I’ve learned a new ‘trick’! New to me that is. I’ve finally worked out how I can use grey shadow underpainting to increase contrast in my artwork! It’s new to me, but not new to the art world I’m sure.
I’m really happy with the result. Digital art makes it so easy to try things out in layers. So, this is the way for me to go.
Yesterday morning, I started adding shadows to some pen drawn motifs with marker pens. I wanted to see what that would look like. I prefer these shadows to those done with graphite or chalk pastel pencils.
Then, I added colour using watercolour pencils and a damp brush, just to see what would happen. I liked the result! Lots!
I filmed part of this process today, and here’s the video on YouTube
Today marks the Lunar New Year celebrated in China and other Asian nations. It is the year of the Tiger.
I thought I’d draw a design based on some of the symbols associated with the New Year celebrations held by Chinese and Asian communities worldwide.
To start, I used various Distress Inks – fossilised amber, ripe persimmon, spiced marmalade and aged mahogany – to colour a 14cm x 14cm (5.5″ x 5.5″) piece of Canson Imagine mixed media paper. Tigery colours!
After marking my border guides in pencil, I drew in the outer border of stylised plum blossoms.
Next, a layer of coins, all with the square hole characteristic of Chinese coinage, but many with imaginative patterns within.
I then realised I hadn’t put a tiger anywhere! So, I popped a cute and whimsical tiger head at the centre, all smiling and happy.
Finally, as far as drawing was concerned, I put some bamboo overlapping in a Zentangle Hollibaugh manner to fill the space.
Then it was time to tackle adding colour. The part that always vexes me. I used watercolour pencils in this instance. I discovered I liked working in a loose, just let the paint and water do what they will, kind of way. I got some interesting textures and patterns, particularly in the spaces between the bamboo.
I’m not entirely sure this was all a good idea, mind you. Part of me really wishes I’d drawn this on plain paper, or maybe coloured paper, but left the colour at that. Some shading.
And I’ve just realised that I haven’t really done any shading in this design! It would be awkward now as I’ve added gold and white gel pens to the design. Oh well.
I’m not all that happy with this drawing. I may spend some time doing a version of it, but on plain white paper. Just to see the difference.
There’s always something to learn from each drawing that is done. Always. However, I don’t always learn those lessons, such as how I feel I struggle with colour when it’s traditional media or the importance of contrast/shadow to bring depth and dimension to a design.
I definitely need to make a list of things to consider when drawing in my commonplace book.
The humble 2B and 6B graphite pencils (the Pitt Graphite Matt versions) were used to create the shadows, the illusion of folds and curls, curves and edges. It took me a while to remember how to do this, to work out the effects I wanted to create. This is, however, like riding a bike – once learned you may be rusty, but you never forget!
There is a simple pleasure in using just the grey of graphite to give more form to these designs. Adding colour over the graphite added to this. I really am enjoying the way the careful shadowing with graphite works with transparent watercolour. Then, there’s the use of white charcoal and/or white ink to bring out the highlights.
If I use ink, I much prefer to use dots white, rather than a solid line or shape. I enjoy the subtle texture it gives as well as that brightness too. I find the white charcoal tends to bleach the colour out way too much, it feels not quite right. I will eventually work out how to do this in a better manner I think. Perhaps trying other colours of chalk pastel pencils maybe, or really making sure that the colour is barely there in the highlights. It’s a work in progress for me, that’s for sure! I may just stick to white ink dots, perhaps trying other colours that work with the colour of the motif.
Using various grades of graphite helps me to get that intensity of shadow that I like, without struggling with watercolour. I can vary the intensity of one colour (and I even tried two colours in one motif!), and let the graphite do the work of darkening the shade of colour.
The metallic looking result I find quite pleasing, now that it’s becoming familiar to me. I find I like the effect far more than adding graphite on top of the colour. The pigments in the watercolour pencil seem to sit over the graphite when they’re activated with water, tinting the graphite in a way that is pleasing to me.
I do love the Graphitint pencils very much, but this method gives me a way of getting more vibrant colours, which are pleasingly toned down by the under-shadowing of graphite.
Today is the third session of work on this drawing. I’ve added some more ornate seed pods, based on the same simple form as the original ones, and some foliage. Here’s the link to today’s video.
I wanted to see how Graphitint pencils worked with the Albrecht Durer water colour pencils. Mainly, I wanted to see how the graphite in the Graphitint would add shadow to the colour. I did this on a couple of the new flowers at the bottom left. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, but it’s something for me to experiment with more.
I had a ‘ta-da!’ moment as I was talking about where to place the next collection of motifs. I realised that I do think about this, very quickly and not in words. There’s some kind of analysis that goes on that I don’t quite catch, probably because it is in symbols/abstractions rather than words. Having to put words to the thoughts and decisions I was making had two effects. One, my thoughts were slowed down. Two, the words let me realise that I do think!
I’ve mentioned this before, but there seem to be two styles of inner monologue – one is in words, the other rather abstract. Apart from my inner critic, my thoughts tend to be of the abstract kind it seems.
“As in, some people’s thoughts are like sentences they ‘hear’, and some people just have abstract non-verbal thoughts, and have to consciously verbalize them And most people aren’t aware of the other type of person.”
I certainly have to consciously verbalise my thoughts, either by writing or by having to speak them out loud. The weird thing is, I’m often not aware of any opinion or idea or thoughts I have until I do verbalise them. That means I constantly surprise myself!
Anyway, by making YouTube videos, I’m having to vocalise my decisions and thought processes as I draw and that means I’m becoming more aware of what is going on in my head, well in terms of putting words to it. So, this ‘ta-da!’ moment is one of many I’ve had whilst being an arty vlogger. That is a very valuable experience for me.
So, this drawing is coming along quite nicely I think. I’m really enjoying these times to experiment and try stuff out without being invested in a finished, polished artwork. I’ve finally found a way to give myself permission to try things out when I think of them, without worrying about whether they work or not, whether I spoil an artwork or not. It’s a very freeing experience for the hyper-perfectionist part of me.
It’s really nice to draw and share the process with others, allowing them to draw along with me.
In this design, I started with a simple seed pod design, and it’s morphed into other forms, including flowers.
It’s fascinating how one basic form can be the blueprint for so many other designs, often just by making a simple change.
I tried an experiment today – to add shadows with Faber-Castell Pitt graphite matt pencils before adding colour with watercolour pencils and a water brush. The result is rather interesting. It’s kind of metallic without the shine of specific metallic paints, if that makes any sense. I’m thinking about drawing designs in graphite and then adding colour washes over them. Maybe I’ll start with individual motifs though!
I needed a quiet morning, again, today. So, I thought I’d dig out my Caran D’Ache Supracolor Soft watercolour pencils and try some stuff with them.
I wanted to use them to draw a flower, or two, and then use water to create a watercolour effect. The result you can see on the left-hand side card. I’ve left loads of white space on this card, which is unusual for me. I couldn’t resist, however, adding some gold dots around the flowers. The colour of the petals was so delicate that I used a 2H 3mm pencil to outline them and the leaves. Just for info, the piece of watercolour paper measures 4″ x 4″.
For the other cards, I just wanted to work with the pencils to create gradients and abstract patterns in colour. I drew on the little panels using a 0.25 Copic Multiliner SP pen and added some lines and details with metallic gold watercolour. These cards are approx 3″ x 4″ in size.
Watercolor pencils are nice to use when it comes to drawing in colour with them, then activiating the colour with water. They really glow on 100% cotton rag paper (bottom right) compared to the other cellulose papers.
Cute and whimsical cards, some very detailed, one not quite so. But a nice way to spend my morning.
Self-care time, again.
There’s a situation going on around me that is draining my emotions greatly at this time. I’m doing my best to not become overly emotionally involved in it, but it’s difficult when it’s to do with people you care about.
It all has a knock on effect with me. I’m anxious, tired verging on exhausted, really grumpy, irritable, and lacking patience at this time. I’m also not able to concentrate too well. These are all behaviours I could do without in dealing with this situation. Yet I’m exhausted by it.
I have been meditating, making sure I take time to do self-calming and self-soothing activities, such as my morning art, Though I have work to do for contracts, I need to take a day away from everything, if I can.
I know there are lessons for me to learn about myself in how I’m reacting ot the situation, stuff from my past that wasn’t processed during my EMDR therapy. If I can work out what it is, I can work through it myself now. Organising EMDR therapy isn’t possible at this time, with lockdown still very much in operation and me being very nervous of going out into the world as well.
So, I’m going to make time today to drink tea, meditate, journal and try to get to the bottom of my own issues and start doing what I can to work through them and heal the past traumas that are causing my reactions at this time.
I think I’ll also take time to crochet (I started a mosaic blanket earlier this week) and watch films or crafting shows on the TV. Eat healthily – I have a yearning for brussel sprouts, of all things! And take time away from social media and news. I may even pick up my flute and play it, for the first time in months and months.
I’ve had a stressful couple of days to say the least and all my plans to edit templates and create new ones went out of the window. It was like I had ‘ants in my pants’ and I just couldn’t settle to anything that required concentration and focus.
Last night I was beginning to settle a bit. I’d had some news that had helped to calm me a little, but not enough. While I was attending an online talk, I drew this design on watercolour paper. I used a 05 Sakura Pigma Micron pen. I also scanned the finished drawing into the ‘puter. I really like this drawing, I have to say.
This morning, I wanted to start the day with something relaxing and meditative, so I broke out the watercolour pencils. I have a collection of Derwent Aquatone and Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer. I used them to colour the trios of large flowers at the bottom left and bottom right. For the small flowers, leaves, tendrils and the large flowers at the top I used White Knight watercolours.
I found the watercolour perncils slow and laborious on such a large scale, and I had to lay down layers to get the intensity of colour I like. However, they did mean I could control the gradients a lot more.
On larger flowers, watercolours frustrate me a bit. I can’t seem to get to the right amount of dampness so that colours will flow one into another.
I also found that by drawing the flowers to begin with, I felt compelled to paint each petal one at a time, and I found that may work against me in terms of making the most of watercolour.
Watercolour has always been a medium that vexes and frustrates me, and it’s continuing to do so at times, even as I explore adding colour. I think I’m realising that the best way for me to work with watercolor is by using it for backgrounds which I then draw upon and add more colour to the drawings.
Or, its where I make use of the randomness of loose watercolour, droping colours into a damp surface where they can bloom, flow and blend as they will, without me trying to make them anything in particular. Then, I can draw on this, picking out shapes and colours, bringing structure to where there is none, and I can get intricate with the details too.
Anyway, with the flowery drawing above, I tried to add details using some Paul Rubens metallic watercolours to add patterns of dots, as well as drawing more black or white lines onto the drawing. I really don’t feel they worked out at all well.
I knew this was going to be a bit of an experiment, and I have plenty of flowers to try out different media, such as Inktense pencils, and maybe adding more lines to to add more detail before I start coloring.
It’s been a nice way for me to spend Saturday morning, lost in art whilst listening/watching season 1 of The Clone Wars. I think I’ll continue to watch that this afternoon as I turn my attention to drawing.
I thought I’d start Sunday morning off with some experiments with my tiny botanical drawings.
I apologise for the photograph quality – I’m really not a good photographer, something I really do need to work at! The pale colours really don’t help at all.
The artwork on the bottom right is one where I applied rectangles of watercolor on 100% cotton rag paper. Then, I used Sakura Pigma Micron pens to draw designs in the windows. Finally, I added some watercolours to the designs to help bring them forward from the background.
I don’t think I messed the drawings up at all, which was my worry. Mind you, I do have to be careful what colours I do add so I don’t make weird colours.
That led to me wanting to try watercolour pencils and Inktense pencils on different watercolour papers: top – 100% cotton rag paper middle – Canson Moulin du Roy paper bottom – Daler-Rowney Smooth watercolour paper.
On each paper, I drew four rectangles, two of which I coloured with a wash of watercolour.
I used the same colours of Derwent Aquatone and Inktense pencils to draw the stylised/abstract floral design and a waterbrush to activate the pigment. I did my best to apply the same amount of pencil in each case. However, I noticed that the papers grabbed different amounts of pencil even though I was using the same kind of pressure.
The amount of pigment grabbed, however, wasn’t at all indicative of how vibrant the colours would be.
The 100% cotton rag paper seemed to have the smallest amount of pigment from the pencils, yet it gave the most intense colours of them all. This paper is quite ‘hard’ in feel and very textured and I was surprised it didn’t seem to take as much pigment. Appearances are deceiving it seems. This paper also allowed me the longest ‘wet’ time to move the coloured pencil pigment around, and to lift some of it where it had got too intense.
The Moulin du Roy paper was a softer texture and it was lovely to colour with the pencils on it. The resultant drawings have a soft quality to them too that I rather like.
The Daler-Rowney seemed to grab the most pigment, yet the colours are not as vibrant, except the for the Inktense on the watercolour background. I think that’s because the watercolour background was still very slightly damp and Inktense pigment activates with the tiniest amount of water. I also think that’s why this one was the hardest to blend the colour smoothly. This was the paper that was the hardest to add the watercolour background to as it dries so darned quickly, or water just puddles on the surface with a tiny bit more water.
The cotton rag paper is, again, my favourite for working with watercolour and Inktense pencils. The vibrancy of the noticeable too – much less pigment is needed to get a rich colour on this paper.
For the other two papers, I did enjoy drawing the flowers on the plain paper and activating the pigment with a waterbrush. I partiuclarly like the Moulin du Roy paper for this technique, though the Daler-Rowney gave a pleasing result on the plain paper.
I started these 5″x 6″ cards yesterday and finished them (I think) this morning.
The focal images I drew myself on watercolour card. I used Caran D’Ache Supracolour watercolour pencils and a damp brush to colour them. I was quite happy with the colouring; I do find pencils a lot easier to use than traditional watercolours.
Nex, I cut three of them out around their edges and used a black marker to colour the white edges (and disguise my poor cutting out skills). I had to use a craft knife in a couple of places. The other two I cut out as small panels.
The drawings are a little bare of detail, mabye, but I can go back and add detail once I’ve decided what I’d like to do.
I’m not all that happy about the torn paper behind the focal images; you try things out and learn, maybe. The torn paper is Gelli printed tracing paper made using PaperArtsy Fresco paints. I then ran them through my Sizzix Big Shot in various embossing folders, and on some the embossed images have had some metallic waxes gently brushed over them. I also added some Inktense to the papers to darken the edges and add shadows.
What I am really happy with are the index cards themselves.
I started by covering them with gesso. Then, I used some foliage stamps from IndigoBlu with grey Archival Ink by Ranger to add patterns. I really liked this, as the patterns were softer and already ‘ghostly’ in the background, a much better choice than black Archival.
My next step was to add colour using ink blending sponges and Distress Oxide inks, followed by a spray of Gold perfect pearls mixed with water.
This is where there was an unexpected effect – the wet Distress Oxides were repelled from the Archival ink. I loved the result, as well as the way the colours mixed as they pooled around the stamped patterns.
Here’s a close up where you can see how the Archival Ink has repelled the Distress Oxide inks:
Then, I used Versamark Ink to stamp more foliage on some of the cards, and mini-mandala type patterns on others. I then sprinked WOW Embossing powder (clear holographic) over the ink then melted it with a heat tool. This added an extra layer of interest – a subtle layer as it can only be seen from certain angles.
I framed the cards using black Archival ink and a foam blending tool to give a distressed looking edge.
Then, it was just assembly of the focal points and so on, before sticking the index cards to some really thick card to get them nice and flat; the cards are so thin that they curl a lot when working on them, even with the layer of gesso to seal the card in. Cosmic Shimmer’s Specialist Acrylic Glue worked beautifully for this.
I had intended to make more ACEO cards, but I drew the focal images a tad too big for that format, so thought I’d try out an index card instead. I quite enjoyed working on the slightly larger scale.