Alstroemeria: drawing from observation

I wanted to post this last night after midnight, but waited until today so that I could photograph my latest sketch in sunlight. Little did I know that that isn’t even optimal, with just light from a window…Accordingly, I have had to apply a Levels adjustment to the drawing you see below:

marker drawing of an alstroemeria flower
It kind of took a lot of work to get to this point! (By the way, the type of flower is called “Alstroemeria.”)

I made some notes for myself on my working process, last night. I think the enthusiasm for sharing them has died down (or otherwise sobered) overnight; I’m not as pleased with the outcome today as I was at around 12:15 AM. However, it’s good to look at things with fresh eyes.

So, the basic technique:

  1. I did a contour line drawing of a flower in (sharp) HB pencil, erasing unnecessary lines.
  2. I added color using Pitt (brush) pens.
  3. I erased the line drawing as completely as possible without erasing the pen.
  4. I added in the background using Pitt pens and minimal pencil guidelines.
  5. I erased the pencil in the background.

I’m not totally pleased with this, looking at it the next day. In particular, along the way I learned how to define relatively-light lines on dark backgrounds using negative space, but that wasn’t something I was even thinking about at the start of the sketch.

If I did this over again, I would either omit the almond-shaped green veins on the flowers’ two side petals, or I would draw them in with a much lighter green marker (relying on the marker’s transparency to blend with the petal and create a new color), or color around them and define the lines with negative space.

I also ran into the issue of not having a delicate enough pink to define the lighter areas of the petals, so I (felt I) had to go darker in order to avoid too much hatching/contour drawing (see the section on negative space, below). This doesn’t seem to be as big an issue for the background, though: where I was working with impressions and not trying to mimic reality so much.

I like the background much better than the foreground — it’s looser and more free and airy, capturing more of the feeling of the blossoms. I was, however, working with the structure I had established with the initial pencil drawing; I wonder how I would do with an all-over looseness (marker-first, or just light and minimal pencil guidelines which are later erased)?

I was also able to define a lot in the background by using negative and implied space, while I wasn’t thinking in terms of defining the light-colored foreground by darkening the background (what it was seen against) until later.

Keeping the white space goes along with this. I’m not used to seeing white as a “color,” but in this case the flowers were somewhat defined by their lightness. If I had planned on adding a background in the first place, I could have avoided over-hardening the central flower with mid-value pinks in an attempt to define its petals.

I’m also not hating that top right white petal with the pink contour lines as much as I was, last night.

There are also a couple of small details I feel like I should have caught, which I took note of in the process…inadvertently darkening a highlight area on the leftmost central petal (reversing the lowlight and highlight areas), and not paying attention to the pattern of veining on the rightmost leaf until it was too late. (In addition…I started off trying to define the veins as dark, when they are not dark; they’re light. Also, they do not branch off from a central, strong vein. They’re more like grass, with parallel veining.)

There are two things I know I can work on, from having done this sketch:

  1. utilization of white space and negative space
  2. layering inks to get unexpected hues beyond what is provided in the markers as used straight.

Also: loosening up.

It helps to have many of these pens with subtle color differentiations (especially, very light and very dark). They aren’t as troublesome in their uniformity of nib type as I thought they would be. It also helped to pick out the main colors in this piece before I even started ([pinks, violet/maroon], greens, yellows). This helped me avoid a lack of color harmony in the piece, though the subject itself had all these colors. Botanical subjects often do seem to harmonize with themselves well, in the first place…probably because they have a limited number of pigments to work with.

D suggested using watercolor with the marker, which would be a good idea with the caveat that I did this in an art journal filled with regular drawing paper. It might be fairly well destroyed by the addition of water.

And yes, I am thinking of a Yupo journal, now, thanks.  😛

There is a lot of work which built up to this, starting off with sketches in the sketchbook with the horrible paper, without any reference. Those helped me get an idea of the concept, but they aren’t really anything I’d like to show. Because of their lack of reference, many of the details are wrong even though the drawings can look pretty. Last Tuesday the 24th, though, I went and picked up some alstroemeria which I used as a reference for the picture, above.

Even though it was somewhat difficult for me to get myself to work on an observational drawing (I still get nervous), it was easier than making up details — as I was doing in my concept sketches.

I should likely go and work on my classwork, now… 🙂

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Taking some time out for art.

Today, I took 40 minutes of my lunch hour, and just drew.  For the first time, in a long, long time.

I haven’t taken photos of it, because how well it turned out isn’t the point.  The point is that I took some time out for myself, and I drew.  This was helped along by being frustrated enough by work and school to take my pencil kit with me, this morning, instead of a class reading.  (Of course, I only ended up using one pencil, this being a trusty 5″ long [now] 2B.)  I also took a cheap sketch pad filled with paper which I don’t expect to last — this frees me up to do work that doesn’t have to be worthy of the price of the paper.

(It did come out relatively cool, by the way.)

(Do people still say “cool?”)

The other reason I’m not showing it is that I did all of my drawing from imagination, without photo reference.  This means that I have some imaginary flowers which are kind of reverse of what they actually look like in reality–!

I was going for daffodil and alstroemeria.  Both of these have six petals, in roughly a star shape.  I guess you could say that I was jumping off of the floral block print I did earlier this year.  Daffodils are kind of fun, but I forgot that they only have one flower to a stem.  And there is the entire perspective thing to think about, where the central tubular petal is usually viewed on an angle (making it into a rough ellipse)…not to mention the planes of the outer petals.

Then I remembered that alstroemeria have three flowers to a stem, and started playing around with that — but I forgot that the inner petals are not the wide ones (there are three narrow inner petals with stripes on them, sometimes, and then an outer group of what look like petals but may not be).  I also reversed the concave/convex forms of the outer edges of the curves of the petals.

It’s easier to show you than to tell you, but I want to work on updated versions of these now that I’ve seen what I was trying to remember.  It would probably be best if I could post before-and-after scans.  🙂  And maybe some in-between ones which are mashed up from the “after” concepts with the former ideas…after all, I doubt all varieties of alstroemeria look the same…

And yeah, even though I didn’t remember the flowers exactly perfectly, the images I made still calmed me, and it was fun to draw them.  Even better was the fact that I was doing something for myself…

…and I was relatively good at what I was doing.  It’s always a shock when I get to demonstrate my skill to myself (not to cheer myself on too much, but).

I’ve got to keep in mind illustration (and writing, not to mention design), if I find that the Library & Information Science thing doesn’t work out.  Visual art is something I’m basically driven to do when the medications aren’t inhibiting me…the problem there is harnessing that drive.

Toyed with FW inks, last night:

I have a little time to write, here, but am not entirely sure of how much use I’ll be.

Yesterday, my godmother came over for a visit, so most of my waking hours were spent with her and M.  I did manage to get in some time to play with colors, but I ended up toying with the acrylic inks instead of dealing with jumping directly back into the watercolors.  (It’s probably because of the packaging, I’m not even kidding:  the FW inks kind of beg to be used in those little glass bottles.)

fw-play-3706w
Taken in filtered daylight
fw-play-night-3698w
Taken under fluorescent lighting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have done a bit of an experiment, here, though, with the photography.  I took a bunch of pictures of my work (most of which isn’t up here, because all it is, is my practicing Japanese writing [mostly, the same sentence] in multiple colors and nib sizes), and realized today on upload that I used the wrong lighting setting.  I should have used the “Tungsten” setting instead of the “Fluorescent” setting, as the latter leaves a lot of cleanup work.  The former blues everything out, but it doesn’t leave a heavy orange cast over everything like the “Fluorescent” setting does.

Anyhow…I did the above play last night and was curious about what it would look like under daylight today, so I took a second set of photos.  Both of the photos above have had Levels adjustments applied to them in Photoshop, though surprisingly, the night photo appears a bit clearer in relation to color.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t take the daylight photo under full daylight?

In any case, these are FW acrylic inks, as mentioned above.  I started out playing with “Rowney Blue” (PB15) + “Yellow Ochre” (PBk7/PY1:1), then — if my memory is correct — expanded to “Dark Green” (PG36) plus “Brilliant Yellow” (PY3/PY83).  There is probably a definite reason to use Brilliant Yellow over Yellow Ochre, given that the former is a slightly more brilliant hue than the latter, and that I’ve read that PY1:1 is to be avoided, as it’s apparently fugitive.

But anyway, I was curious as to what would turn out if I started blending colors which were not adjacent on the color wheel.  Rowney Blue is the nearest FW ink I have to Cyan (though they do make a Process Cyan color) — that is, all the other ones are either more green, or less saturated.  What I did find interesting is how quickly the blue ink tinted to deep green on contact with the Yellow Ochre ink.  I’m not used to a yellow reacting so quickly, visibly and strongly with a blue.  My gradation in this respect is found in the marks which appear to look like a tail, in the above photos.

I also did find with these, though, that if you want a stronger green, you may have to pull in a different pigment.  This is why I started using Dark Green, as I could make some nice greens with the former colors, but they were slightly grayed out.  Dark Green added some vividness, and along with Brilliant Yellow, made some really high-key greens that are visible above the “tail” section, above.

I did find, though, that like acrylic paints, these things dry extremely quickly; and so if you want to get color bleeds like you can in watercolors, you have a very limited time frame (seconds) to do so, before the first layer sets (at top left in the photos, I was moving too slowly).

It’s surprising to me that I was able to get such nice greens out of these colors.  Usually when I think about colors like Hansa Yellow Deep, I don’t think of making excellent greens with them.  To my eye, the yellow leans towards orange; however, maybe my eye is a bit off? and orange-leaning yellows can make saturated greens.

Anyhow, got to go…

Two hours to kill = art production ;)

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.

cracked-pot-w-3680
August 18, 2017; 1 hour study.  Supracolor II and Pentel mechanical pencil on Canson Montval paper.

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.

kate-3673

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.

eri-w-3673

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.

And it is just an art journal, in practicality…

Distractions, distractions…

I have one day left to do my final assignment in User Experience, and I think the timeline has me freezing up, a bit.  Both today and yesterday, I was unable to go in to work; yesterday, because I was physically sick (any time I moved, I wanted to throw up), and today, because I was running a fever (higher than yesterday’s).  Most of today and yesterday has been spent in the bed.

Right now, I feel more capable of doing things without constantly sweating, and my spine is telling me that some time spent vertically would be a good thing.  Staying home, though, didn’t help me find out what I need to for the basis of my assignment…which, inconveniently enough, is based on interviewing people.  (Working with people is likely the most difficult part of both my job, and this program.)

After this next week, though, Summer Session will be over.  That will be a relief.  I think I should just try and do the assignment as best I am able, even knowing that I do not have the time or information to do things the way I am being asked to do them.

Design Thinking is an entire field; it is unreasonable to expect us to execute the assignment perfectly in one week based on material found online, especially when no lecture is given and we have only been introduced to it within that same week.

I do think that I would be better off working in Graphic Design than I would be working in Design Thinking, that is.  That said, it is good to at least be introduced to the latter concept (and to where to learn more if I so desire).

That said, here are the succulent babies I was talking about last time. 😛 Please forgive the color-fill background; I took this photo at a weird angle, then had to rotate the image…did I crop this before rotating it?  Hmm.  Got to remember that for next time…

succulents-w

I’m still unsure as to whether to claim my off days as sickleave…though as it is Summer, and I spend more money during Summer and Winter breaks (excluding clothing) than at any other time…(during Semesters, I don’t have time to work on Art), I’m thinking about it.  Right now I’m wondering if I got sick because I briefly touched the neck/cap of my water bottle with an unclean hand, and then drank from it later.  (I thought my mouth did not touch what my hand touched.  Maybe I was wrong.)

Anyway, that’s past.

One of my coworkers brought in some graphic work the other day, as well:  I’ve got to ask them what kind of markers they used!  From the looks of the color blending, I would think they were Chartpaks, but I’m not deep enough into markers to tell.

I am thinking of getting some new Chartpaks and seeing how they perform now (the ink may not be the same, and mine may be so old as to be drying out — they’re streaking, now, but when they were new I could not make them streak):  I got the idea for a graphic art piece dealing with the story that is in my head and not yet solidified enough on paper (or in bytes) for me to have a formed idea of what it will become.

But I was motivated enough to work on it in charcoal, earlier.  And I hate charcoal.  I haven’t photographed it yet because it’s nowhere near being done, and I really dislike working in black and white, anyway.

It is a given that if I work with the Chartpaks, I will have to do it in a well-ventilated area; I’m thinking the garage, or outside.  I’m not sure if the fumes will be strong enough to ignite via the furnace…if this is an issue, I may be better off sticking with Tombows or other water-based markers, and just making heavy use of a blending marker, or brush and water — I don’t know what the difference is, in water-based markers.  (I wonder if charcoal/pastel blending stumps dipped in water would work, or just turn into mush?)

I also have Copics (alcohol-based), but my co-worker and I have been fairly underwhelmed by the markers, at least.  (I like the fineliners.)  I haven’t yet tried using the blending marker, though.  The Copics I have, streak; though I’m not sure if that’s because of the quality of nearly every paper I’ve used (I think translucent marker paper helps, particularly Borden & Riley), or if it’s because I didn’t saturate the paper with solvent (from the blending marker).

I should try blending the Copics first, before going to the Chartpaks, though…the solvent of the latter is definitely something you don’t want to be breathing in for any length of time, or in a confined area; and when open areas have open flame in them…I don’t want to set the house on fire.  I think I could use these, though, in an actual open space — if I taped down the paper I was working on to protect from wind.

At least when I first began to use the Chartpaks, they were formulated with xylene as a solvent, which is carcinogenic; then they reduced the amount of xylene to a level where the markers no longer carried a Caution Label.  Obviously, though…if you can avoid xylene…it’s just one of those things that’s best not to come into contact with on a frequent basis.  I was already used to the smell from using watchmaker’s cement (G-S Hypo Cement, which also uses xylene as a solvent, and which I’d gotten plenty of, on my fingertips:  not good!).

But the Chartpak AD markers (I’m not referring to the Chartpak Spectra AD markers, which I just found tonight) blend and bleed beautifully, or at least they used to.  Like I said:  when my (old formulation) markers were new, I could not make myself get streaks, so what I used them on looked more like animation cels, than anything.

And then, there’s the possibility of using colored pencils and liquefying them with a blending marker or Gamsol, or of using aquarelles.  The negative thing about the latter that I immediately land on, however, is that it’s like using grainy (and sometimes dull) paint.  The aquarelle layers just don’t dissolve all the way, unless you use a really light touch when applying the crayon (I’m thinking Neocolor II) or pencil…which I might try, at least if the only other options are Tombows and Copics.  The exception to this that I can think of are the Caran d’Ache Supracolor aquarelle pencils…which liquefy beautifully, with intense colors, but which are also top-of-the-line for watercolor pencils.  (They are priced accordingly.)

Yeah, maybe I’ll try that.  Maybe…I will.  I have some aquarelles I can experiment with, here already.  Maybe I just need to use a light touch.  This — and/or actually using paint or acrylic ink (how could I forget all those FW acrylic inks I have?), seem like better options.

I was probably just wowed by my co-worker’s marker art.  🙂  I forgot that I’ve been building up to this, for a while.  I got out of trying to use markers because it’s so expensive to just increase a dilution level of the same ink, whereas with paint or bottled ink, you just add a little more water.  (It’s been a very long time since I used ground sumi ink.)

I had begun to get into the technique of utilizing transparent watercolor as a ground color for other colored-pencil work, on top of a fineliner drawing; it shouldn’t be hard to lay down initial colors as watercolor (with the option of using acrylic ink, instead), then layer aquarelle and then regular colored pencil over that…though the opacity of those colors is something to pay attention to.  I could wipe out my initial linework, if I’m not careful.  But then I might also be able to wipe out opaque colors on top of linework as well, or redraw them with ink and a brush…(regular colored pencil, being wax- or oil-based, can clog the nibs of fineliners and markers, so I’ve heard).

I’ve also gotten wowed with Derwent Graphik Line Painters, some of which I may have initially ruined in my attempts at use:  I mention them here because they look awesome on top of watercolor, and as they have Japan (hollow) nibs, I have less of an expectation that they will clog.  The problem I’m having is having depressed the nibs too far into the barrels; this means some of them (the ones I tried to use before I knew better), will leak.

I recently found a Strathmore Mixed Media paper (it almost feels like illustration board:  the latter of which I don’t know how to use properly with water-based media, by the way), which I want to try out…and all of this might work well, here.

Yeah, I think it’s time to break out the aquarelle pencils!  After, that is, completing this last assignment…gah…

Produce market fun

My brain isn’t working too well with words right now (a good reason to resort to art), but I’ll try and get out anything that comes to mind.  We went to the produce market today…I picked up some things to draw and paint…these are all miniature versions of produce, though.

3531w

The bananas are Manzano (Apple) bananas…which oddly enough, do taste like apples!  (These are maybe 4″ long?)  Then there is a little squash and a Bok Choy Mue.  I’m not sure what “Mue” translates into, but basically this was a tiny baby bok choy.

I think I was more successful with the bananas than with the other things… ^_^;;

And…yeah, I don’t want to write right now.  Hopefully I’ll still be able to do my classwork…

Yes, something happened.

One good thing:  I restarted reading What’s the Alternative?:  Career Options for Library and Info Pros by Rachel S. Gordon.  This…helps.  Having options outside of working in a library is a good thing, even though I get the sense that this is a political issue with some.  That is, I get the sense that some would feel “betrayed” if I decided to take a different path.  But the Library world is weird like that.

For me, though, the “outsourcing” of library work to other specialized groups, means that I can work for some other specialized group, as versus working directly for, say, a Public Library:  the work in which, I’m not sure is a recipe for happiness, for me.

Also, the track I’m on (Digital Services), includes most of the path of Web Design/Info Architecture plus more.  All of the core courses are covered, and some of the “Recommended” courses in the Web Design path that aren’t in the Digital Services path, aren’t even given.  So it’s a good bet, if I do want to go into Web Design, to hold steady.  (I doubt that Design will be as Computer-Science-centric as Web Development…)

I will, though, have to educate myself on the aesthetic dimensions:  a lot of my work so far has dealt with usability, coding, and organization.  Which are all fine…but as someone who is into Art, too, I might want to look into visual elements of Design.

And — ha!  I have some books on Design that I haven’t read, on my bookshelf right now.

Wow…a lot of them, actually.

I also came up with the idea of interactive textbooks, but did a little research, and Pearson already has started working on this.  (Maybe I can work for Pearson?)  In addition, there seems to be a lot of work on this as regards Apple (another possibility), on mobile and tablet devices.  The interlacing here of technology, creating teaching programs, writing the textbook, and gamifying is interesting.  For the first time we have the option of making our “textbooks” into interactive multimedia computer programs…that might be able to be either downloaded or carried on a MicroSD card, or similar.

I doubt I would have come up with the idea, if it were not for my Nintendo DS…yes, probably a bit outdated by this time, but The Legend of Zelda:  Phantom Hourglass was the first time a game ever asked me to write an answer to a puzzle (I’m wondering if it used anything related to “Least Squares” in sensing what my answer was)…would it be that different, say, if you were watching a language-learning video or reading a passage of text and could practice writing in the textbook?  With scores or something to show you how well you did, and without using up physical space with blank paper on which to write?  And what about voice recording and recognition?

What else has been happening…I’ve been slowly getting my reading for User Experience done, though I’m not certain if I’ll have to work on anything due this weekend (I’ve kind of been having a tough time for the last several days, and haven’t even checked the message boards).  I know I have one thing due in one more week, but it shouldn’t be hard.  Though I will have to drag myself back over there and see what’s due.

Anyway.  I just think that I’m not a very social person.  But I’m being graded on my engagement, so there’s that.  Whatever.

Oh, right:  the art and craft storage area has again been rearranged.  There’s…a lot more room, now…

And I think that it’s best to ignore my sibling’s insistence that I write a story before attempting the artwork for it.  The time I came closest to actually having a story and a graphic novel, that story developed out of my drawings.  And I’m going to have **** drawings if I wait until after I’ve written a story before I try to draw anything.

That makes sense, right?

I should get some rest…