I’m painting more fish these days. These koi are imaginary and don’t hold true as anatomically correct. That is another reason they are a respite from “correct” drawing and are like a little vacation for me. Koi are valuable and bred for their size and beauty. How wonderful is that? I am having fun with this so I’ll let it be. The original will have some gold leaf to sparkle it up a little. That is the next stage so for now, this will do. I will try to remember to post the embellished version when complete.
I used a fine black marker and a fine white ink over the darks to enhance the patterns. I love painting the deep water with transparent watercolors and tried to use motion and several thin layers to give a feeling of depth.
This started out as a pencil doodle. When I brought it into photoshop, I adjusted the levels to make the greys of the pencil as dark as I could, and the lights as white as I could. This gave me a little template to build the digital painting on.
There is a lot of painting involved here and a lot of colors and brushwork too. It took a long time. I am learning to navigate through my Wacom tablet which saves a lot of time. Learning shortcuts is amazing. I wanted the wife to have pears on her dress but they are not joyous colors. Because of the situation farmers find themselves in, nothing here is joyous. I hope their expressions reveal what is going on in their lives.
I usually don’t do political drawings but I thought I would have a little fun with this. It was pretty easy choosing an appropriate font for a title. I called it An American Experience because there was a PBS series with this name for a long time. It was a documentary series about cultural phenomena. This font is Goudy Stout. I love the name and think it’s sounds exactly what it looks like.
My favorite part of this piece are the two types of bodies. She is a plump pear and he is a skinny dude. They make a perfect couple that we see in real life just about every day. Regarding the coloring; my favorite part is his blue jeans. When jeans get old and worn, they look kind of yellowish/grey sometimes. There are many layers and tones of the colors on everything here, and I sing the praise of “multiply” brush effects. It adds so much depth and dimension, as it picks up the colors underneath with every stroke.
An additional treat is that it was saved for web as a png file and therefore it can be printed transparently on to different fabrics. This piece ended up looking great on lots of textile products and it really surprised me.
Here is what it looks like on a grey sweatshirt product
If you have ever had an aunt Lydia, you might enjoy this post. She is a caricature from my imagination. I think she could be in anybody’s life at any time if they were lucky. I never had one of these, but I actually have been her to some people. I hope you enjoy this character as much as I enjoyed creating her.
This was all drawn with a speedball nib in an old fashioned pen holder. I use red ink very often and like the kind they still sell in a bottle. If you are lucky enough to find some, try it. I have three shades of red ink. Art supplies and yarn have always been my go-to collections. I’m done with books after changing countries, but inks and pens are still small enough to fit in a suitcase.
The original work was the separate oval pen and ink –a highly detailed drawing with a crow quill nib. The center was another oval I left blank. I scanned the drawing into photoshop and then layered another red ink drawing of the lady that was done with a heavy speedball nib of Miss Lydia. I put her into the center and then I just played around in photoshop– tweeking the images to present something unique. She makes me laugh.
After being without Adobe for a few years because my life was so insane, I am back on my computer and can’t wait to do more. It is so much fun.
This process is really long and tedious. I don’t understand why I am making so much work for myself….except, I started with this idea and I can’t break the mold now. When you have high resolution images, bottom line is that it is what you need to publish your work.
I first do a pen and ink with fine line nib on to bristol paper, which is great for detail. If I am happy with that, then I transfer that drawing to a heavy watercolor paper. I am using my 12″x16″ light table to make the transfer. I am doing this with a thicker nib and heavy emphasis lines are darkened to balance the amount of black on the page.
Then I scan the b&w into a large scanner and upload the b&w to my online store. When I have the new darker black and white on watercolor paper, I paint it. The composition defines whether or not I leave a lot of background white in the image or paint it in.
I have been playing with gouache and my usual clear watercolors, which is either Winsor and Newton or Maimeri Blue. Why do this complex process? I have learned a lot by this process. It is remarkable how if you discipline yourself, you can accomplish a lot. These drawings are giving me a lot of pleasure. I can’t wait to get to a place when I can assemble them into some kind of storyboard book.
I studied this book building and illustrating in 1988 with Uri Schulevitz but here I am now, so many years later, actually stepping into scary waters with a style that is actually the first one I adopted such a long time ago. I discipline myself to doing 3 things every day, studying Spanish, working on the treadmill and drawing and/or painting. I actually am very satisfied doing these activities.
I hope people will enjoy what I have to say. My story really never changes. It’s only the way of telling it that is new.
I saw this stunning flower growing out of a very small border garden. I snapped a quick pic with my phone and I found it interesting–mostly because I was amazed that such a beauty came from a meager space. It had just rained and there were some raindrops still on the petals.
When I got half way through the work, I realized my values were so much alike, I was headed for trouble.
I was using a few different reds…from Sennellier Red (the main red) to Alizarin Crimson and a little glazing with Opera. I needed to change something, but I could not figure out what to do.
There was a point where I was very ready to gesso over the whole thing. Instead, I slept on it. Two days later, it came to me what I should do.
I glazed the background petals with scarlet red by winsor and newton. It was so intense and gave me the depth I needed. Problem solved.
The problems we face are only as difficult as those we are up to solving. If we can’t figure them out, it’s perfectly ok to continue and keep moving forward. don’t quit. Take a break. That’s a good reason to blog. I may be talking to myself, but I don’t mind. It’s better than watching t.v.
If you would like a print on paper, metal, canvas or textile, click the image.
I thought I would try one of these exercises to see if people are interested. I would appreciate input. I am considering doing more of these so let me know if you like it and want more.
Sometimes we can get stuck or bored or get cold feet in how to start a painting. Here is a really fun way to jump in from another angle. These are some underpaintings I did last week,
The one with the red splash in the corner is the one I chose this time. What you need to do for these underpaintings is some kind of a permanent color medium. Watercolor will not work because when you go over this first layer, it can lift or blend with your top layer. Lacquer based inks, liquid acrylic or Intense inks are great. For liquid acrylic I like Golden and/or Holbein. They are very rich in color and a tiny amount goes a long way. I happen to have some inks and some Intense colors so I used a little of each. I mixed a dash or two of Intense inks (this is the name brand) with a little water in a small bowl.
Make 3 small bowls–one red, one yellow, one blue. You can use a big brush, a sponge, an eyedropper, or the pour and splash technique. One color splashing for each sheet of paper. Drain, drip or brush off what you don’t want.
I had Arches 130# paper so that’s what I used. The paper needs to be a watercolor paper that is heavy duty enough to withstand getting pretty wet without curling. That’s why I like blocks because all the sheets are glued together and the paper can withstand a beating. Just jump in and have fun and don’t try to control the underpainting too much. Then I just threw the wet blocks on the bathroom floor and waited until the next day to paint.
First off, here is the photo I took of this giant split leaf philodendron while walking to class last week.
This photo is the color shot right from the camera. You can see here the darks are prominent in the splits of the leaves and in the shadows. The color is drab and very muted. Mostly you get the size of the plant and the basic growing structure. I like the folded leaves because when they fold over, you can see through to the other underneath side. Most of the time you are not sure if it’s the same leaf. That makes it interesting and poses questions. Yes. There’s the storytelling element here.
Here is the line art of the plant done with a soft, dark pencil. As you can see, it’s just a sketch that captures (I hope) the simple outlines of the leaves, the splits, and the basic shape of the plant. I thought some details were important, like the tendril type grow on the long stem of one of the shoots. Wherever the reds and yellows landed did not matter to me. There isn’t too much control at this point. But so far, I like it.
The next step is to ink the pencil lines with my green Higgins ink and my Speedball pen. I have been using the Speedball nibs for 30 years and the most I’ve bought aside from inks are special handles. This is my favorite pen with a cork handle I bought in Portland years and years ago when Utrecht still had a store there. I have a great collection of fine drawing nibs and handles for delicate pen and ink work too, It’s amazing how much ink a Speedball pen can hold and what an even smooth line you can get.
When the ink is dry, I erase the graphite lines with a good white eraser…aka Magic Rub.
I like Maimeri Blu watercolors, but I also like Holbein and W&N too. I think I like it all. I am anxious to try new ones whenever I can.
I always use a test sheet on a small pad to choose which colors I might use.
So here is my final painting. It’s first and foremost a design with emphasis on color, shapes and negative spaces. Each color was applied a very small amount at a time with one full and soft brush (see above) the yellows in particular were blended in with the greens. The darks and purples came last. The background turned out to be a mixure of lights and darks.
Very little may be compared with the original photo but that does not matter. Once this was completed with both lights and darks in the background and the basic leaf established, I think the best part of this painting is the dancing back and forth of colors and shapes. Primarily, it was lots of fun. But the fun is not really done because…..
I take it another step and can turn it into clothing, or products. I know lots of people shun this. But not everything needs to hang on a wall. Sometimes I like to wear what I draw.