After getting my daily quota of sketches done for the next Creative Haven book, I turned my attention to some sketchbook work. This time I chose to do a tangle pattern exploration of Kangular by Tomàs Padrós CZT.
I love all of Tomàs’ patterns, and Kangular is no exception! It’s a charming, geometrical pattern with lots of possibilities for variations. And there’s only a small number here.
Adding shading really brings volume to the individual fragments and overall pattern, as does the use of fairly high contrast.
In today’s YouTube video tutorial, I do my best to describe and show how I draw a stylised seashell or two from reference photos.
I had a request from one of my subscribers to do this. I find it hard to put into words how I do this, I don’t have conscious thoughts/words about it – I just do it. So, this forced me to slow my mind down and put into words what goes on. And I do hope those words make some sense.
The end results are good enough for my sketchbook, and the spiral shell is perhaps my favourite of all time that I’ve drawn, including realistic, diagrammatic, whimsical and stylised.
I’m particularly fond of stylised drawings. The spaces within them are perfect for adding pattern and texture. All my favourite things combined! Shading, highlight and/or colour can be the icing on the cake or shell.
This was a nice diversion from the lettering projects I have on the go. It was also something quiet, relaxing and soothing and perfect for me. Today, I’m exhausted after a stressful yesterday. It was a good kind of stress, but still stress/anxiety. I knew I’d be doing something yesterday a week ago, and so the stress built up gradually over the week. I’ll gradually recover, but today is a quiet, down-day with plenty of self-care, but not any naps as I’ll need to sleep properly tonight.
This sketchbook page is now complete! I had so much fun doing this one for sure. There’s a whole host of plants to populate any number of whimsical worlds. There’s a third video tutorial showing how to draw, step by step, the last row as simple line art as well as the start of adding colour and pattern.
Some of the motifs look a bit ‘flatter’ than I like them to, and a couple I’m not quite happy with in terms of pattern/texture. But still, it’s a page full of inspiration and possibility, something I can look back on for inspiration.
I say ‘plants’ as they all have seeds inside them. They could, however, be critters of the sea urchin family, albeit a bit on the alien side!
I drew all five designs in today’s Draw With Me video on YouTube. I added colour to the first two on the video. But as YouTube was taking its own sweet time to upload and process the video, I decided to complete the group of designs.
There are a few favourite patterns that I tend use to add texture to my drawings these days – tangle patterns tipple, between, and diva dance. I do make use of other patterns involving lines and dots.
I think I went overboard with the tipple on the middle sea plant! Still, you learn by doing…hopefully eventually in my case!
Oh, I used alcohol markers to add colour and shadow. I chose yellow-green, yellow and yellow-orange colours today. Keeping to a limited colour palette really helps me work with colour in a way that is pleasing to me.
It was really enjoyable to do, as drawing always is.
I followed this up with work on my next colouring book. The style of drawing is different to what I’ve been doing of late, so the first template I’ve inked in and added colour to so I can see what it will look like coloured. Well, I’ve partly coloured it. Colour really does make all the difference. I do love black and white drawings/lettering. But for these stylised, whimsical, imagined kind of drawings, like my colouring templates, the colour is what really does bring them to life.
Finally, the page is as full as I’d like it to be of oyster shells! I did some hand-lettering before filming the video. I just wanted to add a quote about oyster shells and practice hand lettering.
I really enjoyed drawing all of these shells. The last one, a more whimsical one than the others, is my least favourite. It did, however, give me the chance to do something a little different when adding textures.
I really didn’t think out the layout of the hand-lettering. Maybe I’ll work that out, eventually. Maybe!
Overall, I now have a great reference page in my sketchbook as far as oyster shells are concerned.
I may do some further work on this page. Part of me wants to add words/quotes/facts as a background to at least one shell. I’ll see how I think about that after a little break from it.
In the process of drawing this page over the past five videos, I’ve gained some insights and understanding about my motivation to start a YouTube channel. I didn’t seem to have any clear purpose for making the videos, but with time and working on it all I think the pennies have finally dropped. That’s a good thing, maybe. All I have to do is to keep this purpose in mind (and remember it!). Fortunately, I’ve recorded my ah-ha moments in a journal, just in case I need to refer to them.
Now all I need to do is work out the next motif to focus on!
In part 4 of this video series, I draw a couple of oyster shells, one of which I add colour, shadow, highlight and pattern to. The other I’ve left until my next video.
I really enjoyed drawing these oyster shells. The one I’ve completed has used a kind of variation of the Diva Dance tangle pattern to construct it.
I’m really quite happy with how this one has turned out. I actually think I’ve done a fairly good job on adding colour – so unusual for me! Alcohol markers really do seem to be working well for me. Something to seriously consider going forward, that’s for sure.
I like how the areas of dense black add a lot of contrast. But I like how I’ve added white dots to soften the harshness of them and make them feel they belong in the pattern.
As I was wittering and musing during filming, I realised how much I enjoy creating line art. I enjoy the elegance of simplicity, focusing on the key elements that make the drawing instantly recognisable. This hearkens back to my time studying science and then the 28 years I spent as a science teacher. In science, observational drawings have to focus on the essence of what you see, making sure you get the essential identifying features correct. I was always a bit of a maverick going a little further than the bare essentials and even adding some colour! I got a tad chastised for that, but it didn’t stop me.
Now, this love of focusing on the essentials, the basic line art, shows in my artwork so much. In fact, it’s essential for me to do this otherwise I try to incorporate everything I can see into the drawing. Then, the drawing ends up so detailed it’s not really recognisable!
There seems to be a lot of sudden realisations and connections being made with my relationship to art and my particular style lately. Signs, I hope, that I’m finally settling into what is ‘me’ and recognising where my artistic roots lie and what I really enjoy doing.
Speaking my thoughts and reasoning out loud for the videos brings this process into awareness. I’ve often written about how I don’t think in words, but in feelings or abstractions. I have to be forced to put them into words by being given the opportunities to speak them out loud to people, or sometimes to write them in journals or blogs.
I hope that by sharing these thoughts and processes with others it will help them to find ways to discover and become comfortable with their own artistic style, as well as gaining some confidence in expressing themselves artistically just for the pleasure of creating art.
The other thing that working with the bare essentials line art style is that there are plenty of spaces for me to get creative with pattern and texture! I’ve learned over time how not to become overly ornate. What I like about today’s artwork is how I didn’t try to fill every section in with intense and intricate pattern. Oh, there’s plenty of white highlight dots scattered around, but the tangle pattern style of textures are thoughtfully placed and not too many of them.
This is something I’m still developing – not to overwhelm the drawing with pattern/texture. How much to use, and how much ’empty’ space to leave.
I’m about halfway through filling this slightly smaller than A5 sketchbook page with different kinds of oyster shells. Today’s even has a pearl in it!
I’m using the same peachy-pink and warm grey alcohol markers, but with the addition of a pale dusky kind of mauve colour for the shadow inside the shell.
I never claim to be an expert at colouring. However, using a very limited colour palette works in my favour, that’s for sure! The end result is good enough, which is what I always aim toward these days. Perfection is something that is unattainable. So good enough is just great!
I’ve been wintering on, both in speech and typing, about the purpose of my YouTube channel. Synchronicity struck today as two quotes about art appeared on my Facebook newsfeed today:
“Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So, write and draw and build and play and dance and live only as you can.”
These two quotes eloquently sum up what I think I want to bring to YouTube, my social media, and to you.
Confidence to create art just for the pleasure of it and in your own way too.
Building self-confidence is the first step, and sometimes that needs help, instruction, step by step methods, and suggestions for variations and making it your own.
We all can draw. We just have to unlearn that drawing isn’t always about photographic representations. It’s about self-expression, and each of us expresses ourselves differently. Maybe in a similar way to others, but uniquely our own.
To have a bit of confidence to do this, in a sketchbook, where no one else has to see until you’re ready to share in a supportive environment, is all that is needed. I wasn’t lucky enough to have a supportive environment for creating art until I was in my 40s. If I can provide a supportive environment here, around social media, on YouTube, and perhaps in a closed Facebook group or some such place, then I will.
It’s nice to find a purpose, don’t you think? I do, and I’m glad I’ve found that purpose for YouTube at the very least.
I’ve been having a lot of fun filling sketchbook pages with variations on a basic motif/pattern. It’s time, I think, to fill a sketchbook page (A5-ish) with variations of just one motif. Variations that include filler patterns, colours, shading and media used. I’m not sure that makes sense, but sometimes it’s easier to show rather than tell. Or perhaps tell while showing what I’m doing/thinking.
The video is much shorter than usual, at less than 30 minutes. I think that looking at drawing just one motif is a bite-sized activity, whereas a whole sketchbook page in one go can be a bit overwhelming.
There, I’ve got to a clear explanation of my intention behind this video!
So, I’ve decided to start with a page of variations of oyster shells. I start with line art in an Oysteroid style. Oysteroid is a tangle pattern by Eni Oken. I make sure that I use thicker lines to give the illusion of depth.
Next, add colour. I used two pale warm grey marker pens to add shadows. (Ohuhu WG1 and WG3). Then I used two peachy pinks to add colour (Ohuhu R18 and R21).
Using an 01 fineliner, I added the textural patterns. I decided to use a different one in each layer of the motif. Perhaps a bit too much pattern.
Finally, I added dots of white gel pen for the highlights.
I completely forgot to add a drop shadow beneath the motif to lift it off the paper a little. I’ll add that at a later point in time I’m sure.
The patterns added complexity to the simple colour/shadow. They also masked where my impatience meant the black pen hadn’t dried fully and the ink smudged a bit with the alcohol marker.
I do hope you’ll take a look at the video, get out pen, paper and some coloring medium and draw along with me.
Carrying on with the sea-life theme, I filled a sketchbook page with simple drawings of stylised, whimsical starfish, sea urchins and mussel shells. I recorded my process as a tutorial video, showing and explaining my step by step process of drawing. I start with simple shapes and gradually add more and more complexity.
There is something very intriguing and curiosity-provoking about exploring variations based on the same simple shapes and steps. The possibilities are endless and it certainly gives creativity a bit of a workout!
These kinds of exercises are what sketchbooks are perfect for. A sketchbook is a safe place to experiment and explore, and the end result is a valuable resource of ideas as well as a visual record of your development of artistic skills. They’re a place to practice fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and for trying out new media or techniques.
Sketchbooks chart the development of our skills, our pattern and motif preferences, and show how we develop and evolve our artistic style.
This revelation about sketchbooks is exciting to me. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to work this out. I think the Inktober Tangle Pattern Challenge back in 2021, the Fragments of Your Imagination Challenge earlier this year (both challenges hosted by the 7F5R Challenge Facebook group) as well as the Lettering Sketchbook course on Domestika have definitely been significant activities that have helped me reach this realisation.
The other major realisation I’m having at this time is that I think I’ve finally found what kind of YouTube content I like to make!
I was a science teacher for 28 years. Teaching is part of who I am. My focus as a teacher was always to inspire and encourage my students, to help them to believe they could do science, and to have better self-esteem and self-confidence. I loved to see them grow and develop and gain skills and knowledge they never thought they could, and that was a wonderful thing to be a part of.
If I can do the same thing for others, who have no confidence in drawing. If I can use my love of whimsical and stylised art/motifs, the function of a sketchbook to encourage others to take up pen and paper and draw, then that is a good thing!
I also think it’s important that I show my process, warts and all. Variations that are lovely, and others that are not so. It’s all part of the process of developing as an artist. I think my work with traditional coloured media is a testament to my ability to make a total mess of a fairly nice drawing! I am better with digital colours, but not much!
It all takes time to work these things out, and I can be really dense and stubborn at times! But I do get there … eventually. ‘There’ being a point of understanding myself and accepting something or a sudden revelation, you know the kinds of things. But ‘there’ isn’t the final destination. The journey of exploration and development never ends, and a sketchbook is now, for me, a vital companion going forward.