Entangled WIP

I’ve completed more of this WIP this morning. It’s coming along, but it’s at that point where I’m starting to think, “What the heck was I thinking?” about various sections.

I know from lots of past experience that I often get this feeling as I work on some art, and all I need to do is to trust my instincts and intuition and to carry on working on it. And so I shall. This is the way.

Moth WIP

This morning, I wanted to start a new entangled drawing. But what to draw? I wasn’t in the mood to do another monogram, especially as there are some ideas on the periphery of my conscious mind about monograms. I thought about drawing a skull, something I find interesting, but that didn’t feel right either. But the idea of a moth flittered into my mind, so that’s what I went with.

I drew the moth digitally, in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, simply because I wasn’t quite sure how my pen work would work on a moth, and I also like to use the symmetry tool. I’m fairly happy with the results. I started to add my entangled style motifs around the moth, and came up against two issues.

The first issue was that I would lose the detail around the head and antennae and I needed to come up with a way to preserve that. I came up with the idea of a simple circular border below the moth. This will also give me the option of adding colour to the central circle when I’ve finished the artwork.

The second was more of a problem – the sense of proportion. I have no idea why it’s so hard for me to work digitally on entangled drawings like this with a proper sense of proportion compared to the main motif or the printed size.

It has to do, I think, with the ability to zoom in to draw small details, which results in me adding too much detail. The only solution was for me to print the moth and circular border out and then for me to draw on that.

The only thing I wasn’t happy about in doing this is that I have a laser printer. That affects the surface of the paper in a way that my Unipin pens don’t like it. Also, I can’t print on marker paper.

So, I’ve started to add entangled artwork to the design. I can now see that leaving edges of the upper wings white would help them to stand out. That is something I can adjust digitally when the design is finished.

I feel so much happier working on the printed image. I do need to consider changing my printer, however. Though the laser printer is quick and economical, the print quality of line art isn’t the best. There’s also the issue of the way the surface of the paper is changed once it’s been printed on. I shall think on this in the coming weeks and before the toner needs replacing.

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.

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.

Sunday WIP

Today, I thought I’d digitally colour one of my recent drawings. I thought it would be nice to compare and contrast digital colouring with traditional colouring.

It’s been a while since I did much art digitally, I’ve been lost in traditional media this week as I slowly heal from some emotional wounds. Art helps with healing. Meditation helps too. But time is still needed for the healing to take place, and for rest to relieve the exhaustion that lingers still.

Any kind of art, digital or traditional, soothes my mind, emotions and body.

What I like about digital art is the way I can get such high contrast in colours to enhance the sense of volume the design elements have. I also like the vibrancy of colours. I also like the ability to add texture to the colour in so many different ways.

Of course, I like the ability to alter colours when they don’t work, without having to start over. I’m not sure if those leaves are going to stay that particular green-ish colour. Nor am I sure about the background colour.

As is my wont, I’ve used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to add the colour and textures. My hardware is a Microsoft Surface Studio and Surface Slim Pen.

Art for heart’s sake.

Experiment in watercolour

It’s WIP Wednesday, so here’s a work in progress I started this morning.

I woke thinking it was about time I tackled rendering one of my abstract, stylised, imaginary botanical designs in watercolour.

I think I’ve gained a bit of experience with watercolours, kind of have a feel for them and how I like to work with them. Or so I thought.

Anyways, I started by drawing the design lightly in pencil. I used a 0.5mm mechanical pencil by mistaked; I had intended to use a 0.3 mm one instead. No matter, this is an experiment, a trial in my Arteza watercolour sketchbook.

Once I was happy with the drawing, knowing I can always add more to it or alter it before painting it, I started to add colour.

I started with the bottom right blue seed-poddy/stylised flower motif. I thought I’d use two different shades of blue alternately around it, adding shadow and depth. That didn’t work out too well. I tried dry brushing on the ‘spokes’ of the motif. My reaction was ‘yeuch! Angela what were you thinking???’.

I didn’t give up at this point, though it would’ve been easy to do so. I continued on, reminding me this is an experiment, I’m trying something out that I’ve not had much success with in the past; just keep going.

So I did. And I know I have work to do to recognise when the wet paint has dried enough for a different wet colour to spread nicely, but not too much, when dotted into the first colour.

As time was going on, I was becoming more comfortable with how I was adding colour. I was working out that adding glazes was a way to darken areas, and that I could gently blend the edges out while the glaze layer was still damp so I didn’t get harsh lines.

Slowly but surely I coloured in different motifs, careful not to do wet next to wet.

All in all, I’ve worked on this painting for around three hours. There’s a lot more to do, but I can pick at it from time to time.

What I have noticed is, however, how much I want to add colour in the same way I do when working digitally. An interesting observation, the implications of which I have not even started to unpack yet.

Therapeutic art once again…

Once again, I turn to art to help me manage my unsettled emotions and thoughts. I am so tired, again. The stress of the past week or so has taken it’s toll. However, like the heavy rain and rather windy weather we’re experiencing here in the Valleys of South Wales, these will eventually blow over and I’ll be able to focus on my contracted work.

I’ve learned that when I’m all out of balance, it’s best for me to focus on art that is soothing, that no one expects anything from me, that I don’t have to worry about messing up. If I try to do art that others need to be happy with too, then I get frustrated and negative about myself, doubt myself.

So, for today at least, I will be creative in ways that will give me the time and space to heal my frazzled emotions and gradually work my way back to mental and emotional well-being once again.

After a life-time of putting everyone else’s needs and happiness first, I’m gradually learning to take care of my own needs first.

I felt guilty and selfish to say ‘my own needs first’. But it isn’t selfish to look after myself. It’s a recognition of being responsible for myself and my own needs and well-being.

And so, today I art, for art’s and heart’s sake.

I just wish it wasn’t so darned rainy and blowy. The rain alone I’d be happy to go and walk in, or the wind alone. But not both together. It is forecast to ease off in a couple of hours, so maybe I’ll get a walk this afternoon, with brolly and waterproof jacket. I’d like that. But for now, I’m going to go and drink tea, draw the design for Template Thursday, and have the quiet time I need to heal, recharge and refresh.

Typographic Portrait WIP

This morning I’ve been working on my typographic portrait of Aneurin Bevan. This portrait is the third iteration. I’m learning as I go along, trying out ideas as they occur to me.

I started with the photograph Nye Bevan and used the posterise tool in Affinity Photo to create areas of contrast. Then, I added colour to these areas to help me differentiate ‘twixt them. I completed this task in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

The next stage was to draw lines around these areas of colour, smoothing them out somewhat, and using artistic interpretation where necessary. These are the green lines that delineate the areas for different weights of text. I’ve decided to leave the white areas blank.

The green guidelines have been changed and edited as I work the portrait.

The area that was vexing me most were the fingers. However, I had an idea to use tiny lettering to add some deep shadow. I’m sure I’ll work out how to add some lighter shadow areas later on (my mind is already ticking over that issue) to give more volume to the fingers.

They typography is hand drawn and I’m having to come to terms with the struggle I’m having with my perfectionist side. This isn’t to do with the shapes of the letters, but the weight of them and making sure that they are consistent. As I’m hand-drawing the letters, then they are going to be imperfect, and I need to learn to accept when they are good enough.

Also, those imperfections and style of lettering are personal to me, and that is what will differentiate my work from others.

I’m also struggling with letting go of the desire to be as photographically accurate with the portrait as I can be. This is where learning to simplify the shapes of the different areas of contrast comes in, and recognising they don’t have to be a perfect copy of the photo in order for the resulting portrait to be recognisable as Aneurin Bevan.

One other thing I’ve done is to let go of trying to use full quotes in the portrait. I’m using repetitions of words and short phrases that represent Nye – personally, politically and in terms of achievements. I’ve realised the portrait doesn’t have to be a grammatically correct biography! I will, however, be using quotes to fill in his jacket.

I’m not sure what to do with his shirt and tie yet. It will fall into place soon enough I’m sure.

Working digitally helps me in so many ways. It takes away the frustration of starting over again if I make a mistake, and also minor frustrations. I gain a confidence to try things out, knowing that if they don’t work out I’ve not screwed up the rest of the work I’m happy with.

Working digitally, for me, is like working with pen and pencil on paper. I use a digital pen on the screen of my Surface Studio, just as I would pen on paper. It’s easy to undo and edit changes made. It removes from me the pressure to be perfect first time and helps me to persevere when things aren’t working as I’d like them to.

All the skills I’m learning digitally, in terms of the hand-drawn typography and being more patient with myself and allowing my work to be ‘perfectly imperfect’ is transferable to the work I do with traditional media too.

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!

Typographic Portrait WIP

Phew! This has taken me many, many hours to do, along with a lot of frustration and alterations. However, it’s getting there, possibly.

This is both the first portrait I’ve done, as well as the first large typographical project.

I’m following a Domestika course – “Hand-Drawn Typographic Portrait” by Sara King.

I’m not entirely sure that I’ve fully succeeded. I seem to have a lot of white space, and that is all to do with the photograph I used. I thought it had enough detail in terms of tones of light and dark. I guess not! Or maybe this is just part of my style.

There are areas on his jacket to the bottom left and right that need pattern or image put there. I have yet to work out what to do about the shirt. Also, I need to try removing the lines around the jacket and collar too.

Aneurin “Nye” Bevan was the main architect of the UK’s National Health Service after WWII. He’s also considered one of the best political orators of all time. There’s an Aneurin Bevan website if you’d like to know more.

While this is hand-drawn, I chose to work digitally. My Surface Studio allows me to work with a digital pen directly on the screen as if I was drawing on paper. This makes it easy to edit as I work.

I now need a break from this particular artwork, so I can look at it with fresh eyes (and any feedback people offer on it) and then return to it another day.

Abstract Watercolour WIP

What a grey, cool, windy and showery/rainy, changeable day it is here in the Valleys of South Wales, UK. Such a huge contrast to the three days of a heatwave earlier this week. Mind you, I’m one of those people who prefers to be cool rather than too hot, and on Wednesday and Thursday it really was too hot for me!

I’m still not quite right in terms of mental focus and emotional balance. After the rollercoaster rides I’ve had over the past month, it takes a while for the stress hormones to leach from my system. Each time they had started to lower, I found myself on that rollercoaster once more.

This is nothing that is affecting me directly, other than emotionally. However, it’s the emotional stuff that makes it difficult to deal with, despite me meditating and self-soothing and losing myself as much as I can in creativitity. That’s hard when I can’t settle to anything.

I do find I can settle somewhat more today, but I am still tired and my mind still feels fuzzy and unfocused. So, I won’t be chancing doing any work that requires my absolute focus, not today.

I was up early-ish this morning for a delivery. While waiting for it, I cut up a sheet of St Cuthbert’s Mill Bockingford watercolour paper and washi taped a 5½” x 4″ piece of it to an old cutting plate. I then took a 3mm mechanical pencil and sketched out an abstract design based on clouds, believe it or not.

I’m now part way through adding colour to it with White Knight’s watercolours and a size 2 Graduate round brush by Daler-Rowney.

Yesterday, I thought that this Bockingford paper was the one I’d used for the first of these abstract watercolours. It turns out it isn’t. I’m begininng to wonder if it was some mixed media paper as it is a brighter white than either Bockingford or Canson Moulin du Roy. It definitely wasn’t Daler-Rowney aquafine paper nor Tim Holtz’s watercolour paper. Nor was it the 100% cotton paper either. How curious.

I have enjoyed the process of drawing the design and starting to add colour. The colours are softer than yesterday’s watercolour, but more vibrant than the one I did earlier this week. Perhaps the change in colours is a sign I’m continuing to settle back to my usual chilled out, calm and content state.

So, I’m going to take a break from arty stuff for a little while. My concentration is wavering and I’m tempted to go back go sleep. However, I know that will prevent me from sleeping well tonight.