Finished a small 6″ x 6″ painting yesterday–I like how the apple trees turned out. After a lot of pen drawings, the freedom of watercolor was nice and refreshing. The paper is middle-f-the-line quality, and I thought the colors wouldn’t set that well. But the paint adhered okay–not Arches, but not terrible. I’ll probably revisit this color palette in the future…and maybe add a nice spot of green for contrast purposes.
Also started a new 6″ x 6″ because I can’t get enough of my new watercolor paints! I’ve been wanting to do a Lord of the Rings marathon for a while now, and my kids and I just started the Fellowship today. I think this piece is definitely LotR-inpsired…reminds me of Frodo fleeing the wraiths to Rivendell. I’m tempted to add some will-o-the-wisps to make it a fairy wood…
Now, for the part of the week I’ve been dreading. I have to go upstairs and tackle the newest version of Photoshop, install it on my computer, and get a few prints ready for the Etsy shop…will post more on that in the future!
Started a new painting today! Complete spur of the moment piece and making up things as I go along–very freeing, considering all the pre-planned designs I’ve been drawing for my Rainforest Ink Project.
I’m taking a bit of inspiration from my backyard–both present and future 🙂 We have a lot of chickens, but I have to wait to put in the apple trees until early this coming year. I really wanted to do a piece with fall colors, and this one is coming along just fine! Still using mainly the Schmincke specialty granulating palette, which I absolutely love.
I’m still drawing a lot of Amazon Rainforest images in ink and actually have quite a few already pencilled out. Above are a few I’ve been working on simultaneously. It’s basically been my strategy to draw the main organism/person/thing for each card and then look at each for a while before I go back to it and start filling in the background.
I’ll also be updating my Etsy shop soon, adding new prints and a few hand-painted wooden pins that I made a while ago and never posted for sale! I have to print out my new prints to see if I need to make any adjustments regarding my new scanner, and then they’ll be going up!
I’ve fallen off the blog-horse as of late and haven’t posted in a while, so here is me getting back on that horse. I’ve been super busy with my youngest’s birthday celebration and with taking care of all of our animals and plants. I planted a lot of winter crops and garlic in the greenhouse and a lot of awesome large shrubs all around…I think I’m going to keep a tally of how many bushes/trees I’m planting on our land–it’s going to look like paradise in a few years!
I’ve been painting too–working on one of the biggest pieces I’ve done in a long time: 12″ x 16″. That’s huge and intimidating for me, considering how much detail I like to put in a piece, but I’ve been parceling out the work in manageable chunks, about 1-2 hours a day. Except the first day–I probably working on it about 4 hours the first day.
I’ve also been working on some ink drawings–flora, fauna, insects, fungi, legends, myths, influential people–all related to the Amazon rainforest. I just can’t stop drawing and reading about that amazing place–I’ve found a lot of inspiration there and am going to run with it!
Just a quick post: I have been exercising my new Pentel Aquash brush and sketching a lot with brush and ink. I really like this method of sketch-painting, as I don’t feel any pressure to put out a masterpiece. I can just let my imagination flow out through the brush and follow any creative whim that comes to mind, no expectations on the outcome. It’s a very addictive way of sketching for me because I’ve realized that I feel the most comfortable with a brush in my hand (rather than a pencil).
Even though I’ve been painting with watercolor for years, only recently have I ventured to learn more about actual watercolor pigments and the way they “work” on paper. When choosing a color palette for a painting, I tend to go the fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants route and randomly select whatever paint happens to be on one of the many plastic palettes I have laying around, as long as it sort of adheres to the hue I have in mind.
Recently, while perusing many Youtube videos about the topic, I kept hearing the terms “transparent” and “opaque” and “granulating” come up. I sort of intuitively worked out the transparency factor of a pigment and learned which paints were cloudier and which were more luminous from working with them.
But what the heck is a “granulating” pigment? Something to do with grains, yes…
First of all, let’s do a quick rundown of paint. Watercolor paint has two main ingredients:
a pigment (natural but mostly synthetic ground-up sediments), from which the color is derived,
and a binder, which helps the paint stick to the paper. Watercolor paints are made with gum arabic as the binder.
What are granulating watercolors?
When a wash of granulating paint is applied to paper, the paint sets unevenly across the surface, creating a grainy texture. The pigment sediments separate from the binder and settle in spotty ways based on the nooks and crannies that characterize the surface of the paper. Cold-pressed and hot-pressed paper will result in slightly different effects.
In non-granulating watercolor washes, the paint pigment is distributed evenly across the paper. There is no variation in color or texture, and you get a nice, smooth, homogenous layer of glowing paint.
Why do some paints granulate while others don’t?
In general, the thing that determines whether or not a paint granulates is the physical properties of the pigment sediment. The smaller and finer the pigment grains, the less likely the paint is to granulate. Granulating pigment sediments are usually larger and heavier than non-granulating pigment sediments.
The quality of the paint comes into play in granulation as well: cheaper, student-grade paints use less pigment and therefore don’t granulate as much. The Daniel Smith line of watercolor paints has a huge selection of granulating watercolors that are top quality.
Also, the amount of water you use in your washes of granulating color also affects the flow and intensity of granulation: if you dilute the wash of color, the granulated patches are more apparent. I’m currently experimenting with applying granulating colors to already-wet paper in different concentrations.
As for specific colors, earth colors like burnt sienna and raw umber and blues like cobalt and French ultramarine are notorious granulators. Many purples and violets granulate noticeably, too. Interestingly enough, there are very, VERY few red and yellow hues that granulate, and they don’t granulate a lot. Most artists opt to use a granulation medium with these colors in order to get the effect.
New Paints: Schmincke Deep Sea, Glacier, & Galaxy Granulating Watercolors
I didn’t know this when I started painting with them, but the colors in the three series are each multi-pigments (sometimes called convenience colors)–they were made using two primary pigments. This review explores each color and lists the pigments used in the Schmincke line to make the colors. So, if you so choose, you can make your own version of, say, Galaxy Pink or Glacier Green–which are both quite gorgeous–instead of buying the rather expensive (and mostly unavailable in the US) paints!
So this painting was created using mainly Schmincke’s new granulating watercolor series–a lot of Galaxy Purple and Galaxy Pink. The only hues that were altered with other more translucent paints are the green and a little of the red–I felt that this was necessary when glazing, as I didn’t want a milky, uneven layer. I wanted a tint.
I cannot wait to start the next painting with this set of colors–I’m going to try more of the blues and browns.
I’m about to complete my “Lodestar” painting today and will be adding the finishing touches. Details–my favorite part in painting, probably because they do make the painting seem more fully realized and real, and they pave the way to the end of a journey.
I’ve been working on this painting for a while now, a few hours each day. And I can always tell when it’s good idea to put more time in and begin the last lap. I start getting antsy and the urge to dive into another painting becomes not overpowering, but pretty dang potent.
So, yesterday I probably worked on this for four hours–a lot for me these days (gone are the days of eight-hour painting sessions), thinking I would pick it up again in the evening to start on the crystals, but I had too many other things to do. And I wanted to go up to bed early to read for a few hours. Clan of the Cave Bear has got me obsessed.
The fact that I’ve been sketching and drawing everyday has also noticeably benefited my painting (to me, anyway). It’s definitely not as intimidating as it has been for the past few weeks, picking up the brush. My To-Do List for this week includes completing 3-4 of these little ink drawings to put up for sale in my Etsy shop. I’m going to add a few watercolor washes, and then they’ll be good to go.
It’s been a trying two weeks for me. I think because I’m engaging in creating art each day more than I ever have in the past two or three years. It’s exciting, challenging, disheartening, encouraging, and exhausting.
I decided at the spur of the moment to start painting again consistently not that long ago, and after completing the first one in a while (a few months), I could tell my skills were a bit rusty…the painting was definitely missing something. It seemed too contrived, too forced, too rigid.
I had gotten out of the habits I had forged as a painter, and I felt unsure of myself. And it showed in the art.
Getting Back into the Creative Saddle
After coming to the realization that I’ve fallen out of the saddle (well, maybe just off-balanced and slipped to the side), I decided to switch up my medium. I’ve been sketching like crazy. Focusing on draftsmanship has given me back some of my confidence and makes me look forward to doing art EVERY. SINGLE. DAY! And I feel more inspired than I have since I started.
Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.
Picasso was right. The more I work, even when I don’t want to or I feel that everything I’m doing is crap, the easier it becomes to believe I can create, to believe that yes, I am an artist.
In addition to actively making art a part of my daily routine, I think that really paying attention to the other parts of the daily routine is also feeding my creativity. I have a lot of chores to do around the house every day. Especially since we moved into our present house only a few months ago, there is always something that needs to be done. Greenhouse to be prepared, chickens to feed and water, dishes to wash, lawn to mow, trees to cut, trees to plant.
Physical labor that is sweaty or repetitive is often thought of as drudgery. But if you get into a groove, the work becomes almost zen-like, and the time for working becomes a time for thinking also. Sitting and painting for five hours is all well and good, but it’s important to avoid being completely sedentary too–for the sake of your mental health and the white matter of your brain 🙂
I’ll leave you with one more quote:
Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Etsy Shop Reopening
Also, I’ve reopened my Etsy shop if anyone is interested in purchasing prints or notecards. I’ll be putting a few of my ink/watercolor originals up for sale soon!
I started sketching my wanderer character in a different style today, and the drawing completely took on a life of its own. Ever have that happen? Happens to me all the time…which is why my drawings/paintings never turn out how I imagine them. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes I’m not so happy about it.
As I was playing with the curves of the hair and trying to get an interesting composition going, I was reminded of a project I started a while ago and a specific idea for an image tentatively called “Lodestar.” I think I’m going to develop this further…
I just transferred it to some nice 140 Arches cold-press–let’s see how it goes.
Like I promised myself, I’ve been focusing on character development rather than diving into spontaneous paintings. This is a good exercise for me because it’s getting me out of my comfort zone and making me try new things.
Now, I didn’t follow all the rules I set up for myself…honestly, it would be shocking if I did. But I did follow most of them. I think the only one I let slide by the wayside was the sticking to a specific color palette one. I just don’t have it in me as an artist to do that unless I have something absolutely specific in my mind. I’m okay with that.
So, I think the experimenting is going well, and I’m going to keep with the mix of “impromptu” and “deliberately planned” that I have going on, process-wise. I think most artists/illustrators follow their own ratio of those two things as they create pieces.
I have to say I did have fun doing these…it’s kind of exciting switching up your modus operandi. I’m going to continue to play around with this character and eventually get around to painting full-background scenes with her and the fox in them. AND incorporating my negative painting techniques too. I don’t really ever want to lose that because I love the technique so much, and I really think it’s a key component of my style.
I think one of the things I’d change about these studies is that I would do them in a bigger scale…easier to work that way and hopefully will scan better.
My paintings aren’t exactly turning out the way I want them to, so in addition to setting up some ground rules for myself when I start the next one, I’ve decided to take a break from watercolor for a few days. I changed my usual medium. And I’ve been sketching like mad.
I bought a 12 pack of Prismacolor erasable red sketch pencils a couple of days ago, and I’ve almost used one up already! I’ve always liked the idea of drawing in red because it reminds me of Michelangelo’s sketches for the Sistine Chapel (though he used red chalk).
Doing this has inspired me to expand my Wanderer project, and instead of 4 paintings for my portfolio, I’m going to do a couple more. With these additional paintings, I’m going to be focusing on figures/character development and those characters doing a number of different things. So, less emphasis on developing the backgrounds. I’m also going to try for a simpler style with these figure studies.