Monogram “a” WIP

Over the past couple of days I’ve started work on the next monogram. I took a fancy to a lower case ‘a’, so that’s what I’ve gone with!

Instead of working on the Claire-Fontaine Paint-On mixed media paper, which wrecks the nibs of my UniPin pens, I’m using some Daler-Rowney Marker paper. It has a smooth, soft texture and the pens glide over it and it’s a joy to use. The ink seems a lot darker on this paper, probably because of the way it’s treated to work well with marker pens and stop them bleeding. The paper is also quite thin and this makes it translucent enough that I can easily see the letter template below.

I’m trying to use some different motifs in this template instead of my go-to ones. Of course I’m still going to use some of my favourites, but it’s nice to branch out too.

It’s going to take me a while to get this one done in between contract work. But I will get it done.

Soul Shine

Sunday morning is always a time to breathe, relax and create something easy and pleasurable to do. Comfort art. Today, that meant a mandala and a quote that is quite appropriate for this morning.

Mandala creation makes me smile inwardly. It’s a familiar process and I can create a mandala that is complex and detailed, or simple, and the calming, relaxing effect is the same.

I do draw my mandalas digitally. By using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro’s symmetry tools, it streamlines the process for me. There’s also the removal of the frustration that is caused by an error or a smudge. I can focus on the relaxing, soothing process and on being creative.

In that vein, I decided to draw the mandala in black on white. But when it was finished, I wanted to use a background and a monochrome colour scheme.

I love kraft paper. I don’t know why. I think it’s that colours seem to almost glow against it. So, I chose that for the background. Then, I created a layer of creamy, orange-yellow tones to highlight the line art. Nice warm, comforting, gently glowing colours.

Finally, I created some drop shadows for the text and mandala.

I look at the finished mandala and I smile, gently. I feel my heart fill with some warmth and a sense of lightness.

Creating art, including mandalas, lets my soul shine. What makes your soul shine? Take time today to indulge your soul in activities that let it do so.

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.

Sketchbook Page

Arteza Premium Watercolour Sketchbook Review

Over the past couple of days I’ve been doing some work in a new Arteza Watercolour Sketchbook, slightly larger than A4 in size.

I am really happy with Arteza’s professional watercolour paper, though I do wish it was whiter in colour. So, I thought I’d try out their watercolour sketchbooks. They’re sturdier than my custom discbound sketchbook, so easier to cart around with me as I need.

I rarely do huge works of art, unless it’s digital work, so I like to work in little boxes on the page. I have drawn all the designs with Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens as they are waterproof. Like all watercolour papers, there’s a texture to them and this does wear the fibre-tip of the pen away. I can live with that as I tend to wreck them quickly as I am a bit heavy handed when it comes to pens.

Talking of texture, this paper is less textured than the cotton professional watercolour paper. It is also double sided, with the other side being smooth in texture. This smoother texture is much more to my liking.

Although this paper isn’t 100% cotton, I find it so much easier to work on than the other pulp watercolour papers I have. The paint doesn’t dry too quickly so I can work wet in wet. The pigments also stick to the paper so that successive glazes don’t shift the underlying layers, something I’m only just discovering the magic of working with.

As I don’t really wet huge areas of paper, there is no warping. Also, though I’ve worked in layers of colour in some areas, there is no breakdown of the paper surface.

All in all, as a watercolour beginner, I like the paper. It works with me and the way I like to apply watercolours, whereas other papers I’ve tried definitely work against me!

It’s also quite affordable, with two 64 page sketchbooks come in at £26.99 on Amazon. This means I can experiment with watercolour to my hearts content without feeling I’m destroying the lovely 100% cotton watercolour paper.

Black lines, or no black lines? That is the question…

I keep switching between black line-art that I colour with watercolour and using light pencil outlines so my designs are worked in pure colour. I can’t seem to settle on one way of working. I like both, but my mood changes from day to day it seems.

At the moment, it seems I need that clear, firm structure in my designs, clear boundaries within which I lay down colour. This is, I think, a reflection of my inner self and the issues I’m working through at this time. Issues that I have no words for.

Even though my art is usually rather controlled with clear structure in it, it still allows me to work through emotions and thoughts that are troubling me.

My mind is ever active, but not with self-talk most of the time. Art allows me to express things I can’t in words. It may be choices of colours, the style of art I gravitate to, the media I choose to use at any time.

On this page, some words have appeared, and those are like bullet points from what I’m working through. Other words are noted in my journal and aren’t shared with others.

Rusty, corroded colours.

There is one design that I have filled with colours that remind me of rust. When I get the right consistency of wet into wet colours, I get these delicious, spiky blooms of colour that really do remind me of rusty textures.

Taking time to look closely at rust, there are lots and lots of beautiful colours, some of which sparkle as they catch the light. It never ceases to amaze me how interesting it is, when examined closely.

Nice, shiny, pristine metallic structures and sculptures are lovely, but how much more interesting they become as they weather and corrosion subtly changes them, adds interest and a different kind of beauty to them.

I can’t tell you how happy I am that I have discovered how to create these rusty colours and textures. They are a completely different colour palette to what I would usually use, but I actually love it! Now I know what I’m doing, I can work on understanding the exact consistency of wet on wet I need, and how to get all the various colours I’d like to incorporate.

As I write this, raku glazes come to mind too. All those glorious colours that various copper oxides produce – magenta, rusty orange, purples, greens, blues, and more. I think I’ll be spending time looking at raku again and working out colour palettes to use in my work going forward.

Typographic portraits update

I’m quietly working at the third iteration of my Nye Bevan portrait. My mind is ticking away with what I need to do, and taking a break allows me to return to it with fresh eyes and a fresh mind.

Hello August!

The calendar page turns over and we’re into a new month.

August always heralds the end of summer and start of autumn, my favourite season. It is the last full month of summer here in the Valleys of South Wales. The evenings come noticeably earlier, always a sign that the year is continuing on its endless cycle of seasons.

We have a grey, damp and blustery start to the first day of the month. There are shafts of sunlight finding their way through gaps in the clouds, but there’s a deliciously refreshing snap to the cool and fresh air after the night-time rain.

I thought I’d create a really simple mandala design for the start of this month, one that is full of warm colours, but that hint of autumnal tones in the background.

I kept things simply stylised in the design. If nothing else, working on it made me smile, inwardly as well as on my lips.

I woke early-ish today and did some work on one of the typographic portraits I’ve been doing. Then, in my rush to get to the shower, I clicked the wrong button and lost my work. Thankfully, it’ll be easy enough to do it again. I also think that with the version I’m working on, I’m finding my way with the process. I have a lot of the portrait left to do, but I feel less frustrated with it and have a clearer idea of what I’d like to achieve now I’ve taken a few days break from this kind of work.

Before I settle back to the typography, I am going to take a walk in the fresh air of the morning. Well, after I’ve done my social media posts!

Template Thursday

It’s Thursday again, so that means it’s time for a new coloring template for the members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group. I said that during the pandemic, I’d create a template a week for group, free of charge, to help people relax, calm and take their mind off all the awful things that are happening in the world for a short time.

This week, I’ve combined some typography my familiar entangled style of drawing. Botanicals, crystals and stars along with some repeated ‘zentangle’ style patterns. Some of my favourite things to draw.

To draw this template, I used Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens (F and S), Copic Fineliner SP pens (05 and 025) and a Uniball Signo DX 0.38 pen with Rhodia dot grid paper.

Although lockdown has largely lifted in the UK, we still need to practice social distancing and wear face coverings when it’s not possible to do that, or in enclosed spaces. The Covid-19 virus has not gone away, and though the number of cases are falling, as are deaths, that’s due to people being sensible and following the guidelines for limiting the spread of the virus.

I’m very, very anxious about going out and about, and I know I am far from the only one. I mostly stay safe at home. Mind you, that’s not unusual for me. Even before the pandemic I wasn’t someone who was out and about all the time. I did pop out and about more often than I realised, however. But I’m still usually quite happy to stay at home and focus on my arty, creative activities. But, I know that’s not the case for everyone, and not everyone is able to work from home either, nor wants to.

Wednesday Wisdom

This was a perfect, small and quick project to do this morning as I was waiting for my weekly delivery from Able & Cole.

Some practice of hand-lettering /hand-drawn typography practice, starting with roughing the design out in pencil on dot grid paper. Then, inking it in digitally in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

The addition of a rainbow background was the perfect way to bring a smile to my face this morning. When don’t rainbow colours cheer a person up? The bold, black letters on top of it really make the colours glow bright.

The quote is a perfect bit of wisdom for Wednesday, not that it’s a bad day for me at all. Apart from me suffering from a lack of sleep once again. The morning sunshine has lifted my mood, and the cool air flowing in through the open window is both beautifully fresh and wonderfully refreshing. I have bright and happy music on as I work, just to add to the upbeat start to the day.

Typographic Portraits WIP

I’ve been working on another portrait of Nye Bevan while I take a break from the first one. I really think I’ve gone over the top with detail in this one. I wanted to do one of him in one of his typical oration-giving stances, but I really do feel I’m messing it all up. I really think that’s because I am trying to get too much in the way of quotes into the portrait.

So, I’ll be going back to the drawing board (or in my case, the Surface Studio screen) to try this one again.

Having said that, I’ve had a lot of hand lettering /hand drawn typography practice and have played around with the brush settings to find one that will work for me!

I also have just noticed that there’s not much differentiation between the different weights of text in the second version, and that adds, I think, to the more confusing appearance of it.

I was struggling with the values of the gesturing fist in the second image. So, I put the photo into Affinity Photo and used the Posterise tool to simplify the areas of shade for me. There’s still a personal interpretation to be done on how I translate these areas into spaces of text.

Hands, feet and faces. These were always the parts of humans I struggled with when doing life drawing.

Drawing typographic portraits is a new endeavour for me. I’m learning, experimenting. One of the main lessons I have to take away today is to not over complicate such a portrait! But there is a fine balance betwixt having enough detail to capture the essence of the person, and having too much so that the essence of who they are is lost.

The first portrait I did, on the left, does look better, but I do think it lacks a bit of detail in the face.

The second one, on the right, is way too busy!

So, my task is to find that point where less really is more.

So, I’ll take a break from them, again, and regroup and try once more!

Mandala

Today’s artistic offering is a mandala with a quote about meditation.

The simple typography was done in Affinity Publisher. I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to create the mandala.

I just needed some quiet time this morning. I spent quite a while meditating before breakfast. Then, my attention turned towards art.

I knew I wanted to include a quote in today’s art, and I found this quote about meditation that resonated with me.

Meditation and mandalas go together like bread and butter!

The mandala design is quite simple and bold, in quite subtle colours, for me.

It’s going to be a quiet day for me today. A self-care day. I may not get anymore work done on my typographical portrait, but I will be immersing myself in arty and/or creative activities for sure.

Typographic Mushrooms

Just a little something I wanted to try out – using hand-drawn typography to create illustrations. I chose a mushroom, for no other reason than I like mushrooms.

It’s more about practising the hand-drawn typography or hand lettering than anything else.

What I realised, when I completed the black and white version, is that I could’ve varied the weight of the letters to produce highlights. That’s for another day, I think.

I also had to try adding colour, and in that way adding highlight and shadow.

I like both versions, but I think I like the coloured one a bit more.

I mentioned I’m following the Sarah King Domestika course – Hand-Drawn Typographic Portraits. I have started work on my first portrait, but it’s going to take me a while to do. In the meantime, little projects, like the mushroom, will give me plenty of practice as well as a chance to work out my process and way of working, as well as how I’d like to use it so it adds a note of harmony to my artistic song.

I started with a pencil sketch of the mushroom. Then, I added the words in rough with pencil. I scanned the sketch into Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. I then used my Microsoft Surface Slim Pen, to hand-draw the typography. Even though I’m using digital media. Autodesk Sketchbook Pro is a lot like working on paper, but it streamlines the process and allows me to skip a lot of the tedious steps. It also lets me take a black and white drawing and add colour quite easily.

I’ve done this while I’m waiting for a migraine-type headache to subside enough that I can return to bed and sleep the dregs of it away. I’m nearly at that point now as I’m beginning to feel tired and sleepy. So, I’ll get the rest of the social media postings done, and then crawl back into bed to sleep.