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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Over the past week or so I’ve been gradually adding to this sketchbook page. It is entirely what a sketchbook should be, in my opinion. Pages full of ideas, sketches, unfinished drawings, practice of techniques, written notes… a visual zibladone for the creative soul!
It is a reflection of what is catching my attention in my world. That world encompasses the inner worlds of imagination and emotion, as well as the outer world of books, nature, architecture, photographs, and so on.
This page includes inspiration from Mayan glyphs/sculpture, rocks, nature, mushrooms, magic wands/staves/sceptres, pen textures and some inspiration from Hundertwasser.
Everything on the page is a bit wonky (not perpendicular), and I’m OK about that – it’s a sketchbook! But then wonky art, particularly colouring pages, seems to be part of my signature style. Perfectly straight lines just don’t look right to me, nor do sharp corners. Perhaps that’s why I like Hundertwasser so much.
The English gardener William Kent said, “Nature abhors a straight line”. Hundertwasser said, ” The straight line is godless and immoral.”
A sketchbook is always a work in progress (WIP), even when every page is full, it’s full of incomplete drawings and ideas, sketches and notes, jottings and doodlings. Nothing has to be perfect. Not a single thing.
A sketchbook is a place to try things out, experiment, just see what happens. With that comes an acceptance that not everything will work out, and where surprising things happen and discoveries are made that may otherwise never happen.
Sometimes the gems of ideas and colour combinations and ways of using media remain hidden until much later. A sketchbook is a place to practice and learn, to note down what is of interest at this time, what needs to be expressed, without any pressure to produce a finished, polished artwork.
That doesn’t mean, however, that a sketchbook can’t be something interesting to look at, even with it’s own kind of beauty. They are a reflection of the artist that creates them and so is a window into their arty heart and feelings. They are very personal things.
A sketchbook encourages me to use media that are gathering dust because I do so much art digitally. In a physical sketchbook, if I want any colour, then I have to use some of these media.
On this one page I’ve used Pilot Hi-Tec C4, Pilot Maica, Rotring Rapidograph and Uniball Unipin pens. To add colour, watercolours, Tombow Dual Brush pens, Derwent ColorSoft pencils, Derwent Procolour pencils, Derwent Inktense pencils have been used.
As it’s work in progress (WIP) Wednesday, I’m sharing my current sketchbook page. A sketchbook is always a work in progress.
At the moment, I’m being inspired by a couple of books : “Fantasy Genesis” by Chuck Lukacs “Fantasty World Building” by Mark A. Nelson
I’m using an Art Gecko sketchbook that is almost 12″ square along with Pilot Hi-Tec C and Pilot G-Tec Maica pens and Tombow Dual Brush Pens.
I’ve said it before – I’m not really into characters (unless they’re cute, whimsical, fun ‘doodle’ kinds of characters, usually non-humanoid). However, I’ve always loved to draw plants and patterns as well as designs from architecture, nature, machines and even animals (patterns, textures and such more than the animal itself).
My ‘Entangled’ drawings bring together these various elements to create more abstract or whimsical designs. But to put them together to create entirely new things isn’t something I’d ever thought of.
I’ve always admired fantasy and sci-fi artists, but never considered myself capable of anything like that. However, trying new stuff out is how you grow and develop as an artist.
Not that I’m going to become a fantasy artist, but maybe exploring these avenues will allow me to add new things to my art in ways I never expected. In much the same way my adventures in cardmaking, mixed-media journaling, watercolour and other such things have helped me to develop my digital art and drawing.
I’m also realising how important sketches are for my digital art – be it drawing or painting or just colouring in line-art of mine. I think it has to do with me being able to have a good overview of the whole design, something I seem to be unable to do when working digitally, even when I zoom out entirely. I’ve mentioned it before, but I do have a bit of a problem relating to size and scale even in everyday life.
There’s a different kind of sensory pleasure in working on paper – the tactile and sensory feedback is quite different to that gained from digital work. That’s not to say I don’t get pleasure from working digitally, it’s just different.
There’s also the fact that each page doesn’t have to be a complete or finished piece of work. It’s a place to try things out, explore, experiment, and just let the pen/pencil/brush take a walk across the paper to see what happens. Serious work and not so serious work all have a place in a sketchbook.
As do written notes, ideas, observations, sources of inspiration, lists, reflections and more.
I have absolutely no idea what I was thinking as this mandala was created, nor why on Earth I chose these colours.
As it’s digital art, I could use digital tools to re-colour the image, but I’ve decided to leave it as is.
I know I wanted to do something that used similar techniques to the digital abstract paintings I’ve been exploring lately.
Similar. Perhaps. But definitely not the same kind of thing.
It’s like something out of a weird nightmare, or some bizarre, manufactured virus.
I think I can safely say my artistic mind is out of sorts today!
I think it may have had something to do with a book I briefly scanned yesterday. It’s called “Fantasy Genesis – A creative game for fantasy artists.” by Chuck Lukacs.
This is the introduction to the book:
Welcome fantasy geneticists! Here is a practice place of the imagination, a place where infinitely diverse forms and patterns will create concepts in infinite combinations, which you will bring to light with pencil and paper. One of the most important jobs we have as artists is to create inventive new ways of watching and documenting this beautifully diverse planet that allows us to live on it. We’re expected to see the world—from our cultures, habitats and technologies to the vast diversity of wildlife and plant life to the pores in our skin—in a slightly different light. Like scientists, we’re expected to experiment with new ways of expression, new sounds, new interpretations of old ideas, new solutions to old problems and new inspirations for images and change.
Fantasy Genesis – Chuck Lukacs
It caught my attention. As did the use of dice and tables for combinations of features appealed to me.
Not that I’m a fantasy artist. But it has sections to do with plants and landscapes and machinery and buildings. Things I am interested in. Creatures and characters not so much. I admire people who can draw such things, and create amazing artworks. However they really don’t have much interest for me artistically, apart from pattern, shape and texture.
I thought it may be a way for me to extend my drawing and imagination, as well as making more use of a sketchbook. I also thought that once I get my head around this kind of thing, I could create my own lists, incorporating patterns and favourite kinds of motifs to use too. I’ll see about that.
I know that my signature style of art is ‘entangled’ with some cute and whimsical elements from time to time and mandalas. I like working with abstract patterns and colours too. But exploring other genres, ideas, styles can only develop and add to my artistic skills and visual vocabulary. Even if I discover that some things are not for me, they will lead me down artistic avenues I may never have traversed.
So, one of my tasks today is to take time to properly read this book and work out how I can make the ‘game’ work for me!
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!
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!
I know, it’s that page in my Arteza watercolour sketchbook again! However, there are some changes, most noticeably the bottom left design.
I have added some depth and contrast in colour using coloured pencils to parts of the designs, and left other parts as just watercolour. I have used a blending solution and paper torchon to blend the pencils in most instances, but not all. Sometimes the blending just isn’t needed.
The bottom design was done today. It took around three hours to complete. Drawing the design with Pitt Artist pens, followed by the background washes of watercolour, finally the coloured pencils.
What I’ve learned
I like using coloured pencils on watercolour paper, and over a watercolour wash.
I find it really difficult to get the intensity of contrast with watercolours alone. Using coloured pencils makes that a cinch, especially on paper with a good ‘tooth’ to it, like watercolour paper.
I got a good sense of satisfaction as I completed the bottom design. I’m not all that happy with some of my colour choices, but that wasn’t my main consideration today; that was trying coloured pencils on watercolours on watercolour paper.
After a walk and lunch yesterday, I eventually settled to working with my aha moment. This sketchbook page is the result, though I have work left to do with it.
The designs are inked in with Pitt Artist Pens and I’ve used watercolours and Inktense paint pans and pencils to colour the motifs. Well, most of them. I’ve left some parts in black and white to show the difference that colour makes.
I used a Daler-Rowney artist’s sketchbook. The paper is acid free, but is not specifically for watercolours. It held up surprisingly well to multiple layers and glazes of colour, though it does grab the colour and it’s difficult to move it around as on watercolour paper.
I also found the wet brush lifted some of the pigment from the Pitt Artist Pens. That surprised me as they were totally waterproof on watercolour paper.
Having an ‘aha moment’ and working with that realisation can be quite different. It’s nice to try different ways of using line and stippling to add shadow and volume to the drawings.
The half-beetle was an interesting one to work with. On the lower wing I could’ve used lines to add the illusion of curves, but for some sections I just used colour. I also used the beetle to practice adding lines and stippling.
I tried drawing the beetle digitally, but it just didn’t feel ‘right’. I didn’t get the same satisfaction as I did drawing it with pens on paper. I’m sure that’s due to me having my brushes set up incorrectly. That’s something I’m going to have to work on. I ended up with a drawing that was too perfect. That surprised me too, as I love to work digitally. Perhaps that was a function of my current mood and energy levels.
I do tend to switch between digital and traditional media, sometimes mixing the two. That is certainly an option moving forward – drawing the line art on paper, then colouring digitally.
I do like the earthy tones I’ve used to add colour to many of the design elements on this page. That still continues to surprise me, as much of my work has been brightly coloured, often with ‘in your face’ colour palettes used.
The smaller designs I’ve drawn here also have their own sense of satisfaction and enjoyment for me. Usually, I draw full page designs for colouring books. But here, I’ve drawn small compositions, and that is not so overwhelming for me at this time.