I love Halloween; it’s one of the few celebrations in the year that don’t fill me with deep sadness and cause emotional distraught. And, of course, when it comes to me, cute and whimsical, smiley and pretty is my preferred style of illustration.
I thoroughly enjoyed drawing this design earlier today. My whimsical heart was filled with joy as I just a few of my favourite things. I’m sure there’s a song there…
“Hats upon skull-ies and batwings on potions, mushrooms on bottles and bright orange pumpkins, Some stripy tentacles with round eyeballs, These are a few of my favourite things.”
Well, it doesn’t rhyme, but it’s a start!
So whatever you are doing today, however you are celebrating, or not, I wish you the very best!
Again, I woke before 5am today, even though I didn’t go to sleep until nearly midnight. This is getting ridiculous!
What else to do until I’m either ready to sleep again or give up on sleep and start my day proper? Oh, art of course!
So, I decided to divide a page up in my lettering sketchbook. Then, I coloured the vertical sections with distress inks. The colour themes from left to right are blue, pink and green, with bits of crossover.
Next step? Collage some papers to create areas for hand lettering to go. That squared paper needs to be toned back a bit – white gesso will be just the ticket!
Then, I did some hand lettering and added some patterns. I thought I’d use some fineliners – Inktonic Pens from Arteza to be exact. the collaged paper does like to soak the ink up when just the edge of the pen nib touches it.
Fineliners are not my favourite pens to colour in with. But, they usually have water-soluble ink in them. So, on the lower panel, I used a damp brush to move the ink around to even out the colour.
On the upper panel, I splattered some water on it and used a paper towel to lift the water up. That created a nice splatter pattern. Then I had a thought, “What would happen if I sprayed water on it, lightly and used a paper towel to pick the water up?” I lost the pretty water-bleached spatter patterns. But, some of that ink really bled into the edge of the collaged paper. That was unexpected and rather interesting.
So, some more interesting experiments with this idea I’m working with.
Oh, the letters of lacuna had colour added with a deep indigo Inktense pencil, brush and water.
Oh, I did use a pencil to write out the letters and position them, and I still made a pig’s ear of the ‘And still I rise”. Sheesh! Perhaps I’m being way too critical of my own lettering and what is there. I focus on all the imperfections I perceive, rather than taking a step back and trying to see what I’ve drawn and lettered through someone else’s eyes.
I needed to add shadows to the drawing completed and given a colour wash yesterday. As I so often regret my choices of how I do this, I decided to make a test page of various methods for my sketchbook.
They all have their own charm and feel. However, putting them side by side so I can compare and contrast gave me a better idea of what I really like.
To add shadow/highlight to a drawing, I really like the hatching/contour lines created by a micron pen or a biro. The biro I particularly like as it is much softer and I’m able to get a tone variation with the lines.
I also worked out that for using gradations of colour, they just feel a bit … plain. So, like in the drawing of medieval flowers and leaves, the combination of lines and colour works for me.
I found when I was adding shadow below the drawings that using Distress Inks like watercolours just wasn’t going to work. The use of water results in weird boundary lines that I’m not fond of. Of course, if I’d not coloured the background in Distress Ink, a gradated wash of colour may have created a lovely shadow.
So, I think I’d prefer to use chalk pastels for adding shadow. The ability to blend them out gradually, with no harsh line, is a great advantage. It’s also easy to add more of the pastel if a darker colour is needed.
So, that’s what I chose to do. Not just with the drop shadows, but with darker areas on the leaves etc. I even found that the pastel can tint the gold I’d added in places, which is a really interesting twist.
Bit by bit, I’m working out colour, shadow, highlight and what works for me.
It’s also no bad thing to spend time trying out techniques with various media. Mixing and matching. Making a reference page for my sketchbook / zibaldone has proven to be a very valuable exercise.
When I’m quite happy with the drawing. I will do my best to take a good photograph of it. It’s worked out much better than I thought it could.
This card is now almost finished. I have learned some things from yesterday’s debacle. Mainly that I’d make a much wider border for the embossed background.
I did add Speckled Egg Distress ink to this embossed background, but it’s such a lovely, subtle colour the camera hasn’t picked it up well.
The embossed layer is so tactile! I used some Micro Glaze to seal it so that being touched won’t affect the distress ink.
Actually, I used Micro Glaze on the top layer too!
I could only find cream coloured card blanks and envelopes, and these layers really didn’t look too good on them. So, hopefully I’ll remember where my card blank stash is, or I’ll make a blank and envelope.
In the video I try embossing an envelope – a case of ‘envelope art’. I’m glad I did. The embossing works well. However, the areas where the flaps are glued together on the back of the envelope make indents in the front. Distress Ink brings these out so much. So, I’ll be sure to emboss the front of the envelope, and colour with Distress Ink, before I glue it all together!
All in all, I’m much happier with this card. Mind you, I do have ideas for others! Probably too late for Christmas now, but … there’s always lots of other reasons for sending greetings cards, including ‘just because I can’.
Winter solstice 2021 Mandala
Winter Solstice Greetings and Wishes to you all to the north of the equator! Summer Solstice Greetings and Wishes to you all south of the equator!
Some sunshine on a chilly, dull Winter Solstice day here in the Valleys of South Wales, UK.
Actually, the title should be ‘How Not to finish up…’. I had a bit of an accident. More about that in a minute.
This morning, I decided to work on finishing up one card design. I knew I wanted to add another layer beneath the panel already finished before gluing it to the cream-coloured card blank.
I dug out some scrapbook paper from my stash. Nothing felt right. The colours were just ‘off’. That’s when I realised I needed to use Distress Inks to colour the lower panel.
I could have used them to colour the panel, then use pens (black, fineliner or metallic) to draw a pattern on it. Instead, I decided to try to emboss the pattern into the paper using a dotting tool / parchment craft ball tool / embossing tool.
Before I did this, I experimented on some scrap paper to see how I could colour the paper (more on this in today’s video).
I decided to emboss the paper first, then add Distress Ink (pine needles) with the black side of a piece of Cut ‘n Dry foam. That kept the embossing white. I found that if I used a blending brush (aka make-up brush!) more ink settled in the embossing. That is also a lovely look, but not what I wanted.
Inside this border, I added some gold ink to create a gold border around the upper panel.
That looked fine and dandy. The horror story came with the next step…
I added some foam tape to the back of the upper panel to add some dimension to the card, along with some glue so I had some wiggle time to make sure I got the panel centred.
The glue was the mistake I think. I had the panel nicely centred until I turned it over to add some pressure to get it to stick firmly. It must have wiggled and become de-centralised.
And when I noticed it was very firmly stuck.
I was so annoyed with myself as I know this is something that nearly always goes wrong when I try to make cards.
The only way I can ‘fix’ things is to cut out that central panel and re-make the embossed border and reassemble the card once again. This time I’d consider having the embossed pattern going under the central pattern so that if it is a little off it won’t be quite so noticeable.
I’m not, however, going to do that. This time, I’m going to make notes in the card about what I did, the media used, what I like, what I don’t like, and what I need to be very, very mindful of the next time I make a card.
Reflecting on the card creation
I know I’m fairly happy with the design. I like the central motif of holly leaves. The sutble pattern in the border around it is nice too, as is the embossed border.
I do wish I’d not used chalk pastels to add colour to this panel. There’s something dusty and muted about it that I’m not at all sure of. I think that keeping things mostly monochrome on a coloured background works best for me, with touches of gold and white, with some shading perhaps.
It’s that thing again. I love colour, but making use of it always has me feeling that it’s where I mess things up, unless I keep the colours really simple. Simple as in black, white, the background colour, and a shadow colour, and maybe touches of metallics for some sparkle and shine.
I do better with colour when I work digitally, but in traditional media I always feel like I struggle.
It’s always a learning experience, more so when things don’t go as planned or when I’m not entirely happy with what I produce. My problem is I try the same kind of thing over and over and expect it all to improve. I think I’m hoping that I’ll work out how to make the various media work for me at some point.
I say, often, I’m going to stick to monochrome, and then go and try working with colour, often with the same kind of feeling at the end. The feeling I like the pen drawing, but the colour/media isn’t what I’m looking for.
Perhaps time for me to make use of this colour printer and add colour digitally and print it out!
Today, I’ve managed that. ‘Crystals’ is the prompt from the Inktober list. The tangle pattern for today is ‘Lunar Flux’ by Debbie New CZT.
I dug out a piece of paper coloured with Distress Inks from my stash of such paper. It’s a rather grungy kind of green, which appealed to me first thing this morning.
0.1 and 0.3 Unipin pens were used to draw the design. Next, a variety of green and white chalk pastels were used to add colour, shadow and highlight to the design. Finally, embellishments were added with white Sakura Soufflé, yellow/gold Sakura Stardust, and clear Sakura Glaze pens.
There were a number of times through the process where I wondered what on Earth I was doing and was going to give up. The first was when I started to dislike the coloured paper. The next was when I thought the pen work wasn’t looking too good, I didn’t have the space to add a third stem of lunar flux (I like groups of odd numbers). Finally, adding colour with the pastels felt like I was making a bad job worse.
I’m glad I didn’t give up. I’m actually quite pleased with the finished drawing. There’s some volume to the elements, and a sense of layers too. The highlights and shadows really helped to lift the colours and the design.
It’s been a lovely, if a tad frustrating at times, way to spend a couple of hours this morning.
Yesterday evening, I spent some time playing around with the basic idea of Lunar Flux and came up with a sketchbook page full of variations. I’ll show this in tomorrow’s Sketchbook Saturday vlog.
For now, I’m going to get a fresh mug of mocha, and spend sometime drawing, making use of Lunar Flux. I’m still not feeling quite right after my upset tummy Wednesday and yesterday. I had a horrible night’s sleep, with two vivid nightmares that had me wrenching myself awake from them. I have no idea what caused them, but the unease and fear they provoked in me is lingering today, along with a sense of exhaustion too. So, self-care time is very much needed today for sure.
I woke with a stinking headache this morning. So, spending some time adding colour to an entangled drawing, along with a couple of headache pills, was just what was needed. And listening to a podcast or three.
I decided to use Distress Inks as paints, along with a Caran d’Ache waterbrush. Here’s a list of the colours I used: Forest Moss, Fossilised Amber, Weathered Wood, Broken China, Dusty Concord and Seedless Preserves.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I think I really should’ve stayed away from Dusty Concord and Seedless Preserves – the purple and pink colours. Either other analogous colours and/or browns/greys would’ve worked so much better.
I keep doing this with colour. I’m so used to choosing complementary colours that I still reach for them. In this case it’s understandable as I chose some of the colours that were in the background.
Note to self – monochrome-ish or analogous colours!
To help tone these brighter pink and purple colours down, a liberal use of dot highlights from a white Sakura Soufflé pen was needed! I’ve not finished adding embellishments yet.
Nor have I started intensifying shadows. I’m not sure whether to use biro or either a graphite pencil or a chalk pastel and a paper tortillon. My head isn’t clear enough to decide about that! As the headache is wearing off, my need to sleep the last of it off is increasing.
Yesterday, I added pieces of paper coloured with either Distress Ink or Distress Oxide to pages in one of my sketchbooks. These pages had been previously coloured with Distress Inks.
I wasn’t at all sure that what I was doing was a great idea. So, I decided to add patterns to one page using a micro Uniball Eye pen. I still wasn’t sure, but a bit more confident in my idea. So, I started to add colour to see if that would make me happier with what I was doing.
To add colour, I started with some Tombow Dual brush pens in rather vintage, autumnal colours that work well with the background.
As the Distress Ink tends to alter the properties of the paper, I thought I’d try the Ecoline Brush pens. And, they were so much easier to blend out with a waterbrush. Actually, the Distress Ink makes it much easier to blend the Tombow Dual Brush pen ink out too.
So, I’m quite happy with the result. Now, I can complete the drawing and finish up adding colour. And I look forward to working on the other pages in the sketchbook too.
I made a bit of a serendipitous discovery yesterday. I have no idea if anyone else has come across this, but I haven’t before.
Anyway, I was waiting for the sun to get less strong in the afternoon so I could venture out for a walk. So, I thought I’d add some Copic shading to some of my entangled drawings. All was fine and good with the first one (which you can see in the vlog).
Then, I started to do the same to this drawing. I’d used a black biro to add shading to the drawing and didn’t expect anything to happen. But, the biro reacted with the alcohol marker. Some of the colours in the ink were dissolved and moved a little way by the marker – purple when moist and blue when dry.
I had a ‘duh!’ moment when the scientist in me awoke. Of course alcohol would dissolve the coloured dyes in the biro.
It was an also quite magical moment too. It added to the shadows in an interesting, subtle way. This is something that needs to be investigated further with different coloured ball point pens!
So, I actually feel a tad excited by this discovery and wanted to share it.
It’s been a right weird morning. I started to work on yesterday’s drawing, but found myself at a bit of an impasse with it. So, rather than continue and risk messing it up entirely, I decided to start another.
For this one, I coloured the paper with Peeled Paint, Evergreen Bough and Chipped Sapphire Distress Inks before starting to draw.
I find working on coloured paper a real pleasure, much of the time. It sets a mood, a feel for the artwork to develop and grow upon. It can inspire me. I like that.
The one thing I didn’t do was scan the coloured paper in. My printer/scanner is having a serious amount of hissyfitting with the WiFi at the moment, disconnecting itself for no reason at all it seems. Weird, as I’d scanned in several drawings prior to this. Ho hum.