Friday Flip-through

Friday seems the perfect day to have a look back on the week’s sketchbook art. A vlog seems the perfect way to do that.

I also start to add colour to the latest drawing using a limited colour palette of Ecoline brush pen colours – gold ochre, burnt sienna, indigo and prussian blue. Another colour (or two) may be added to the limited palette. I’ll see how I get along.

This particular drawing is being used as a place to test out ideas concerning adding shadow and highlight, simple colour washes, and anything else that springs to mind. It may never been completed, but that’s not the point! Experimentation and experience are the points of this particular exercise.

Biros and Inktense Sketchbook Abstract Art

I am so, so tired today. So tired that my head feels heavy and my thoughts are slow. All due to me waking around 5 am and not being able to get back to sleep. So I drew. In my sketchbook. With biros.

I thought I’d like to see how adding colour to these drawings changes them. If it’s an improvement or a mess up. Whether it’s best to put the biro down first, or the colour, or a little bit of the biro shading.

So, with that intention I set to making today’s vlog.

I’ve found that either way of adding colour works, though it seems the pen lines are a little darker over the Inktense. Colours bring the drawings to life. The uncoloured biro drawings (other than the colour from different biros) work really well and nicely, but that addition of colour.

I’ve said (typed?) it before; I’m enjoying this journey of exploration with abstract art, the humble biros in particular.

Buggy Sketchbook

Time Lapse Video

Drawing

Today is a lazy, artsy day, Sunday. It’s raining, on and off, so I’m disinclined to wander out anywhere.

I started the morning drawing some half insects. Why half? Well, the plan is to scan the sketches in (which I’ve done), ink them in digitally (done too!) and then add colour (started!). Digitally, I can use the symmetry tools to complete the other half of the insect.

Of course, I could create mutant hybrids … but that doesn’t appeal to me much, that’s for sure.

I did film me drawing and wittering about my sketching and other arty stuff. I haven’t published the full-length video; I was very wittery and disjointed. My attention was focused on the process of observing and drawing. It seems that my ability to speak coherently vanishes as my concentration increases!

I enjoyed the half hour or so of quick sketches. I was focusing on creating simplified, stylised drawings, rather than detailed realistic ones.

Thoughts

Some connections were made as I wittered on. One was that when I draw in a stylistic way, I have no problem with using non-representational colours. It’s when I’m drawing more realistically that colours vex me. This is a problem that occurs with traditional media in particular.

I had a memory of falling in love with the work of Kandinsky, Juan Gris, and similar artists while doing my A Level art two decades ago. I particularly love the use of colour to communicate inner emotions, relationships with the art, and symbolism and metaphor.

I found this an interesting connection to make, even though I’m not entirely sure what that means yet. Other than that I’ve always found non-representational colour and stylised, abstract art something I’ve enjoyed doing. Indeed, as I write I remember that in front of me are three oil paintings I did for one of my art exams. They are abstract patterns from locomotive parts and Romanesque sculpture. Fiery reds, oranges, yellows and magentas were used for the locomotive parts. The painting based on Romanesque sculpture was in cool, calming blues. My focus for all the paintings was on pattern and contrast to get a feeling of volume/dimension.

Last summer, I was playing with watercolours and patterns abstracted from rock strata and nature. I used colours that appealed to me in these paintings.

I keep circling around this style of art. I return to it from time to time, enjoying the process of creating such art, often on a small scale too.

Where art comes from is a mystery. It comes unannounced. It has the quality of gift. The source from where it comes is hidden from us. Like all creativity, it stands us in possibility. It comes from impulse and dream, from raiding the inarticulate, from going below the floor of consciousness. To do this we must break free of the confines of the known and fixed. As artists we do this with our materials—with our hands. And in this confluence of mind and matter abstraction is not only relevant, it is essential. —Timothy Hawkesworth

Working from my creative subconscious is something I do…a lot. All my entangled art that just flows onto the page. Mandalas. Using observations of pattern and texture to create something that is non-representational, just, to my mind, pretty, pleasing.

I do the representational for coloring books, but my personal art … well … that can be anything I want it to be. I can use any colours I wish to use for it, and accepting that isn’t an easy thing.

The Inner Critic

I do my best to let colorists know that there are no rules for colour, that if they want purple trees and green people, that’s fine! And I’m able to do this in my coloring template style work. The stylised nature of these drawings allows that freedom. There really are no rules other than the ones we impose on ourselves.. I love to see the different ways people use colour, and the unexpected ways especially.

Yet, I am just realising that I’m very critical of myself when it comes to representational colors.

My problems start when I’m trying to create work that is representational of what I see with my eyes, such as succulents, or plants or anything else.

I can draw these things fairly well. Sketching and line art isn’t a problem, though it could be improved no doubt. But that improvement comes through practice.

My problems come when I start to add colour. If I can work with something that is non-representative then it works out OK, if often full of quite bright colours. Monochrome or limited color palettes really work well for me and produce a coloured piece of art that is cohesive.

It’s when I have a representational drawing that I want to add colour, that’s when my inner coloring critic comes knocking.

This inner critic took up residence most probably in my earliest school days when I was five or six. Well meaning teachers making sure you coloured inside the lines, that the sky was blue, the grass green and so on. If you deviated from these rules, well … trouble followed.

Trying to stay safe by using representational colours, and keeping this inner critic happy isn’t working at all. It’s time to sort this limiting inner voice out.

Moving along

Making observations, creating stylised, imaginative versions of what I see, using patterns and textures I collect and not worrying about realistic colours is my way forward.

As Yoda said, “You must unlearn what you have learned.”

I thought I’d done that, I didn’t realise I was subject to the attentions of the inner coloring critic. Not until I started talking and writing about this as starting to dip into a book full of exercises for creating abstract art.

Time to invoke my inner art jedi master and deal with the self-criticism that is limiting me! “This is Jedi business, go back to your drinks.”

Sketchbook Experiments and Arty Vlog

Saturday is becoming sketchbook Saturday with a vlog on YouTube!

As well as showing the most recent page(s) in my sketchbook and talking about the media/techniques/inspiration, I spend some time working on the current, higgledy-piggledy page.

I’ve become intrigued with using the humble biro / ballpoint pen in art, especially as they are waterproof. There’s some amazing portraits and other work out there by seriously talented artists.

However, I’m working out how they may work for me, especially in my sketchbook when out and about (when that finally happens!).

As well as talking about the various techniques and inspiration for the art on this page, I also talk about how I want to include more writing in my sketchbooks. I’m intrigued with using creative writing record my experiences, feelings, thoughts and the presence of place alongside any sketches done when visiting somewhere.

I’m also thinking that if I take photographs of what interests me, then sketches and further work could be done later. This is going to be important when I’m not by myself and don’t have the luxury of spending as much time as I’d like.

I’d like to create a story that is in words and pictures, recording my whole experience. Perhaps, I may want to share this with others, so that they can get a glimpse into my mind and emotions.

I’m not too bothered about creating a work of fiction, but to capture all those abstract feelings and observations and communicate them with others…

Actually, it would be about sharing them with myself by becoming more aware of them and giving an outlet for those abstract thoughts and impressions I rarely verbalise as I’m unaware of them unless I’m asked to verbalise them.

Something else I’d like to do is to revisit typographic art with all of this in mind. Finding a way to incorporate words and imagery that expresses who I am, rather than taking quotes from other people.

I do love words, always have. During this past year, I’ve had so few opportunities to speak out loud, that I’m finding it hard to dredge up the right word at times. Previously this was so easy for me. So, it would be good to give my vocabulary a good work out as well as add new words to it!

It’s going to be a work in progress for sure. I doubt I can do this, or that it will be interesting to others, or that it will be any good at all. However, if I don’t take the first tentative steps on this strand of my life’s tapestry, then I may never discover if it is something I can do, nor will I discover where it will lead me.

All that it will take are basic supplies, and to create a new ‘habit’ of writing throughout the day, whether I’m at home, or elsewhere, and drawing things that are of interest/importance to me at the time.

A bit of a challenge, but do-able I think.

Inky Insects! A sketchbook page

Yesterday was a bit of an odd day. Between a couple of mediation meetings in the day and me still not feeling quite right – fatigued, headachy, tummy still not right – I just didn’t feel up to doing much when I was awake. Except for drawing. Drawing insects.

I started with pencil drawings and then decided to ink them in. I know from bitter experience how pencil drawings can quickly smudge and fade in a well used and referenced sketchbook.

I loved the delicate nature of the pencil drawings, but I know I can always draw in pencil again for future work involving bugs.

If you’d like to see some of the pencil drawings before they were inked in, then have a look at the time lapse video.

I started off with bugs that were quite true, in a simplified and stylised way, to the images I was looking at, Gradually, I found myself being more imaginative.

I now have a fair collection of insects in my sketchbook, and I am quite keen to add more! However, I really do need to turn my attention to the colouring book I’m working on for much of the rest of today.

Exploring media and papers

Today’s vlog is all about me trying out various media on different papers, particularly the Zig Clean Colour brush pens on Fabriano Toned paper.

Exploring different ways of working is important to me; it’s how I learn and work out what works for me. Often, I’ll return to media and techniques I may have tried in the past that didn’t work for me then, but now I can see how they could work for me, particularly in the context of a sketchbook.

In my disc-bound sketchbook, I’ve assembled various kinds of paper, mostly toned. Now, I’m working out what media would be good to have in a pencil case for sketching while out and about (when I finally become comfortable with out and about again!).

The Zig brushes and Tombow markers work really nicely on the Fabriano paper.

Sketchbook flip-through

I’ve been busy indulging myself in comfort art over the past couple of weeks. So, I thought I’d share some of the pages in one of my A4 sketchbooks that relate to zentangle.

I’m no photographer, just saying!

I used a whole host of different media to complete the drawings
-pens, including Pigma Micron, Unipin, Uni Emott, Chameleon Fineliners, Pitt Artist Pens, Staedtler Triplus fineliners, Tombow Fudenosuke and a Zebra fudenosuke
-a range of pencils including Prisma Ebony graphite, Daler-Rowney sketching pencils, white graphite pencil, Derwent coloured drawing pencils and ordinary drawing pencils and a ruler to give guidelines for dividing the pages up
– tortillons and paper stumps, along with sandpaper to clean the tips!
– Inktense, Tombow Dualbrush pens, Faber Castell Pitt artist pens and a waterbrush for the more intensely coloured patterns

Some of the work has been done on days where I just needed to lose myself in something familiar, comforting. The rest of it during my nights of broken sleep.

The newest stuff are the pages of ’embedded’ letters – the monograms. Definitely a tad on the weird side as I’ve not found my way with this idea. But I will persevere over time.

Sketchbook Page – First of 2021

About the sketchbook page

My sketchbooks have been the focus of my attention during the waning days of 2020 and the start of 2021. I’ve done pages of zentangle-type patterns, borders and ‘fragments. I’ve been trying out monograms, and I’ve been drawing in more of my signature style, as above.

This page shows some experiment with colour and texture in the sketchbook. I used fineliner pens for the textures and Pitt Artist Brush Pens, both ‘neat’ and with a waterbrush.

I had to work hard with myself to do this. I didn’t want to mess up the drawing, which I quite like, with colour and so on. But then I told myself I can always re-draw it, along with losing the elements I’m not keen on. I really like the bird-like design at the top of this coloured image.

The others were drawings done for the sheer joy and comfort of drawing. All intuitive, though I did pay attention to a reference photo of a meso-American pot for the face in the right-hand drawing.

All drawings were done with an 05 Unipin pen in my A4 Artway Enviro sketchbook. The 05 pen nib has become worn, and usually I’d bin it, but I’m working with it and seeing how I can vary the width and intensity of line. I’m trying to allow myself to embrace the perfectly imperfect quality of the line and the character it brings to my drawings. I find that I like it, which surprises me. Now, all I need to do is to work to replicate this digitally; maybe not a perfect replication but something that is similar enough.

Sketchbooks

I have three sketchbooks on the go at the moment.

The A4 and A5 Enviros are for drawings and designs, as above. Fairly polished and starting points for further work. I can try different things out – such as colour and texture – knowing that I can either scan the drawings in before I try these experiments out, or I can always re-draw the design, altering the parts I’m not happy with.

The third is an A4 SeaWhite all-media sketchbook. Although I have done some drawings in there, it’s been repurposed into a zentangle/pattern experimentation and record book. I use colour and shading with the drawings as they are purely for reference and the pleasure of drawing them. Not surprisingly, many of the pages are aesthetically pleasing in the way that needlework or cross-stitch samplers are. You can look at the page again and again and still find designs or sections of designs that surprise you.

Comfort Art

The past few days I’ve needed to find an activity that comforts me. I find this time of year emotionally difficult as I’m triggered by Christmas and New Year and all the hoo-haa around it. The short days and lack of sunshine doesn’t help much. My daylight therapy lamp helps somewhat, but it isn’t as good as working at my desk or taking a walk bathed in winter sunlight. I also find myself bone-weary a lot. Mind you, not sleeping properly at night isn’t helping me either.

As an introvert, I tend to retreat into a world of my own at these times, or to immerse myself in other worlds through films and books. And of course art. I limit my social media activity to the absolute necessary. This way, the societal pressures I feel fade away, and before long the world is back to the way it is for the vast majority of the year.

This year, my main haven of peace and contentment has been in my sketchbooks. I’ve found particular comfort and delight indulging myself in zentangle patterns. The patterns are familiar, but working on them to create unique variations that are my own has been something new and different for me. As has allowing myself to draw them in my own way.

As well as comforting me, I’ve discovered that I find it hard to be uniquely me in my artistic expression. Accepting that the way I draw something is just fine as long as I’m happy with it. The videos from the Zentangle family have been incredibly useful in helping me see this, as well as making me determined to change it too. Not just with zentangle type stuff, but with my art in general. Also, I realised that I do this for other people, but never for myself. Time to change that, methinks!

I’m still in ‘comfort art’ mode for the next couple of days. I’m still not ‘right’ emotionally, and I’d like to be before I turn my attention to the example coloured templates for Entangled Starry Skies and sketches for the cover of the next colouring book.

Sketchbook / Journal Pages

Sakura white, metallic and starlight gelly roll pens in a black Sakura journal/sketchbook. I had a lovely few hours last night, sat in bed, settling down for a good sleep.

What you can’t see in the photos is how the matt white and shiny blue/green inks create interesting weirdness visually. By weirdness, I mean a strange kind of 3D effect that I can’t put into words. That was totally unexpected.

I haven’t decided what to do with these pages yet. Will I fill them in completely with colour/pattern, or will I leave the pages as they are. If I leave them as they are then they can be used for journaling, writing, and I quite like that idea to be honest. As the writing is likely to be very personal, I’m not likely to share that, but maybe I’ll mock something up digitally, see for myself what it’s like and then decide.

And with that last sentence, I may scan these in and use them as templates for a digital journal, which would then take away my worries about making a mess of the page by writing on it!

Of course, they’d work quite nicely as frames for quotes too.

Too many possibilities!

Whatever I decide to do – and it may be all of these things – there is something satisfying about working with shimmer and shine and the contrast with the matt white ink on black. The sparkle and shine makes my arty soul rather happy.

Just a note on the black Sakura sketchbook / notebook /journal. I like it! It has a LOT of pages in it of acid-free, sturdy enough, smooth paper.