This week is a fabulous fungi fantasia. I really enjoyed drawing this one, and adding colour really brings it to life. I’ve chosen rather bright, almost psychedelic colours, as is often the case! So, I’m intrigued to see how others will use colour magic to bring the drawing to life.
The design was drawn with a Tombow Fudenosuke pen on marker paper. This version is coloured digitally in Clip Studio Paint.
Mushrooms. Lots of mushrooms. A sketchbook page full of simple line drawings of mushrooms drawn from memory and/or imagination, some brightly coloured with Ecoline watercolour ink.
This page was a lot of fun to draw. I wasn’t aiming for realism or detail. It was all about drawing simple, stylised, imaginary mushrooms. I planned to add colour to bring volume to the drawings.
As I used imagination to draw these whimsically wonky mushrooms, it was easier to give myself permission to forgo the pressures I put on myself to be realistic in adding colour. I could use whatever colours I wanted to for each mushroom, I could be as stylised as I wished about the colour too.
Adding colour in this way is easy when I add colour to my coloring book pages/templates. As these pages are stylised, I can add colour in a simpler, more fun way. This is especially true for my Doodleworlds style of art.
Transferring that mindset to my drawings from nature, architecture and so on isn’t quite so easy for me. I still hear that critical voice of ‘It’s not good art if it doesn’t look like photograph or like the real thing’ in my head. This is a message that is repeated to us time and time again from our earliest days of starting to draw. It was these critical messages that led to me having a belief that I was no good at art, and those messages were seared deeply into my view of myself.
In fairness to myself, I have overcome some of these critical beliefs foisted upon me by others. However, some linger and rise up from time to time. I suspect their influence is most noticed in my lack of confidence in myself when it comes to colour.
Identifying these ‘inner critics’ is the first step to dispelling them. This is a multi-step process as the inner critic is armed with many weapons to destroy my self-confidence. I’ve disarmed this critic time and time again, but it always seems to find a new weapon. Eventually though, it will run out of weapons to use.
It’s a process, a long winded process, but it’s one that’s worth doing, step by step.
I finished the mushroom painting! I was so engrossed in the magic of watercolour and wanting to complete this work that I spent most of yesterday working on it!
I’m really quite happy with the outcome. It was very much inspired by Danielle Donaldson, but I think I may have given it some little twists of my own too.
I’m also beginning to think that I can make watercolour work for me, with a mix of ‘tight’ shapes, the magic textures achieved by wet into wet, and details with gel pens and drawing pencil.
I added the dots with a mixture of white Posca, Uniball Signo and Sakura Gelly Roll pens. I also tried adding dots of gold from a metallic Gelly Roll pen. I like the metallic dots, though they don’t photograph well.
There’s only one thing better than mushrooms, and that’s more mushrooms!
I enjoyed this so much that I thought I’d do a smaller version on some of the Canson Imagine mixed media paper. That’s the work on the top left. I used Zig Clean Colour brush pens and Caran D’Ache Supracolour watercolour pencils on this one to see how they could work. I’m happy with some of the effects I achieved, but in other ways I’m not at all happy.
Surprisingly, I rather like the softer colours of the Supracolour pencils on the mushrooms at the top. I found I could get a ‘painterly’ effect with them too.
The dye inks in the Zig brush pens will reactivate with the slightest touch of water, which meant I had some interesting colour bleeds.
I think what I like most about this experiment were the different colours, particularly those peachy pink colours! I have a lot to learn about colour mixing of my watercolour set for sure!
Well, I thought I’d have a little play around with some cute insects, the start of which is at the bottom left.
I used a 0.3mm pencil to draw the design on Canson Imagine paper and then set to adding colour with Mijello Mission Gold watercolours. I’d forgotten that I wasn’t fussed about using them on the Imagine paper. However, I carried on working with them and worked with how they interacted with the paper. I definitely wasn’t working in the prescribed way of watercolour work. But, I ended up with some effects I rather like.
I often revert to working on a small scale. It’s something I’ve done throughout my art journey. I’ve never really been happy with working on a huge scale, except when working with pastels and charcoal.
Even when I create A4 art, which is the biggest I do in traditional media nowadays, my artwork is full of tiny details – the size of those details varies depending on whether it is personal art or art for a colouring book.
I get a lot of pleasure from creating small, precious works of art. If I were to frame them, I’d be tempted to put the tiny art in the centre of a huge frame to give that feeling of preciousness. But that would be very pretentious of me, wouldn’t it?
I finished the top right design, and have completed the ‘A’ illustration on the bottom left. That leaves one space to be filled, no doubt later today.
I’ve used either Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens or Uniball Unipin pens to complete the drawings on ClaireFontaine’s Paint-On mixed media paper. This paper is fairly weighty (250g/m²) and has a lovely velvety feel to it.
The only pencil lines I’ve used have been to delineate the ‘boxes’ to draw in, and for a couple of the design elements in the top left image as well as the A.
Reflecting on the designs
The white space in the top left design works really well I think, and is quite an accomplishment for me. The same is true, to a lesser extent for the top right design. In both cases, the white space brings attention to the design.
In contrast, the densely pattered area helps to bring out the monogram A, making the white space the focus of the design.
I think I’m going to work on some more monograms in this style. They are fun to do, and dense, entangled patterns are one of my signature artistic voices. It’s been a long time since I’ve completed art like this, with a lot of detail to bring out dimension/volume in the design.
In fact, I’ve enjoyed using line and stipple to add volume in all the designs, exploring how I like to do this as I go. All the work I do with colouring books means I have put this to one side. It’s interesting how I’ve circled back to this style. It’s even more interesting to look at how my drawing skills have developed and evolved over time as well.
I found some peace, contentment and joy while drawing these, and feel a sense of accomplishment, particularly with the two on the left.
Do I prefer digital or traditonal drawing?
A difficult question to answer. I think it depends on what I’m creating.
I really do enjoy using pen on paper. I get a better sense of the overall design. Paper and pen is very portable too – whether I’m sketching when out and about, or drawing in different places at home.
Drawing on the screen of my Surface Studio with a pen is a lot like drawing on paper. The smoothness of the screen makes it a very different tactile experience. It also is great for inking in sketches. It also makes correcting mistakes or re-working areas a lot easier, and there are techniques I can use that are near impossible or very time consuming when working traditionally.
Sometimes, the lines produced digitally are too perfect. I’m still working on developing the brush styles that will mimic the unevenness of an inked line. I do have to use some element of line-smoothing as I draw; without it the lines are really wobbly, but with it they can be too perfect and I lose, to a degree, that personal and unique way that my pen moves on paper.
I also find it difficult to have a sense of proportion or detail when working digitally, even though I can look at the design at the same size as it will be printed. The ability to zoom in and work on a small area means I lose all sense of relative size and complexity/detail of a design. So, if I’m going to work on a drawing digitally, I prefer to start with a sketch to give me that sense of scale.
I rarely sketch out my design when I work on paper, except if I need the outlines of a design element as I’m drawing. I do tend to work very intuitively.
So the answer is, I prefer each for different purposes, and also to suit my different moods and purposes.
Of course, once I’ve drawn a design, I then have to decide if I want to add colour, and then what media I will use – traditional or digital!
Today, I thought I’d digitally colour one of my recent drawings. I thought it would be nice to compare and contrast digital colouring with traditional colouring.
It’s been a while since I did much art digitally, I’ve been lost in traditional media this week as I slowly heal from some emotional wounds. Art helps with healing. Meditation helps too. But time is still needed for the healing to take place, and for rest to relieve the exhaustion that lingers still.
Any kind of art, digital or traditional, soothes my mind, emotions and body.
What I like about digital art is the way I can get such high contrast in colours to enhance the sense of volume the design elements have. I also like the vibrancy of colours. I also like the ability to add texture to the colour in so many different ways.
Of course, I like the ability to alter colours when they don’t work, without having to start over. I’m not sure if those leaves are going to stay that particular green-ish colour. Nor am I sure about the background colour.
As is my wont, I’ve used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to add the colour and textures. My hardware is a Microsoft Surface Studio and Surface Slim Pen.
Just a little something I wanted to try out – using hand-drawn typography to create illustrations. I chose a mushroom, for no other reason than I like mushrooms.
It’s more about practising the hand-drawn typography or hand lettering than anything else.
What I realised, when I completed the black and white version, is that I could’ve varied the weight of the letters to produce highlights. That’s for another day, I think.
I also had to try adding colour, and in that way adding highlight and shadow.
I like both versions, but I think I like the coloured one a bit more.
I mentioned I’m following the Sarah King Domestika course – Hand-Drawn Typographic Portraits. I have started work on my first portrait, but it’s going to take me a while to do. In the meantime, little projects, like the mushroom, will give me plenty of practice as well as a chance to work out my process and way of working, as well as how I’d like to use it so it adds a note of harmony to my artistic song.
I started with a pencil sketch of the mushroom. Then, I added the words in rough with pencil. I scanned the sketch into Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. I then used my Microsoft Surface Slim Pen, to hand-draw the typography. Even though I’m using digital media. Autodesk Sketchbook Pro is a lot like working on paper, but it streamlines the process and allows me to skip a lot of the tedious steps. It also lets me take a black and white drawing and add colour quite easily.
I’ve done this while I’m waiting for a migraine-type headache to subside enough that I can return to bed and sleep the dregs of it away. I’m nearly at that point now as I’m beginning to feel tired and sleepy. So, I’ll get the rest of the social media postings done, and then crawl back into bed to sleep.
I have been really enjoying drawing tiny botanicals in little ‘windows’. So, I combined drawing with watercolor practice.
The image on the left involved me using a pencil to draw the boxes and their contents, then watercoloring. For some, I tried painting the image in sections and with layers of colour. I really wasn’t happy with the results. I painted the rest of the boxes with washes of watercolour and then either inked or re-drew the designs in pencil. I felt happier with these.
I used Daler-Rowney Smooth watercolour paper and I’ve been struggling to get the paper to stay wet enough for long enough to mix colours wet in wet. Not even on these tiny little windows. It was becoming very frustrating.
A couple of days ago, I’d ordered a pack of 100% cotton rag paper and it arrived early evening. I used a small piece of it for the illustration on the right.
I started by painting rectangles of colour on the paper. I used a waterbrush rather than a paintbrush for this. I used the same kind of transparency of watercolour for each as I did for the illustration on the left. Oh my gosh, did the colours shine and show up so much more vibrantly! Not only that, it was so easy to mix colours, wet in wet. The cotton rag paper is an absolute joy to work with!
I was beginning to get frustrated with myself and watercolors once again. This has been a common feature of my love-hate affair with them over many years. This paper may change that totally.
This morning, after letting the paper dry, I drew tiny botanicals in each window. I used, as in the image on the left, a 005 Sakura Pigma Micron pen to draw with. I was worried it would struggle with the paper’s rough texture. The lines aren’t as uniform as they’d be on, say, smooth Bristol board. I just went with the rougher nature of the lines and was surprised at how much I enjoyed them. They meant I loosened up my drawing style a little.
I really enjoyed creating these little artworks (the one on the left is approx. 5″ x 5″, the on on the right 4″ x 4.75″). There is something I find really satisfying about creating teeny tiny drawings, in the same way I find drawing intricate designs makes something inside me smile.
What I do want to try later on today is adding some more colour to some of the design elements on both drawings using both watercolours and watercolour pencils or inktense pencils. On second thoughts, I think I’ll do some samples to experiment on, annotate and add to my journal, just in case I don’t like what transpires.
Before I do any of that, I woke with a headache. It’s beginning to shift, but as it lifts it’s leaving me feeling really tired.
Another day on lock-down, and I started the day by colouring a Strathmore Bristol Board tile with Distress Inks, then drawing. You can see the result above, sorry for the poor photo.
The random generated tangle pattern for today is ‘BB‘, and it’s the wavy set of blocks across the middle of the design. The rest of the design is made up from some of my favourite patterns and motifs, as well as a few dangle designs.
The overall design doesn’t feel as if it flows. That may be a reflection of my emotional state, which is a mixture of anxiety, fear, being overwhelmed and exhausted.
So, self-care is in order. So that’s doing things that won’t frustrate me, or that won’t having me feel that whatever I do is rubbish.
Today, I have another entangled drawing for you to enjoy. I worked on it over the past couple of days. I think it’s taken me around six or seven hours to complete.
Because of all the floral and botanical motifs I’ve called it an Entangled Garden. A garden that has grown from my intuition and imagination.
I’m enjoying drawing these kind of illustrations at the moment. I really do have a fondness for botanical motifs, but also for arches and patterns inspired by Romanesque and Gothic architecture. There’s also some influence from Zentangle patterns too.
I’ve not added any shading to increase depth and dimension. There are places in the design that could benefit from a hint of shadow. However, I’m happy with it as it is.
As a drawing, it is a bit too fussy with intricate details to work as a coloring page as far as traditional media are concerned. However, I do know some colourists who would love the challenge of colouring a design like this!
Having said that, this kind of design, with less details, would be perfect for my next coloring book which I do need to start work on soon. I need the cover done for the publishers by the end of this month. So, I can take inspiration from the drawings I’ve been doing recently, though I do have some other ideas rattling around my brainbox too.
I used Uniball Unipin pens, along with ClaireFontaine dot grid paper. The size of the drawing is approx. 7.5″ x 10″.
I added the background colour and texture digitally, after removing the dots from the dot grid paper.
It’s been a bit of a crazy day. Between trying to sort out things for a project I’m involved in, some deeply tiring and seemingly powerful EMDR therapy, and a meeting to round off the day, I’ve not had much time for art. I did manage to get one template done for my ‘Splendid Sea Life’ colouring book for the Creative Haven series from Dover Publications Inc. I have also spent some self-care and self-soothing time this evening creating this relatively simple mandala.
Mandalas are incredibly soothing to draw, especially black and white line art ones with a fair amount of repeating patterns.
Digital work using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.