Tag: creative process

How to make an easy watercolor autumn decoration

Last week was the official start of autumn, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from the art in my room: some hyacinth paintings I made back in the spring of 2015. I thought of changing them in accordance with the season many times, but who has the time for room decorations! Well, now I finally found some time and I want to show you how you can make some for yourself too.

I believe the little paintings I made for my room are really simple and anyone with the basic skills to handle watercolor, brush and pen can pull it off. For the purpose of making these decorations there’s no need for expensive art supplies either, but I am using the best quality supplies I have nevertheless. I guess I just love the feel of them more.

So if you like throwing some paint on paper this is for you! Even if you don’t go all the way and add the pen sketch on top of the watercolor basis, you’ll still have an awesome piece of abstract art to hang on your wall. Just ask this red- yellow blot that was sitting on my shelf for at least 3 years now!

 

 

Supplies

  • Canson watercolor paper 300 g/m2

  • Sonnet Watercolors | hanza yellow | orange | carmine | violet deep | ultramarine light

  • Guld-mår Watercolor Round brush #8

  • Uni Pin Fine liner 0.1

If you are curious to see how to make your own autumn decorations, just follow the instructions in the video bellow. And if you decide to try it don’t forget to share your results with me!

Have fun!

Traditional art, new art supplies and video making

A week ago I started my Art History Challenge and it has been a really interesting and fun experience so far, but I think it will be best to talk about it after it is completed and I have the 30 illustrationsin front of me. Even thought the challenge is focused on producing digital illustration, I’m getting more and more interested in expanding my “traditional media horisonts”, something which only 5 years ago seemed like it will never happen.

After discovering the digital world and vector illustration I almost entirely withdrew from everything traditional, well except pencil and paper for doodling. All my finished pieces that I’d dare show to the world were made on the computer. I got terrified by the imperfection of traditional work and too addicted to the clean sleek look of vector graphics. It felt like there’s no way to hide or fix my mistakes, so I just avoided facing them by only working digitally. What I didn’t realize was, mistakes were still there. No computer program can hide gaps in knowledge of proportions, anatomy or perspective, even though it can make it much easier to fix or gloss over, once they are noticed.

As a self thought, I was always aware of the gaps in my knowledge and always stived to fill them whenever I found the time and means to do so. And one day I realized that part of it would be going “back to the basics”, back to the traditional media. It started gradually from pencil on paper, through pen on paper to rediscovering watercolors. I had signed up for a drawing basics class and one day before Christmas when only me and 2 others showed up for the class the teacher decided that we should do something different for a change and as a reward for our loyalty to his class. He introduced us to one of the coolest techniques I know of today: ink and watercolor (the class was focused only on pencil and pen techniques). It was pure magic and a love from a first sight! Next semester I signed up for an extra class in aquarelle basics and had some amazing time. Since then I’ve been developing my traditional skills, even at times (in 2015) was more focused on them and did nearly no digital work (except clients projects of course).

Today I can safely say I’m no longer scared of traditional media. There are materials like pastels or acrylic that I haven’t touched since I was a child and to be honest have no interest in going back to. I admit I should probably give them a try and be curious about all new things, but they just don’t excite me at all. At least I can say with clear conscious it’s just my lack of interest that’s stopping me from trying and not at all fear! There is however a medium from my childhood I’ve been dying to go back to: markers!

First time I heard about Copic Markers was during my Graphic design education, this was also the first time I got to try them. Unfortunately I only got to play with bunch of them (mostly grey scale ones) during class and since they were owned by the school, the teacher took them back in the end of the class. We were told that they are “the deal” and “a super cool tool for designers”. Back then my thoughts must have been something along the lines of “meh! why not just use a permanent marker”. I also remember being told they require special paper and a bunch of other special things… and on top of it all they cost a fortune, so I really didn’t think it was worth all the hurdle and dismissed it all as another pointless trend. [Kind of how I feel about Apple products, please don’t kill me with stones!]

A long time have passed since and in the last year or so I’ve been re-evaluating my feelings towards Copics. I’m not saying they are as amazing as everyone says, as I’ve never owned one, but I’ve come to the point where I wish I did, so so badly! The only thing stopping me is how expensive they actually are and I’m not sure I want to invest so much in something that I might end up not liking and not using. I am a person who evaluates almost every purchase quite critically and only buy things I have at least 85% certainty I’d use on at least a weekly basis.

Truth be told I have already reached the level of certainty I need, but every time I go to the store and am faced with the price, I stop and go back to evaluating. I’ve been also looking into more affordable alternatives, but so far I either didn’t see these as that much more affordable, or hated the feel of them when trying them in the shop.

So when last week I was at my art store again, looking for inspiration and drooling over the Copics, I’ve decided I’ll get some markers with brush tips to try them and if I use them often enough, I’ll finally get some Copics. To challenge creativity and save money I’ve only allowed myself 5 colors. What I ended up getting was actually colored brush pens rather then markers, but I’d say it’s close enough. They are by Faber- Castell and the color palette I selected for myself is: Light skin (114), Ice blue (148), Indanthrene blue (247), Dark chrome yellow (109) and Scarlet red (118). I also got two in black, because one can always use a black brush pen and Inktober is coming!

Another item of art supply I’ve been after has been the Prisma color pencils. I want to try them so bad, but none of my local art supply stores seem to have them, so instead I got a Stabilo pen, half red and half blue, I just love sketching in color!

I’ve been pretty happy with this fairly experimental for me purchase… well two of the brush pens are a bit lighter than I thought they were (the Light skin and Ice Blue), but I did try them at the store, so it was my own mistake. They remind me how clumsy I am with a brush pen and how much I need to practice, but I’m having a lot of fun playing around. Which brings me to my other current love and newly found pasion: video making, which deserves (and will get) a post of its own soon!

 

I wanted to make a video trying out my new art supplies, but at the same time I didn’t want to make just another basic process video. I want to create videos, which tell a story. I must admit this is rather ambitious desire when all you have to work with is the video recorder on your phone and absolutely no knowledge in video making, both production and post production- wise. I’m not a person who’s good at systematically learning the theoretical basis of a subject. If I’m ever to learn anything I must have a problem, so that learning happens in the process of solving that problem. Oh and that problem must excite me so much it won’t let me sleep at night! This is why I have my challenging visions of where I want my videos to be and I’ll either figure out how to make them come true by producing one crappy video every week until they start getting better (and will then continue to produce good videos…) or I’ll find out it was just a phase and I didn’t actually care for video production at all! Video making has been on my mind for quite a long time though, so I kind of believe (and secretly hope) that the first scenario will come true, but there’s only one way to find out!

Enough blabbering! Hope you’ll enjoy my first attempt at a story- telling video and my (I think) third attempt to draw with my new brush pens!

 

30 Days Drawing Challenge: A Road Trip Through Art History

Lately I’ve been looking into ways to motivate myself to create personal pieces on a more regular schedule. It all kept coming back to doing a (at least) 30 days drawing challenge. Inktober is coming, but I don’t want to wait a month, I want to start already now! So I was looking into various existing challenges online and while they all seemed fun enough nothing really spoke to me. It became clear that if I’m to make this work I’ll have to find an exciting topic myself.  Somehow in the process of searching for inspiration an idea popped up in my head: I will create my own interpretations of classical paintings. My goal is to come up with 30 (for a start) digital (vector) pieces, in which I’ll be trying to keep to the following “rules”:

  • Keep to a minimal (maximum 6 colours) colour palette
  • Keep to a flat vector style with outlines
  • Keep the visual style as consistent as possible (another one of those “time-to-define-my-personal-style-already” things)
  • Keep as close to the original as the style allows, but deviations are still ok, it is also ok to chose to work only from a segment of the original piece
  • Any piece of art since the beginning of time till around mid- XX century is fine, as well as any place of origin of the artwork
  • There’s no list of art pieces prepared upfront (I want to keep this open and feel free to approach any piece that may catch my interest, although there are quite a few I’m pretty sure will make it in the chosen 30)

I’ll probably make up more rules as I go, but for now it is all pretty wide open. I only know that I want to explore a wide variety of art pieces from all corners of art history, but my goal is to interpret them in “my own style”, while at the same time keeping a feel of the original, but making all my interpretations consistent with each other and visually connected as a part of the same series. Oh, and let’s face it, these will probably be dominated by portraits of pretty girls, because that’s usually what I revert to when left to my own devices.

So what am I trying to achieve?

  • Have fun
  • Explore “my style”
  • Become more consistent in “my style”
  • Draw every day
  • Post new art every day
  • Refresh my art history knowledge
  • Explore and study different artists, periods and places
  • Practice
  • … and more?

For my first piece in the series I chose a painting I didn’t even know the name of ( I didn’t know the name of the artist neither), but have always loved. After some research I found out the painting is called “Magdalene with the Smoking Flame” by Georges de La Tour. I love the mystical atmosphere, the lighting and the way the girl is staring in the flame, reminds me of my own fascination with fire. Making the piece was a lot of fun and definitely a great start in the series. Let’s see what the next 30 days brings!

…Now that I think about it this might also have a little something to do with my enjoyment of this painting!

Also check out my process painting for this piece:

 

 

Follow my progress:

Sketches: on Instagram

Finished pieces: on Tumblr | Deviantart ? maybe…

Process videos: on YouTube (I won’t be recording all of them, though!)

Watercolor Speedpaint Illustration

I did not manage to get a lot of painting done while in Barcelona, so now I am catching up at home using photo references. I wanted to start by drawing a cathedral or Arc de Triomf, or the Museum of Art, or some other fancy building, but even though these are impressive what I find stuck in my mind are the narrow streets of the old town, the tiny balconies almost hidden in hanging curtains of greenery, the water fountains, the palms, the other plants I’ve never seen, the blue water of the Mediterranean, the rocks of Montserrat  …  So these were the things I mostly wanted to draw.

That’s why I started with a quick watercolor painting of a small balcony and a window covered in lush foliage. I started by throwing some paint on the paper, then I gave it time to dry and drew all the details in pen on top of it. After that I added more color and defined the plants a little more. It was a fun quick and loose illustration for my watercolor journal and I recorded the process for a timelapse video, which you can see here:

 

10 things I’ve learned from sketching in pen

I often feel guilty when days go by without any sketching exercise. I know well that drawing is just like sports, it takes daily practice to keep your skills fresh and to improve, yet there are often periods when I go for weeks without practice and later when I get back to it I can feel that there has been a regression. So I’ve been asking myself what is keeping me from drawing every day. The answers that came up are probably a topic for another discussion, but the thing that stood out to me the most was: It takes a lot of time and the reason for that is usually my perfectionism. I want a great looking sketch and it rarely happens.

Lately I’ve been enjoying a style of clean pen sketches, sometimes with some watercolor splashed here and there, but the way I’d usually go about it would be: make several pencil sketches on top of each other, erase a lot, cover my table into eraser dust (or whatever the chunks of scrapped paper and eraser are called), mess up the paper completely, maybe start over, get discouraged, hopefully make a pencil sketch I can work with, ink it, erase the underlying pencil sketch, smear the pen, because I’d be too impatient, get annoyed, at times not even finish… I’d end up with a sketch that’s neither presentable enough to show (because that seems to be a goal way more often than it should), nor would provide me with the exercise I needed, because instead of focusing on learning and exploring, I’d be too concerned with perfect results that I can show off.

The solution I came up with was simple: draw directly in pen! No pencils allowed! I even decided that the new sketchbook I stared will be a “pen only” sketchbook. It had the perfect size to be carried around all the time, nice, smooth pen- friendly paper and it was pretty cheap, so no worries about “ruining it”. In addition to it all I have received some pretty good pens as a gift and was excited to give them a go. I’m not yet even half way through the sketchbook, due to my busy schedule, but I can feel the results already, so here are the 10 things I discovered from only sketching in pen.

1. Perfect is not better

Imperfection is beautiful! A clumsy trembling line, a messed up perspective, badly placed object- no big deal! They all have a certain hand- made, unique and personal charm to them. All those characteristics are lost in a “perfect” finished piece. It’s funny that when I look at other people’s work I feel most drawn to those spontaneous looking, loose, free sketches, with an unfinished, unrefined charm and yet I restrict myself from producing them by seeking perfection.

2. It’s faster

Well, that’s probably obvious. No constant erasing, no time wasted to get details “right”. If it doesn’t work, just start over! For the most part though I was happy even with the mistakes. In couple of minutes you end up with a page filled with bunch of small studies and you already get a sense of achievement, because you see a result. When you have the opportunity to erase, the results just keep disappearing and it’s increasingly frustrating.

 

3. It’s cleaner

The pages remain white and crisp, not torn up and crumpled by the crazy erasing. No pencil smears either and if the pen is good, no ink stains. Furthermore the sketch won’t fade over time and turn the whole page grey, which is the case with my older sketchbooks filled up entirely in pencil drawings.

4. I’m braver

Drawing only in pencil has been an incredibly liberating experience. When you start with the thought that there will be no going back on your drawing there’s also no reason to hold back. It will be what it will be! One might think that the opportunity to erase will give more room for experimentation, because of the safety net it provides, but no, it doesn’t. At least not for me. When using a pen I don’t need to fear that I’ll screw up; I pretty much assume I will, so there’s nothing to lose, just have to do it and see what that teaches me, what interesting new results will emerge.

5. My concentration is better

Drawing in pen seems to make me more alert. When you know there’s no erasing you are trying to “get it right” the first time, so your focus is improved, which is a great thing also outside the context of drawing. Sketching is not just an exercise for the hand, but also for the eye and improved observation skills lead to better drawing. When you know your work will be permanent it also makes you think harder and plan your moves better. You have to visualize a finished piece upfront, so you can position it better.

 

6. I am more present

When I later look at those pen sketches I can remember where I was, what I was thinking, what my mood was, what I was listening to… It’s the perfect tool to create memories, especially when traveling. There’s a constant talk lately about the benefits of journaling. I’d say, make it an art journaling! Quickly sketching your experiences will capture the moment much better than any photograph. In fact I believe that in this day and age taking pictures actually destroys memory. Photographing is so easy, accessible and cheap, that we overdo it. We put zero thought into snapping a picture; we take too many and never look at them again. It just loses all meaning, but that is a topic for another day….

7. My confidence improves

I’ve noticed that my pen only sketches are not half as bad as I first expected them to be. I’m actually quite pleased with them. Few years ago I’ve almost stopped drawing on paper. Everything I did was digital and I was terrified of all traditional media, as I was sure it will show how bad I really am at drawing. Without Ctrl+Z to save me I have no unlimited opportunities to go back and keep fixing a piece until it looks good. Removing the option to go back is actually not that scary at all, in fact it will show you there’s nothing to fear. Mistakes are not that bad, nor happen that often. A great way to gain some extra confidence is to deny you the chance to go back and second guess yourself. It’s after all just practice!

8. I discover interesting lines and expressions

These show up especially in moments of laziness when I just don’t feel like doing it “properly” at all. I’d scribble or hatch as my hand feels like and I can see all the ways my hand wants to move and make lines. I never seem to do that in pencil as it more often than not creates a mess. Sketching in pen gives me sort of a map of what my hand is “thinking about” while moving around or maybe it’s the way my eyes move while tracing the object. It reminds me of a dance on paper and it’s beautiful! This effect resembles a blind contour exercise, but with some more control. It’s very relaxing too.

9. I can follow my process (and progress)

When you are erasing the different stages of your drawing you lose some of the process. Sometimes you even regret later on not following an earlier direction. That’s especially useful when making studies for a bigger piece. I can also notice that a lot in my digital work. When I make a logo or illustration in Adobe Illustrator I often copy paste before I continue, so I have saved an earlier stage of my work and can go back to it at any time without losing any of the progress. I also like keeping the entire work in progress. Occasionally an early idea would be better than the ones that come later. At times though they won’t, or you’d just make mistakes, but erased mistakes are forgotten, gone forever and yet bound to come back again. Leaving your mistakes obvious makes it easy to remember them, go back and learn from them.

10. It is actually fun!

Erasing frustrates me quite a lot and yet when I have the chance to do it its hard to resist, but when sketching in pen that decision is taken away from me. I just have to lean back and enjoy the ride wherever it wants to take me!

 

I’m sure there’s a lot more to learn from sketching in pen. I’m just starting now, but I’m sure I’ll have more to add to the list in the future. Have you tried pen only sketching? Did you enjoy and what did you learn? I’d love to hear more opinions, so please share in the comments!