Reusing Envelopes and Jars as Art Materials

Art materials can be expensive. Sometimes this expense is really worth it. For me, good quality paint brushes and good quality paint are worth the extra money – control and water holding is better with good brushes and paints are more densley pigmented and less fugitive with good paints. However, it’s always great to find some art resources that can be found for free.

Envelopes

This summer I spent some time experimenting with this. It began when I was watching Star Trek Voyager and felt like doodling. I grabbed a cardboard Amazon envelope and my palette which had a range of paints left over from a picture I had worked on the day before. Then I just began to play with it. I was really happy to find that the gouache paint went on to this surface beautifully and, because the surface was a mid range tone rather than dark or light, it was really super to work with tonally.

This was my first adventure into envelope painting…

The next day I tried the same thing with an insurance envelope. This was a thin, low quality paper and it really showed. The paper couldn’t take any water without becoming wrinkled and discoloured making it hard to work on…

So I decided to only do this with cardboard. I grabbed some old envelopes and used my trimmer to make some small postcard sized canvases. Here’s my current pile…

 

This time I found the painting was even better because I had only reused parts of the card which were clear of printing and belimishes. It really was a fabulous surface to work on – and totally free!

Here’s a close up of my third foray into reusing envelopes for painting…

…and my forth…

I then went on to make a fully painted, small sized painting of a tiny chihuahua on the same reused card the next day. (More of that in next week’s post!)

Jars

Another new learning for me this summer has been that my kitty cat doesn’t care if the water I am using for painting is green, or blue or pink, she will still drink out of it! This is despite her having a cat fountain and two fresh bowls of water in different places! So I did a bit more recycling and reusing. I tipped away the last bit of coffee from a jar, cleaned it out and now I use this for painting. It still holds about a pint of water, but I can screw the lid on if I get up from the table so she can’t get to it. I’m using my trusty old pint glass to hold brushes now instead.

She looks so cute and fluffy but she can be quite a pickle!

Lockdown Reading and Free Bookmarks

A while back I made a some bookmarks for my own use. (I am always in need of these. If I don’t make some I end up using old envelopes and other bits of tat.) During the lockdown I have managed to find even more need for booksmarks than usual.

I often have three or four books/comicbooks on the go at any one time, but I realised that, at the moment, I have 15 books on the go…

Star Wars Heroes and Villains (above) is a set of short stories so I count these four books as one since they are a series. (In fact there are six books in the series as a whole but I finished the previous two ages ago.) I’m doing the same with Autumnlands and Middlewest because they are both collected editions of ongoing comicbook series and it’s still up to 15!

I’m afraid I don’t have process photos for my booksmarks, but I do have a high quality image which you are free to download to help with your lockdown reading needs. All four bookmarks are on one sheet which should print landscape A4. Each bookmark has a slightly wider border on the right hand side to allow for space to cut them apart from one another.

To download click here to go to the full size image, then right click the image and use “save image as”.

(Creative Commons Copyright information for this image is at the bottom of this post. Basically anyone is free to use and copy this image for non commercial purposes.)

Here are the individual bookmarks…

I hope you enjoy them!

PS: I wrote this post a few weeks ago. I am now having some difficulties with my breathing. No need to worry, my Doc thinks it’s a regular chest infection (possibly a complication from a procedure I had done in March) rather than Covid. But if the next round of antibiotics and steroids doesn’t fix it, or if my breathing gets worse, I might have to go into hospital. So I apologise in advance if I don’t respond to comments etc. I think it will all be OK in the end. I just can’t wait to get back to regular traditional drawing and painting!

Copyright Info – Normally I hold all rights reserved on the copyright for all images on this site (unless explicitly stated otherwise when they belong to someone else). I also limit the size of the images I post to reduce the risk of copyright infringement. However I have given the image linked above a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-NC 4.0) and uploaded it at full size. Licence details below…

  • CC BY-NC 4.0
  • Creator: Jo Fox
  • File: jofoxfreebookmarks.png
  • Created: 20 Feb 2020

An Ant – watercolour pencil

 

This week I did a bit of a challenge.  I painted an ant using a single watercolour pencil.  The idea of this kind of exercise is to try to use the full tonal range of one colour or shade.  I chose black because it’s traditional for ants and has the strongest tonal range.

I began, as usual, with a basic sketch…

 

Then I worked on getting a detailed outline which was fairly accurate to my reference…

 

Then I began painting with my single black watercolour pencil.  I used a water brush to activate the pencil I laid down.  Here’s how it looked when I was a little way into it…

 

After some very pleasurable concentration I finally got it finished.  Here is the finished piece…

 

I have to give some credit for this to my cat, Leia.  She helped me rely less on looking at reference since, in her eyes, the reference photo was more of a cat toy which she felt the need to own…

🙂

 

 

 

Orca

This week I painted a pair of orcas, a mother and her calf.

Here is my initial drawing design which I did on cartridge paper.  Initially I was going to make this a pen and ink drawing but I decided to paint it at the last minute….

 

Once I was happy with my drawing I masked out the white bits of the whales and went off to visit family for the afternoon while the masking fluid dried…

However, when I got back, and looked at the drawing carefully, I saw this…

They are scratches from my little kitty-cat, Leia.  I shouldn’t have been surprised really.  Despite being free to sit anywhere, she chooses to sit in various choice spots like…

…on my black work trousers, or…

…on the book I’m currently reading…

… in front of my PC monitor…

 

…and, more recently, on the clothes airer.  I think it is her life’s mission to cover everything of mine in little white kitten hairs!

 

Anyway, I decided to go ahead with the painting despite her best efforts.

I began by doing a couple of quick thumbnail sketches to give myself some idea of my colours.

I knew I wanted a restricted palette but wasn’t sure what colour scheme to use.  I decided on a variation of the left thumbnail.

First I put on some basic watercolour washes in Payne’s Grey and French Ultramarine.  I added some yellow for the sunshine and merged this in…

 

Next I used a similar blue mixture but with more Payne’s Grey and less ultramarine to put in the idea of some rocky land.  I painted the sun in Winsor Yellow with some Cadmium Yellow Deep and added a few reflections.

 

Finally I began to work on the more specific details and finished the painting…

 

I quite like the finished picture but it lacks precision.  I also think I could have managed my watercolour gradients better and more evenly.  I think I might have another go at this one sometime using proper watercolour paper and taking more time and care with the execution of each wash.

Elephants, Kittens and Art that I Love

I have a folder on my PC where I save links to work by other artists which I find inspirational, beautiful, or special in some indefinable way. Sometimes I look through these files (I have hundreds) for inspiration and more often for the pure joy of looking at the art that I love. When I save a link I put the artist’s name and web address (if it’s available) in a file too so I can look up more of their work. I also love going to local galleries and festivals where art is displayed. A lot of this art is really above my level in terms of me being able to paint something similar but I still have a go sometimes when an image particularly captivates me. It surprises me that the art I make turns out so different from the inspirational work I’m studying.  Anyway, here are two small watercolours I painted in my sketchbook while studying another artist’s work…

The original for this elephant portrait unfortunately came from Pinterest which very frequently doesn’t carry information about the artist who painted any given picture.

The original I was looking at is with this painting is the author of this YouTube Painting Video.

In both cases the art I was studying was significantly looser than the pictures I’ve made. I do find loose painting difficult to do but very beautiful to look at.

Star Wars Fan Cartoon

Having looked into just how much I have to learn about animation and cartoon drawing I thought I would try a ‘before’ and ‘after’ cartoon.  So, before Iearn how to do this better I’m going to make a cartoon strip.  Then I’m going to learn more about it and make up another one.

So, to my Star Wars fan art strip…

Well today I made the sketches.  It’s going to be three square panels with a simple, if quite juvenile, joke (which, along with ‘man fell over‘, ‘bird pooed on lady’s head‘ and ‘my accident with a rake‘ are my favourite jokes: (I removed the dialogue so as not to spoil the joke too much.)

frame1nodia frame2nodia frame3nodia

(BTW:  I came up with the basic idea for this joke, but it was my fabulous son who thought of the punchline in the last panel.)

(All Images unless otherwise explicitly stated are © Jo Fox, 2015)

A New Family

family_FIN_Small

Late one night about a week ago I was just about to setle down to sleep when I saw a shipping note on my bedside table with some unused space on it.  At the moment I have this constant need to draw so I picked up the shipping note and scribbled down a man on it, (who looked a lot like my A’level Biology teacher for some weird late night reason), then I added a woman and before long there was a whole family.  I liked these little dudes so the next day I drew them bigger in my sketchbook.  (The final image was done in ink on paper using Staedler Fineliners)

Below is the late night sketch..

FamilyInitialSketch

I just can’t stop drawing at the moment!

(All Images unless otherwise explicitly stated are © Jo Fox, 2015)