I’m dealing with a little bit of hesitance toward putting my art online — but when would that not be the case, right? I had a bit of a time earlier today with two hours to kill, so I — actually — did some drawing.
I’m not sure the colors are altogether this bright in the actual paper version…??? but you get the idea.
This was done with the Supracolor II pencils on top of Canson Montval paper. I wouldn’t call it exactly, “finished,” but this is what happened after about an hour of quiet observation and drawing.
I should actually do this more often. I forgot how drawing from observation can get meditative.
I also forgot about the pleasure of seeing your work take form. It wasn’t until I got to the shadows that this started to come together.
After having progressed this far (I should note that this study was done between 12:10 and 1:10 PM — if I want to duplicate the lighting), I wanted to try something else. I wasn’t sure what, though…so I attempted to work on some illustrations, as versus doodling.
Right now, they’re all linework.
I can actually see where my drawings in comic style have improved, because of my two semesters in Figure Drawing. I still have some work to do where I would be gauging the size of the skull against the size of the ribcage (I have a tendency to make the heads either too big or too small), but that doesn’t seem to be an issue in the drawing to the right.
I left all of my character drawings uncolored, with the intent of inking and coloring them later with the FW inks.
I do have some experience with drawing these two characters, though the third one on the same paper — that is, the one which was unfamiliar to me (and also the first I tackled), has been through so many revisions that I am not certain it is a great thing to post them online!
I can already see part of that image where I can obviously fix something…this is where the neck inserts into the skull…a problem I am used to.
At least, though, this gives me something to work off of, if I want to play with the acrylic inks. I had wanted to go over these with Micron…but especially with the first character I posted above, I’m not entirely sure how to do that without obliterating the delicate and semi-spontaneous work that went into the original drawing.
I also know that it isn’t necessarily the best thing to be drawing with mechanical pencil, but I was kind of in a hurry to get out, today, and that was what I already had with me. I’ve found Pentel leads to be pretty good where it comes to erasing, as well…next time, though, it would be good to take an actual dedicated eraser. The Staedtler white plastic erasers are actually pretty sweet, but my stash is, again, old. I bought a 4-pack of them I-don’t-know-how-many-years-ago, and have not run out. I don’t know if they decay…maybe I should either sell them, give them away, or carve stamps out of them… 🙂
…or simply see if they crumble or ooze at all, at this point…
Alright, I think that’s about all I’ve got, for now. I can look at inking these images…maybe I should do so using translucent marker paper, although that kind of defeats the purpose of having drawn them on watercolor paper…I will be able to make multiple versions, though, and see which ones I like best, before inking the final version.
I did try out the Caran d’Ache Supracolor II pencils, tonight. I am a little underwhelmed, upon seeing the color density next to full-strength FW acrylic inks…though I am glad that the Supracolors will work with a good degree of opacity, on top of black paper. (I was using Strathmore ArtAgain coal black paper.) Using them on toned paper was my fall-back position, in case I wasn’t satisfied with their performance as aquarelles (watercolor pencils).
In Caran d’Ache’s favor, for the tests I was working with very little pressure, ranging to heavy pressure; with a clean waterbrush, the great amount of white showing through was likely due to the synthetic bristles wiping up the pigment, as versus simply wetting it. And after the bristles pick up the heavy amount of pigment in the dark area, the brush wants to spread it everywhere…which could be a plus or minus, depending on your aims. I haven’t learned how to control the pigment flow yet, though. And I’m thinking that the sketchy quality of the soft leads might be something that grows on me.
I think I’ve mentioned before that two of the main reasons I stopped using colored pencils were the fact that the (usually white) color of the paper shows through to a degree I really can’t let slide; and the tiny point of contact with the paper. In addition, paints and inks often have better color intensity, and they cover the entire area (excepting dry-brush techniques).
Aquarelle pencils, however…can cover the white, once they’re wet; and though they are also suited to detail work, I can also switch out with a brush to manipulate the pigment. I am aware that my most effective present method for eliminating white paper showing through is to paint the substrate first (or use toned paper, which is meant to show through). I haven’t tested this yet — though I did indeed get the Supracolors to use on top of acrylic ink or watercolor laydown.
What I did with the acrylic ink tonight did show me that the degree of opacity offered by the FW inks is acceptable to me — only three inks were marginal enough to cause concern (White [obviously], Emerald Green, and Flesh Tint), and the two which weren’t white were both convenience mixtures.
The biggest drawback to the FW inks — besides the fact that they each have to be shaken up — is that there is no Ultramarine equivalent (I have used) for mixing, meaning that one is more or less dependent on their (warm-leaning) Violet, which can be tinted with a bit of blue, or Crimson. I think Indigo is the only deep blue of theirs which I don’t have, and I left that one because of concerns about color temperature. That means that Rowney Blue is the most violet-leaning blue that I have, and…that isn’t saying much.
However — I am now thinking that maybe I am better off with acrylic inks, as versus aquarelles…except where it comes to convenience in travel. I can use the Supracolors at work, that is, because I don’t need anything except the aquarelles, a waterbrush, and paper. I shouldn’t, on the other hand, use acrylic inks or paints at work because of the toxicity issue — the only sink which is not used for food is in the bathroom. And I would much rather separate utility and food (and toilet) sinks, given that I don’t want to take a chance with exposing my co-workers — or anyone else — to pigments (as I’ve been told that, “none of them are really good for you”).
I was working on top of watercolor paper tonight, though. The effects of both media may be different on a surface like Bristol board. I haven’t yet tested this, but it was apparent that the watercolor paper (Canson Montval) absorbed the ink of my fineliner (Micron Graphic 1) enough so that it seemed as though it did not dry to the point it needed to, in order not to lift when hit with water. (Either this, or there was some sort of reaction with ingredients in the Supracolors.)
Consequently, washing water over the aquarelles caused black ink to tint the original run — even though hitting it with plain water alone, did not cause any lifting or smudging of the Micron.
I’m also wondering about whether or not I want to actually scrub the aquarelles with my brush — it’s not something I’m used to, and this time it actually did lead to a messy outcome. It is a watercolor-like outcome, but I never scrub my watercolors with my brushes unless I’m lifting it off of the paper.
In any case…I’ve got to play around with color mixing and layering. I should be able to do that, sometime soon…
I’ve just been looking around online at Caran D’Ache watercolor pencils. Apparently, there are now two kinds: the Museum variety, and the Supracolors.
Museums look as though they are transparent, while the Supracolors have higher opacity (hinted at by the terms “covering power” at the Caran D’Ache site). It seems I’m a bit late to the game, here, as the WetCanvas link I’ve given above marks these as new for 2013…but I’m not an early adopter, so there you go. 🙂 Accordingly, I’ve read that Supracolors can be used light-over-dark if the lower layer is dry or has dried. I’ve also seen photos to this effect.
This…kind of gives me something to think about. I’m used to colored pencils not being terribly opaque (unfortunately), but then, I’m also used to Faber-Castell Polychromos, Blick, and Prismacolor brands (the last of which is a collection which runs back prior to 2000, as I think I’ve mentioned before). What I forgot to add is that I’ve been adding to that collection over the years; the font differences on the sides of the pencils tell me which ones are ancient and which are not. 😉
I’m…actually, still really interested in the Supracolors. The Museum pencils are fairly expensive, at ~$4 per pencil, while the Supracolors are a bit less (at around ~$3 per pencil in open stock). I would be buying my pencils, as well, to complement my watercolors — not to replace them.
When I tried the Supracolor I did, the pigment dispersion was very, very fine, as I had only used a little of the lead to see what color I would actually be getting (which was a bright violet-red, very different in appearance from dry pigment). And I didn’t have any black lines drawn on my test paper to see if the pigment would block out an underdrawing.
My major concern is wiping out those lines, which is why I even gave the Museum pencils consideration (I could get 12 for around $30…they may be what I’m looking for; I just hate to shell out that much money for that little product…although all signs say they’re high-quality). But what are in practicality, gouache pencils, do seem very interesting. And I have Derwent Inktense and watercolor pencils already. I don’t want to duplicate them (which is why I again started to re-swatch them, in addition to not recalling what they would do).
Despite having been out sick — I do think I’ll use my sickleave. (I’m not often sick, even when others are.) I’m hoping to do some sort of celebration of having completed Summer Session — on my mind is the 30-pencil set of Supracolors (which would be ~$2/pencil), which…wait…that would be twice the cost of the Museum pencils alone. It could be nice to get the Museum pencils and then a few open-stock Supracolors (particularly, light tones and greens), for the same price or less. (I’m intending to spend ~$60 at most, for these.)
Although — now that I look at it — how I’m going to use the pencils really caps all of this. I see a review which states that the Museums are not suitable for tight work, because of their softness — and I wanted to get them to tighten up the watercolor. Maybe I should get just a few colors in each style, and see how they’re usable. I already know that the colors in either style will be good.
What I had envisioned doing was laying down an initial layer of watercolor paint or acrylic ink to eliminate the white background, then going over it with aquarelle — like the Supracolors or Derwents — to add sharper details and fades (gouache could also serve, here), and then going over that with regular colored pencil, for texture.
Of course, though, this is all in my head, right now. I’m sure things will come up that I can’t predict, which will send me down one or another path, as regards workflow. You know what that means? That means I shouldn’t go to the art store yet, because I don’t yet know what I need. To find out what I need, I need to work on some drawings! In the process, I can see what hues I’m missing in my current collection. It may be that I don’t even have to buy a set. It may be that I don’t have to buy any new aquarelles at all.
One certain thing, though: I need to get a back-up pack of Derwent Graphik Line Painters (in case my “Snow” decides it can’t stand holding its paint anymore — it’s seriously messed up, as it was the first Japan-nibbed pen I ever tried to use, and I was not gentle enough with it).
I think I’m finally getting the hang of this art store thing. I mean — I’m actually doing research, as versus going in there and buying way more than I need, or items whose properties, I’m unsure of. Now — now, I’m wondering about taking a course on Web Searching…it hadn’t been on my mind, before, but it could prove very useful…and possibly, necessary…
Well, my fever temporarily broke today…unfortunately, it then went back up to 99º F. Consistent with what I’ve been doing for the last several days, I’ve decided to stay in, today. I did break out the aquarelle pencils (I have one set of “Watercolor” pencils and one set of “Ink” pencils), and tried to get a start on swatching them (again — I didn’t feel like trying to find my old papers), until I realized I was again sweating, and should give it a break. I know that yesterday, I was so loopy that I was misreading clearly written text…
There’s something to be said, though, for the “wow” factor for me in even being able to draw two lines of different width on a big piece of Mixed Media paper. I think that, now, other than times when I am just trying out a paper (like the hot-press Fluid brand paper which I found, pills), it would actually be best to go for a larger pad, rather than a small one. I usually don’t use blocks — I prefer to tape the paper down to a piece of Masonite. That way, I can work on more than one project at once, and switch them out when I feel like it.
And rulers! I have been using a large aluminum ruler for a good amount of time, to cut and draw straight lines. What a timesaver! I kind of want to kick myself for even thinking about trying to hand-draw straight lines for my swatches (mostly because I didn’t want to go get the ruler)!
Right now I’m (again) in bed, and typing like this is probably not good for my spine — but I have realized a potential twist in the story I’ve been planning out. Parallel timelines: different universes. What one character believes to be a “past life” or spirit action may turn out to be the mental overlapping of two timelines.
This will enable me to have the “spirit” character not be perfect, to tell her story at the same time I’m divulging the co-main character’s, and to tell both the stories that have been bothering me for some time, within the same text. As a bonus, the female main character won’t have to die for the male main character’s story to begin, and they won’t have to take place on the same world or iteration of that world’s timeline. But the time flow issue — and the issue of psychic “alien” life — will be all screwy, which, gratefully, I’ve somewhat prepared for.
My major dilemma at this point is knowing that I want to work this out visually, and wondering how to work such an internal story out in image + text (as versus text only).
I know the “smart” thing would appear to be not to divulge these notes, but I’ve had too many projects die without seeing the light of day because of my secrecy. And it’s not even like the execution was all that great, if I’m thinking back to when I was 12 and doing this stuff. The thing is that ideas are plentiful; but it’s the execution of the idea that makes it yours. It will likely be quite some time before I’m ready to show a concrete (non-changing/logically coherent) image of this story to the world, but what I can do with it and what someone else would do with it are two different things…
I’m not sure why, but today was almost totally spent in bed. I did, however, manage to photograph what I was working on, yesterday. It’s not anything really great, but at least it’s something.
I’m working on taking sub-par photographs so that it’s more difficult to explain things when they’re used out of context. 😉 Just kidding.
This is the first piece I worked on, yesterday, while in a waiting room. If I did it over again, I’d definitely change some things: in particular, rounding out the shapes better. Photoshop’s Levels filter has brightened some of the colors here…particularly the red which leans to the blue side of the spectrum.
I was, altogether, not that impressed with some of the pigments used in this composition. In particular, I would like a Phthalo Green and probably a Phthalo Blue, plus switch out the Carmine for something a bit more vibrant.
Something I learned in the process of making this is that it’s really vital, when using a set of highly saturated colors such as the ones I did, to leave a good amount of white space instead of trying to fill in all the spaces with bright color. There are areas here which I feel work better, and areas which I can tell weren’t really clearly thought out — particularly the upper 1/4 of the composition. When I got a handle on using white space and getting familiar with the idea that leaving obvious marks would work, things came together more successfully (in my opinion).
I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve realized that when working with Neocolor II crayons plus water, it’s almost inevitable that there is going to be texture left behind wherever there was heavy pressure on the crayon. There isn’t really any point to fight with this, because it’s fairly ubiquitous and inherent to the medium. Where I left marks which indicated the lower drawing, things seemed to turn out better, because I wasn’t fighting with what was going on.
I still really can’t stand that upper 1/4, though.
After I stopped playing with the above piece, I moved onto the next page and realized — in drawing simple lines and then washing over them — that variation in pigment density (between the dissolved and undissolved crayon) was something that could not be avoided in this medium.
Looking for something smoother and more like ink, I tried something else: taking my writing pen, doing a quick sketch, and then washing over it with my waterbrush. The biggest drawback to this is that it’s relatively difficult to control the depth of tone in the wash by using the waterbrush alone. The easiest way I found to control it was to work on dark areas first, then as the ink ran out in the brush fibers, work on lighter and lighter areas. The other thing about this is that the fresher the ink is from the pen, the darker the washes will be. I didn’t find this out, though, until my next attempt:
The good part about this is that it gave me the smoothness which was lacking in the Neocolors. The part which was difficult was managing the value scale, without experience. I didn’t realize that by using this pen (which is supposed to not wash off of checks, preventing check fraud), the longer it had to dry or cure, the less responsive it would be to water.
It’s hard to tell exactly how deep a wash is going to be before it’s hit with water; and then, there is not any really good way to un-wet it (though maybe if I had used a tissue to blot it, it would have helped — I forgot I had one). If I were going to try and save this piece, I would have half a mind to go in there with Sumi ink and really darken the doorway, which would give me a larger range of values to work with.
The major issue which was really difficult to convey is that there were at least three light sources here which were all actually the same light source bouncing off of different surfaces. There was the glowing window, then the cast light on the floor, then the light bouncing off the doorway and floor into the other side of the hall, before we got into the interior lighting which was behind me.
Because the light from the window was so intense, it was difficult to try and figure out how to portray that. It isn’t just a white-to-black range here; there is actually something glowing and producing light…which is not something I’ve ever really tried to convey, before.
I have found, though, that I do like the smoothness of ink — and most of my watercolors. I have realized that the tins I bought will hold at least 24 half-pans, each…though D has mentioned that the tin may be too deep to enable easy access to the pans.
I still need to work out exactly how many colors I have, as well…before I go trying to plan a setup which will make it easy to carry these around…
I don’t have a lot of time to write tonight before my brain stops working. I will, though, attempt to post at least this to remind myself that I worked on three pages of my small Wet Media sketchbook today. If tomorrow turns out not to be busy, I should have time to photograph what I’ve done and touch up what I didn’t finish.
One of the compositions I did is an abstract in Neocolor II crayons with graphite and a waterbrush. The next page is the one in which I realized that in using the Neocolors, unless I’m very light with my hand and scrub with my brush, building up the crayon layer by layer, variations in pigment density and a rough look are pretty much part of the medium — emphasizing brushstrokes and texture actually helps, here.
A smooth look, on the other hand, would be obtained with watercolors…which I have been wondering about loading into one of those tins.
On that page, I remembered as well that my ballpoint pen might work with my waterbrush to create (smooth) washes; so I started drawing in the place I found myself. This was totally without pencil, so there are some things which should have blocked out other areas of the drawing which are transparent. 🙂 Nevertheless, I really surprised myself with that.
The next page was a view through a set of doors and out a window. I realized here that because the pen I was using was one which is supposed to not wash off of checks, the longer I let it dry, the lighter my washes became. I still need to do some work with the value ranges on this one, but from here (looking at this from a side angle), it actually looks surprisingly alright.
This was from almost exactly two hours devoted to nothing but art.
I should get some rest, now. I really don’t even know who will be up to read this…
I’m kind of blank right now, probably due to having spent the majority of my waking hours today, doing artwork.
I have a Critique tomorrow morning, and hope to have two pieces reasonably finished, by then. (I’ve already warned my prof.) It…is just one of these things where I am working, I’m just being slow at working because I’m trying to deal with so much at once (not just art, but classes, work, health, career, money, independence, sleep, hygiene, food; young adult human stuff), that it’s hard to make a choice to work on this. And when I am working on this, my style is so detailed and intricate that it takes a lot of labor to get what I want.
I have found out some things about my working process, though, and am trying to work through more.
The biggest thing I think I’ve found out is that I need to make committed, regular time to work on my art projects, if I want there to be any art projects. I’ve also found that there are certain preliminary exercises that I feel the need to work through prior to working on a major work-in-progress in order to reassure myself that, “yes, I actually do know what color that ink pencil is going to be after I wet it.” Or, “what is it that I’m actually already doing and/or wanting to do?” Or, “do I need to work with masking fluid for what I want to do, and am I comfortable with that?”
I actually hadn’t settled on this assignment for myself, prior to two weeks ago, so there is that. That is, by the time I had a clear idea of what I was doing, I had two weeks remaining to work with. I really should have started brainstorming and working out — in writing and visually, on paper — what it was that I wanted to be doing for this Critique, at the latest, immediately after the previous Critique. Not at the time when my prof asked for us to think about what we wanted to do, and for our proposals.
I actually had to make the choice to use my aquarelles for this — actually, ink pencil and Neocolor IIs (which are watercolor crayons), because I was so intimidated with the prospect of adding watercolor to my drawings that I was just freezing up.
I’m uploading my favorite portions of the compositions I’m working on…that is, the parts which I labored over, most, and love, most. Right now I’m working on “flower portraits.” Unfortunately, I didn’t think to photograph the little labels which said what types of plants each of these are. I’ve had at least three separate people ask me what the pink balloon cluster flowers, are. (I really don’t know, though I could probably find the plant again, if it’s still in bloom. I know the location of the plant because I recall when and where in the day, I found it.)
So I ended up using the Neocolor II watercolor crayons, and Derwent Inktense ink pencils. While I was at the art supply place, I noticed that Caran D’Ache actually makes both of the Neocolor lines (I [water-resistant] and II [water-soluble]), and the Supracolor line of watercolor pencils, which are supposed to be top of the line for watercolor pencil. I’d tried a Supracolor out in the store before, and was very impressed with both the dispersion of pigment and with the intensity of hues — but they’re really expensive. Now that I look at the prices, they don’t seem too bad, though, at least in open stock — but the sets are like, “whoo! hope you’re going to use them!”
Yes, we’ll take your money. Ku ku ku.
What I was doing, though, really did call for aquarelle use. I mention the Supracolors because I think, but am not sure, that the color coding used between the Supracolors, and the Neocolor I and II lines, are the same. I think the pigment formulas are the same, that is, but the vehicle differs. Supracolors would be nice for very tight drawings, where using a Neocolor II might just be frustrating (the Neocolors are really pretty soft, and tend to bluntness, which makes drawing things like fine precise lines difficult).
I was using Micron over an underlying pencil drawing, for both of the above images. 2B is the hardness I like, for this. It’s soft enough to avoid hardcore paper incision, dark enough to leave a visible line, while light enough to be cleanly erased. True watercolor…my style with actual watercolor painting is much looser than my style in drawing. I haven’t yet taken on the task of reconciling them, though I suppose that is one of the tasks ahead of me.
I was lucky enough to find some Illustration Board at both of my normal art supply outlets. One of them was about $2 — I think it’s one of the Crescent Cold Press boards, 11″x14″, or something. I’ve read that Illustration Boards aren’t always archival or acid-free, so that is something to keep in mind. The archival Illustration Boards that I know of, are like $7 each. If it’s for finished artwork by a skilled/artistically matured hand that’s going to sell for $200+ and be framed in someone’s house and made with archival pigments that will last through the next three revolutions, 100% cotton rag acid-free illustration board is really what one would want.
But I’m thinking that generally, illustration board is meant to be digitally reproduced, and hence, the less expensive stuff may yellow or degrade over time — which is not what someone would want if they were building a portfolio. However, it really is what one would want if they were making, say, a comic. Like the ones I’ve been thinking of doing in charcoal, where you don’t want to spend $7 per page, but you do want to get the images down on some kind of firm and durable surface for the short term. I’m pretty sure that the pieces I saw by Osamu Tezuka in the Asian Art Museum were on inexpensive board like this, because you could see where the text had been overlaid and taped down to the work — it was a different color.
Right now…I’m on the lookout for a better option than Wet Media paper, and trying to figure out if I’m going to have to tape watercolor paper down to Masonite for the foreseeable future or just use either non-archival illustration board…or quality illustration board. I’d thought of using gummed Kraft paper tape to wet-stretch watercolor paper as versus just taping it down dry, but I’ve heard that the gum never comes off. I’d end up cutting off the taped portion, which kind of makes for a possibly odd-sized image (and probably a ruined Masonite board). It is very possible that the makers allow for this, though, and that is why there are so many 20″x26″ pastel paper sheets, for example (the standard is 18″x24″)…
Still…it’s probably a better deal than using illustration board for everything, especially if you can handle the textures a lot of watercolor papers have. Which are, actually, positive things when you’re painting; not so much when you’re making tight drawings with pen and then coloring them with aquarelles and watercolor and possibly colored pencil; which is when you would want a more smooth, hot-press paper (which is more expensive). The thing is that 100% rag, quality watercolor paper (like Arches) is pretty expensive, too; I hear that buying a roll (which is very expensive) and then cutting pieces off is economical, because the roll lasts forever. Right now, though, I’d probably stick to purchasing individual sheets. I…can’t imagine how much a pad of huge sheets of watercolor paper would cost, really.
Anyway, I’m hoping that using something like illustration board, in the future, will keep me from dealing with the warped paper that happened, majorly, in the balloon-flower piece. You can see a little of the warping in the snippet I’ve shown here, because the sun was going down as I took the photo, and cast shadows over parts of the image.
I should probably get back to work — I can see some spots in my second photo which I need to work on, and I do need to work on coloring more of the first composition. But before I go, I do need to note that I think I really should be blogging about this stuff more. When I know that people are appreciating my stuff, it keeps me going, really. And I like to write about it, you know?
Yesterday I had a little mini-showing with some acquaintances, and it was really nice. I’m hoping that even though I did trip up on this portfolio (which is the major reason why I rushed to get Disability accommodations), that it won’t be a pattern. I am learning through this process. Even though I tripped, I know I tripped, and I can identify why — particularly the timing with the medications, and the fact that I actually operate better in the daytime with caffeine in my system.
I was getting drops in blood pressure mid-day, and have been used to going to sleep in the day instead of working. This is not good when you can’t stay up late to work without putting off taking your medication, which makes you even more tired the next day. I’m thinking that my medications are counteracting the caffeine, really. I drank something like 16 oz. of Thai iced tea yesterday and took my medications at 9 PM, and was ready to pass out at 10:30. I need to get on getting ready for bed right after I take medications, so I don’t end up too tired to brush my teeth and wash my face before falling asleep. In the time between hygiene and bed, I can work on my art — but not before doing maintenance essentials.
Kind of like how cleaning the bathroom was a good excuse not to fall asleep yesterday afternoon though, isn’t it?
Ah — one more thing. Color is really freakin’ difficult for me. Much more difficult than linework. I’ve been trying to work on it — I think I’ll go work on it, some more…