journal, but I’m not sure it’s going to be successful in any kind of way. I have no idea if I’m on a wild goose chase.
I know I enjoy making these bits and bobs, I just don’t know if the overall end products actually work, so I’m doubting myself. I’m not sure I like what I’m creating. I mean, I really like individual elements such as the inchies and little panels on the envelopes. It’s when I start to actually combine them or put them into a journal that it all seems to go more than a bit skew-iffy.
I’m at that uncomfortable place I often find myself in when I’m creating a mandala or drawing or digital painting; partway through I want to give up as I think that what I’m creating is awful and not working. With the mandalas, drawings and digital art, I’ve learned to work through that point and, mostly, to complete the work. I’ve learned by experience and perseverance that I can produce art I’m happy with.
I’m not at all sure of that with this art journal type stuff. I’m not sure at all if I can find my own creative ‘voice’ with this, or whether I have to accept that as much as I’d like it to be one of my ‘things’ it’s not meant to be and that I can continue to watch and admire others for what they create.
Maybe, I’ll end up making digital elements for journals for others to use in their creations. Maybe, I’ll find that collections of inchies are my thing (along with twinchies and tea cards and other little designs).
For now, I’ll take a bit of a break from it all, and come back to it with fresh eyes and a fresh mind.
I’ve spent a very enjoyable few hours this morning creating a plethora of gloriously coloured and distressed backgrounds for use with my drawings and art. I will be scanning them in to create digital backgrounds too, but only when I’m going to draw on one. I’d get overwhelmed if I tried to do that task all in one go!
How I created the backgrounds.
The papers I used are all mixed media – either ClaireFontine or Daler-Rowney. They were cut to sizes that would be suitable for mounting on cards. They’re a mixture of the following approximate sizes: 9″ x 3″; 8″ x 2″; 4″ x 4″; 3″ x 5″; 2.5″ x 4.5″; 4.5″ x 2″; 3″ x 4″; 4.5″ x 1.5″ just in case you’re curious.
They are all coloured with Distress Oxide Inks. I only have the first two collections released by Ranger; I do intend to complete the collection in the future.
For some, I used a soft Brayer roller to add the Distress Oxide to a gel printing plate. I then either sprayed water on the plate in a fine spray, or I splattered drops of water colour on to it before pulling the print with a piece of paper.
I tried brayer-ing the Ink directly to paper, but wasn’t all that happy with the results until I sprayed them with water.
My favourite way of adding colour, however, was to use a piece of Cut and Dry foam to add the ink. I tapped the black, denser foam side onto the ink pad and used that to spread the colour around the paper. I then sprayed with water.
Sometimes I’d go back and add another layer of colour, and then spray with water.
I used a heat gun to dry the paper after spraying with water or colour, which helps the distress oxide inks to ‘bleach’.
I’d add some more colour if I thought the background needed it, and then spray again, until I was happy with the end product.
My final task was to frame the backgrounds by adding a black edging. I used a foam finger dauber and black soot Distress Ink to do this, spraying the papers once more to let the edging ‘bleed’ a little.
I’m really happy with most of the backgrounds I’ve made and I’m looking forward to using them to create little pieces of art, and adding to my library of digital backgrounds I can use for my digital art. These are a little small, maybe. However, Now I’ve found out how I like to create a background with the cut and dry foam I’ll be making some A4 sized backgrounds.
Update on my back and other things.
My back is feeling a lot better today. However, I still get stiff all too easily and I still have pain down the sides of my thighs.
My mosaic crochet wrap is coming along – it’s all I’ve been focusing on while my back has been too painful to sit and draw.
The world is greening quickly. I’ve not spent much time at my studio area while my back has been sore, so I’m surprised to see the trees that were bare just a couple of days ago are now clothed in spring hues. That cheers my heart!
I’m coping quite well with the ‘lock-down’. I am trying not to get sucked into the whirling maelstrom of news and views about Coronavirus and other events going on in the world.
The virus crisis is happening, even though it’s not touched me personally. It will occur whether I pay attention to it or not. I know being stressed, anxious, fearful will have a negative impact on my immune system, so the calmer I can stay, the better. That doesn’t mean I don’t care. I do. Deeply. The only thing I can do is to stay home and not be a vehicle for transmission of the virus from person to person.
I now need a fresh mug of tea, so that’s all the words I have…for now.
The image shows some of the backgrounds I’ve made using a Speedball Brayer, a Gelli Arts Gelli Plate, white card and Tim Holtz’s Distress Oxide Inks.
I’ve been taking a little break from the work for the A Dangle a Day book, a change freshens up the creative part of my mind.
The process is quite simple.
Press the oxide ink down onto the Gelli plate.
Use the brayer to spread the ink over the Gelli plate. The Gelli plate acts as a blending mat.
Use the brayer to add ink to the white card. I find it helpful to have just printer paper under the card and to move the brayer from the paper onto the card.
Build up layers of inks until you’re happy with the look. Using one colour of ink you can quite easily build up an ombre background.
Spray or dot water onto the paper and let the inks ‘oxidise’ if you wish.
I clean the brayer off on the copy paper between inks. I also use the copy paper to lift off any residual ink from the Gelli plate between different ink colours. Sometimes, I dab the Gelli plate with a baby wipe and then use copy paper to clean the plate, especially if the residual ink and the new ink will make a nasty brown sludgy colour. In this instance, I wipe the brayer with a baby wipe and then clean and dry it on copy paper too.
Sometimes, the copy paper becomes a beautiful background paper too, so I store those away for future use, sometimes.
I’m going to scan some of these backgrounds in to use as backgrounds to my digital art, but then I’m going to draw on them. I’m using quite a few in my Sketchbook Project sketchbook for 2018.