Getting back around to art.

Apologies for the lack of images: today was the first time I really allowed myself to explore with art materials for over two years (or that’s what it feels like, anyway). As such, I’m not entirely to the point of displaying what I made, though I like it well enough to continue.

So…this started out with an outing today. D and I went to a small Asian knickknack store (Japanese-branded stuff, but the name of the store doesn’t sound Japanese) to try and find a replacement for the pouch that got littered full of shredded foam (as I mentioned in my last post). I guess there’s something to be said for the creativity of a culture which routinely uses gifts to show goodwill…the new pouch has a good-luck cat face on it. It was the only thing in the store that came close to what I needed.

As it turns out, it was easy enough to rinse and hand-wash out the pouch that used to hold my jump drives. The cat-face pouch is holding all of my jump drives now, so if the other one gets ruined, I still have an option.

It’s kind of weird that these little purses are my go-to for holding jump drives, but whatever. (They’re padded, and nice.) I could imagine, though, being a little kid and getting this as a present, with stuff inside…it would actually be really cute, and a nice gift.

The major trouble I’ve had in the past with Christmas is that it perennially seemed to be a day where people showed me how much they didn’t know who I was (with the exception of my nuclear family). This is the reason why as an adult, I am purchasing the stuff I really want, on my own. I don’t think that’s the way it’s supposed to work (buying oneself Christmas gifts), but it’s a way I could see things going in the future. Anyhow…

What began with cleaning up my craft table eventually turned into prioritizing and shifting storage (I got the 30 half-stick set of Rembrandt pastels, which needed some place to live), which turned into playing with charcoal and huge flat pencils (which I had to sharpen with a knife), and coming up with a design I liked.

The design itself looks like a red lantern, but it’s basically a back-and-forth motion that I surrounded with strategic areas of darkness, indicating a glow. In turn…I’m thinking I can expand this and make it a motif of a larger drawing.

The major drawback to using marker (as I used on my 4th and 5th iterations of this sketch) is that I can’t get that real subtle shading from dark to light which is so easy to attain with charcoal, unless I use a large number of markers. (Markers also have the drawback of fading, which is just something of which to be aware.)

I also then scribbled in some color, first with a red (Scarlet?) LYRA Color-Giant pencil; then on another working, with red Tombows. The black marker I used was a Pitt Big Brush Pen, which is good for mimicking the mark of a broad piece of round willow charcoal.

After I had done this, it was really apparent that my drawing was very, very “graphic” looking. By that I mean, it’s really bold. At that point I realized that maybe I shouldn’t be fighting the fact that my art looks bold, and got out my dip pen nibs and inks.

I actually have too many inks; this is from a time before I knew how to use decent graphics programs and scanners, so I had been on a quest to find the “blackest” black ink. I used Speedball Super Black tonight, which was fairly nice…I just didn’t realize that I had never opened the bottle!

So it was me and this big pad of drawing paper, and a nib and nib holder (I forget what the nib was called, but it was the Hunt Ex-Fine Bowl, I think: it looks like the Speedball #512. For an “Extra Fine” pen, though…it didn’t really make fine lines).

And to answer that question: no, I still haven’t gotten a replacement lighter to burn off the anti-rust coating of most of these nibs. What I did today was use a nib that my sister gifted to me. Since it was already used, I knew it would hold ink. I did read that the anti-rust coating could be removed with alcohol — or pen cleaner — which is what I may try with my newer nibs (before singeing them as a last resort).

What’s weird is how easily illustration (particularly, with people) is coming to me, now. Maybe I need to stop calling it, “weird,” though. If I’ve been doodling characters for 20 years and have taken multiple life-drawing classes, it’s no longer, “weird,” if it’s easy. I should rather expect that.

It’s also really easy now for me to control a stiff pen point. I think I can thank my Pilot Metropolitan for giving me practice with that…

I also have a sheet of extra Bristol Board that I’ve been screwing around on with my fountain pens, and gave it a go with the dip pen. Other than needing to steady my hand, the Bristol presented no problems with feathering, unlike the drawing paper I was messing around with. I also have DELETER paper, which is basically ultra-smooth, but I’d have to look around a bit to source it again!

I would ideally want to plan out a composition (and, you know, get a script) before I went to Bristol and pen-and-ink, but practice has to start, sometime.

I still have to test out those Princeton Neptune brushes — as I was reminded of by reading backposts, the other night. I’m pretty sure Bristol can handle light washes; I’m not sure about the DELETER paper (as I don’t think I’ve ever tried it with washes).

Of course, then, there’s the option of filling with hatching…hmm. But I’d have to think carefully about that. Unless, that is, I used the Microns, Copic fineliners, and Copic markers (in addition to dip pen?!). I don’t think I ever did try using the Copic markers on Deleter paper…

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