Line and Wash – Badger Cub

This week’s painting was done using the line and wash technique. It was of a cute little badger cub, transfixed by a bumble bee! Being a true Hufflepuff, I love badgers! They’re a very grounded animal. I just love their dirt snuffling ways!

I’m afraid I had a difficult week with my health, so this was quite a quick little sketch. I began in pencil then added some ink outlines and then inked all of his fur, like this…

Once the inks were completed I washed over my picture with watercolours to add a little more depth. Here’s the final painting…

Octopus Dream #5 – The Bubble Fountain

This is the last in my series of “Octopus Dreams” posts.

One of the things I love about octopuses is their curiosity and playfullness. I saw a video online of an octopus playing in a bubble stream in his tank. It was wonderful! Unfortunately it looks like the video has been taken down so I can’t show it to you. Instead here’s a video from a different channel, Octolab TV which is quite similar where an octopus is playing in the output from a water pump. I love the way he gets surprised by the feel of it but keeps going back because he’s interested. I think he’s having fun!

In my painting this week I wanted to capture an octopus playing in some bubbles.

I started off with a drawing…

Then I painted the background with a basic blue/green/yellow wash in watercolour. When it was half dry I added salt to the damp paint. The salt sucked up any remaining fluid which removed some of the paint in a patchy sort of way. I used this effect to give the impression of smaller bubbles which were further away behind my lovely curious octopus.

Next I began to draw in my main octopus shape using Prismacolor pencils. I used three colours – a dark blue/green, a low saturation mid-green and a pale yellow/green (which looked yellow because of the green around it!)…

Once I had the basic shape I then used a bright yellow and a white to push the lighter surfaces and a black Prismacolor, along with a 4B Mars lumagraph pencil to deepen the darker areas. I blended these in with a blending stump and then went on to add my bubbles. Once this was finished I photographed my finished art and adjusted my levels in Photoshop.

Here is the finished picture…

Next week – some new adventures!!!

🙂

Peacock – a simple digital painting

 

This week’s art began as a doodle of a peacock on some copy paper…

 

 

I scanned the sketch and pulled it into Autodesk Sketchbook. Then I reset the drawing colour to a light blue so that I could redraw over it digitally…

 

 

I find this kind of drawing very relaxing and did most of this while watching some the excellent new(ish) series of Star Trek Discovery (which is awesome!!!)

Here’s the doodle redrawn digitally.  You can see that I used two different line weights.  To keep a track of this while I’m working I draw a little sample of each line weight I’m using and then write the size next to it.  This means I can make changes at the correct weight without having to guess…

 

 

Next I added some fanciful swirls to his lovely tail…

 

 

Finally I added some colour and then colour balanced and finalised the image in Photoshop…

 

 

 

Digital Painting – Chameleon

For the last few years I have asked my son for feedback on my art. Basically I show him the picture and ask him to guess what my subject was. If he can guess it correctly I count it as a good’un. But I want to move further on and deeper into my studies, so I’m going to try setting myself objectives as I draw and paint, more than just the simple realism-based aims I usually work on.

  1. I want to think harder about my use of colour. Specifically for this week’s work I want to try using a classic 90% : 10% ratio of complementary colours (green : red) and I want to avoid over-saturating my work. (Colour is like a drug to me, but I frequently enjoy paintings with more subtle colour, so I want to have a try at painting more like that.)
  2. Secondly I want to be able to paint more confidently. So this week I’m going to use the freedom of being able to digitally jump back a few steps to particularly focus on the work I do after the blocking in. I often find the gap between the image of the finished painting in my mind and my blocked-in beginning to be quite daunting. I know what to do next at that stage; I just find it hard to push through and do it. I think lots of practise will help.
  3. I want to change up my constant attempts at realism for a range of different approaches. I really enjoy the art of a French Painter called Henri Rousseau. He painted a lot of animals and plants in jungle-like scenes and, like me, he was self-taught. So, this week, I’m going to try to paint a chameleon in my version of Rousseau’s style.

Here’s my basic outline of a chameleon. I looked at a reference for the animal itself and made up my foliage completely.

The I added a background so that my colour choices would follow my plan for colour in this picture.

I blocked in some branches and leaves, remembering to use plenty of red in my browns. This is close enough to red to work as a complementary colour.

Next I roughed in my main colours and shadows, trying to give my Chameleon and strong sense of form from the start.

Then I removed the line art. This was the stage of the painting where I generally find things tricky. So I focussed on filling in medium sized forms, values and colours in the same way as I’d just blocked in the whole animal, but working on medium sized shapes, like the stripes and the eye.

Again, as I coloured the edges of the stripes on my chameleon’s side I pushed the raw sienna colour on my reference to more of a burnt sienna, so that there was more red in the colour. I also pushed the cream of the middle area of each of the big stripes to a more pinkish cream. I was hoping that I could metaphorically smuggle in the red via my browns to balance and highlight the green a little.

Next I started working on the details on the face and the bumpy texture of a chameleon’s skin. I tried to hint at the texture, rather than drawing every little round bump. This bit still took a long time to do but my earlier work on texture is now beginning to pay off.

Once that was done I varied the values of my leaves to give the viewer a hint of the play of light around them and painted on some 3D style veins. I wanted the leaves to look regular enough so that they can be recognised by the viewer, but similar in style to Rousseau’s almost animation style painting.

My last job was to import this into photoshop and adjust my settings. I had been working in a dark room with a lit digital screen and this made my whole picture a little too dark. So I adjusted my levels to make the finished digital painting below…

And here (below) is one of my favourite Rousseau paintings The Dream, 1910, oil on canvas, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Beautiful, isn’t it?!

Little Acorns

 

This is a small pencil sketch of some oak leaves and their little acorns.  It was done with Fabre-Castell watercolour pencils and a small watercolour brush.  I wanted to see how small I could go and still put in some textural detail in the acorn cups.  The actual drawing is two and a half inches across.

Here’s a slightly enlarged photo of the drawing…

“The Greatest Teacher Failure is”

Yoda says in Star Wars The Last Jedi
“Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is.”

I’ve certainly found this to be true. I have learned a lot more from my failures than I have from my successes. At school, our headteacher has this quotation on her door. We sometimes have children who find the thought of failing at something very, very hard and so would rather avoid trying if they think they might fail. Every other term or so we all walk around to the headteacher’s door and read the quotation and then go back to class and talk about it. In a world where so many people put only their successes on social media and hide their failures it feels really healthy and relaxing to be OK with messing something up.

This week’s painting a portrait of Yoda when he was young (only about 400 years old, rather than 900!)

I began with a reference photograph from one of the films…

Then I used my PC to try out various backgrounds. In the end I settled on this tree sketch behind him…

I painted him in watercolour on A3 hot pressed, 300gsm paper, beginning with the background and then working forwards to the Jedi Master himself. It took me a couple of weeks on and off to get this done. I actually finished it before Christmas but was working on publishing my October Ink drawings at the time so I put it aside until later. Here’s the final picture…

I like his younger look and the shape of the tree behind him. However, if I did this portrait again, I would reduce the saturation and contrast in the tree a little and maybe even paint it more loosely to push Yoda forward and give the picture more depth.

Caterpillar in ink and watercolour

 

I had some more fun this week with ink and watercolour.  My subject was a little lime green caterpillar.  I think there’s something magical in the way tiny little life forms like this have their own ways, life-cycles and patterns of movement.  When I saw the reference photo for this it looked to me like the little guy was praying!

I worked on this over several days as my pain has been bad again.  I started with a pencil sketch which I helpfully forgot to photograph.  Then I inked the pencils.  Rather than drawing regular width cartoon style ink lines I used my 0.5 micron pen like I would a pencil and sketched the picture in.  It was quite fun because the end of the nib is slightly flat so if I use it at an angle I can get really thin lines from a fairly heavy pen.

Here’s the ink sketch…

 

 

Then I began painting the background.  I considered using gouach to get a nice plain flat colour but decided to play around with watercolour again.  Instead of going for a flat look I used a really textured brush stroke pattern.  At first it looked kind of weak…

 

 

But as I added more layers it got more depth…

 

 

I wanted it really dark so that I could shadow my main subject without losing too much in the way of contrast.  Finally I painted the caterpillar in my usual style.  Here’s the final picture…

 

Watercolour and Ink

 

Over the weekend I saw a beautiful watercolour of a bird on Reddit posted by V4nG0ghs34r77.

I thought it was beautifully done and I really liked the way the artist had mixed ink and watercolour to great effect.

Often with “Line and Wash” paintings I find myself quite underwhelmed because they seem so often to look twee and sort of chocolate box’y which just doesn’t work for me.  I can’t stand it.  (This is just a personal taste, not because any particular style of art is better than any other.)  But V4nG0ghs34r77 used the ink in ways which gave it depth and texture and it really worked!

So I’ve been playing around with ink and watercolour this week to see what I can make.

I began with a chameleon…

(The chameleon and branch are watercolour and ink but the background was added digitally.)

And then went on to sketch a bit of an owl…

 

(This is all watercolour and ink – no digital stuff.)

The owl was definitely my favourite.  When I drew and painted it I was really in a place where I was just playing around, not formally painting anything.  I think this really helped because it was just a rough ink sketch with some watercolour dabbed on wherever I thought.  I didn’t use any reference except for a photo for the eyes.  In terms of colour I went with a paynes grey / ultramarine mix against a cadmium yellow / yellow ochre / burnt umber mix. Because they felt like opposites and gave a nice contrast to each other. 

This is the first time I’ve been able to really loosen up when inking and painting.  I kind of treated the whole thing like a sketch.  I am pleased with the results.

 

The Shape of Light on Water #5

 

This week I concentrated on adding watercolour to my pencil drawing of a water splash from last week.

Here’s the drawing I started with…

 

First I masked my absolute highlights with masking fluid.  Then I used a graded wash of phthalo blue and viridian green but I kept it really light and pulled out some colour with my brush where I wanted the light to come through.  Then I added some slightly darker washes to the shadowed areas…

 

I then added paynes grey and a touch of ultramarine blue to the greeny blue colour I was already using and began to push the darks darker and add to the darker shades of the pencil.  I did each bit seperately so there was time before each bit dried to pull a gradient out of the dark colours where I wanted it.  This was so much fun to do!

Finally I worked on balancing the tones and pulling the picture together as a whole.  It was mostly there already but a I did push the main sine wave form across the front of the picture a little more.

Here’s the result…

 

 

Now when my son saw it this time his comment was “Wow – that’s so looks like water now!!!”  – Result!   😀