More stuff from that last portfolio:

In the interest of showing people what they might like to see here, I’ve decided to stop clinging so tightly to my better work.  The following images are from the Clothing and Accessories portion of my portfolio — all of the images are from life.

One of my favorite shirts. I got it used at a boutique — it would have cost way more, otherwise.
All of these images — including this one — were done in Cretacolor Monolith graphite sticks. I’m really starting to get attached to their graphic qualities.


A hat I got a long time ago. My hair is too thick for me to wear this, right now.  It came from the Men’s department; I think this is why it isn’t designed for lots of hair.

And, yes:  my teacher does know that this is my blog.  🙂  Speaking of which, maybe I should write up some information about that mandala thing she was curious about…


Getting past fear of failure?

I was going to start writing these things out longhand and then transfer them over to the computer, but my longhand writing practice has broken down within the last few days.

The first week of classes is now over.  This would be relatively awesome, except that now I have three thumbnail drawings and one large painting to work on in watercolor, which I’m not all that great at.  This is due next Wednesday, so the sooner I get to work on it, the better.  This is really almost the only homework I have left from this week — other than fleshing out the drawings which I’m pretty sure I was the only person in my Drawing section to have worked on.  (The assignment was given out after most of my section had left; I stayed late.)

Pending approval, I should be working on the mandala project for Special Projects in Drawing.  I suppose I could get to work on that early, too.

Right now I’m a bit intimidated by the Painting homework…I don’t feel like I can draw all that well in a gesture-drawing technique, and the watercolor I’ve copied (part of the homework) was very obviously done using gesture drawing as a foundation.  Well — at least it’s obvious when you’re trying to copy it and you realize that if you work on the whole thing at once, it’s a lot easier than trying to mimic it line by line.

I think I was first introduced to gesture drawing, two semesters ago.  It’s foundational for a lot of the work we’re doing, but at the same time, I had not been exposed to it at any time prior in my artmaking career.  My drawing teacher calls it “note-taking for artists.”  It’s just pretty hard for me to be loose in my drawings; then again, when I first got into drawing, I was copying animated characters in seventh grade.  So, obviously, there wasn’t a teacher there to teach me the foundations that were built upon to make the final images — I was just going after the finished images.

I can try to work on this, right now.  I think I’ve gotten my mind straightened up to the point that I can work on it, and not worry too much about the finished product.  Ego.  Right?

hehehe. look! a fishie! <3 ;)

Today, instead of going out to buy more art supplies, I stayed home and used some art supplies, instead.

O, behold:



I actually started out thinking on ‘zines, having realized last night or the night before that I don’t have to wait until Fall to start working on a ‘zine project.  So I got out a 5.5″x8.5″ pad and started working.  First I was just doing lineart, particularly of the main character in the pearl-diving series I’d thought of.  (I’ve decided that the waters he dives into may make him hallucinate that he’s a dragon, instead of his literally shapeshifting.)  I began my sketches in a 4H graphite pencil…started with the main focus, and then filled in the areas surrounding it.  I filled in the background, on “Fishie!” here, because I knew I wanted to ink this in several different weights of Micron, but I needed to know the rank in importance of each of my lines.

Generally, in this method, heavy lines would indicate bolder areas which one would want to draw attention to, and finer lines indicate differing levels of detail.  So here, I used a light touch with a Graphic 1 Micron for most of the fish’s body outline, and went down to a 005 for the veining in the fins.  That is as far as I could go.

But as regards what I initially began to do, and not what I ended up doing:  I actually came here first, had a look around the Reader, and considered posting, then realized that I didn’t want to be restricted to such a linear format when working on this story.  Nor did I want to put the story out into the public at such an early stage.  I am not entirely sure why, but even lined paper seems too restrictive when it comes to that story, so I guess I’ll be working in a sketchbook.  “Fishie!” is not really attached to the story in any linear way…it’s just what I wanted to draw, and I figured if I wanted to draw fish, maybe I should draw fish.  It’s…kind of connected?

For my own reference, here is “Fishie!” in linework only:

Fishie uncolored
Fishie! uncolored

There is a really big difference there, right?  I can see one place where the color actually detracts from the image, and that’s the far left side with the teal glass.  I think the teal is so saturated there, that it detracts a bit from the rest of the image, and the bubbles become less prominent.  Really, what I was trying to avoid with the solid background of the glass, was the possibility of having to draw in a surrounding setting as seen through the aquarium wall.

This is especially as, since it’s been such a long time since I’ve had an aquarium, I can’t recall the distortions that would take place when looking through a water-filled prism of this size and shape.  I know that looking out directly through the glass would render what’s on the other side of it fairly precisely, and that looking nearly edge-on produces a silvery reflection of the inside of the tank; but I can’t recall where it switches over or what happens in between, other than that it gets warped in some way.

The colors are nearly entirely, if not completely, done in Tombow markers.  I really like these for the range of colors offered, plus the markers themselves are fairly well-constructed, so I haven’t had even one of them dry out on me.  They’re also water-based, so I don’t have to worry about solvent toxicity.  They did lift a little bit of the Microns (which are supposed to be water-resistant, if not waterproof — then again, I didn’t let them dry overnight), but they didn’t lift enough to really show.  I was able to take the Tombows and wipe the black off of the tips, then continue with my work.

One of the things I want to remember for next time is that if I’m going to be doing stuff like this that I might want to color, it would be good to use watercolor or mixed-media paper, so that I can use watercolor paints on them.  Watercolor paints are generally both more archival than markers, and they are intermixable, meaning that I can get a broader range of colors out of a smaller number of paints.  (Speaking of paints, I’ve wanted to play with gouache again, too…I have watercolors, but with the exception of a Titanium White, they’re all transparent.)

I should be getting to the art store soon anyway, so I suppose I can try and find a wet media pad in 5.5″x8.5″ (in addition to a 12″x12″ sketch or drawing pad to prep for the painting I want to make for M).  There is some kind of charm in using a pad of these dimensions…I’m not quite sure what it is yet, though.  (For those outside of the U.S., 5.5″x8.5″ is half of a standard piece of copy paper.  Easy to find, but kind of awkward with the folded dimensions.)

The reason I’m looking at markers or wet media is that in using a 4H graphite pencil for the underdrawing (so that it won’t show), there’s the ever-present threat of incising the paper with such a hard pencil tip.  This means that with media which rub on via friction, like colored pencils, I may get white lines under “colored-in” areas, even in areas which I’ve erased, if the 4H has been there.  The 4H lifted relatively easily with a kneaded eraser (much unlike my 8B, which I love for its expressive line quality but which never goes away)…but I still find as well that I prefer the look of fluid media with inked drawings, as versus pencil or colored pencil, which always brings out the texture of the paper.

One thing I haven’t tried yet is pastel, which I may be able to rub into the grain of the paper to eliminate white marks — but I’d need to look at pastel pencil for drawings this small.  I’ve heard that pastel pencils are usually not great quality, but I’ve also wanted to try them on a colored paper — considering that chalk pastels (the big, chunky ones) are useful with large-scale drawings in prep for paintings.

One other thing I wanted to check out were acrylic inks (which, so far as I know, are also not known for being archival — better for reproduction work — but I’m not overly sure).  Maybe I can get one in vermilion or something and do some monochrome work with it, before diving in with a set.  The positive thing about an ink is that my Sumi brushes will be useful with it, whereas I don’t think I should use those with watercolors.  Sumi brushes are soft and absorbent, and can go down to a really fine tip…they work well with thin media like inks, but watercolors…?  It’s iffy.

So I should probably make a checklist for myself here, eh?

  • 5.5″x8.5″ wet media pad
  • 12″x12″ pad (sketch, drawing, or wet media)
  • look at gouache (OMG Holbein I♥U but you are so expensive you hurt)
  • try out pastel pencils on grey paper (noncommittal)
  • possibly try out (one) acrylic ink (very noncommittal)


  • flowers (irises, or whatever I got this last time)

Things to take:

  • grey paper to color on
  • white paper to color on
  • color swatches of watercolor paints and pencils
  • money
  • camera

Copic hoarding

Saa…today has been full, I guess.  I did spend more than I probably should have, given that I got a small paycheck this time because I was sick and because February was a short month.

I was able to get to the art supply store, where one of the employees recognized me and engaged me in a bit of casual, noncommittal conversation, which was nice.  I went in there and he was like, “you, again?”  😉  They are really getting to recognize me over there.  Moreso since school started… :/ hehehe.

I was able to fill out my Copic line in Cool Gray, which I know seems kind of silly since it is probably one dye or pigment (I don’t know which it is, but I’m guessing dye, given most markers’ fugitive color understandings) that is just diluted to different extents.  But the Copics seem to last, which is nice — I haven’t had one dry out yet.  The differentiation between each tone is much more mathematical than in other brands.  And I’ve found out that their marker lines either aren’t there, or they blur together on appropriate paper.  There’s also a “wash” effect which happens when they’re used quickly, which is really nice, especially now that I know how difficult it might be to illustrate using watercolor.

Not that I’m giving up on watercolor — but there is a lot of negative-space work where it comes to the transparent stuff, which is a bit advanced from my position right now.  This is especially when it comes to working with a brush and water, which is still relatively new to me.  Nor have I been using gouache in conjunction with the transparent colors (which might make my world a lot easier).  I’m also thinking that trying this out in the studio first would be better than trying it in the field.

But yes — filling out my marker collection cost approximately $45, as most of the tones I got were not in the Ciao line at my store — I had to go to the Original or Sketch markers, and actually got a combination of both.  Some tones just were not stocked with some models, and I didn’t even consider getting an empty Ciao barrel and some nibs and refill inks.  I did get effects which were so nice with the incremental tint variations in the lighter inks, though, that I figured it might be worth it to get the darker ones.

So I can play with these now — and figure out whether my scanner is advanced enough not to lose the value differentiations later.  I should be able to play around with Levels, though, and see if scanning materials with different settings on my scanner turns out to have the same image profile (if that’s the right term) under Levels in my graphics program.  In that case, I can do the editing on my computer and not worry about the quality of my scanner’s eye.  And actually, I should be able to test this without even doing a final drawing — just a set of test swatches should be fine for me to check the Levels.

If worse comes to worse, I can see about taking the proofs to a copy store — or the Multimedia Lab — and having them reproduced there.  IF — and that’s a big IF — they are not just for rough drafts, with the final tones (if not the majority of the final artwork) being added or tweaked in soft copy, and then reproduced electronically.  (As versus the inking and final tones being laid down in hard copy, then simply edited in soft copy, then reproduced electronically.)

Now how the heck am I going to carry these around?  (Especially considering that I don’t use exclusively Copic products?)  I did get a pouch for portable illustration materials, but that pouch is pretty full right about now — to the point that I’d have to dump stuff out to figure out what is where.  There really do seem to be two different sets of materials in there, though:  one for working on top of some kind of colored ground; the other for a white ground, with black inking assumed for now (but not guaranteed).

I suppose I can see if either the Copic wallets or my colored pencil wallet will hold these markers, but I’m not hopeful on that front.  I suppose I could always sew a canvas roll to hold these, with a flap which folds down to keep things from flying out, and some kind of flat band to cinch around the outside…(two D-rings should hold it; I need this to hold 12 Copics, pencils, at least one stick eraser, and various fineliners).

Hmm.  I might even have the canvas…the question just becomes whether the old sewing machine is still operational.  And, well, I’d have to make sure the pencils wouldn’t poke their way through, too.  Good point, brain.  Reinforce the bottom flap with denim, right.  And maybe make it so that even worn-down pencils can be retrieved…ehh…that’s looking not so practical now.  Maybe forget about the pencils and just work with what doesn’t change length?  Or work with mechanical or drafting pencils, instead of the wooden ones.

Eh.  I’ll figure it out.

A lot of other things happened today, but I’ll put them in a different post (or posts).

Drawing for preliminary watercolor, and prioritizing time

I’ve finally copied over a pencil-linework drawing of my original image (for Painting), to Watercolor paper, full-size.  I haven’t started filling it in yet, but I suppose that if I can work with it under fluorescent light (it’s just a greyscale image), I might, might be able to be done with it by tomorrow so that I can gesso my canvas for the full-size image in acrylic — which I need to do as soon as I can.

I intended to work on the watercolor this morning, but I ended up sleeping until about 10 as versus 7:30…which cut out almost all of my morning work time.

I would post an image of my drawing here, but I did this in 2B pencil with extremely light lines, first.  I’ve now succeeded in darkening the main outlines to a more medium-gray shade (it’s looking a lot like an illustration, right now — which I really like), but I’m not sure it’s worth trying to photograph, at this point.  What I can say is that the gesture drawing approach is helping, even though my drawing is still pretty tight.

I’ve been trying to work on the entire image at once in order to retain proportion and scale, and I think I’ve been pretty successful at it, for this to be my first time consciously using the approach. I’ve also been working on the flow of lines from my arm and shoulder, trying not to be too uncaring about the flow of lines as they might appear.  Should I actually become an Illustrator, the flow of lines will likely be very important, even if my clients don’t know why it looks the way it does.

I used thumbnails to attempt to map what to crop in and out, and found a nice way to do it, last week.  Today I altered the photo, printed it again cropped, and transferred it over to the 9″x11″ Watercolor paper.  Although it’s a lot of labor, I’m considering trying to do one more thumbnail to attempt to get my value placement right, before working on the big image.  I mean, it took long enough to draw; I don’t want to mess it up like I did the first thumbnail of this I tried to paint in. (I attempted to put the darkest values in first, which led to their bleeding when I unthinkingly did a wash over them).

However, I at least think I know what method I’m going to use for gradations; it will just be more…”graphic” than I would like.  It will look very much like there is light in the painting, though.

I don’t quite know how to get a smooth gradation with Cotman Lamp Black…it’s fine for making various dark tones, but to get all the shades smoothly grading into each other is kind of fiddly, because the lower layers can wipe away when the upper layers are added.  Plus, if one tries to reinforce the lightest white areas by adding water, the water bleeds outward and runs into the pigment, pushing it out to the edges of the form.  That then basically negates all the work done to attempt to get a gradation — I get a flat grey circle with a scrawly black outline.

So what I’ve decided to do is work in layers — put in the lightest tones first, and then just keep adding more and more layers of darkness on top, without trying to blend the darker and lighter layers into anything “smooth.”  I’ll just have lots of visible layers of color.

The one success I did get while trying to smooth out the value transitions had to do with rewetting the entire object with every additional layer of color, and working from the lightest area to the darkest area with my brush, in order to control the bleeding.  But — then the highlight gets blown out because the pigment gets pushed around and away from the highlight, right.  Plus, the darkest values get lightened and I never get a true black, because the bristles of the brush are wiping up the pigment. It’s just not worth it.

The second thing that happened today:  I’m (very) heavily considering dropping the Art Lab.  I think there are enough people signed up.  In fact I nearly dropped it this morning, but was advised to take an absence and think about it.

What I had proposed to do would be a major project for this semester, and that’s on top of my reading for Art History and my other two Studio Art classes.  That, in turn, would be pretty unbalanced, because the Lab itself is only one unit, as versus the other eight which I need to be working on.

I think it would be of more benefit to me to work on foundations first and then move into something more advanced, like a comic or Graphic Novel project.  Now that I’ve gotten everything broken down, I can easily work on this when I have the time — after homework, not as homework.

I also saved about six hours of working time today by not working on the comic-style story and not going to Lab — I was just working on my painting at home, which was much more efficient.  I wouldn’t have known that taking on an extra project via Lab was going to impact me so much, except that I did an Excel sheet last night plotting out my work time, and realized I have two projects due next week and haven’t started working on them yet.  I can’t handle a load like that and also my own personal stuff.

Also, I’ve started reading my Figure Drawing text (Chapter 1 completed), and I feel, really, like I’m better off in knowing what I’m doing now than I was before I’d done the reading.  Of course, the reading was kind of hard to absorb, because there was a lot of metaphor and specialized language and looking at drawings — but I think I get it.


I’m just taking a break right now from my Painting homework.  I’ve got the pencils done on the good paper; all that’s left is erasure, possible inking, and the watercolor itself.  I’m going to use the Prangs on this for as long as I can, and maybe add highlights with either watercolor pencil (Derwent) or Neocolor II.

It’s not very late, but some clouds have moved in and so now it’s overcast.  I’m having a hard time seeing my underdrawing, even with overhead lighting.  I will have two hours tomorrow to work on this in class, and then approximately 6 hours on Wednesday, after my presentation for Art History.  I suppose I can work on either the written portion of this, or my reading for Art History, in the meantime.