Tag: work in progress

Cheap Art Supply Challenge

Using cheap art supplies is nothing new to me and I never thought of it as much of a challenge, but then I came across the “Cheap Art Supply Challenge” on You Tube where artist try to create a good piece using cheap markers, watercolors and what not.

As someone who didn’t take her art seriously for years and years, I never felt comfortable spending extra on good professional art supplies and always tried to make it work with what I had. I used to paint watercolors on printer paper, I’ve made digital pieces in MS Paint, using the mouse… and now I’m making YouTube videos on my smart phone. I grew up in a very frugal environment, in times when there was either nothing available to buy or we could not afford it. So I became quite good at doing the best I can with the materials I already have available. While I’m trying to get out of this mindset and allow myself to expand to more professional materials, I still sometimes have troubles purchasing something I’m not entirely sure I’ll use a lot.

When I picked up watercolors again (as an adult), I resisted buying quality supplies, before I could prove to myself that I’m really interested and that “it isn’t just a phase”. Now 3 years later I’m still not using the top quality supplies, because I don’t paint every day, I don’t offer any watercolor paintings for sale and it just doesn’t feel justified yet. That being said I have tried quality paints, paper and brushes and know for a fact that quality art supplies are worth it. Switching from “whatever I can get my hands on” to “the real deal” feels so amazing, it’s almost as if the materials are drawing by themselves and I don’t need to do a thing! So there’s the upside to using non- professional, low quality materials, when you finally make the switch drawing feels so effortless!

It doesn’t always work that way of course, sometimes you need to re-learn how the new materials behave and interact. I would however recommend it to anyone, especially to beginners and people who are not sure whether a new interest will stick: hold on the big investments, try the more affordable options first!

Now I am finally moving away from the “cheap stuff”, so I’m not too eager to go back to it, but I thought it might be fun to do a “Cheap Art Supply Challenge” anyway. I didn’t buy anything especially for the challenge, because I don’t like buying stuff I know for sure I’m not going to need. Using old supplies I already have, on the other hand, felt like a bit of a cheat, since I know them already. So I tried to be creative and to pick up pens and markers, that would not even be considered “art supplies”, but maybe “office supplies”.

Mechanical pencil

Mine came in a package of 3 at Tiger (a local low price store) for 10 dkk (1,34 € | 1,5$).

 

Staedtler marker

(brown)

Even cheaper! I got this one at a Startup Weekend event. Yay!

 

Talon Double Highlighters

(orange and green, yellow and purple, blue and pink)

10 dkk (1,34 € | 1,5$) at Normal (a local low price store).

 

Paper

(probably mixed media)

I’m fairly certain the paper I used is actually good quality, I got it from an art friend, who moved to a different country, so it was definitely “cheap” for me 🙂

 

Coffee

The one thing on the list that is absolutely 100% , not even a little bit an art supply. Well, I guess one can argue about that, since it has been used in the creation of more art then probably any other art supply 😀 As for the price, I wouldn’t know, got it from my mom.

 

Daler Rowney round brush 4

Ok, this one is actual watercolor brush, because I couldn’t find anything that’s not a brush, but can be used as a brush. It was too big and my coffee was too watery to have a good control anyway, hope that makes it ok 🙂

Coffee Flower Girl

I was pretty sure I’ll nail this illustration, because what can go wrong? Well everything! I haven’t used most of these together and even though I made a quick test in the beginning, it didn’t stop me from messing up. As I actually expected the paper didn’t take the water al that well, but it was still working out pretty fine. It all went fairly well until I decided to go for a second layer of coffee to make the color deeper. That’s when I found out all my markers are neither water proof, nor resistent and they bled all over the place. I saved it as best I could, but the illustration is still a bit of a fail. It was still fun to draw and I learned from it. It makes me wonder what can I do now that I am aware of the reaction, probably all kinds of cool effects that I should go back and experiment with!

 

 

Do you sometimes use cheap art supplies or not even art supplies? What have you experimented with and what have you discovered? Share with me some cool ideas in the comments 😉

Fave fun!

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!