100% Cotton rag paper is my favourite for watercolour, so far at least! I started work on this one soon after I’d finished my comparison of papers for watercolour yesterday.
I was inspired by images from the Juno space probe of the clouds on Jupiter. The images intrigued and captivated me, so I used them as an inspiration for the pattern on this piece . I have no idea why I used blues and greys with yellows and browns, but I did. A very unusual choice of colours from me.
The Khadi 100% cotton rag paper stays damp longer than the other papers, including the specialist watercolour ones, meaning I don’t get dark areas where colour overlaps as I’m applying it to one area. When I do work over the area, the pigment doesn’t lift or become blotchy once it is dry. Also, less pigment gives a more intense colour than on the other papers.
It’s the ease of letting colours flow and blend that make all the difference.
One thing I’m not too fussed on is the texture of the paper. I used the smoother side, but it’s still rather rough. I may have to hunt around for 100% cotton paper that is smoother in texture.
I also got to learn a lot more about working with watercolour on this paper, and how I can get it to work for me. As long as I can remember what I did in future artworks.
Despite my odd choice of colours, I’m really pleased with this one. I’ll certainly be doing more of a similar style going forward. Once the design is pencilled out, the process of water-colouring is quite soothing and relaxing. It’s also fascinating to watch the colours move and blend in each other in each section. Although I know this is science in action, there’s also something rather magical about it too.
What a grey, cool, windy and showery/rainy, changeable day it is here in the Valleys of South Wales, UK. Such a huge contrast to the three days of a heatwave earlier this week. Mind you, I’m one of those people who prefers to be cool rather than too hot, and on Wednesday and Thursday it really was too hot for me!
I’m still not quite right in terms of mental focus and emotional balance. After the rollercoaster rides I’ve had over the past month, it takes a while for the stress hormones to leach from my system. Each time they had started to lower, I found myself on that rollercoaster once more.
This is nothing that is affecting me directly, other than emotionally. However, it’s the emotional stuff that makes it difficult to deal with, despite me meditating and self-soothing and losing myself as much as I can in creativitity. That’s hard when I can’t settle to anything.
I do find I can settle somewhat more today, but I am still tired and my mind still feels fuzzy and unfocused. So, I won’t be chancing doing any work that requires my absolute focus, not today.
I was up early-ish this morning for a delivery. While waiting for it, I cut up a sheet of St Cuthbert’s Mill Bockingford watercolour paper and washi taped a 5½” x 4″ piece of it to an old cutting plate. I then took a 3mm mechanical pencil and sketched out an abstract design based on clouds, believe it or not.
I’m now part way through adding colour to it with White Knight’s watercolours and a size 2 Graduate round brush by Daler-Rowney.
Yesterday, I thought that this Bockingford paper was the one I’d used for the first of these abstract watercolours. It turns out it isn’t. I’m begininng to wonder if it was some mixed media paper as it is a brighter white than either Bockingford or Canson Moulin du Roy. It definitely wasn’t Daler-Rowney aquafine paper nor Tim Holtz’s watercolour paper. Nor was it the 100% cotton paper either. How curious.
I have enjoyed the process of drawing the design and starting to add colour. The colours are softer than yesterday’s watercolour, but more vibrant than the one I did earlier this week. Perhaps the change in colours is a sign I’m continuing to settle back to my usual chilled out, calm and content state.
So, I’m going to take a break from arty stuff for a little while. My concentration is wavering and I’m tempted to go back go sleep. However, I know that will prevent me from sleeping well tonight.
I was awake before 6 am today, so I settled to do some ‘warm up’ art. I water-coloured a couple of pieces of 100% cotton rag paper. I lightly wet the paper and then added watercolour to it and let it work it’s magic – to spread and mingle as it will. The coloured area is approx 3.5″ x 5.25″, so it’s still quite a small drawing in size, but large in detail.
After letting the paper dry, I set to it with some Sakura Pigma Micron pens (01, 03 and 05) to draw the flowers and leaves. I added some more watercolor to these areas to help them stand out a bit, as well as to add a bit of extra ‘dimension’ to them. Finally, I added an outline and the ‘bubble pattern to some areas.
Mindful. Meditative. Calming. Soothing. Just the kind of activity I needed this morning. I was really irritable and frustrated and sad yesterday, all at once. I think I’ve just been overwhelmed by the events in the world over the past few days and yesterday it boiled over somewhat.
I do feel better today, so far, the cooler temperature and the refreshing rain is helping too. I hope I continue to feel better, emotionally; yesterday was was even angry at the templates I was creating for the Entangled Gardens book. Rather, I was angry and frustrated with myself as nothing seemed to be working out well. Hopefully I’ll feel better about it today.
I had a very fitful night’s sleep (or non-sleep) last night. So, around 5:30am I decided to get up and ‘art’.
I finished off the watercolour of some seed capsules.
I’m really, really happy with this watercolour illustration, with an unusual color palette for me. I smile when I look at it! I decided to use a 0.5mm HB pencil to add heavier lines to the more shadowed parts, as well as a little bit of subtle line to help give the pods some volume. It’s difficult to see on the image.
I am so happy I drew a ‘window’ on the paper to draw within. I’m never happy drawing without a frame to keep within and the edge of the paper just never feels right for me. I also like the way that it feels like you’re looking through a window and that it’s OK to cut things off (apart from one cheeky leaf that I just had to have overlying the frame!).
There may be a bit too much white space above the seed capsules, I don’t know for sure. It’s so unusual for me to leave space around the various elements in a design that it feels a bit weird. However, I do like the space in this illustration.
Once I finished the watercolour, I turned my attention to drawing more capsules, pods and seeds in my A4 sketchbook. I completed two pages of small drawings, one of which you can see in the background.
Unusually for me, I drew in pencil. I’d usually use pen straight away. I have no idea what that is about, but it was a pleasant and soothing experience for me. I now have plenty of sketches I can use to create more watercolour paintings from, small ones as I really enjoy working on a small scale. Creating my own little treasures, complete with some precious, metallic details.
Painting little treasures will have to wait though. My eyelids are becoming leaden with a need to sleep. This frustrates me as I had things I wanted to get done today, things that need focus and concentration. So, I’ll soon be back in the land of nod.
I’ve been awake since stupid o’clock, which roughly translates to 3:30am BST. While I was trying to get back to sleep I watched a youtube video about making pockets and tuck-ins for an altered book journal.
I thought that could be something good for my sketchbook-journal. I have worried a little about gluing my little artworks into it, but pockets, tuck-ins, see-through envelopes could be a good way to both show the work and store it in a non-permanent way.
So, with my mind now working and sleep eluding me, I decided to have a go at making my own pockets. You can see the result at the top right, with a journalling card popped in one of them for now.
How I made the pockets
I used some ordinary white card, cut it into what I thought would be good sizes to make a set of stacked pockets for the ATC sized cards I’ve been working on.
I then coloured the cards with Distress Oxide Inks. For one of them, I used a brayer to add ink to a gelli plate. Before pulling a print, I spritzed the gelli plate with water that had some white perfect pearls added to it.
For another panel, I used the brayer to add ink directly to the paper. It did that unevenly. So, I used a ball-tool to carve some texture into the black side of a piece of cut and try foam and used that to add colour. That worked really well! Dabbing the foam added a lovely textured layer of colour. A spritz of water activated the dusty, chalky, soft nature of the Distress Oxides.
I enjoyed the look I achieved with the distressed foam that I coloured the remaining pair of paper panels in the same way.
I then tore the top edge of each panel, for added interest, then used a piece of foam and Rich Mahogany Distress Ink to add grunginess to the edges of each panel.
I wanted to add some embellishments to each panel, so I used a copper sparkle Gelli pen to draw patterns on them.
Finally, I used Tombow Mono adhesive to stick the panels together.
When I put the panels on the page in my sketchbook-journal, I thought a panel behind them. So, I coloured a panel of the same card with Distress Oxide inks and the distressed piece of foam and used the same gelly roll pen to add some sparkly patterns. Then, I adhered the back panel and pockets to my sketchbook.
When I tested some ATC cards in the pockets, I realised I need to work out a way for some more ‘give’ in the pockets as they’re too tightly put together to slip more than one ATC card in them. Also, I placed them just low enough down the page so the ATC card doesn’t stick out of the sides of my sketchbook.
I’m not well known for my fore-planning projects like this, though I do try to learn as I go along.
Inchies and Twinchies
My mind was working in weird ways this morning. As I was making the pockets, my mind strayed to inchies and twinchies. I’ve not made any of these for a long, long time. I thought it could be fun to do so and add them to my sketchbook-journal.
I cut two 1″ wide, and one 2″ wide strips of card. I used the distressed foam to apply Distress Oxide inks to them, spritzing with water to add to the distressed look. Then, after drying with a heat tool, I cut them into squares – 1″ x 1″ inches and 2″ x 2″ twinchies.
I decided to use metallic watercolours from Cosmic Shimmer to add a sparkly, shimmery border to each tile. I used rich gold, pale gold or copper on each tile.
Then, I got to draw on the tiles. Teeny, tiny zentangle-style drawings. That was fun to do!
After adding some dots using a white Sakura Soufflé pen, I adhered the inchies into my sketchbook-journal. I’ve left the twinchies for decoration later.
I realised that I could stored journalling cards in the pockets. All I needed to do was to colour the back of one of the ATC cards I coloured a few days ago. I also just realised that I could have added a layer of squared, dot grid or lined paper to write on too. That’s an idea for another time, maybe.
After drying the ink, I used a rollerball pen to add what notes I wanted to about this mornings creative sessions.
In fact, I’ve just created another journaling card to jot down ideas and notes to self as a result of reflecting on my pre-dawn arty activities!
This morning started early and I played around with metallic paints along with Distress Oxide inks in my sketchbook / art journal. I have some interesting backgrounds as a result.
I also created a background for today’s artwork. I have tweaked the colours a little, digitally. I don’t know what WordPress does to the colours, but they look different in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. I used Distress Oxide inks and have ended up with a rusted, weathered, kind of distressed/grungy texture.
Of course, I can always alter the background later on, if I wish.
I used the symmetry tool to reflect my drawing. You can see I’ve laid out the bare bones of the design and have started to fill the sections in with texture and pattern. I have a lot more work to do to complete the drawing. Then, I’ll think about shadow and highlight to help to bring the design to life some more. Or perhaps I’ll make it look like a stencilled design on the background, one that has some dimension to it.
Over the week I’ve been adding to my sketchbook- notes and images, ideas and reflections.
Each page has been coloured with combinations of Distress Inks, applied using the black side of a piece of Cut and Dry foam, followed with a spritz of water to bring out some water-staining grungy loveliness.
All the little drawings have been done on either Daler-Rowney Smooth watercolour paper (300gsm) or mixed media paper, either from Claire Fontaine or Daler-Rowney. The papers have been coloured with Distress Oxide Inks, Distress Inks, or a combination of them. Most of the pieces have had the inks applied with the foam, but some were made by brayering Distress Oxide inks onto a gelli plate and taking a print of them.
The reflection about what I like, what I don’t like, and ideas that arise is important to me in my sketchbook/journal. I do reflect on my art, a bit too much in my head. When I write it down, it forces my sometimes abstract and swirling thoughts into some kind of order. When I make these thoughts a material manifestation by writing them down, it helps me to recognise the thoughts, sift through that which is useful, and still record those that are not particularly useful at this moment but may be in the future.
I think I need to find a way to do this with my digital art. My mind goes to using One Note to do this. I shall think on this one, and make a note of it in my physical sketchbook/journal.
I wonder how many are trying to keep busy, busy, busy during the lockdown? And how many are learning how to just ‘be’, relaxing and taking time for self-care?
Self-care has been a long, difficult series of lessons for me. It’s a practice and not a perfect situation. However, self-care is important.
I don’t mean personal grooming, which is important, but it means taking care of your emotional and mental needs as much as your physical needs.
Today is a day where I’ll need to practice a lot of self-care. Migraine-style headache woke me up way too early and although the pain has gone it has left me exhausted, unfocused, and needing sleep. So, I’ll soon be returning to bed to sleep the lingering effects of the migraine away.
To help me cope with the migraine, I spend a few hours working on my mosaic crochet blanket/throw, and then created the above. Both very self-soothing activities for me.
I’ve been creating a lot of little bits of art that I just don’t know what to do with. They’re often little experiments. Sometimes I mount them as greeting cards, other times they end up in a drawer.
This morning, I woke with an idea to start a sketchbook-come-journal as a place to keep safely and annotate some of these artworks. The annotation is important; it’s lots of notes to myself about the techniques and materials I used to create a specific type of effect, thoughts, ideas for the future, inspirations.
I dug out an A4 Goldline sketchbook to use for this. The white pages just looked uninteresting and stark to me. So, I added some colour using a piece of Cut and Dry foam and Distress Inks followed by a quick spritz of water. A blast from a heat gun, and the pages were ready.
I did prepare a couple more spreads with colour. I realised that if I did this after I’d attached my art to the pages I’d get all kinds of lines and marks that I wouldn’t want. So, I need to make sure I add coloured pages each time I add work to the journal.
I adhered the artwork to the pages using Tombow Mono liquid glue, outlines them with either a metallic or plain black pen, and then set to annotations and notes.
It also gives me a chance to practice my hand-lettering and to use design elements used in bullet journals or planners. I have to say that my handwriting appeared far more than hand-lettering. I used the hand-lettering for headings though.
I also let some of the design elements from the artworks to spill onto the page. I have a problem with leaving white space! This gave me a chance to remember media I have in my stash, such as the Chameleon fineliner pens, which I haven’t used much.
Some dangle designs appeared in one of the drawings, so I redrew them above it. And, of course, metallic gold gel pens add a touch of sparkle.
One thing I ‘discovered’ (maybe rediscovered) is how fab Copic Markers work to add colour and shadow to the Distress backgrounds. White gel pen adds bright highlights.
One thing I wanted to do was add notes about my digital art. I’d like to add prints of my art, but I only have a black and white laser printer. So, I’m going to see if I can have sheets of images printed via the web and posted to me so I can then use them in my journal too.
Part of me knows I could do this via One Note or similar, but there’s something lovely about having a physical record of the art completed and with notes to reflect on or get inspiration from in the future.
I am sure this is something I did in the past, but it’s time to do this again. It’ll be fun to add journal elements to the pages, like envelopes or pouches for notes.
I’ll have to be less of a perfectionist, something I still struggle with. I’m hoping it will help me me to recognise the value of work I’ve done that I may not be happy with, but can learn from and make notes about this, and ideas that arise, for future reference.