Gaia – ink and pencil drawing

Recently I watched the Disney film “Moana“. It was wonderful – the ocean, sailing and a beautiful island earth-mother goddess – what a fabulous combination!

The ocean (Image Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios)
Sailing (Image Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios)
Island earth-mother goddess (Image Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios)

Inspired by this, and by Earth Day, I made a drawing of the Greek Goddess Gaia. I began with a simple design drawn digitally on my tablet. I gave her features which were similar to Te Fiti (the goddess in the film), but then added foliage from more of a central and northern european location.

I then redrew this in more detail on A3 paper…

I debated whether to keep this as a pencil image or work on it in ink. I chose ink in the end. I love the permanence of it and the way it makes me concentrate to get each line as I want it.

Next I began to ink in my details…

I used my Pigma Micron pens for this 0.3 and 0.05. Once all of the ink detail was done I then wanted to add some tone. I played around digitally with the idea of a watercolour wash in regular expected colours and then in a more green dominated palette…

But somehow these coloured options seemed to lose something I wanted in the feeling of the picture. So I tried again with greyscale only…

Now this I liked much more. So I worked on the image with pencils and blending stumps to fill in some tone in her face and body. I was planning to put a darker wash over the whole picture but once the body was done the picture seemed to be where I wanted it so I left it as it was.

Here’s the final image…

I hope you all had a super Earth Day!

Line and Wash – Damsel Fly

 

I wanted to try using watercolour on an ink drawing.  I decided to use foliage in a particular shape with a small animal, like a butterfly as the main focus.

First I worked out what sort of shape I wanted…

 

I tried several ideas for the main shape of my picture.

In the end I went for a spiral but I wanted the shape to form the structure of the picture but not be something that the viewer notices right away so I drew on some very light guidelines.

Then I began drawing.  Because I was drawing in a spiral I was concerned that as I moved around the paper I might smudge earlier work.  So, rather than struggling with that, I decided to draw in sections and then ink each section before I carried on.  This worked better than expected.

 

 

Gradually I worked my way around the picture…

 

 

…until I had my inks finished.

 

 

Then I used watercolour to colour and tone my image and then played around a little with my background using Photoshop.  (I had painted a simple gradient wash with watercolour but it looked flat and boring so I added some shapes with a large soft brush tool in Photoshop and then ran a filter over them to draw the changes together and soften them.)  Here’s the final piece…

 

Art Therapy

Sadly, I had to leave my job for health reasons a few months ago and I have struggled quite a bit with this change. At first my GP helped me and then eventually I managed to arrange some phone counselling to work through it all.

Now I’m not going to go into details about any of the counselling itself here, except to say that it’s been incredibly helpful. What I have found though, with respect to my art, is that it is of real therapeutic benefit.

Firstly, art it is a form of meditation for me a lot of the time, and this has been very helpful. It’s very soothing to draw and paint. It feels a bit like putting a really good hand cream on very chapped hands. Secondly though, it gives me this wonderfully safe space in my head and on the canvas where I can work things out. I don’t know if this kind of thing would work for everyone, some people are more at home with words than visuals, but for me it has been very useful indeed.

This is a drawing I did as I mulled over a question my counsellor left me with at the end of a session…

It was initially done in ink on paper and then toned with Mars Lumograph pencils.

Then I scanned it into my computer and coloured it like this…

I wonder if other artists find art is supportive in this way? Maybe some writers and musicians feel the same way?

Jo Kenobi

This week’s art is a little fantasy sketch of what I might look like if I were both young again and a Jedi!

I took a picture of Lucasfilm’s character Obi-Wan Kenobi…

 

…and a picture of myself when I was about Ewan’s age in this promotional shot from Attack of the Clones.  Then I attempted to make a sketch of the two faces mixed together!

 

I began with some basic measurements.  Luck was on my side with this as mine and Ewan’s face proportions were really similar.

 

Then I sketched out the basics…

I expanded the eyes to give the whole picture a hint of manga styling and then put in some basic pencil shading…

 

I had this drawing like this in my sketchbook for a while.  Then, when I got my Mars Lumograph Pencils, I thought I would have a go at inking the picture and shading it with pencil.  Here are the final results…

 

I wish I were a Jedi!!!

 

 

Natural Cycles – Mixed Media

 

I’ve been thinking about a new start in life.  Given that I can’t teach anymore due to my medical issues I am looking into the possibility of working as a freelance artist or as a private tutor or perhaps even an art tutor which would be a dream job!!!.  This would be a whole new adventure.  So my plan is to try to get some contract work when I am well enough to work again.

This week’s art was done in early December.  It’s an extension of my thinking on the Tree of Life motif with the additional idea of natural cycles.

I began with some sketches on the back on envelopes which I “helpfully” threw out while tidying up!  So the earliest process image I have is of the main outline done in pencil…

I then went on to ink this outline and use my new learning on texture to fill it in.  Here it is part-way through inking…

 

Once the ink was complete I scanned the image into my PC, tidied up the scanning artifacts I tend to get from my scanner and balanced my levels. (This is the light and dark levels picked up by the scanner and translated to tones in the digital image.)

 

This is the finaly line art…

 

Once that was complete I toned the line art digitally to make a finished grey-scale, mixed-media design which looks like this…

 

 

Update:  Thanks for all your kind wishes with respect to the pain problems I’m having at the moment.  I started the new meds from the pain consultant yesterday.  I’m dealing with side-effects right now, but I expect them to settle down a week or two after the dose is put at the final level the Dr want’s me to take.  (This will take about 6 weeks since the old meds have be reduced slowly and the new ones introduced slowly.)  My pain is still pretty bad, but I am starting to get there.  I’m not allergic to the new medicine and, although there are side-effects, I can tolerate them, all of which is very positive indeed! It’s amazing how different I feel when I have some hope!  I’m also looking at getting carers in a few times a week to help with some of the normal day to day living things I can’t do at the moment.  This will start when my son goes back to Uni.

 

Anyway – I wish you all a very happy new year!!!!

Season’s Greetings!

 

Some Christmas Cards painted for this season…

 

The Winter Owl

The owl one was sketched in pencils and then inked with rapidograph pens on Bristol Board. After that I added some tone with Mars Lumograph pencils and scanned it into my computer.

This is the greyscale drawing…

 

Then I coloured it digitally.  This is my finished painting…

 

 

Shepherds

This was a more tradition Christmas card theme of the shepherds outside Bethlehem.  I started with a gouache background on Amazon shipping cardboard…

 

 

Then I inked on the drawing with a Sharpie. Next I painted in some hills and went over the drawing with black and then white gouache paint, giving me a final simple painting like this…

 

 

Once it was painted I cut it out and stuck it to a card using carpet tape.  I used this once years ago because I didn’t have any other double sided tape and it worked so brilliantly I’ve used it ever since.

 

Then it was finally ready to put in it’s envelope…

 

Later I decided I liked the border around the painting so I made a digital version too.  I like the idea that there’s an original painting on the first card but I also like that it’s my finished image how I wanted it on the second card.

 

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas holiday!

 

 

 

Monster Fish

I’ve really been missing fishing in the last year. So I had a little bit of imaginary fun this week drawing a monster fish.

I based this creation on a real monster fish I saw caught on YouTube. Here’s a still from the video…

The fish is a big old Lingcod. If you fancy watching a family doing some great fishing here is a link to the video from The Fishing Doctors Adventures channel.

I took the basic fish shape with that huge head from the Lingcod and then played around with it, adding spikes onto his back and an angler fish type lure onto his head. Here are some process photos…

After I got to this stage I finished it off digitally playing with the highlights and shadows and adding a castshadow…

If I ever pulled this one out of the river I think I’d be a bit shocked, even if I were spinning for pike and perch! I think I’ll call him Jerry.

Dormouse – Ink and Staedtler Mars Lumograph Pencils

This week I used my Rapidograph ink pens and some new pencils. They are made by Staedtler and are particularly black. They also have much less shine compared to normal graphite pencils which burnish really easily. Staedtler call them Mars Lumograph Black

Previously I have added midtone to ink drawings using a wash of ink and water. It can be done like this quite effectively but to get a nice gradient it’s much easier to use pencils. The problem with pencils is that the graphite easily burnishes to a bright shine which makes them difficult to photograph. When I saw these pencils I thought I would see if they solved the problem.

Here are some process photos…

I made an initial sketch using a range of different references. I used three reference photo’s for the mouse, 2 photos for his or her home and a range of photos for the Blackberry bushes.

Once my sketch was complete I inked the outline (above).

In the next photo you can see where I started adding some shading using the new pencils. Using them felt more like using a black coloured pencil, but, unlike regular coloured pencils, I found I could easily erase my marks…

Once the shading was done I sprayed my picture with fixative and then began to ink over the top…

At this point I took a step back to evaluate how I wanted to move forward. I was thinking about blacking out all of the white areas of the paper, but I felt unsure about whether this would work visually so I tried it out digitally first. I photographed my picture and pulled it into Autodesk Sketchbook and had a play…

Above is the scanned drawing and below is a very rough rendering of what it might look like if I coloured all of my background black…

I could immediately see that having a black background gave me some really good contrast but it was at the expense of being able to have any sense of depth in the drawing. So I tried to see what it might be like with some mid-toned leaves behind the leaves I originally drew in ink…

This didn’t feel right to me but after playing around with it some more I came up with this…

If I put some light mid-tone leaves with less detail behind the main drawing I could get the feeling of depth and the image began to feel right.

So I put some leaves in using traditional graphite pencils, edged them very minimally with a thin pen and then sprayed the image again with fixative. Once that was dry I then went over the whole image again with ink putting in detail to my heart’s content! (It was bliss!)

Here’s my finished drawing…

I think the new pencils worked well with ink – I had no trouble getting them dark enough and no issues with the ink and pencils affecting how well the marks stayed on the page. I did have some minimal issues with my paper. Where I had worked the paper quite hard the rapidograph pens started to break the surface down. However I drew this picture in a cheap A4 sketchbook which only had 160gsm paper. I think more detailed drawing like this might need a more robust paper.

It was a fun exercise. I will do some more experimentation with these new pencils in the future.

October Illustrations – Graphical Illustration “Japan in Black and White”

My last October Illustration is a graphical respresentation of some aspects of Japan.

During the Easter holidays, while the lockdown was happening, I found a couple of brilliant YouTube channels about Japan. (The Japanese culture and it’s beautiful islands are an interest of mine.) The first is Life Where I’m From and the second is Abroad in Japan . Both of them are interesting and informative and often charmingly funny.

While watching these I decided to make an ink illustration of some of the places and objects which captured my interest. I wasn’t sure how I was going to approach this so I began by making some rough sketches in my sketchbook…

Then I decided to make it into a black and white poster. I found some old A3 acrylic and oil paper which is really heavy and takes ink very well and taped it onto my board. I wanted to make a big tai chi in the centre as it would draw the eye from further away which is something you want when illustrating a poster. So I made some basic construction lines and then began to draw…

(Apologies for this image. When I start drawing I use my pencils really lightly, so I had to really push the image in photoshop to get the pencils to show up.)

I went on to make a simple outline drawing of all of my quick sketches and then added a few more…

Once my outline was done I first filled in all of the solid black areas so that I could make sure my picture had a good overall balance and looked interesting from a distance.

Here is the drawing once all of the black ink was done…

After that I put in my textures. I was still near the beginning of working on texture so there are fewer textures than I would necessarily like if I redrew this picture over the summer, but I was slowly improving.

Here are a couple of close-ups of the differing textures I used…

Once my textures were done I then added a few areas of midtone ink (made by mixing water and regular ink in a waterbrush.) Here is my final illustration…

Over all I’m really pleased with it. It has the strong graphical quality around the central tai chi which I was looking for.