Mandala in Ink

This week’s drawing is a “Healing Mandala” design. I drew it during a difficult couple of weeks in November when my mental health was very poor and my pain was very bad. I was in bed for half of the first week and all of the second week so that’s where I drew most of it. It really did help me through.

Healing mandalas usually have a focus to help the individual looking at them to reduce their stress, heal emotionally and reflect deeply. I focused my mandala on nature. Traditionally mandalas are geometric designs. I found putting together strong geometric shapes and patterns with natural elements like leaves, flowers and pollen was a very calming combination. It also helped me to draw out the wholeness I feel when I am within a very natural environment.

Oddly I began this whole healing journey with trigonometry! I used my trig and a pair of compasses to draw out a six-sided plan for the mandala…

It began looking like a range of overlapping circles. Circles are important in mandalas since they represent wholeness, unity, harmony, kinship and health. Then I adjusted the circles into large roundish leaf shapes. I worked on the centre first and then from the outside in gradually building up my nature motifs. The idea was to make a large lotus flower shape and then to have natural designs on each petal.

Here is the final design…

What kinds of things would you put into your picture if you drew your own healing mandala?

Happy Christmas!

This week’s art is all about Christmas cards. I wanted to wish you all a Happy Christmas (or Happy Holidays if that’s more appropriate for you)! So I made two ink drawings; one of a Christmas star and one of a Swedish Christmas gnome.

Here are the ink drawings…

I then scanned these drawings into my computer and coloured them digitally – one with a focus on Red and the other with a focus on green.

Here are the finished cards…

I wish you all health and happiness this Yuletide season.

For my friends whom I know in person I have also ordered some Christmas card envelopes. I plan to print out these cards and seal them in envelopes of the same colour. As I write this (mid to late November) the envelopes haven’t yet been delivered but if I remember I will put a photo of the finished cards in here once they arrive.

Hope you all have a great holiday!

PS: Here are the final cards. I didn’t manage to get the green ones and had to settle for white ones instead. I’m going to put a small Christmas Cracker figurine in with each card…

Water Bottle – Realism Challenge

This week’s art is a drawing I made following Mark Crilley’s Realism Challenge

I have really enjoyed Mark’s work since I read his graphic Novel “Brody’s Ghost”…

He draws beautifully in his books. Here’s a panel from this book…

Brody’s Ghost Panel by Mark Crilley

I just love it!

In Mark’s Realism Challenge book, he takes the reader through the process of drawing one hyper-realistic picture in each chapter. I needed something to draw when attending the art club I go to so I thought I might have a go at another of his challenges. This was to make a drawing of a water bottle. I decided to do it in ink.

Here’s Mark’s final picture next to his reference…

I drew using his reference. I began laying out the basic structure of the drawing as accurately as I could…

Then I developed this into a more detailed pencil sketch…

Finally I inked the drawing. Here’s the finished study…

I really enjoyed this exercise. I love realism and I love Mark’s drawing books. So it was the perfect combination!

If you’re interested in seeing more of Mark’s work here are some links…

Mark’s Deviant Art Page

His Gallery on his own Website

Mark’s YouTube Page

Fighting Fish – Watercolour

This week’s art is a small watercolour painting of a Fighting Fish (Betta splendens). They are called fighting fish because the males are extremely territorial and will fight one another if put in close proximity. In the wild one fish will normally back down from the other and swim away. In captivity however they can’t do that and so it’s recommended never to keep two males together. Housed alone or with other peaceful tankmates they are wonderful peaceful fish. I’ve kept many betta’s over the years. They are very intelligent and learn easily if you train them with food. Mine particularly loved bloodworm.

Here’s my first betta fish called Anthony…

While I didn’t draw Anthony I think my colour choices were influenced by him. Here’s my pencil drawing…

And here is the watercolour painting…

This was only a small painting done in my sketchbook during a couple of hours at an Art Club I attend at the charity Mind.

Schnauzer – Ink and Pencil

This week’s drawing is of a little miniature schnauzer. My Bonnie was one of these happy little dogs. I still can’t see a schnauzer anywhere without feeling a pang of sadness from losing her. She was the best little dog in the world.

I began with some very basic shapes just outlining the main dimensions and general fluffiness(!)…

Next I filled out the pencils and made some more definite marks outlining and defining my little dog…

Once the pencils were done I moved onto the inks. Trying to capture the softness of the pencils with a medium as hard and fast as ink was difficult. Looking back now, I wonder if using water soluble ink and deliberately smudging the ink would help. I think I might give this a go another time. It’s certainly something I’d like to play with.

Once my inks were complete I added pencil as a half tone to round out the image and to provide a soft shadow. Here’s the finished drawing…

Tyger tyger…

This week I drew a picture of a tiger. As a child I had many dark and forceful dreams about tigers. I don’t really know why, I think of them as powerful and majestic animals nowadays. There was a time when I was young when I was allowed to hold a young tiger cub at a circus. I remember very clearly how very heavy it was. I expected it to weigh maybe double the weight of our cat but it weighed a lot more. It also dug it’s nails into my lap and arm. I’m glad we no longer allow animals to be kept in circuses, but it really was a wonder to be that close to such a wonderful creature.

Anyway, here are my photos if the drawing…

Pencils

The pencils were done at an art group run by our local Mind charity. Then when I got home I inked it…

I also added some pencil and smudged it in with my fingers to give it some more shading. I quite like this effect.

Once my picture was complete I left it on the bed and my little feline friend, Leia, checked it over…

She left her “stamp” of approval…

(I cleaned this up with photoshop.)

Eagle – ink and pencil

This week’s drawing was inspired by Martin and Susan Tyner‘s work to rescue and rehabilitate raptors in Utah in the US. They have a charity called Enoch Wildlife Rescue, and a wonderful YouTube channel of the same name. Since I found this channel I have been transfixed by Martin’s way with these huge birds of prey. He has a calmness about him which settles the eagles, hawks and owls he works with and spills over to calming me when I watch him in action!

I began with a sketch…

I smudged pencil onto it (accidentally – I can be a real “mess wizard” at times) and then used that as a ground for highlighting with a soft putty eraser. It turned out to be a really good way to help me “see” the form in my picture more easily.

I went on to ink the drawing and decided to keep my pencils as shading. This made my final photograph a little bit tricky since I didn’t want any of the pencil to shine and so change the tone in my final image. I managed to get a photo without any pencil shine after some faffing about.

Here’s my final picture (with writing added as I ran the image through photoshop)…

Squid in Watercolour

I had a go at painting a squid this week. Here’s how it went…

Basic structure in pencil
More details added
Completed drawing

I tend to use the same basic approach to painting as I do drawing, which is to draw/paint the bigger shapes first and the successively add small shapes. Below I’ve put on the basic overall wash and then add a few more detailed washes to add some darker pigment for shadows and darker skin colouration.

First wash of watercolour

Gradually I built up the washes until I was content with the final picture…

Joy and Sorrow

In the last week or so I’ve been trying to draw images which are more symbolic, rather than representational. Of the various things I sketched I picked these two since they are opposites in my mind.

Joy

The first, the octopus, for me symbolises joy. I love octopuses. They are such ingenious, unusual animals. I feel my heart get lighter every time I see one!

I wanted to make an octopus design for the folder of some work I’m doing to try to get well. I began with an idea in my mind but, unlike an octopus, I struggled coordinating all 8 arms! So I played around with it a bit…

Then I made a quick sketch…

Finally I reworked this sketch into a proper ink drawing…

I tried to really simplify what is a very complex animal into a basic form which would still be recognisable. This isn’t something I’m good at. I think I could simplify this design even more and people would still pick up that it’s an octopus, but it is as far as I went for this particular adventure.

Sorrow

I have 2 chronic pain conditions. This picture symbolises what one of those feels like…

While it’s not a pleasant image, it does capture the type of sharp burning pain which myself and other people with neurological pain can experience.

Reflections

With this exercise, I found it harder than I thought I would to think up visually symbolic ways of showing feelings. I think my brain is very practical and realistic – rather than imaginative. Perhaps more practice will help.

Egbert

I want to finish with some footage from the Dodo Kids Channel on YouTube. It is of a beautiful little octopus called Egbert. The video was definitely made for children, but I love it anyway – it just makes me smile!!! 😊