Draw With Me | Stylised, whimsical, imaginative seashell No.3

Click on this link to view the YouTube tutorial video.

Day 3, shell 3. This time a little more complicated, or so it seems. I took some imaginative liberties with this one, and that’s fine! I’m not trying to accurately draw these shells, just get the essences that make the shell identifiable. Then, I want to add my own ideas of patterns and colours and alter things a tad.

Making those imaginative changes was an enjoyable thing to do. I hadn’t realised how much I do this in my art generally. Sometimes, it takes a while for me to have that kind of insight – this one took about 20 years!

I’m also really chuffed that my YouTube channel has hit 750 subscribers! I was amazed and humbled when I achieved one subscriber. 750 is beyond what I imagined. I’m both amazed and humbled by this. So a huge thank you to all who have subscribed.

Adding shadows to the hand lettered “I”

Click on this link to see the video where I add these shadows.

I had a request on YouTube from a subscriber to show how I would add shadows to this design. So that’s just what I did, and of course filmed the process.

I used three shades of cool grey alcohol markers. Using alcohol markers is a bit of a dance from light to dark and back to light again, usually. Today, I did some really simple blending, so streamlined the process a bit.

It never ceases to amaze me how much such subtle shadows add depth and volume to the design.

My next conundrum is whether to add colour. I could use alcohol markers, or I could do that digitally. I’m not quite sure what I want to do, yet. I have digital images of both the un-shadowed and shadowed versions, so whatever I do I’ll always have a copy of the original.

Draw With Me… Even More Whimsical, Imaginative, Stylised Sea Plants

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.

The fifth and final part of Draw With Me… A Sketchbook Page Full Of Oyster Shells

Click on this link to view today’s drawing tutorial on YouTube.

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!

Draw With Me | Part 4 of a sketchbook page full of oyster shells

Click on this link to watch today’s video on YouTube.

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.

Draw With Me | Starfish, Sea Urchins and Mussel Shells

Click on this link to view the tutorial video that goes with this sketchbook page.

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.

Draw With Me … Adding texture, pattern and colour to circle motifs

Today felt like the right day to start jazzing up these simple circle motifs with some texture and pattern before adding colour.

I kept the methods of adding pattern/texture really simple – just lines and circles combined in different ways. It’s amazing how just small, simple patterns can make a difference to the motifs, making them look a lot more intricate than they are.

It’s sketchbook work, so this is a pretty messy page, but that’s fine. I’m learning that getting ideas down quickly as a reference/resource for future work is a good thing. And if they’re messy, then that’s fine! Even with the messy bits, the ideas are clearly seen.

Colour is still the thing that vexes me, and the sketchbook is where I can explore colours and, perhaps, find my confidence in them.

Of course, there’s a video tutorial to go with this sketchbook page, which is only partly done. You can view the tutorial by clicking on this link.

Draw With Me… A sketchbook shoal of whimsical fishies!

Cute and whimsical fish! What a lovely way to fill a sketchbook page and end up with a shoal of fishies.

Being whimsical, and cute, is so much fun when it comes to drawing as anything goes. All are recognisable as fish, even if only one looks like an actual fish that exists! And I’m fine with that!

Drawing practice, or indeed lettering, has to be fun, enjoyable and something to look forward to. Yes, I know it’s important to develop and advance skills, but that doesn’t mean that just drawing for fun can’t be important too. Drawing for relaxation, to de-stress, to learn how new media work, is also important, as well as expanding and exercising the imagination and creativity that we all have.

So, today fish seemed an appropriate subject to populate a page or three in my sketchbook. If you’d like to grab a pen and a sketchbook (or paper) and draw along with me, click on this link to watch today’s YouTube tutorial.

Draw With Me … Sketchbook Page of Whimsical Flowers and more…

Click on this link to watch the accompanying video tutorial on YouTube.

This was fun! A page full of flowery, shelly, poddy motifs all starting with a circle! I’ve actually already filled nearly six pages in my A5 sketchbook with such explorations. And I’ve not finished!

A simple exercise like this really gets your creative juices flowing. There are so many, many ways to fill a circle with patterns to create a new motif. And as it’s in a sketchbook, there’s absolutely no pressure to make everything perfectly polished. The point is to get an idea down quickly and then move on to the next.

After the page (or pages) are full, there’s time to go back and add finishing details, patterns, textures, colours and/or shadows. There’s no requirement to do this to every single motif on the page. Nor is it essential that each space on a motif is filled identically. This is a space to just try things out, whether they work or not at this time. Be that drawing, patterns, textures, colours or different media.

Eventually, the sketchbook will be full of ideas and inspiration. It will be a place to dip into when at a loss. it will be full of exercises that can be done again and again or varied quite simply.

Exercises that get you drawing and being creative just for the sheer fun of it!

This is exactly what a sketchbook is for! There can be some more polished drawings in there, of course. There can be notes and ephemera and colour palettes and swatches and more too. But the fun of just drawing to see how many variations on a theme, starting with one simple shape or motif. Well, you’ll surprise yourself!

Give it a go! No one ever has to see what’s in your sketchbook. It can be a place where you play with watercolours just to watch the magic of that medium. To lose yourself in a pleasurable activity for a while and take a break from the busyness of modern life and all the stuff going on in the world around.

Drawing in a whimsical, stylised or doodly way takes the pressure off the belief that art has to look like a photograph (it doesn’t!). It allows you to just enjoy the process.

Draw With Me … Leaves

Click on this link to see today’s YouTube “Leaves” drawing tutorial.

This morning was one where all I wanted to do was draw leaves and experiment with colour. So I did. And I videoed it and I invited you to watch and draw and colour along with me.

Whimsy was definitely needed too. So, whimsical leaves were drawn with a brush pen. Bold lines. Simple shapes and patterns. Plenty of space to add colour to each leaf.

Adding colour is a frustrating thing for me. More so with traditional media where you’re stuck with your colour choices. Digital colouring lets me play with colour a lot more, without the fear of making poor colour combination choices; it’s easy to change.

However, I’m aware that there are times when I want to add colour to sketchbook work. Times when only traditional media will do. And it’s time for me to experiment with them more often.

Today, I chose to use Derwent Colorsoft pencils along with a Caran d’Ache All Blender. Telling myself, and those who watch my videos, that as I’m working in a sketchbook, in my own imaginary world, I can use any colours I like. Also, there are no mistakes, just experiments that had unexpected outcomes that are sometimes not pleasant. But a sketchbook is the place to experiment, to try things out, to work out how to get a medium to work for you.

A sketchbook gives me permission to play around, try things out, have things not work out how I expected them to, to discover new things. After 20 years of really exploring my artistic side, only now has this realisation dawned on me. Yes, I can be a bit dim at times! But I eventually get there. Perhaps I wasn’t ready to understand and accept this before now. It seems that I am now.

The breakthrough has been taking the lettering course on Domestika. Encouragement to try different things out, not to worry if something doesn’t work, it may be useful in the future. Just keep going until something is good enough. Recognising that sometimes the unexpected outcome is just what is needed.

As well as becoming a bit more confident with lettering, these insights into the true power of a sketchbook have been a powerful lesson to learn.