Tuesday Typography for Paleotober

I had to take a totally different approach to completing this piece of typographic art – pencil drawing the design and letter outlines on paper before inking and scanning into the computer.

Once scanned in, I could clean the image up, fill the shapes with black. I learned how I could use some of the tools in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to do this. However, in black and white the artwork looked just so flat and dull.

So, I added a chalkboard background in a lovely sea blue (ammonites were denizens of the oceans after all!), and added a colour gradient to the typography.

It then looked a bit better. But I thought I’d try adding highlights and some shadows. And that just did the trick and I was finally happy with what I’d produced. It was good enough for another step on my typographic art apprenticeship.

That doesn’t mean there are things I wouldn’t do differently the next time I try something like this. My hand lettering needs a lot of work on, as does my attention to the letter weights too. I’ve just realised that I meant to draw tiny ammonites in the dark blocks between words as spacers. Also, I could’ve spent a lot of time tidying up the lettering digitally.

I also learned that working on paper gives me a much better overall view of the design and how things sit together. For some reason I struggle with this when working digitally. It may be that digitally I can zoom in and out and often work unaware of what is around the design. With paper, that overall perspective is ever present.

Digital art is something I love to work with, but I’m realising that I do need to work on paper too, even if it’s a sketch or drawing that can then be enhanced, edited and completed digitally.

Slowtember Prompt list

This morning I needed a quiet, slow, simple time with some arty stuff.

Firstly, I get so frustrated working in a bound sketchbook. The binding always gets in my way even though I like the paper. I much prefer working on loose sheets of paper. I want to keep a sketchbook, or series of sketchbooks. So, the pennies dropped that I needed to put together a discbound sketchbook filled with acid-free cartridge paper and bristol board, and other papers I may wish to draw on.

Yes, I know I’ve got a disc bound sketchbook filled with papers coloured in many ways to draw on. But, my recent forays into art, the realisation that black and white line art is my favourite way of working, needed a solution too.

So, after a while of sorting out such a discbound sketchbook, I thought I’d like a cover page for the Slowtember part of my this sketchbook. It gave me a chance to practice some hand lettering, and to mess around with Tombow Dual Brush markers.

I also added drawings for pancake plant, the prompt for days 10 to 12 which I missed out and went straight to rubber plant!

I suspect that by the end of the month I will have a visual reference for leaves of these indoor plants.

Naturally, I messed up the numbers for the dates for each prompt. My hand lettering isn’t wonderful, nor are the leaves around the title. Let’s not mention the colouring. However, it will do; after all it is a sketchbook page not a finished, polished piece of art. That means no pressure on myself to get it perfect, or as near as I’m happy with. It’s about trying things out and if they don’t work then it’s an opportunity to reflect and learn more about my skills and artistic voice. It’s also a chance to use media that I wouldn’t normally use, and possibly to remind myself why I don’t usually use them as well!

#Slowtember – Days 2, 3 & 4

Yesterday afternoon and this morning I’ve spent time catching up with #Slowtember by @megaelod on twitter. Here’s the sketchbook page I created for the prompts monstera (Swiss Cheese Plant), areca palm and rubber plant.

I took the opportunity to practice my hand drawn typography / hand lettering, as well as my use of line to add volume to a line drawing.

I’m not the best with colour, or with traditional media to add colour, but I think I’ve done OK with some of these. I like the simple washes of gradient colours in the areca and rubber plant leaves. The line work is nice, but the colour brings it to life. The monstera leaf done in coloured pencils works well as far as a sense of volume goes, but I’m not the best with coloured pencils, even using blending solution.

I even found some microscopic images of cells from monstera and rubber plant leaves and stems. So, I just had to do quick drawings of patterns from these, with some imaginary colour added to them.

It’s nice to do this challenge. It’s not as full on and intense as Inktober is, and even if I fall behind there’s not so much to catch up with. It’s also nice to work in a sketchbook (or digitally) as there’s no pressure to complete a finished piece of work. I like how I’ve left some of my drawings partly coloured so I can compare how colour adds (or not) to the design.

When I’m looking at my page and writing about it I always have ideas about how I could’ve approached an idea, or get new ideas. Time for me to go and jot them down before I forget them!

Monogram B

Finally finished it! It’s taken many hours to do – probably around 15 I think, and it’s taken some perseverance by myself to get it done.

Uniball Unipin pens (05, 03 and 01) on Claire Fontaine Paint-on mixed media paper. Two pen nibs now wrecked; the paper is velvety smooth to touch, but just too rough for the tips of the Unipin pens. Will move to Bristol board for the next monogram.

Slowtember 2020

I decided to do Slowtember. I like having prompts to challenge me, take me a little outside of my usual style. However, Inktober can be a bit full on with daily prompts. Slowtember gives that breathing space, and I can work it in around my other commitments.

Thanks to @megaelod on twitter for the idea and prompts!

So, the first prompt was a choice betwixt pothos and chill. I decided to combine them! I like foliage, and the word gives me a chance to try out some hand drawn typography/hand lettering.

I sketched the quite stylised design on dot grid paper, inked it with Unipin pens and then scanned it in. after some digital clean up and slight adjustments, I added some simple colour and shadow.

You’d think adding simple colour would be easy, yes? Nope! Choosing the right greens wasn’t easy for me. And then there was the typography. I lost count of how many times I tried different ways to colour the letters. Eventually I decided enough was enough and the gradient I had was good enough.

As I think now, after breakfast and some mocha, I could’ve done the word as a flower pot, or used it to add shadow to a flower pot. Maybe I’ll give that a go for the next prompt (monstera and water).

Complex drawings are my stock in trade. Going simple and stylised is not quite so easy! Still, it was fun to do, a bit frustrating at times, but the result is perhaps good enough, though I’m not sure about that.

Wednesday WIP

Wednesday is WIP day! WIP is work in progress, and this is one of my current one.

I’m working on A4 (29.7 cm x 21 cm) Claire Fontaine Paint-On mixed media paper with 05 and 01 Uniball Unipin pens.

It’s taken several hours so far, and there’s several yet to go! I’m enjoying creating such detailed drawing in just black and white. Lots of botanical elements, but there’s also arches and spirals and geometric patterns in there too.

I never have much of a plan in mind when I tackle a drawing like this. I know what patterns I like, and if I lack inspiration I can always refer to my visual dictionary or design motifs and patterns. It’s all about intuition. It’s not entirely mindless. I do make conscious decisions about what design element to use, how to use line and pattern to add volume and contrast.

I sometimes wonder, when I see my work like this, why I try to work with colour. I always feel I struggle with colour, but black and white, with or without grey, always seems to work so well for me.

I love to play with the illusion of volume in a drawing, and whether that is done with density and shape of line/pattern, or with colour (even though I really do feel I struggle with colour).

I will persevere with this illustration, drawing, artwork over the coming days. In fact, I may spend time on it today. I’ve completed my morning errands, so I can remain at home, which is where I need to be. I’m tired today; I didn’t sleep at all well last night, or for the past few nights and my mood and ability to concentrate is suffering as a result.

Hello September!

It’s a sunshiny, blue-sky morning with a distinctly cool and freshness to the air. It really feels like autumn is on it’s way. So, I’ve created a mandala to welcome the change of month, and the incipient change of season. I even practised my hand-drawn typography / hand-lettering.

What I missed out on doing was having a 9-fold symmetry for the ninth month. Ho hum. Perhaps I’ll just create another!

I’m also not at all sure of the background colour. It’ll do for now. After all, this is my morning warm up art.

Drawn in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro using Microsoft Surface Studio and Microsoft Surface Slim Pen.

Hand-drawn typographic quote

Today, I’ve been practising my hand-drawn typography (hand lettering). I seem to have Aneurin Bevan on the brain at the moment, probably because I’m working on a typographic portrait of him. So, I chose a quote by him.

To create this, I started off with squared paper, a ruler and a pencil. I marked out an area that was 24 cm x 12 cm. Before doing any lettering, I drew in some wavy guidelines. Then, I added the lettering. It took three attempts before I ended up with a design I was happy with.

Next, I scanned the sketch into Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and re-drew and inked in the letters.

Black on white was very stark, very graphic. However, I had a hankering for some colour. So, I chose reds. I used some digital wizardry to invert the black letters and white background. I created the coloured and textures background, and then used some layer options to get the effect I wanted.

Final steps were to ad my little copyright notice and watermark. As well as resizing the image for social media.

Taking a break

It’s always nice to have a change of pace and intensity in art work. I spent a couple of hours this morning getting my mind around how I could change the shape of letters to give a feeling of volume to a portrait. The fist in my portrait of Aneurin Bevan was looking a tad too flat.

I didn’t want to do any more work on the portrait today, wanting to give myself a break from the changes I’ve made so I can go back to it with fresh eyes and fresh mind.

Thoughts ticking around my mind

I do have an idea for creating a more abstract kind of typographic art from quotes and descriptive words now I’ve completed this mini typographic art quote. Not today, though I will note my idea down in my journal.

I often wake up in the morning, with ideas for art projects, as well as suggestions for solutions of problems I’m having with a current artwork, such as the flatness of Nye’s fist in his portrait.

It seems my subconscious mind works on these issues while I rest and sleep.

Perseverence

I really am persevering with the typographic portrait. That’s a surprise to me. Not all that long ago, I would’ve easily given up on it and decided that it wasn’t for me.

But not this time.

This time, I’m sticking with it, as well as the use of typography in my other styles of art.

This one isn’t coming as easily to me as other forms of art have, but it’s one that I seem to want to really succeed at.

What is making the difference is being able to work digitally. That makes editing, altering, trying things out a breeze. I don’t have to completely start all over again, I can keep what I like, and then rework what I don’t like. I can even keep what I don’t like in case it turns out that it is actually what I do like!

Remembering to work in layers really does help this process. That’s something I don’t always remember to do. However, I will get there. Just not today.

Typographic Portrait WIP

This morning I’ve been working on my typographic portrait of Aneurin Bevan. This portrait is the third iteration. I’m learning as I go along, trying out ideas as they occur to me.

I started with the photograph Nye Bevan and used the posterise tool in Affinity Photo to create areas of contrast. Then, I added colour to these areas to help me differentiate ‘twixt them. I completed this task in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

The next stage was to draw lines around these areas of colour, smoothing them out somewhat, and using artistic interpretation where necessary. These are the green lines that delineate the areas for different weights of text. I’ve decided to leave the white areas blank.

The green guidelines have been changed and edited as I work the portrait.

The area that was vexing me most were the fingers. However, I had an idea to use tiny lettering to add some deep shadow. I’m sure I’ll work out how to add some lighter shadow areas later on (my mind is already ticking over that issue) to give more volume to the fingers.

They typography is hand drawn and I’m having to come to terms with the struggle I’m having with my perfectionist side. This isn’t to do with the shapes of the letters, but the weight of them and making sure that they are consistent. As I’m hand-drawing the letters, then they are going to be imperfect, and I need to learn to accept when they are good enough.

Also, those imperfections and style of lettering are personal to me, and that is what will differentiate my work from others.

I’m also struggling with letting go of the desire to be as photographically accurate with the portrait as I can be. This is where learning to simplify the shapes of the different areas of contrast comes in, and recognising they don’t have to be a perfect copy of the photo in order for the resulting portrait to be recognisable as Aneurin Bevan.

One other thing I’ve done is to let go of trying to use full quotes in the portrait. I’m using repetitions of words and short phrases that represent Nye – personally, politically and in terms of achievements. I’ve realised the portrait doesn’t have to be a grammatically correct biography! I will, however, be using quotes to fill in his jacket.

I’m not sure what to do with his shirt and tie yet. It will fall into place soon enough I’m sure.

Working digitally helps me in so many ways. It takes away the frustration of starting over again if I make a mistake, and also minor frustrations. I gain a confidence to try things out, knowing that if they don’t work out I’ve not screwed up the rest of the work I’m happy with.

Working digitally, for me, is like working with pen and pencil on paper. I use a digital pen on the screen of my Surface Studio, just as I would pen on paper. It’s easy to undo and edit changes made. It removes from me the pressure to be perfect first time and helps me to persevere when things aren’t working as I’d like them to.

All the skills I’m learning digitally, in terms of the hand-drawn typography and being more patient with myself and allowing my work to be ‘perfectly imperfect’ is transferable to the work I do with traditional media too.

Sketchbook Pages

Today, I share a glimpse into my current sketchbook. It’s an Arteza watercolour A4 sketchbook.

I’ve completed all the drawings in boxes now, and am adding colour to them using watercolours, graphitint watercolours, graphitint pencils and/or inktense pencils.

The paper is rather nice to draw on with Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens or a Uniball Signo DX 0.38 pen.

On the cover page I swatched my collection of Inktense pencils, using a damp brush to bring their true colours out.

Inktense pencils are intense in colour when activated with water. Also, once activated with water and dry they are permanent.

I like all the media I’ve used so far on this page. Which I use does depend on my mood. Today, I wanted to choose an inktense palette of colours that is like the rusty colours I’ve been using with watercolours.

I really am drawn to this colour palette in my work at the moment. The dark blues, rich red-browns, blue-greys, earthy-dark greens and the vibrant mustards. One day I’ll look up the psychology of these colours and see how they relate to my mood/life at this time. But not today.

Today, I need to focus on adding colour to some templates for the Entangled Gardens colouring book that will be released early next year.