Art Journal spread completed

I’ve been working on my art journal spread which I spoke about in my previous post.  This is the progress of my page at the end of that post, you can read about it here.

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My next step was to consider background and hair. I wanted to use watercolor paints and my attempts were less than satisfactory. It ended up too bright in a dark sort of way which meant the white or black pen I wanted to use to draw in her hair didn’t work. It became rather invisible.

To try and fix the situation, I decided to use white acrylic paint with a fairly wet brush. This meant the watercolor would then mix with the white paint creating a soft pastel background. Once dry, my black Sakura gelly roll pen then showed up nicely.  I often had issues with the pen skipping which at first I worked hard to try and avoid. Eventually gave up when I realized I liked the effect it had with the pattern in the hair.

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Once I completed the hair with the black pen, I realized I wanted more color in the hair so I went back to my watercolor paints. I applied a small amount of the dark purple to the areas I felt would be shaded or darker, then using a wet brush I blended the color out to give a gradient appearance.  I added more color, some pinkish purple, and a bluish color (sorry don’t know the names, they are colors in the Prang watercolor set of 16 colors) around the darker purple leaving some areas white for highlights. I really loved how this turned out.

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I learned about Prang watercolors from Barb Owen. Since I have a very tight budget I decided to give them a try. I didn’t originally use the Prang set when I started the background with watercolors. I decided to try a Daler Rowney watercolor set I had gotten a while back that were in tubes of 24. I bought a palette so I could squeeze some of the paint out to dry and then see how well they worked. I have to say I was disappointed in the Daler Rowney. In  fact, so disappoint, I switched to using the Prang set when my first attempt at using watercolor (Daler Rowney) failed.

It may be I just need to practice with the Daler Rowney set to get the hang of them but Prang is so vibrant it was difficult to switch to using Daler Rowney. The rest of the page when I say I use watercolor, I am using Prang watercolor.

For the opposite page, I first wanted flowers and tried more watercolors but it was an immediate fail. I am sure the fail was because of trying to use watercolor over acrylic paint without applying a watercolor ground first, so I went over it again with white acrylic paint. Before the acrylic paint was completely dry I added another layer with a wash of watercolor which mixed with the white acrylic paint. I dabbed at it occasionally with a paper towel. Below is the result.

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You might wonder why I added the watercolor paint to the acrylic paint. First, the addition of more white acrylic paint meant what color had been in the background had disappeared even more and I wanted more color. Second, I wanted to see what would happen. My Prang set is almost used up so I wasn’t worried if some acrylic paint ended up in the watercolor paint. I became rather sloppy in my application but it was FUN!

I really liked the result and was trying to decide what else I wanted to do. I was still thinking about flowers when I saw a blog about an interesting technique. You can see the blog post here.

I tried a few things differently since I was working on top of acrylic paint. I eventually found what worked.  The biggest obstacle was in trying to figure out what pens or paint pens to use. I used Sakura gelly roll black pen for the initial drawing of the circles and lines. I tried using Faber-Castell markers, alcohol markers, and Permapaque markers but didn’t like any of them. Plus I was afraid of drying up the tips of the pens. Eventually, I decided to use a small paint brush and white acrylic paint to color the straight lines, to make them stand out more from the background. Then I used a Sharpe oil based paint pen for filling in the circles with black.

Once it was dry, I tried using charcoal to try and create the translucent effect but because the acrylic paint didn’t have enough tooth, it wiped right back off. My hands were covered in the charcoal more than the page. I wiped off the charcoal by just lightly wiping my hand across the page. What was left on the page, I left alone. I resorted to using graphite by rubbing the graphite onto the tip of a blending stump and then rubbing it on the page. I only covered the areas outside of the circles with the graphite.

My last step was to use darker shading of graphite around the circles and where the lines overlapped other lines to try and give it a 3D effect. To fix the graphite I sprayed the spread with workable fixative. I used workable fixative in case I wanted to add anything else to the page.

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I may actually journal on the page by using either a white pen in the black circles or a black pen in the white lines. It would make an interesting journal page.

So far she is my favorite. She posed interesting challenges for me and I found I could do what people have been saying  which is if you don’t like it you can always paint over it.

I lost track of time while doing this art journal spread. I worked on it over several days. I know I started her before October ended but exactly what day, I’m not sure. I generally don’t spread something out this long, however with work, and #inktober going on when I started her I wanted to see if I could work on her in small doses. Instead of drying her with my heat gun between layers, I put her aside and let her dry naturally, usually over night. I only worked on her in October after I did my inktober drawing and if I had some time to spare.

When #Inktober was over, she became my main focus and is all I worked on until she was finished. I finished her yesterday other than the writing I may add later. I think her hair is my favorite part of her, that is, if I had to choose a particular technique from this art journal page. Otherwise, I love her in her completeness for what she represents of my art journey.

Note to self: I had to be careful of not drying out the tip of the markers I used. I am hoping I didn’t ruin any of them. They all still functioned after I used them and in some cases not as well as when I had started with them.

I need to learn ways of layering and using products that will help lock in a layer and give me a better surface for using other products on, hopefully reducing the chance of ruining a product. I considered using clear gesso, or matte medium but in the end didn’t use either. In some areas when I went back to go over the black gel pen lines on the lines due to the white acrylic paint covering some of them up, my pen would cause some of the paint to come up. I think the clear gesso or matte medium would have prevented this but I wasn’t sure how well my pen would work over top of either product. I do have an Art Techniques and Test journal (my Effy Grimoire version) which showed either of the products would have been a good choice, but I didn’t refer to it when working on this spread. I just went with my gut instinct.

One of the reasons I didn’t refer to my Art Techniques and Test journal is because I didn’t test what would happen if I applied clear gesso or matte medium over top of gel pen or some of the other pens I had applied to the page. I was afraid of, in particular, the gel pen smearing. Effy Wild addresses some of this in a couple of her lessons which I need to go back and make some notes about but I also need to add to my grimoire by testing what happens when particular products are applied over top of different pens.

Another reason I didn’t refer to my Art Techniques and Test journal is because I wanted to just experiment on the page. I wanted to find out if I could fix my own mistakes or work from just pure instinct. I think I was successful on both accounts.

The other things I learned:

  • when in doubt check my Art Techniques and Test journal
  • when it isn’t in my Art Techniques and Test journal, then add it
  • let myself experiment on my art journal page
  • let myself fail

I am not at all disappointed in this art journal spread. In fact, I love it. When I compare it to my previous art journal page in this book which was created from one of Effy Wild’s BOD2017 lessons, I can see so much improvement.

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The difference between this art journal page and the one I just created is, this one was done by following a lesson. The one at the start of this article was done completely from my own imagination. The Effy lesson one was done around June 2017, so there is only about 4 months separating the two.

There are so many factors that separate these two pages. I think I’m more invested in pages I design and create on my own than I am when I’m doing one from a lesson. I don’t really consider something I have done from an art lesson as my own work. Therefore, I think I work harder on trying to do a good job on my own designs. Inktober, dare I say Inktober has been a powerful influence for me this year and I think it shows in this spread.

There is something here I cannot ignore. Following a lesson is wonderful for helping me to gain confidence in my ability to do something someone else is demonstrating. What it doesn’t do is give me confidence in my ability to create something completely on my own. Inktober is a demonstration of that this year.

In the page from Effy’s lesson I can’t even begin to tell you how I did it, but in the page I created all on my own, I can visualize almost every single step I took and the issues I ran into. I can’t help but wonder if one of the reasons I haven’t been doing any more of the classes is because of this.

Don’t get me wrong. I love doing the lessons and yes they have helped me immensely in taking that next step in my art journey. It just feels as though my journey needs to move forward more on my own than in following someone’s instruction. What these lessons have given me is the courage to step out on my own, without them I probably would have given up.

This is something I will need to think on for a while to decide if buying more of the art course offerings is something I want to do, or do I want to spend the next year just playing around on my own to see what develops.

What I keep hearing from that inner voice that tells me what to do is this. Do buy what I can afford in the art course offerings but do so only if it provides what I need for furthering my art journey in the direction I visualize myself going while challenging me to try something new and different. In other words, don’t keep buying the same thing and expecting my skill to grow if the courses don’t offer anything more.

This is paraphrased, of course. My inner dialogue is quite different and difficult to put in writing. It is comprised of a mixture of images, words and feelings/emotions. The wonderful thing about this is only I need to understand it.

This inner dialogue is also based on a lot of what I have learned over the past year from my purchasing experience. After having purchased a couple of courses which could not be saved and had a limited period to access them, it became quite clear to me this doesn’t work well for me. Logically, if I purchase a digital class, I feel it should be accessible to me for as long as I want and as often as I would like to view it. I know some art teachers don’t feel this way about their courses and feel they should be offered like courses are in college or live in a classroom setting. I think they miss out on a lot of students because of this.

I totally love the idea of buying a course and having permanent access to it. I have considered monthly or yearly memberships but this doesn’t work for me because of losing the access to the classes if I need to end the membership. I totally get the membership option that appeals to art/craft instructors, unfortunately, this doesn’t work for me and my budget. The other reason it doesn’t work is in the cases of the sites I’ve had an opportunity to look at, the membership doesn’t provide a good enough value for those courses that interest me. Basically, buying the individual courses would be better for my budget than buying a membership.

As stated, I will need to think about what art course offerings I will want to invest in for this coming year. I may find that list to be quite short, especially if I feel a need to pursue my art on my own to see what develops. The good thing is, most of the courses that appeal to me can be purchased over the next ten months or so because they are year long courses. Granted I might not get a discount but I can spread them out so it isn’t a huge hit on my budget at one time and I get more bang for my buck with these types of offerings. On top of that, I can take my time to decide if it is something I want after I experiment with playing around on my own for a while.

So much to think about and time will probably fly so fast I’ll wonder where the year went. That is how I feel about this year. Where did it go? It feels like it had been spring only a couple months ago not six or seven months ago.

By the way, since I started my job, my art supplies have suddenly stopped dwindling. Where I once thought I would never be able to keep up with my art supplies to have on hand for the art I was creating, I now find myself worried my supplies might get old before I have a chance to use them. Such an about face in such a short period of time. It is challenging for my mind and emotions to keep up with. I’m glad though. It means I have plenty to work with over the next several months and I’m still enjoying my job.

 

Month of October

Most evenings, and in some cases days, I sit on my sofa and draw while either streaming art videos or watching Blue Bloods on Cravetv. That is when I’m not working. Blue Bloods has become a favorite to watch. I love the whole family dynamic. I loved watching Magnum PI when it was out and wish Cravetv or Netflix had the whole series. Tom Selleck’s character in Blue Bloods is a step up and I love this character even more. There is something about a strong male character with honorable characteristics and integrity that appeal to my heart and soul. While at the same time, he is able to admit to making mistakes. I think too, I’ve learned more about the minds of men while watching this show than I have in real life. Most men I know don’t reveal what they reveal on the show.

I watch the show more for the family and relationship dynamics than I do for the action and adventure in the law stories (and yes, I do love action and adventure and law shows).  I haven’t read anything about this series before I started watching it and have only come to the conclusion (on my own) that the law stories are only there to support the real stories playing out in the relationships between the characters, which is how it should be. When I think about Blue Bloods and the various series of CSI, it stands out even more. CSI’s foundation are the crimes, where Blue Bloods foundation is family. I like both of them but I think I love Blue Bloods even more because of this.

I didn’t mean to do a review of the program I’ve been watching almost non-stop, but this post is about October and the show has become a major portion of what I am focused on this month. The other focus is Inktober.

Inktober has mostly taken up my sketch time. I don’t mind. In fact, I am enjoying the challenge of coming up with something new each day. With my focus being on faces, and my skill level being pretty much that of a novice, I find myself feeling as though I’m repeating myself, that is until I flip through the pages of my sketches.

With that being said here are my 3 pages so far:

They are in order of creation. You might have noticed that I started out with front facing portraits, then switched to three-quarter facing portraits. This is because I am working on the Fabulous Faces course created by Tamara Laporte. Week three is learning how to draw and paint the three-quarter face. I want to move on, and I might because what I’m working on is the drawing of them. She includes how to paint them as well but since I’m working on Inktober, I think I’ll move on to the next week and go back after October to focus on painting the faces. It isn’t that I don’t want to paint. I just want to focus on how to draw them first.

This is my first sketch following her instruction for week three, my next sketches were all done in inktober:

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There is graphite smeared all over the page. This is part of the process when I’m learning. I don’t worry about the graphite smearing not until I get better at what I’m drawing, then I try to be cleaner with my sketches. I still need to work on getting the angles and placement right which I think I did better in the last two #inktober sketches shown in my pages above.

I noticed I tend to draw faces looking in the same direction so I made a point to change them up a bit. I don’t know if it is because I learned to draw them in that direction first or if it is because I’m right handed or what. I do know at first it feels uncomfortable to try drawing something in the opposite direction so when I practice I try changing it up a bit so I don’t end up in a set pattern and so I become comfortable drawing faces in various directions.

I still want to work on different facial expressions. They are a challenge. They don’t come naturally. What comes naturally is the neutral expression in most of the faces I’ve drawn this month. I know it all will become easier as I practice more and more.

The other thing I started to do which I can do while sitting on my sofa is to create a reference journal for the tangles I like. Here is my first page which I created last night.

Page 1Sometimes I just want to flip through pages to find a design I like instead of searching through countless tangles online. I find I don’t remember the names of the tangles very well which means finding the ones I enjoy drawing can be frustrating, so having a reference will be handy.

I made the journal for my tangles by finding a printable grid online. I print it on both sides of regular printer paper. Then I fold it in half so I can use it to create signatures. I used a medium weight cardstock for a sort of cover for each signature. This is mainly to give each signature some protection and a more solid structure. I haven’t sewn them together yet. I thought it would be easier to draw on the pages before they were bound. I am also still considering how I will bind them. I’m considering the type of binding they use in the traveler’s notebooks either twine or elastic and just slip them in so they will be easy to slip in and out when using them for references when I’m working on a project. I don’t plan on having the tangles in any particular order, so they won’t be alphabetical. It would be too difficult to add new tangles I come across, so they will just end up in a random order.

I am not creating detailed step-outs. I’m doing only minimal step-outs, just enough to help me remember how to draw them. This is mainly for space purposes. I want several tangles on each page and since I will have their names over each one it will be easy to look up more details if I need them.

You might wonder why I am printing up the grid instead of buying grid paper. I have a couple of reasons for this. Lately, I have been unable to find grid paper on a decently weighted paper that my pigma micron pen won’t bleed through or ghost through. I have also found it difficult to find the size grid I want. If I do find the size grid I want usually the other side of the paper has a different grid size. I want both sides to have the same size grid. Having a printable means as long as I have printer paper and ink for my printer, I can print up my grid whenever I need more grid paper. Those are most of my reasons. I may explore the dot grid at some point if I can find a printable for it.

Once the idea of trying to find a printable for a dot grid was in my head, I couldn’t resist looking for one. I found it and probably by the time I’m ready to write another blog post, I will have incorporated it into my tangle journal signatures and have some step-outs drawn on a page or two. I may mix it in with the regular grid paper so I have options depending on what tangle I’m wanting to add to my journal.

As I fill out pages and have enough completed for a signature, I’ll bind the pages into the signature by sewing them. I think I’ll keep each signature as its own entity, especially if I use the binding system they use in traveler’s notebook covers. I can always give it a try and if I don’t like it, I can bind the signatures together within a hardcover using coptic stitch or some other stitch.

At one time, I was creating individual cards for tangles and drawing the step-outs on one side of the card. I was doing this so I would have a deck of cards I could draw from when I just wanted to pull a random tangle to create an abstract drawing. I have 56 cards so far which is a nice start but I realized something after I created them.

I don’t do random very well.

I like planning for effect. I think my #Inktober sketches reflect this very well. Every single one was an experiment with effect. I didn’t randomly pull something out of a deck of cards and use it. It was done intuitively.  Only three out of the sketches were done from a reference photo (8th,10th and 12th) and those were done in order to try and incorporate different facial expressions. The rest of their sketch was all intuitive, meaning I chose what popped into my head. Sometimes, I tried to resist what popped into my head but I soon learned resistance was futile. Whatever popped into my head, did so with persistence and stayed until I did what it wanted, then it left making room for something else to pop in. Then the cycle repeated itself until I decided the sketch was complete.

I need to wrap this up. I still have my #Inktober drawing to do for today and I have mother duties I need to attend to including cooking dinner.

 

 

#Inktober faces and tangles…

It is day 2 of October. For me this means the second day of #Inktober2017. I did this challenge last year when I wasn’t working. Even so, it was a challenge to work on it every day. I was glad I did for various reasons. This year, I decided to give it another go. With it comes the challenge of doing something every day even on the days I am working. I have no doubt some days will be easier than other days to complete an ink drawing so I decided to try and keep it simple.

I have a journal which has 7″ x 10″ pages. The drawing surface is more like 6″ x 10″ because of the coiled spine. Each page for #Inktober2017 will be divided into sections of about 2 1/2″ x 2 3/4″, giving me about 6 quadrants to create a small ink drawing on each page. This may morph as the days go by but for my first page this is how it is laid out. I expect each drawing will take only about 15 minutes at the most to create, though I don’t plan on timing any of them. Some could take longer depending on what I decide to create. But, most likely, they will end up being simple drawings, especially on the days I have to work.

With my focus of late being on learning how to draw faces, I thought it would be good to draw faces for each day in October.  I also enjoy drawing tangles, so I thought about trying to incorporate tangles for each day as well.  This is day 1. I did stippling for shading and the scrolled feather tangle for the hair.1Oct

This is day 2. I used a sort of scribble technique for the shading and the spangle tangle for a sort of hair or frame around the face. 2Oct

Both of these sketches took very little time and they are perfect examples of persevering through a drawing which I had no love for. In fact, I disliked both of them throughout the majority of their creation. For the second one I was tempted to discard the whole page which included day 1’s drawing. I am glad I didn’t succumb to the temptation. Neither of my sketches are perfect, and though I had various levels of dislike for them as I worked on them, in the end, I like them better than I thought I would.

I felt myself mentally going through an interesting process. In the beginning, I strive for perfection or at least as perfect as I am able to get it. I hope the drawing will be something I am proud of and love. When I realize it isn’t going as well as I had hoped, I get a bit angry with myself while at the same time I try to not be hard on myself. I go through an internal discussion with myself, telling myself not to give up on it yet. I will also find myself trying to convince myself that I am in a learning process and to not expect perfection, to just continue, it isn’t a lost cause, and maybe I could save it or it won’t be as bad as I think it will be.

Once I finally accept the imperfections, it somehow frees me to just let go. It isn’t perfect so why continue to try for perfection. This is when I let go on day 2 and introduced just scribbling to create a bit of shadow to give some depth to the face. If I had continued to try for perfection I would never have dared to try the shading as I did. It might have taken many months or I might never have discovered how scribbling can be so freeing and create such marvelous character to a sketch. Oh, I’ve seen it in other people’s work, I just never would have dared try it in my own drawings. How could I have ever imagined creating scribbly lines instead of neat and “just so” perfect placement, would make my inner artist squirm in delight?

The shading came last, it came after trying to add in the spangle tangle. When the tangle ended up looking all rough and oddly shaped, and to me simply just a mess, it was what finally broke me free and let me scribble.

Did I say I was a perfectionist? Imagine if you will, being a person who feels compelled to have perfectly straight lines, or perfectly round circles, or the exact placement of eyes or exactly perfectly shaped nostrils. What it must be like to face each imperfectly placed mark. The conversation they must have with themselves, silently within their mind. Until… they finally reach a point where it is all useless but instead of throwing it away, they say ‘the heck with it’ and just let the pencil or pen fly, go where it just wants to go, no longer caring about the end result. Then… then… to suddenly look at what is created and realizing…  yes… yes… that… that… is what was needed… that is what was needed to be learned or done on this particular piece. Then wondering, will you ever be able to do it again, or will it take having to go through the process again and again and again before the perfectionist finally steps aside and allows the free flow of creativity to occur.

I wonder how many people experience this during #Inktober….

As stated earlier and in previous blogs my focus is on learning how to create faces. I showed this one (from the week 2 class in Fabulous Faces by Tamara Laporte) in my previous post. I didn’t consider it finished and it took days for me to get back to it.

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Here she is completed.

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I used Neocolor II, Staedtler watercolor pencils, vanilla and white Craft Smart acrylic paint, and Prisma Color Pencils with a bit of graphite pencil. The more I work on faces which are more whimsical in nature, the more I love them. I don’t have to worry about getting them to look exactly like a reference picture (if I use one). That is the nice thing about learning to draw whimsical or directly from my imagination.

There was a time when I never thought I would be able to draw anything from my imagination. I always felt like I needed to have a picture or the real thing to draw from. When I did use a picture or real life, then I felt like it had to look exactly like it was in the picture or real life. I still have that issue when using something as a reference. I no longer have an issue with drawing from memory or my imagination. It is freeing in many ways. The issue with drawing from memory or imagination is whether you want to create something anatomically correct. If you do, then you need to study anatomy or find information on proper dimensions and placement for various parts and pieces whether it is animal, plant or inanimate objects. The nice thing about whimsical or fantasy, it is totally up to your imagination and doesn’t have to be anatomically correct.

Some day, maybe, I’ll find myself drawing some really outlandish creatures or characters. I love the idea of that.

I loved how my girl turned out. I love the colors I used. I am finding, I have a natural knack for selecting colors. I love everything about her and my skill at shading is improving. Looking at the first picture and comparing it to the completed picture shows a vast difference. I’m glad I took her further. I almost didn’t. Seeing how the additional layers created more depth definitely reinforces what the instructors in other classes have said. Layer, layer, layer… the more you layer the more depth that is created.

There is one more journal page I created. I do love drawing tangles. I have always loved seeing other people’s tangle creations, and especially love pages where someone creates a whole garden type image. I have attempted to create some of my own and failed miserably at it. I can’t seem to find a cohesive way to incorporate what I want so it ends up looking all disjointed. My mind just doesn’t seem to work that way.

On the other hand, this method seems to work well for me. Creating quadrants and having elements which link them all together seems to be very pleasing to my creative mind. I loved working on this piece and watching it develop. It is what gave me the idea of creating quadrants on a page for #Inktober. In some ways, this makes me think of looking through a pane glass window, you know those old windows which had small panes set into a wood frame that are put together to make a larger window. I love this and someone who saw it thought it would look good etched in glass. I think so too.

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I have no doubt this will not be the last one done like this. I am already working on another one.

There is one thing I’m learning about my art journey and my life. I am finding, if my life is chaotic or quite complex at moments, then I prefer doing art which is simple or soothing to me. Trying to do a complex piece of art when my life is already complex just seems to increase the stress level. When that happens I don’t enjoy my art so much. It is important to me that I can find peace and relaxation in my art, at least for the majority of it, in troubling or difficult times. Even so, no matter what I work on, there is always something in it which challenges me. Depending on the degree of challenge, it can put me on edge or it can be a catalyst which helps me to break down barriers or paralysis or blocks. Sometimes a simple piece of art which doesn’t challenge me very much artwise, can give me the courage to face a completely separate issue in life. It is strange how that works.

So… the next time you feel challenged in life, pick up an art supply and do something that instills peace and joy. You never know what doors it will open, or what courage may arise from it.