I have an introvert ‘hangover’ today. This has absolutely nothing to do with alcohol, just a bit too much socialising on Zoom yesterday! The headache will lift soon. The tiredness will gradually go, especially after some more sleep. It was lovely to spend time with like-minded people, particularly Brett from the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group.
So, doing some entangled, intuitive pen drawing was just the thing to start the day off. Gentle, familiar, enjoyable, calming and peaceful.
I have no idea what this drawing is going to turn into. Time will tell.
I have created a time-lapse vlog of this drawing. Not only do you get to see how this WIP drawing was done, I also show some of the other work I’ve been doing in my sketchbook as well.
Yesterday, I took some time to add more to my abstract watercolour work in progress. I’m continuing to work with the Ecoline brush pens, which are filled with watercolour ink. Through this process I’m learning the value of using larger brushes for larger areas.
Timing when to add wet into wet is something I’m starting to get to grips with, possibly. I like the way the colours have played with each other in the pebbles.
Once the pencilled in pebbles are coloured, I then will have to decide how I add detail and interest to other areas of the design. Do I do more pebbles?
I’m really not sure. All I am trying to be sure of is that this is something I can do to learn from, to explore this medium, and to explore abstract watercolour art in a style that is in my style.
Once the colour is added, I then will have another choice to make concerning pens. Do I use pens to add detail and/or contrast? If I do decide to use pens, what kind /colour do I use?
I think I need to do some smaller test pieces to try things out on. I’m liking how this particular painting is working out, so testing ideas out elsewhere may be the way for me to go.
Today’s vlog was suggested by a comment left by Jennifer Miller. She asked if I could do a flip-through of my visual dictionary / zibaldone. So that’s what I’ve done! You can see it by following this link.
This is the start of a watercolour and, probably, pen artwork based on fronds of seaweed and pebbles. If you’d like to see it from the start of adding watercolour to where it is at this moment, then I did record a vlog. It’s a chatty one, about the art and other stuff.
I used my biro sketch that I did yesterday as inspiration for this. I drew from memory and intuition, using red and black fine ballpoint pens on a 16cm x 16cm (6.25″ x 6.25″) piece of Canson Moulin du Roy paper.
Next, I applied watercolour, wet into wet. I realise I need to dig out my craft heat tool to dry the watercolour quickly when it’s spread in a way I like it. Well, at least try that out! I’ve not quite learned when is the right amount of wetness for this to work to the extent I’d like it to. Having said that, I did drop clean water to push some of the darker colours back in places, though not always successfully to my taste. However, as I plan to draw on top of the colour this may not be an issue.
For the seaweed I chose to use yellow ochre no.1, burnt sienna and light red. Indigo, Van Dyke green, indigo and peacock blue are the colours used for the pebbles.
I have no idea what I’m going to use for the central part of the fronds, yet. It’ll work itself out I’m sure.
I waited from the fronds to dry before doing any neighbouring fronds. I started doing this with the pebbles, but a happy accident reminded me of how much
Another day, another abstract WIP. This is an iteration of the first one from earlier this week. This time, I’m using analogous colours – Fuchsia, Thistle and Mauve Inktense pencils. I’m also using Canson Moulin du Roy 100% cotton paper, which allows the inktense pigments/dyes/inks to spread far more smoothly than other papers. The photo makes it look like the gradients aren’t all that smooth, but they are much better when seen with the eye. Though, I do have a little work to do with the purple mauve areas.
Today, I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to do with myself. I’ve done all the work I can on Whimsical cats for now. There’s just one template needed to make the total up to 31. I’m awaiting the review of the one I sent over recently. Then, I’ll need to work on colouring three templates, which are yet to be chosen.
I suspect I’ll spend some time today working on art. I’m lucky that it’s both something I love to do as well as my source of income too. Today, though, I get to spend as much time as I like on some personal projects, such as these abstract art experiments I’ve been doing.
I spent nearly an hour adding colour to the inner section of this artwork yesterday afternoon. This morning, I started work on adding colour around them. Again, I spent nearly an hour doing this.
I’m trying to play with where the lighter and darker areas of colour in the sections. I want dark next to light. It’s a kind of play with highlights and shadows, though I’m not quite sure how well it is, or isn’t, working.
Once I’ve completed this, I need to decide what to do with the tiny gaps between the various motifs. I’m tempted to fill them with black and then some metallic over it, gold or copper maybe.
Then, I need to decide if I leave the rest of the colour as it is, or whether I add more to intensify areas that are a bit insipid and to increase the contrast in colour saturation.
Finally, do I use a very fine brush to add metallic patterns/highlights to areas of these motifs, connecting them to the tiny pools of metallic between them. That’s if I use the metallic colours of course.
I think I may try this out first on the experiment I started with and see how I like it, or not.
The rest of the day…
For now, though, I need to get along with another sketch for the Whimsical Cat books. I realised I can’t count! I thought I’d done the requisite 31, but I’ve only done 30. So, if I can get one done and off, I’ll have it approved (or not) soonest.
I did get all the approved sketches inked in yesterday. So I’m now just waiting for approval/feedback on the sketches I submitted for review last Friday.
This morning, I wanted to try out some abstract art. The picture above shows the colour to be more uneven than it really is.
Anyways, I’ve got ahead of myself here! This really carries on from yesterday’s blog entry where I discussed my relationship with abstract art, colour and expression of emotions and impressions of an experience.
I used a photo of ice melting in a shallow puddle for the inspiration for the shapes I drew. I didn’t choose to use icy colours, however. This morning I really felt that rusty, vintage, earth tones were what I wanted to work with.
I did do some experiments with both watercolours and inktense pencils on some Aquafine watercolour paper. I’m not at all fussed on Aquafine paper; I find it difficult to work with. However, as I’m experimenting, experiencing and learning it’ll do fine for starters. It did make it difficult to get smoothly blended out colour, but it will do for my purposes to begin with.
The vlog is just a few seconds short of an hour long, so I’ve also done a speeded up, time lapse version, with music.
I’ve written it before, talking as I work helps me to gain an insight into what is going on inside my creative, subconscious mind. It forces me to verbalise the thoughts that are abstract so that I can understand myself better. I also think it is helping me to hone in on my artistic voices/styles too.
This morning, I spent over an hour starting work on this entangled pen drawing. I did film the process, but it’s recycling day, and the bin lorries and bin men were really noisy this morning. So, I turned the video into a timelapse with music. It lasts about 14 minutes, and the link to it is above this paragraph.
I remember chatting about my influences for this drawing, and they started with me watching a video from the “Journey to the Microcosmos” YouTube channel.
I’ve always loved microscopic images, being able to see things that are invisible to our naked eyes. There’s always a sense of wonder about it, amazement at the different shapes of the various organisms that become visible. That wonder must be the same as Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch scientist of the 17th and 18th Centuries must have seen.
I loved drawing what I could see with the aid of a microscope from the first science lessons when I was 11 years of age, right through my degree and PhD and on through my teaching career too. And of course it was bound to creep into my art!
My memories of drawing diagrams of flowers and rock sections, minerals and scientific apparatus and diagrams are very fond indeed. This has certainly influenced my style of art – observing the tiny, abstracting the interesting (important) patterns and forms. Scientifically, the focus is on the features, structures, the important parts that allow identification or communicate the important features of what was seen. After all, photographs and videos can be made of all the glorious detail and colour.
The diagram is a simplified version, a map, that can help others to navigate their way around. A kind of scientific version of the map of the London Underground system. The map helps in navigating the system, but it bears no relationship to the physical layout of the rail lines and the geography of the city above.
Now, however, I take those observations and turn them into my own arty, entangled worlds of wonder. It is still the small parts that catch my attention, fill me with wonder and awe, are the ones I record, rarely the whole thing. If I visit an old church or abbey, I rarely, draw the building as a whole. I spend time looking and drawing the elements of it that capture my arty attention.
My sketchbook page often ends up of a collage of my visit, the various observations fitting together in a pleasing way. Often, I may join the elements together with imaginary lines or patterns. I may end up not with a drawing of the whole building; instead, I record my experience of the building at the day, time, season and weather I visited it.
The same is true for visits in nature, or to museums. My sketchbooks record what catches my attention, and that may not be the ‘whole’ of something, but just a part.
I’m still a scientist in my approach to art – what are the important forms, patterns, shapes, etc. that are the distillation of my experience, that I’d like to record and, maybe, share with others?
Of course, these observations find their way into my more Entangled art, like this one. The round orbs separated into three lobes were inspired by something I saw when watching one of the Journey to the Microcosmos videos. The flat leaves, by seaweed. The triangular pods are imaginary, though there may be real-world analogues of them from which inspiration was unknowingly gained. Curled, baby fiddlehead ferns are the inspiration for another motif in the drawing.
Inspiration indeed – based on observation, but interpreted and altered in a way that is personal to me.
I’m forever wondering what my artistic voice is, and here it is. At least one of the harmonic notes or chords anyway.
This morning, I continued with a watercolour painting of mushrooms. This is very much a work in progress. It is inspired by an illustration in a book by Danielle Donaldson called ” The Art of Creative Watercolour: Inspiration and Techniques for Imaginative Drawing and Painting.”
As I am continuing to explore watercolour, I am dipping into books in my stash to absorb more ideas and information and try various exercises out.
In this video, I talk about how I think there are no right or wrong ways of being creative, as what is ‘right’ for one person may not be the way for another. We’re all unique people, creatives, and how we express ourselves, the techniques , media and styles is a very personal kind of expression. We can all learn valuable lessons by watching other artists work, taking courses, reading books, doing exercises. The most important lessons learned are those that show us who we are by helping us work out who we are not.
And this will change throughout our lives as we experience new things that change us too. And that is no bad thing at all. It’s all part of the rich tapestry of our lives.
I think that as long as your joy and passion and personality shows through in your art, then that is the most important thing of all. It makes your art uniquely yours, and that is, as far as I’m concerned, a wonderful thing. It may not be my thing, or to my taste, but then my art isn’t to everybody’s tastes either.
And, that is all fine and well and good. It doesn’t mean one is bad the other good. It just means we are different, and that is what makes life so wonderful. It would be so boring if we were all clones of each other, wouldn’t it?
I also chat about how I’m trying to work out how watercolour works best for me. The biggest challenge is that I partly have to learn to accept that wet watercolour has a mind of its own when you add more colour to it. It’s not easy for me to be out of control of the effects achieved, so I really think it’s a good thing for me to explore and learn to work with.
Today, I finished drawing this entangled, zentangle inspired kind of floral/botanical design. I did start this yesterday afternoon, but continued it this morning before I settled back to sleep. I’ve had a poor night’s sleep thanks to yet another upset stomach, so after my Wednesday delivery from Abel & Cole, I drew and then settled back to sleep.
I’m still feeling very tired, my digestive system is still uncomfortable, delicate, upset. But I have to run an errand today. I’ll get to that soon enough and then I’ll see how I feel and how that dictates how I look after myself for the rest of the day. I suspect more sleep will be needed.
Anyways, this drawing is on an A5 piece of Canson Imagine mixed media paper. I used a 0.3 Unipin pen to draw the design, and I’m now adding colour using a fairly limited palette of Zig Clean Colour Real Brush pens: *green gray *pale dawn gray *olive green *deep green *ochre *bright yellow *pale rose *lilac *english lavender
I’m considering adding a couple of browns to this palette, as well as using some olive green over the grays.
These pens do move easily with a barely damp brush on this paper making it so easy to get a colour gradient. It’s also easy to add more colour to intensify the dark area.
In the vlog I talk about how the pressures of being constantly productive turned me into a workaholic when I was a teacher, and then fed negatively into my self-image which ultimately led to my burn-outs/breakdowns. I have learned that taking time for myself, to just be, to relax, to do things I enjoy, to look at ‘goals’ in a realistic kind of way to limit the pressure I put on myself.
I no longer have the external pressures of my career as a teacher, and one of the many hard lessons I’ve had to learn as part of my healing is how to value self-care time, and how that time can change from day to day. It’s so important for me, otherwise life’s own stresses and strains can take their toll on me and leads to physical, emotional and/or mental exhaustion or even ill-health.
Taking time to rest, to relax, is being ‘productive’, but in an important way. The productivity is investing time in one’s self and one’s own well being. And that is so very important.
This is why I take time nearly every day to create art just for myself, for the pleasure of creating, of exploring and experimenting, with no pressure on myself to create a completed work of art or for commercial gain. Just for the simple joy it brings.
Admittedly, I can fixate on art and forget about doing other things I enjoy, such as playing my flute, or learning to play my harp or tongue drum, or reading, or journalling, or even getting out for a walk, or combining my walk with sketching.
I know this is something I do need to work on for sure. But, like everything else, it comes together in it’s own way, in it’s own time, when I am ready to do so.
I’ve had a busy day so far. First, I got a few sketches done for the next colouring book for Creative Haven. Then, after showering etc, I went out to do a little food shopping. The sun was way too bright for me and my sensitive skin, even with sunblock on! Next, after a mug of tea and some lunch, I turned my mind to creating a mandala and adding some colour.
Sorting out the colours I’d like to use for this design was a bit of a trial. But, I’m quite happy with the succulent kind of palette at the moment.
No YouTube video today. My morning warm up art was drawing for the book, and I don’t show my templates in advance, usually, though I may show a sketch here and there to whet the appetite, maybe.