Herne the Hunter

I’m afraid I am still unwell – on a second round of differrent anitibiotics. So here is a another sketch done while waiting on the phone for 111. I did begin with some very light pencils but I forgot to photograph that stage. Instead, we begin with a very light ink sketch of this beuatiful buck…

I was thinking here about using the ink pen as a primary drawing instrument rather than a secondary tool to go over pencils. This gave the whole thing a different feel. I gradually worked in both details and deeper tones…

The photo above was taken about half way through…

… and this one was taken when my inks were complete. I then used black watercolour paint and white gouache to add deeper tones and brighter highlights. Here is the finished picture…

Wand carving

Over the summer I designed and carved a wand. I began with a couple of sticks which I found up near the local church where there is a small stand of mixed deciduous woodland…

I put an old quilt cover down to try to contain the shavings as I worked on this. The first thing I did was to strip the bark using my basic carving knife…

Then I shaped the wand. Nothing too perfect. I just gave it a basic once over…

Once I had a good basic shape I needed to deal with the two ends which were split and damaged. I used a small hacksaw for this…

Then it was time to break out the Dremel!!! This was SO much fun! 😁 I love using high speed tools.

This got the wand cleaned up really quickly.

My next job was to design a motif for the wand. I wanted a naturalistic design. So I went for leaves winding around with little spirals at the top. I had to think here about the grain of the wood I was using as I made the design. A close grain wood allows more detail to be worked into it. This wood was just an old stick I found. I suspect it was ash based on the morphology of the sticks lying around next to it. It looked like ash and behaved like ash as I carved it too.

So I transferred my design to the stick…

…made the design darker and more permanent…

…and the broke out my carving tools..

These are the ones I actually worked with on this project…

I did learn a valuable lesson about not watching Sarah Millican’s totally awesome Stand Up while working with sharp tools! (It was the fine chisel pictured at the top (above) which I managed to dig into my finger (below).)

I took a break until my hand healed up well enough to remove the dressings permanently and then carried on. Eventually I had the basic design done…

Then I began to file and sand it – tidying up my work…

Finally I painted it and then added several coats of varnish…

Here is a close up…

Overall I’m not massively pleased with it. I found the ash quite hard to work, especially on such a small scale and without using a vice. It looks OK but I think I could do better. I think next time I will get a vice set up so I can hold the wood with some soft jaws and then use both hands to hold the carving tools. I will also be more careful about my choice of wood too. Lime is supposed to be good. I’ll do some research.

I wish you all a Happy New Year!

😊

Mickey Mouse – Mixed Media

Last week, as well as working on the portrait, I also made an ink drawing of Mickey Mouse as a personalised Christmas Card for someone dear to me who is a big Disney fan. Here on my blog I’ve left off the writing since it includes their name, but the rest is there.

I began with a sketch…

Then I inked a quick outline…

After that I went in and inked it properly…

Then I set to work with my black watercolour and white gouache paints. Here’s the finished picture…

The original looks a bit better than this photograph. I don’t know why this happens with this type of mixed media artwork. It’s like the camera picks up contrasts more than it should. Maybe having a grey background is throwing it off – but I can’t see why that should be. I might look up how digital cameras process light to see if I can get tot he bottom of this.

Ollie and Olga

This week I focused mainly on my portrait of Jim, but I also created another tonal painting. Meet Ollie (the Octopus) and Olga (the fish). They were very briefly the best of friends – until, very unfortunately, Ollie got hungry!

Here are some process photos…

I began by sketching the two aquatic friends (and doing my best to keep track of all eight of Ollie’s legs).

After that I added ink to the drawing, using darker thicker lines on the shadow sides of each object and then stippling a gradient from full black to the half tone grey of the paper. I used this to begin to render the shapes in three dimensions.

Then I deepened the shape rendering effects by adding some darker tonal areas using black watercolour paint and feathering the edges.

Finally I added similar gradients to the lighter sides of the shapes using titanium white gouache to add highlights.

Here’s the finished picture…

I really enjoy using this simply method to create black and white (and buff) paintings. I think it might work really well as a basic approach for making independent comic art. It’s not too onerous to do but gives well rendered results which I think would read and reproduce quite well in a comic format. I might produce a comic page like this when I have time and see how it looks.

Finding your pack

This week’s art is a line and wash painting of a wolf howling out her song. I painted it for a friend.

I began with a quick sketch…

Next I refined my sketch and changed the shape of the howl in the air…

Once I was happy with my basic forms I moved on to ink. I used to simply redo my pencils in pen at this stage, but now I use this stage as a place where I can further refine the drawing. Here are the inks completed…

Once I had my ink drawing complete I then had to come up with my colours. So I photographed my ink drawing and then added colour digitally in Autodesk Sketchbook.

Once I had a solid idea of where I wanted to go colour-wise I finally began to add watercolour washes to my drawing. As usual I began with lighter washes and then developed my shadows. I pushed the colours I’d initially decided on digitally to bring more contrast into the image.

Here’s the final picture…

Open country

I’ve had some serious issues with my health again this week so rather than doing a proper painting I had a go at digital speed painting. Basically I painted a very quick sketch of some open countryside.

My aim was to complete it in 15 minutes.

I began by splashing in some background colours, making the picture lighter and less saturated for the parts of the landscape which are further away and making it darker and more saturated for parts of the landscape which were near the viewer. Like this…

Then I blended these basic areas and added a range of colours to the foreground. Then I very loosely sketched in the trees and hedgerows in the distance and the fencing and gate in the foreground…

Then I began to tidy the whole thing up – straightening the fencing, and adding highlights and shadows to everything…

Then I added some textures in Autodesk Sketchbook using some brushes I adjusted expecially for the job, copied my painting across to my PC and loaded it into Photoshop. Once in PS I adjusted the levels of the image and ran a filter over the top of the image to give it more edge definition (I used “poster edges” for this). Then used another filter to highlight the textural details of the painting (fresco). Here’s the final image…

I didn’t quite finished the painting in 15 minutes – I took 18 minutes! What can I say – “a swing and a miss”!

Jim – Part 1

I have been working on my portrait of Jim, my father in law, who passed away recently. It one of those pieces of art which is really personally important because it’s a gift for his widow Jane and also a tribute to such a good man. At first I struggled to get started so I made a few sketches digitally to get myself warmed up a bit. This is the best of those…

At first it didn’t really look like himbut once I added some shadows and highlights it began to feel better.

Then, since I had a digital sketch I played around with the colour scheme to find something that felt right. Here are some of the attempts I made at that…

Of the colours above I preferred the royal blue and the red. Overall though I thought that the red brought out the warmth of him as a person, so I decided to go with that.

Once I’d got all of these ideas roaming around in my head I found myself finally ready to get down to drawing.

I began with a very rough sketch where I measured quite carefully his general facial anatomy. It doesn’t look a thing like Jim, but I find it an important step for making a decent portrait…

Once I had that sketched in I used it as a framework for drawing a more careful map of his portrait, ready for the paint. This is as far as I have got at the moment due to being unwell last week. Here is the drawing / map I made to guide me when I paint. It doesn’t yet capture his likeness because there are no strong shadows or highlights, but I am hoping it will turn out well. I will do my best!

I’m not going to rush this painting, so I expect I will post other artwork in between updates of this project.

Here are my main steps so far along with the main photo reference I am using…

A Poppy card

My mum loves poppies. She even grows large ornamental ones in her garden. So for her birthday I made her a card with a poppy on it. I tried to make the background very loose which is not something I am good at.

I didn’t manage to take any process shots of this painting. I think I had to concentrate so hard to get the background to work that it just went out of my mind! Oops!

Once I’d finished the painting I trimmed it neatly with my rotary trimmer and then mounted it on a card. I actually use doublesided carpet tape to mount heavy paper like this. It works really well.

Here’s a picture of the card…

And here is the final painting…

❤️ Happy Birthday Mum!!!! ❤️

Manatee Mama

This week, while waiting for some more pictures of Jim for the portrait, I made a line and wash painting of a manatee mama and her calf. I love the slow gentle nature of these animals and the beauty of their curvy body shape. I would rather swim with these guys than dolphins any day, although octopuses are still my favourite. I think I would give my right arm to swim with an octopus!

Here are my process photos…

I have a strong preference for scientific styled paintings of animals and plants which usually have plain white backgrounds. However having some kind of background really helps a painting find connection with it’s viewers. This week I tried to make a smaller background by masking off a smaller rectangle around my main subjects and painting in a varigated wash using yellows greens and blues. Peeling off the extra masking was such a joy – like peeling the plastic protector off a new calculator or phone!

I stopped to savour the last bit and ended up photographing it.

Once this was done I painted my manatees. I began with big washes over the grey / brown areas and green areas (where the animals get covered in algae) and then moved on to the details.

Here’s the final painting…