I have an introvert ‘hangover’ today. This has absolutely nothing to do with alcohol, just a bit too much socialising on Zoom yesterday! The headache will lift soon. The tiredness will gradually go, especially after some more sleep. It was lovely to spend time with like-minded people, particularly Brett from the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group.
So, doing some entangled, intuitive pen drawing was just the thing to start the day off. Gentle, familiar, enjoyable, calming and peaceful.
I have no idea what this drawing is going to turn into. Time will tell.
I have created a time-lapse vlog of this drawing. Not only do you get to see how this WIP drawing was done, I also show some of the other work I’ve been doing in my sketchbook as well.
As it’s the first day of a new month tomorrow, that means a new color palette challenge for the group members. I’ve not decided on a colour palette yet.
This week it has a botanical theme.
While today’s vlog was processing and uploading, I took the time to edit the image digitally and also to add some colour to it. That gave the opportunity to play with a different brush. I’m not sure about the effect I’ve achieved, however.
In the vlog, I share my thoughts on the artwork and what I’m thinking as I draw. This is mostly focused on the art, but I do have a bit of a grasshopper brain that will flit around from time to time.
Today, I started my arty day with some entangled drawing and a chat based around some interesting questions posed to me by various people on social media yesterday. The questions got me thinking and talking about my particular drawing and art style.
What I’m realising is, I’ve never really be provoked into thinking about/talking about my art style and where it has come from! For me talking and thinking are the same thing – there are two styles of inner monologue. One is where you hear thoughts in sentences throughout the
The topic of inner speech has caused a stir on Twitter after the user KylePlantEmoji put out his own observation on the matter. “Fun fact: some people have an internal narrative and some don’t,” he tweeted. “As in, some people’s thoughts are like sentences they ‘hear’, and some people just have abstract non-verbal thoughts, and have to consciously verbalize them. And most people aren’t aware of the other type of person.”
I have a mix of them. My inner monologue is one that ruminates on the past, is self-critical and so on. But I also have abstract, non-verbal thoughts that I need to verbalise to be aware of them. So, if someone asks me a question about, say, my artistic style and where it comes from, then I have to verbalise thoughts about it. Until I’m forced in some way to verbalise these kinds of thoughts, I have no idea what they are. Same if I’m, say, sitting in nature, observing the world around me. My thoughts won’t be on what I’m experiencing. Often, there are no thoughts, unless I’m stuck in a ruminating, worrying and self-critical mode, which doesn’t happen all too often.
Until I read this, and other articles, I thought there was something wrong with me, because so many others seemed to think in their heads about lessons, or experiences, or the news. But I never seem to do so. Now, I know and understand why that is. I think in an abstract way that I’m not particularly aware of as such. It just happens.
So, creating these daily (almost) vlogs is forcing me to talk about my artistic style, choices, process, lessons and so on. And such it is making me more aware of myself as an artist.
Most importantly, however, it is helping me to understand the value of all these things validating my art to me.
Yes, I do have a bit of ‘imposter syndrome‘ going on when it comes to my accomplishments in life. But, talking about my artistic journey, and how far back it started and where the observational skills and so on started is helping me see it’s been an almost life-long journey. It’s also helping me to accept and understand my artistic voice(s), style(s) as being an expression of my experiences in life where art and observation are concerned.
There’s plenty about this (though not the inner monologue and imposter syndrome stuff) in today’s real-time vlog. It is around 53 minutes long, so I have created a time lapse version with music as well.
This morning, I spent over an hour starting work on this entangled pen drawing. I did film the process, but it’s recycling day, and the bin lorries and bin men were really noisy this morning. So, I turned the video into a timelapse with music. It lasts about 14 minutes, and the link to it is above this paragraph.
I remember chatting about my influences for this drawing, and they started with me watching a video from the “Journey to the Microcosmos” YouTube channel.
I’ve always loved microscopic images, being able to see things that are invisible to our naked eyes. There’s always a sense of wonder about it, amazement at the different shapes of the various organisms that become visible. That wonder must be the same as Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch scientist of the 17th and 18th Centuries must have seen.
I loved drawing what I could see with the aid of a microscope from the first science lessons when I was 11 years of age, right through my degree and PhD and on through my teaching career too. And of course it was bound to creep into my art!
My memories of drawing diagrams of flowers and rock sections, minerals and scientific apparatus and diagrams are very fond indeed. This has certainly influenced my style of art – observing the tiny, abstracting the interesting (important) patterns and forms. Scientifically, the focus is on the features, structures, the important parts that allow identification or communicate the important features of what was seen. After all, photographs and videos can be made of all the glorious detail and colour.
The diagram is a simplified version, a map, that can help others to navigate their way around. A kind of scientific version of the map of the London Underground system. The map helps in navigating the system, but it bears no relationship to the physical layout of the rail lines and the geography of the city above.
Now, however, I take those observations and turn them into my own arty, entangled worlds of wonder. It is still the small parts that catch my attention, fill me with wonder and awe, are the ones I record, rarely the whole thing. If I visit an old church or abbey, I rarely, draw the building as a whole. I spend time looking and drawing the elements of it that capture my arty attention.
My sketchbook page often ends up of a collage of my visit, the various observations fitting together in a pleasing way. Often, I may join the elements together with imaginary lines or patterns. I may end up not with a drawing of the whole building; instead, I record my experience of the building at the day, time, season and weather I visited it.
The same is true for visits in nature, or to museums. My sketchbooks record what catches my attention, and that may not be the ‘whole’ of something, but just a part.
I’m still a scientist in my approach to art – what are the important forms, patterns, shapes, etc. that are the distillation of my experience, that I’d like to record and, maybe, share with others?
Of course, these observations find their way into my more Entangled art, like this one. The round orbs separated into three lobes were inspired by something I saw when watching one of the Journey to the Microcosmos videos. The flat leaves, by seaweed. The triangular pods are imaginary, though there may be real-world analogues of them from which inspiration was unknowingly gained. Curled, baby fiddlehead ferns are the inspiration for another motif in the drawing.
Inspiration indeed – based on observation, but interpreted and altered in a way that is personal to me.
I’m forever wondering what my artistic voice is, and here it is. At least one of the harmonic notes or chords anyway.
This week, the design is botanical, entangled and a tad on the abstract ‘mechanical’. As is my want, I’ve partly coloured the template to start to breathe life into it.
Drawn with Unipin pens on Claire Fontaine Paint On mixed media paper. Digitally coloured in Clip Studio Paint Pro.
I’ve also created a video. The drawing and colouring took me over 3 hours this morning, so I’ve sped the video up so it takes just a few seconds over 20 minutes.
Still not too well…
I’m feeling better today, but I’m still not right. My stomach/digestive system is still delicate and I have a headache on and off. I did get a bit more sleep last night, but not enough really.
Still, I’m on the mend and taking it easy again today.
Having said that, while this video was processing and then uploading and processing again in YouTube, I managed to edit two templates I drew on Tuesday and then ink in the one I wanted to use a symmetry tool to draw it. So, I’ve got some more templates done for the book I’m working on. The total is now 13 out of 31.
I don’t know if I’ll get any more done today. I’m flagging badly now and feel the need to sleep. I may have another mug of tea before I take a nap and see if that perks me up a tad.
Today, I finished drawing this entangled, zentangle inspired kind of floral/botanical design. I did start this yesterday afternoon, but continued it this morning before I settled back to sleep. I’ve had a poor night’s sleep thanks to yet another upset stomach, so after my Wednesday delivery from Abel & Cole, I drew and then settled back to sleep.
I’m still feeling very tired, my digestive system is still uncomfortable, delicate, upset. But I have to run an errand today. I’ll get to that soon enough and then I’ll see how I feel and how that dictates how I look after myself for the rest of the day. I suspect more sleep will be needed.
Anyways, this drawing is on an A5 piece of Canson Imagine mixed media paper. I used a 0.3 Unipin pen to draw the design, and I’m now adding colour using a fairly limited palette of Zig Clean Colour Real Brush pens: *green gray *pale dawn gray *olive green *deep green *ochre *bright yellow *pale rose *lilac *english lavender
I’m considering adding a couple of browns to this palette, as well as using some olive green over the grays.
These pens do move easily with a barely damp brush on this paper making it so easy to get a colour gradient. It’s also easy to add more colour to intensify the dark area.
In the vlog I talk about how the pressures of being constantly productive turned me into a workaholic when I was a teacher, and then fed negatively into my self-image which ultimately led to my burn-outs/breakdowns. I have learned that taking time for myself, to just be, to relax, to do things I enjoy, to look at ‘goals’ in a realistic kind of way to limit the pressure I put on myself.
I no longer have the external pressures of my career as a teacher, and one of the many hard lessons I’ve had to learn as part of my healing is how to value self-care time, and how that time can change from day to day. It’s so important for me, otherwise life’s own stresses and strains can take their toll on me and leads to physical, emotional and/or mental exhaustion or even ill-health.
Taking time to rest, to relax, is being ‘productive’, but in an important way. The productivity is investing time in one’s self and one’s own well being. And that is so very important.
This is why I take time nearly every day to create art just for myself, for the pleasure of creating, of exploring and experimenting, with no pressure on myself to create a completed work of art or for commercial gain. Just for the simple joy it brings.
Admittedly, I can fixate on art and forget about doing other things I enjoy, such as playing my flute, or learning to play my harp or tongue drum, or reading, or journalling, or even getting out for a walk, or combining my walk with sketching.
I know this is something I do need to work on for sure. But, like everything else, it comes together in it’s own way, in it’s own time, when I am ready to do so.
I had a delivery yesterday of Canson Imagine mixed media paper. I mistakenly ordered A4 instead of A4, but no problem, it can be used in my disc bound sketchbook.
I wanted to see how various media would work on the paper so, I used *Derwent Inktense Pencils *Mijello Mission Gold Class watercolours *Kuretake Zig Clean Colour brush pens *Tombow Dual Brush Pens
In each case I used a barely damp brush; I’d already found out that using rather wet colours left edges of colour rather than the smooth colour I like.
I didn’t draw the designs with pen, just an 0.3mm, 2H mechanical pencil.
The inktense are Ok. The colours spread a little patchily as the pigment/ink grabs onto the paper very strongly quite quickly. As they dry permanent, it’s easy to add a glaze of colour to adjust the patchiness. The colours aren’t as bright as I would’ve expected from Inktense. Maybe the off-white colour affected them, or maybe the pigments/dyes sank into the paper more as they dried.
A dry brush technique is needed for the Mijello paints, and they move too easily on the paper with water. The paper doesn’t really grab them, which is surprising as it’s not watercolour paper. I didn’t really enjoy working with them on this paper. Also, the colours are so dull… the colour of the paper, or perhaps the colours sink into it?
I loved using the Zig Clean Colour pens! The ink moved so easily with the barely damp brush. Getting a gradient was so easy. Also, adding a bit more colour to the still damp area helped with this too. I also tried blending one colour into another, and that worked really well. The colours are so vibrant, I loved working with them. My only regret is I forgot to press record for them! However, I’m sure you’ll see more of them in future videos.
The Tombows aren’t my favourite pens to work with. But, in this instance I really did enjoy working with them. The colour grabbed onto the paper more than the Zigs. This made both blending out to a gradient and blending colours more difficult. The colours though are really vibrant.
I did write notes next to each little experiment with a 0.3 Unipin pen. It was a pleasure to write on this paper, and I think I’ll enjoy drawing on the paper too, so it will definitely be a good addition to the disc bound sketchbook.
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.
This morning, I started to add watercolour to the abstract drawing I started yesterday.
I spent over 45 minutes doing this, but I’ve sped it up and added music.
I’m not at all sure about the colours used. It may be the Distress Ink from the background interfering, or it may be that the Arteza mixed media paper is a creamy colour rather than white.
It led to me experimenting with colour, working out how to get more intense colours from the pans. Knowing that is what I’ve done is likely to mean I will put this to one side as a learning experience, some time to relax and enjoy being creative and not worrying too much about mistakes.
Still, I may persevere with this. Though it is yet another artwork that isn’t finished. I seem to be collecting art that I’ve not finished adding colour to.
I may have to question myself as to why I start but never follow through with so many pieces of artwork when it comes to adding colour. I never have a problem working on drawings that may take several sessions and many hours to complete.
Is it that I fear failure? Or is it that I loose the oomph if I don’t finish it in one session. Or is it that I worry I won’t remember what colours I used and how I mixed them? Perhaps it’s that I doubt my colour palette? Maybe it’s that I doubt my ability to work with colour? Or maybe it’s a combination of some or all of these.
For now, I don’t know for sure. But I do persevere, even in the face of the bleedin’ obvious yeuchy colours!
Yesterday, I managed to focus and get plenty of art done for the book I’m working on. Not only did I scan in and clean up the drawings I’d already done, but I have two new ones almost completed. I just have to finish inking in the second, then I’ll scan them in and clean them up and get them sent over to my editor for the team to critique/approve.
I really enjoyed the work I got done yesterday. It was easier to settle into it now I’ve decided that I’m going to work with pen on paper and use digital tools to clean up and edit the images. Except when mandalas are concerned, I’m still going to draw them digitally!
I felt really good about the amount of work I’d got done, even though I’d not had much sleep the night before and I still wasn’t feeling 100%.
I was hoping for a good night’s sleep last night. No such luck. I was awake again after just a couple of hours, all hot and bothered. So, I drew until I was ready to sleep again. And I only slept for a couple of hours then, waking headachy and tired again.
I started my morning off with a big mug of tea and some time to just watercolour, even with all the frustrations it can bring me. It’s about learning and practicing and experimenting with the medium to work out how it can work for me and my style of art. As always, it’s the choice of colours that seems to vex me so much.
Still, despite me often saying I’m giving up on watercolour and sticking to adding colour to drawings digitally, I keep going back to it, and other traditional media. This is, I think, as I do want to get out to sketch in old churches and abbeys, in nature, and museums. Although I’m happy to photograph what I see, there’s nothing quite like sitting with sketchbook, pens and/or pencils and taking quiet time out to just observe and draw for pleasure and relaxation. And I’d like watercolour to, perhaps, be one of the tools I can take with me.
I remembered yesterday, as I was playing with watercolour yesterday after finishing the drawing I started yesterday, that I found working with watercolour from tubes so much easier than the pans. Duh go me! So, I’ve ordered a set of Mijello Mission Gold tube paints and a palette that should arrive today. They’re not the top of the range sets from Mijello, but they should be good enough for me to work out if this is the way I want to go, and not too pricey either!
Then, my plan is to work out which colours would be useful for me in a travel palette and create such a thing.
Looks like I’m going to be spending some time setting up the palette that arrives today and swatching out all the colours. That’s kind of exciting!
First, however, I need to get these colouring templates inked in, scanned in, and edited before starting work on some more templates.