Yesterday, I recieved my tin of 40 Caran d’Ache Neocolour II watercolour wax pastels. I finally gave in to a long-held urge to try them. I kept telling myself, “I don’t need them. I have watercolours, distress inks, water-soluble pencils, distress oxide inks, and more”.
However, a couple of suggestions of videos about the Necolor IIs popped up on my YouTube feed. I looked, and thought that these could be perfect for backgrounds for my hand lettering, or drawings, or even for using like watercolours.
The colours stay nearly the same vibrancy when dry, even the rather watered versions. They can be opaque to fairly transluscent, though not transparent. This is great for layering as the translucency still lets the lower layers show through us much or as little as you want.
Although they can always react with wither, drying with a craft heat tool seems to help set them a bit; perhaps by melting the ‘wax’ into the paper. And of course, not working too hard with a brush helps with preserving the layers.
Brush? Did I say brush? I find that adds way too much water for my liking. So, I used a piece of cut ‘n’ dry foam, black side down, to add small amounts of water and blend gently.
I have had a lot of fun playing with them for sure. In this video I make the pinky background seen behind the Zentangle tile. I already have a use for that background!
I used one of my first experiments with Necolour IIs from yesterday to turn into a Zentangle tile (3.5″x3.5″ or approx 9cm x9cm) and to draw this monotangle on it. Instead of using a graphite pencil or chalk pastel or any other medium to add shadow I used varying line thicknesses and pattern to do this. I really didn’t want to take away the vibrancy of the colour, even in the shadows.
Of course there was another reason why I wanted to draw on a Neocolour II background – to see what it was like to draw on the surface with fineliner pens.
It was actually lovely! The Necolour IIs add a slight slickness to the paper that is just noticeable. That made it a bit nicer drawing on the fairly textured mixed media paper for the tile. The points of my pen didn’t catch as much on the texture, though I still got some wobbly lines thanks to the more bumpy bits!
All I need to do now is to remember to scan the background in before I work on it. That way, I will always have a background I love available for use in digital art or, perhaps, for printing out.
Yesterday, I took quite a large wedge of time to intensify the colours and adding shadow and embellishments to the art in my last blog post.
To do this, I used Derwent Colorsoft pencils, along with a blender pencil. The embellishments were added with White Sakura Soufflé, gold Sakura Metalic Gelly Roll, and clear Sakura Glaze pens.
It’s difficult to show the effect of the glaze pen on the artwork, though you can pick some up in the top right of the artwork on the left.
Is this the magic formula for me working with colour? A limited colour palette, simple watercolour washes, shadows added with a grey pen, intense colours with pencils, and embellishments with various pens? Maybe.
The drawing to the right was testing this idea out, though I didn’t use a grey pen to add shadows but a grey pencil. I really enjoyed how the coloured pencils added colour and depth to the artwork.
Too many dots? I don’t know. Probably. I do tend to get carried away with them!
I have learned that I can’t use the Zest-it blending fluid anymore – my asthmatic chest doesn’t like it at all! The Derwent blending pencils are a bit abrasive and moved some of the black pigment from the drawing. So, I switched to a Faber-Castell Blending pencil, and that worked just fine.
I also noticed that the blending pencil made the colours more vibrant – both the coloured pencils and the background watercolour wash. I think it’s because it leaves a glossy sheen, which I bring out by ‘polishing’ with a paper towel.
So, lots of learning and experiences yesterday and this morning, and perhaps progress in my use of colour by mixing media to my advantage.
A time lapse video of me adding colour to yesterday’s drawing. Please click on ‘view in YouTube’ so it can count the views! If you like the video, give it a thumbs up and consider subscribing to my channel.
I’m not paid, sponsored nor gifted any product in order to promote or review any product. I show them just in case you’re interested in what I use, that’s all.
Last weekend, I made a small sketchbook that would hold approx 4″ x 4″ pieces of paper that was held together by book binding rings. I thought this would be a good idea as I like to work on small pieces of paper.
Then, last night I tried taking some prints from alcohol ink designs on A5 paper. I really didn’t want to cut them up to fit into the smaller custom sketchbook. I also didn’t want to use the metal binding rings again.
I woke this morning with the idea to use a disc binding system to create a custom sketchbook-come-art-journal.
I have been using an A5 Arteza mixed-media sketchbook for this, but it has rapidly become very, very wedge-shaped. I also realised that I want something where I can add a variety of sizes and types of paper, as well as move them around to suit my needs. A disc bound system seems to be the best way for me to do this.
I’ve yet to work out a way to make a hard cover for the sketchbook. For now, I made each cover from two sheets of A4 pearlescent card glued together. They’ll be sturdy enough until I work out how to reinforce them in some way.
I decided to place the disc binding on the landscape edge, just for a bit of a change, no other reason. I’ll be able to take the paper out of the binding to work on. This actually suits me just fine as the spines of sketchbooks really irk me when I work in them, be they sewn or spiral bound.
What I also like about the disc binding system compared to the book binding ring is that the holes in the paper are much closer to the edge. It’ll be much easier to leave a ‘margin’ on the paper.
Of course, there’ll be plenty of times when I’ll work in a commercially produced sketchbook still, especially as I’ve now rediscovered the joy of using one again. However, the ability to colour paper, use different kinds of paper and sizes of paper really appeals to me as a variation on the sketchbook theme.
The different sizes of papers also add a bit of intrigue to the sketchbook. There are glimpses of other designs and backgrounds further on that add to curiosity.
I can choose to add notes either to the back of the work or on sheets of dot-grid or squared paper I’ve added.
Nor am I precluded from adding journaling elements such as envelopes and pages with pockets, for instance.
The top page is an abstract drawing I completed this morning. The colour and pattern on the paper (a piece of ClaireFontaine Paint-On mixed media paper) was added by taking a print from alcohol inks on Yupo paper.
I spent some time yesterday evening experimenting with alcohol inks on Yupo paper (a synthetic paper). Once I was happy with what I’d made, I added some Alcohol Lift-Ink and used a brayer to spread it over the design. Quickly, I placed a sheet of mixed-media paper on top and allowed the alcohol inks to be transferred. If you’d like to know more about this technique, pop over to the Lavinia Stamps YouTube channel; they have lots of videos showing how this is done.
The inks lose their vibrance and become more muted when this is done, but it means it’s much easier to draw on the design without wrecking pens in the process.
I used Pitt Artist Pens by Faber-Castell to draw the abstract design on the paper. Once I was happy with the design, I added some metallic/pearlescent paints in shades of orange and yellow to some of the white/pale circles in the design. Sadly, the photograph hasn’t picked this up.
I decided to not to cover the whole paper with the drawn design. I wanted to leave some areas of the background as they were.
I really enjoy working like this – creating a colourful, textured background which I then use as inspiration for the line-work. It is, for me, a very meditative process. Of course, patterns and forms appear that I can then use in future artwork.
Of course, I could choose to intensify the colours in select places using any variety of media. Today, I have chosen to leave this as it is. I may scan it in and try this out digitally at another time.
Digital or Traditional Art?
Both! For me anyway. I do love working in both ways, and using them in concert too.
I love the portability and smaller scale of paper and pen/pencil, as well as using other traditional art and craft media.
I also love creating art digitally, sometimes using backgrounds I’ve created using traditional media or pen and ink drawings.
Each has their pros and cons. Each allows me to do things that the other can’t.
One thing I do know, however, is it takes time to become skillful in each and also to find your own artistic voice (or voices) for each medium used.
Which I use at any given time depends on the style of art I need to do, what kind of ‘finish’ I want with it, and also what my arty heart and soul requires at the time to be content and happy.
No matter which I use, I’m constantly trying new things out, or revisiting old techniques with fresh eyes and ideas. Of course, changing media and methods also freshens up my art and recharges my motivation when it’s in ebb rather than flow.
Stress, motivation and inspiration
This week has been dominated by stress from venturing forth from my home for the first time since March. When I’m anxious/stressed it can be incredibly difficult to settle to anything. Also, I can easily feel overwhelmed by even the simplest tasks. Activities that usually soothe me can irritate me. My ability to focus on anything approaches a vanishing point rather rapidly.
Working in a sketchbook has helped; there is then no pressure to create a finished piece of work, or even to finish any sketch or artwork. It’s just about doing and enjoying and exploring. I let go of my expectations of artistic success and replace them with expectations of finding some peace and contentment in the whirl of emotions I experience at times like this.
I find it hard to be motivated to create, and even more difficult to find inspiration. I tend to slip back into old, familiar and self-comforting styles of creating art.
Hence this style of abstract art.
Even when I do slip into a familiar style, the art produced may be familiar, but it’s moved along, altered either subtly or more noticeably showing the progress I’m making artistically. It also reflects the current variations in the particular fugue that my artistic voice wants to sing to satisfy it. My artistic voice, song, doesn’t have one tune, it has many, plenty of which are yet to be discovered.
I’ve spent several hours exploring and trying ideas out in the realms of both digital and abstract art, and this is the result.
I’m really not at all sure about it in any shape or form. I think I was influenced by watching a few YouTube videos about mixed media and abstract art.
It’s been an “interesting” time, as well as a frustrating time in some ways. I also have a bit issue with choice of colours.
I’m pleased to say that I’ve calmed down an awful lot from the stresses of the last week or so. I actually slept for nearly 12 hours last night, which happens once all the adrenaline/cortisol have left my body. It’s nice to be back to my ‘normal’ state of contentment.
I’ve become a bit obsessed with making art journal bits and bobs over the last couple of days. This morning has been no exception, other than the more I do and watch, the more ideas that come to me.
Yesterday, I created some blank, printable, templates for inchies, twinches and tea cards. I printed them out on plain paper so I could draw in them. I also made a list of themes I could tackle for them too.
I spent an hour or two filling in a sheet of inches with various designs. Then, I printed them on plain paper and also vellum for calligraphy. The vellum has a rough texture, interesting colours and subtle patterns in them. I have a laser printer, so wasn’t sure if it would print on the vellum; it did, however the print does come off if I’m a bit rough with it.
Nevertheless, I coloured some of the inches with Distress Inks and then adhered them to some 1″ tiles of thick chipboard card. I edged them with tresure gold wax from Imagination Crafts. Then, I gently applied a thin layer of Ranger’s gloss multi-media medium, to see if it would seal the laser printing; it did! It also brought out the colours of the Distress Inks.
These are simple enough to make. There are plenty of tutorials online for them. I made them from ordinary printer paper, then coloured them with Distress Inks.
Next, I added some dot embellishments using a small ball tool with Imagination Crafts’ Starlights metallic paint in rich gold. This is a beautiful, glittery, shiny paint that leaves some dimension when applied this way.
Finally, I adhered the inchies I’d made, along with some vintage book paper, to the envelopes.
I’m not sure if these envelopes are finished. I do want to use them to store either journaling notes in, or little pieces of art or mementos in them.
I haven’t been at all sure about tags and using them. However, I thought I’d see what I could do with them after yesterday’s mucking about with a tri-fold tag that turned into one single tag.
I wanted to make some templates for cutting the corners at the top of the tags, so I did that, using various widths of paper and slopes to remove the top corners.
I then realised I needed something to store them in, so I made an envelope for them.
The envelope has a more rectangular top flap and a plain front, perfect for embellishments.
Something occurred to me this morning while watching someone make tags using background paper. I thought that I could use my colouring sheets and entangled designs as my own background paper. So, I thought I’d try to use some.
I found some old designs on my computer and printed a couple of them both as the black line originals and with a grey line.
I made a tag and cut out a piece of one of the designs. I coloured the design with Distress Inks and used them to subtly colour the tag.
I didn’t like the way the neatly cut out background pattern looked when I placed it on the tag. So, I tore the edges. I still wasn’t happy, so I tried tearing it into strips. That looked better, but I still wasn’t happy with it, but I stuck the pieces down.
I used a gold glitter gel pen to add lines and patterns between the torn pieces, which created some pattern and interest.
Finally, I added a distress ink coloured belly band along with a word, “creativity” to the tag. For now, I tucked one of the seed packets behind the belly band.
The background drawing may be just too busy, detailed, and varied to work well. I need to bear this in mind going forward.
I am keeping notes of how I make tags, pockets, and other bits and bobs in an A5 dot grid notebook, along with ideas for other things to do or try. It’s turning out to be rather useful as a reference.
I’m struggling with accepting that what I’m creating for my art journal is “good enough”, “attractive enough”, “pretty”. It’s not like others I’ve seen, which is part of my problem.
I seem to like, mostly, neat edges, borders on work, very organised, neat, and carefully, geometrically arranged elements in my designs. I know I want to use my own artwork to create a journal, but I’m not sure it’s going to be successful in any kind of way. I have no idea if I’m on a wild goose chase.
I know I enjoy making these bits and bobs, I just don’t know if the overall end products actually work, so I’m doubting myself. I’m not sure I like what I’m creating. I mean, I really like individual elements such as the inchies and little panels on the envelopes. It’s when I start to actually combine them or put them into a journal that it all seems to go more than a bit skew-iffy.
I’m at that uncomfortable place I often find myself in when I’m creating a mandala or drawing or digital painting; partway through I want to give up as I think that what I’m creating is awful and not working. With the mandalas, drawings and digital art, I’ve learned to work through that point and, mostly, to complete the work. I’ve learned by experience and perseverance that I can produce art I’m happy with.
I’m not at all sure of that with this art journal type stuff. I’m not sure at all if I can find my own creative ‘voice’ with this, or whether I have to accept that as much as I’d like it to be one of my ‘things’ it’s not meant to be and that I can continue to watch and admire others for what they create.
Maybe, I’ll end up making digital elements for journals for others to use in their creations. Maybe, I’ll find that collections of inchies are my thing (along with twinchies and tea cards and other little designs).
For now, I’ll take a bit of a break from it all, and come back to it with fresh eyes and a fresh mind.
Background – Distress Oxide inks and water spray on Daler-Rowney mixed media paper.
Flowers and background foliage – digital art using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.
I had a lovely time creating this artwork. Flowers are something I love and find in my art an awful lot. It took a few iterations to get the drawing of the flowers and leaves as I wanted them. A lot more iterations were needed to get the colour and texture of the flowers and leaves so that I was happy with them.
I wanted a bit more interest in the background, so I drew a leafy, simple mandala that was coloured with shades of green. I then replicated it, resized it, and applied different layer effects to each copy of the mandala.
As I was doing this, it was reminding me of the mixed media work I did a few years ago, particularly using stencils to add interest to a background.
Digital mixed-media … without the mess! I’ve said it before – I’m averse to creating a mess!
Anyway, this has been an interesting experiment in the realms of digital art and my brain is now ticking over with ideas for the future. All I have to do is make a note of them!
It’s Sunday, so that means it must be #fundaySunday #Sundayfunday.
This was my bit of fun for the day. I created a background using Distress Inks, a mini-blending tool and a stencil.
After scanning it into my Microsoft Surface Book, I imported it into AutodeskSketchbook Pro and started to draw entangled patterns on the top of it.
It was just an experiment to see how it worked out, including the use of colour gradient fills for the entangled patterns.
I think it worked out ok. I think there’s some more things I’d like to try out using this method; scanning backgrounds and then working on them digitally opens a new world of possibilities for me, as well as keeping me playing with more traditional media. I do love the mix of the old with the new.
Of course, drawing on my Surface with the Surface pen is a lot like drawing with pen and ink on paper but with more possibilities…
I’ve been hard at work on my ‘A Dangle A Day’ book and felt I needed a break from the computer screen. As much as I love working digitally, I believe it does the soul good to work in different ways from time to time. A change is as good as a rest, it is said, and also a change can get the creative juices flowing!
A trip to Hobbycraft in Newport, Gwent, yesterday had me buying some A4 Daler-Rowney Mixed Media boards.
These are 1.4mm thick and sturdy board forms of their mixed media paper. The board did warp when I added tissue paper with matt medium, and it’s still a little wobbly today.
The pictures shows how far I’ve got for now. I’m letting the little drops of copper and golden glitter dry as I take a break from it to decide if I need to do any more to it.
The image I drew and then coloured using Distress Inks.
I’ve enjoyed getting a little inky, painty and messy for a change.