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30 March 2012

Learning Illustrator

As part of my course I am doing a computer class this year. The first half of the year is dedicated to learning how to draw and use Illustrator. We have been learning how to "master" the pen tool. I am having a blast. It is so much fun. I have been so looking forward to this class and it is more than living up to expectations, and hopefully will just keep getting better.

Here are some fun goofy faces I created.

A black and white line drawing/icon of a horse (well I hope the horse bit was obvious). This was difficult to decide what parts to draw and what to leave out but still show the structure and form. I am happy with the result. I'd like to play and do some more of these.

28 March 2012

A day of reminders

Isn't it funny how some days you just get "hit" with all these reminders of things you know but have forgotten to remember.

I did some quick sketches a couple of days ago from the Inspirational Pictures thread at Wetcanvas. I knew they were going to be challenges with different angles and hard perspective. But I decided to give them a go and just do my best. The first was a statue of Saint Michael killing the devil, with the view looking up.  I was sketching away, thinking I was paying attention to positioning and how the parts lined up. I get near the end and realised it was all out of whack. I had made the top half too tall and it didn't match up. I had forgotten to block in the overall shape of the whole image first and then add the detail. I was just not good enough to draw it freehand right off.

I then did a couple of buildings from Hamburg. These turned out better but I still didn't get the perspective right on the Chilehaus. And I've been spending the last week working on perspective drawings for my course!!

I nearly decided to ignore the whole experience and forget the sketches existed. But I was brave and posted them on the forum. I had learnt something from them, even if I did not feel they were successful as drawings. The comments I received reminded me of why I sketch. I sketch because it is fun and I love doing it. A sketch is a quick attempt to get the essence of the image or idea down, it is not inherently meant to be "perfect". They are practice. It is a way to experiment and try new things and see what I like and don't. I am so grateful to all the wonderful members at Wetcanvas for reminding me of these things.

I then went down to the kitchen and saw a small moth resting on the back security door. We seem to get a lot of butterflies and moths using that as a resting spot. I always stop and admire them. Then it hit me, here is a perfect sketching opportunity. I went back to my art room, collected my sketchbook and pen and did a nice quick little sketch. Last night I had prepared a couple of pages  with some watercolour backgrounds and used one of these.

I am happy with this little sketch. It is a simple outline. It works well with the background. It was fun to do. It made me feel good. I was reminded to take the time to look at the things around me and see them all as potential sketching opportunities. Who knows where this little sketch could lead to in the future. It could become part of a larger painting or illustration. I have it now for reference, it is a reminder.

There is never any reason to think that there is "nothing to draw or sketch", look around and "see" what is around you. Inspiration surrounds us all. We just need to remember to see it.

So my reminders for today... sketch because you love it, it is fun and creative, and take notice of the things around you, there is always plenty to be inspired by. Most of all, just relax and enjoy your art.

25 March 2012

When white isn't white.

One of the most difficult things for me to come to grips with was how to paint a white object and still give it form. Like many beginner artists I thought a white object had to be just that "white". I have slowly realised, and learnt to see, that even white objects have a variety of colours in them. It is these colours which help define and emphasise the form of the object, help a cup look round or a face have shadow.

In this old pen and watercolour piece of some goats you can see that I added some cross hatching to the white areas for shading but had no idea of how to use colour.

From there I progressed to doing negative painting and a small amount of shading in grey, as in this duckling painting...

I was still not happy with the results. There had to be more than just grey for shadows. I began to research  how other artists tackle this problem, including following some wonderful online "classes" at WetCanvas. I finally started to "see" colour in the white. There is a whole rainbow of colour in there at times. Hopefully the following paintings demonstrate this (to varying degrees of success still) and help you to see the colour.

Painting a black object has similar issues. I was watching a crow on the roof just a couple of days ago and saw that black too is not always all black. There was a lot of highlights and light areas where the sun was shining on his feathers and lots of hints of other colours in there too. I guess this is a whole other project to pursue, especially as I have two black cats at home I want to paint successfully one day.

Then again remember that not all paintings and drawings have to be done in realistic colour, just have some fun with it.

22 March 2012

Handmade watercolour sketchbook

I have been reading and admiring a lot of handmade sketchbooks that people have been making. This is something I have wanted to try for a long time but felt too intimidated to do. And I was worried it would end up being "too precious" and I would not use it, making it a waste of time and paper.

One of my recent goals has been to work on my watercolours. But I am often reluctant to just do a watercolour sketch, or if I do it is in my normal sketchbook and the watercolours just don't work properly. I had a look on YouTube at several videos that were recommended to me. There is just so much information there, so many different ways of bookbinding. After another couple of weeks procrastination I finally decided to follow Roz's pamphlet style, as shown here. I liked the simplicity of it and that it only took one sheet of paper, which was all I had at the time.

Here are my results. I used an old "painting" experiment as the cover and a sheet of Arches 200 gsm watercolour paper for the signature. Final size is 20 x 15.5 cm. It only took around an hour max to make, including folding and tearing the sheet and sewing together. No time at all.

I have been using my new little sketchbook. I am enjoying using my sketchbook. I do not feel the need to do a finished painting as I always felt compelled with a stretched sheet. And it is proper watercolour paper so I am getting proper practice.

Here are a couple of my watercolour sketches so far. They aren't perfect, but at least I am painting and having a go. Hopefully they will improve the more I do.

I would highly recommend having a go at bookbinding and making your own sketchbook. There is such a great sense of achievement and pride knowing "I made it" and it feels good too. I plan on making a larger hard cover one at a later date.

21 March 2012

Nose studies

I really want to work on improving my portraits. To help with this I try to regularly (well that's the plan) do studies of different face parts in the hope that they will all come together eventually.

Here are some nose studies I did from a variety of photos I found on the internet. At least they all look like human noses. I paid particular attention to shading around the nostril and not just leaving a black hole. I think it helped a lot. I am really quite pleased with the form and shape I am getting now.

It's what they say... practice, practice, practice.

Now to do some eyes and mouths.

20 March 2012

Watercolour Landscapes

Each year TAFE has a painting camp followed by a "Miniature Landscapes" exhibition. All paintings are 9 x 5 inches. Here are my entries for this year.