May the 4th be with you!

Happy Star Wars Day everyone!!!!

On this wonderful May 4th I wanted to share some Star Wars Fan Art. I’ve got some Star Wars universe species sketches, some digital Star Wars Rebels portraits, three pencil drawings and a watercolour painting of our beloved Yoda!

star wars Species Sketches

Star Wars Rebels portraits

Pencil portraits of obi-wan kenobi

My favourite character in all of Star Wars!!! 🙂

Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan

geonosian warrior pencil drawing

Yoda in watercolour

I drew or painted all of the art in this post, however, because it’s fan art, please note that the intellectual property belongs to Lucas Film.

Canada Goose in Watercolour

A while back my son and I went down to our local river for our Covid exercise period. He pushed me in my wheelchair along the tow path for a little way and then went off to have a walk while I sat and painted. There were loads of narrowboats waiting to get through the lock and one was just moored up a bit further down. It was wonderful because the guy inside was playing this gentle 1970’s folk/rock music. Normally I prefer silence and the sound of the river but somehow his choice of music felt just perfect for moment.

I’m afraid I didn’t take any process photos and I didn’t quite finish by the time we were ready to go home either. But I got the basic colours and shapes blocked in.

Here’s what it looked like when I got home…

And here is a photo of the goose in question…

He was with his lady by the looks of things and the pair of them were hanging out with a pair of swans who were quite definitely courting. I know swans are regarded as more beautiful but I just loved the look of the geese (despite their tendancy to chase me when I was young!)

A few days later I painted in all of the details and repainted his eye which looked wrong to me. Here’s the finished painting…

He was a very handsome chap!

Dark Lord of the Sith

This is a digital painting of Ian McDiarmid playing Chancellor Palpatine in Star Wars. Although he’s a villain, he’s still one of my favourite characters, thanks to Ian’s superb acting work. Below are some stills from Star Wars “The Phantom Menace” (Image credit LucasFilm Ltd.)

My main reference for this painting was the top left photo (above).

I began with a drawing.

This was not made to be a proper drawing so much as a map for the painting which is why it looks a little bit funky.

Then I began to paint! At first I just scrubbed in some basic colours and tones to get the feeling for the main structure of his face and clothes.

Removing the map leaves us with this very rough sketch.

Then I began to refine the painting a bit at a time. I really enjoy this process as the details begin to appear. First I cleaned up the beautiful costume he’s wearing and then pulled together my very rough and ready rendering of Ian’s face.

Once I had things basically in the right place I worked on the details of his hair and facial features.

Finally I added a background and gave it some texture and tonal variation. This is the way I’m starting to move away from my autistic need to see each painting subject alone and seperate in a blank field.

My only job then was to pull the image into Photoshop and adjust my values. Here is my final painting.

He’s such a great character!

Here’s one of my favourite quotes from the Prequal Trilogy as Chancellor Palpatine is confronted by the Jedi Masters lead by Mace Windu…

Mace Windu: In the name of the Galactic Senate of the Republic, you are under arrest, Chancellor.
Chancellor Palpatine: Are you threatening me, Master Jedi?
Mace Windu: The Senate will decide your fate.
Chancellor Palpatine: I am the Senate!

(Clip courtersy of qpsizzle’s You Tube Channel / Film Credit Lucasfilm Ltd.)

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…

 

 

 

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?

Dog Family in Gouache

 

This is a painting I did over the summer for the husband of a friend of mine.  My friend sent me a range of pictures of the dogs, but not one picture with all three of them.  So I used the furniture in their house to get the dog’s relative sizes and then pulled 3 reference images into photoshop to make up the trio.

Then I was able to make a sketch and start the process.

 

After that I made a quick study to get a feeling for the picture…

 

Then I laid down my background and got to work…

I used purple for the shadow areas under the dogs to give the painting the feel that they are warm.

Here’s my final painting…

 

Designing A Celtic Tree Motif 1 of 2

Nature has always been really important to me. It’s why I read a mixture preclinical medicine and biology during my degree, why I paint and draw animals, plants and natural places so often, and where I go when I am in need of restoration. I wanted to design a piece of art which captured this feeling and could be used repeatedly in many places as an icon or symbol for these experiences.

I thought a tree would be the perfect subject for this particular project and I was drawn to the motif from many cultures of the “Tree of Life”. I love the way that a tree in this style is shown as part of a circle which links very much with the way nature comes and goes in cycles. I also love tree of life symbols which incorporate celtic knotwork into them. I have found it hard to discover the real history of this kind of knotwork as much of it has been repurposed as marketing for various modern jewllery and tattoo designs. Personally I see, in this pattern, ideas about interweaving the varied threads of life and mutual dependance among living organisms.

At first I began playing with this idea in my sketchbook…

…but soon moved across to a digital drawing board since I wanted a largely symmetrical design and could use the symmetry tool to design this really effectively. (This is a digital tool which will reproduce the mirror image of what you draw on the other side of a line of symmetry.)

I began, as always, thinking about the large shapes in my design…

Next I moved onto my own knotwork design. I alluded to this style rather than implented it more fully so that my tree still looked very tree-like but with strong overtones of knotwork in it. So each branch weaves through others but is only joined to them at the trunk. I planned the knotwork first using single lines so I could get a feel for the pattern that I wanted. I went through several iterations of this and finally found something I liked…

I really liked the way the top of the tree has a hint of a large lotus flower in the way the branches are placed.

Like this (in orange)…

Once I had a pattern that I liked I moved on to roughing in some branches and roots…

Once I removed my blue guidelines this looked like this…

My next stage was to redraw my line art neatly and put in a balanced set of crossovers in the knotwork effect. This is taken part way through when I had done a lot of the roots and was working on the branches…

Then I added some leaves, but this decentred the picture…

…so I got rid of my original outer circle and put in two new ones. My basic outline design was now finished…

From here I wanted to make two different pieces of art. The first was a gradient wash of watercolour in some iconically natural colours. The other was a detailed digital design possibly one in greyscale and one in colour. This week I’ll go over the watercolour work.

Watercolour

The first part of this painting was getting my digital design onto some watercolour paper.

I printed out the design on two sheets of A4, with just over half of the tree on each side. The using scissors and sellotape I made an A3 copy. Then I used an 8B pencil to rub all over the back of every line in my design. That done, I fixed it with masking tape to some A3 Watercolour paper and I was ready to transfer my image…

I went over the lines of my design with a hard pencil until I had redrawn the whole thing. Once I lifted up my copy paper I had a light imprint of my design to work with…

It had some darker bits where the pencil had bumped against the sellotape but it worked. I then went over this with a pencil and used a putty eraser to get rid of any rough work like this.

Finally I had my design on A3 watercolour paper!

My next job was to hash out how I wanted to do the colour. Here’s one of a few trials I made on copy paper to see what worked…

Eventually I decided on going from dark paynes grey with ultramarine, through a range of greens to a cadmium yellow deep at the tips of the leaves.

So I began to paint…

The painting was simple but demanding in the sense that mistakes couldn’t be rectified. It gave me a lovely period of intense concentration and then it was finished…

I am fairly pleased with how it turned out. I like the colour changes and the patterns and lines. If I had to pick something to work on I would paint the wash differently. Normally I paint a wash wet in wet and the watercolour almost takes care of itself. With this, because the lines were so thin and I wanted some really intense colour, I painted it wet on dry and just tried to move fast enough to mix the colours on the paper. I think taking my time and doing a few layers to build up the colour wet in wet might have given me a better result (although the final painting looks much smoother and more consistent than the photograph above).

Next week I’m going to take the outline I designed and use it to make a textured digital symbol in grey scale and in colour.

Cha Cha the Chihuahua

 

Following on from last week, where I discovered that repurposed cardboard envelopes can make an excellent painting surface for gouache I made a small painting (approx 6.5″ x 6″) of a little Chihuahua puppy and her ball.  I called her Cha Cha, because little ones like this have a tendancy to dance and skip around when they are happy!

The cardboard performed beautifully as a painting surface and worked better than any other surface I have tried with gouache, including the expensive Arches Hot Pressed Watercolour Paper.

As usual I began with a sketch…

 

Then I laid down some basic background colour…

After that I began to paint in earnest…

 

Here is my finished painting…

 

I also really love the way this surface has a beautiful texture when painted on.  Here’s a close up…

 

NB:  Apologies – I’m not very well at the moment, so I may take some time to get back to you.  All of the posts for the next few weeks were completed in the summer holidays and scheduled so I’m just going to let them run.  (It’s not Covid and the doctors have a good handle on it but it might take a while to get better.)

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!