What I'm about to say might be "out there" for some people. I've never really been into butterflies. They're pretty and all but I've never really had the fascination with them like as decorations or adornments, etc. The only thing I can really recall about butterflies is from a Simpsons episode where they go to Italy, run into Sideshow Bob and his kid, who's set on vendetta, is chasing after a butterfly saying "Vendetta, Farfalle Vendetta". My husband and I cracked up at that. Of course, butterflies represent change and transformation. I'm getting to the "out there" part...in the days after our beloved dog died, we were "buzzed" by several butterflies. We just had this sense that Kagero was sending them to us to give comfort. She, in our beliefs, had transformed from a physical being to a spiritual one and was telling us that she was not only ok, but still with us. Since then, I've regularly noticed butterflies, especially white ones (she was primarily white colored). Since then, not surprisingly, I've thought about incorporating butterflies into my work but nothing has felt like the right opportunity....until today. I decided that one of my ink-stained pieces of paper would look lovely with a butterfly. I think this will be very beautiful when it's done. I often forget to take progress pictures so I managed to remember today and posted the first 3 stages above. I haven't talked about my grief much lately, but it's still very present in my daily life but I'm managing/coping with it. It feels really good to be finding another way to honor her in my work. I miss her every minute.
Crystal Moody, who is working on a year of creative habits, mentioned the Collect app in a blog post. It's a way to keep a visual diary of each day. Here's my collage for the work I created/worked on in August. I took the 2nd off as a vacation day and some days have more than one pic uploaded but it's pretty cool to see all of my work all at once!
13 weeks in the bag and it keeps on going! I made the blue ink-stained paper a couple of weeks ago but wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it, so I figured it best to wait for inspiration to strike. I really loved the koi I did last week and feel drawn (no pun intended) to do more of them. I think the inky paper looks kind of like water so it makes sense to use it for the koi. In the other ink paintings I've done, I've let the colors form the objects by obscuring the rest of the background but I want to preserve the background in this one so I'll be painting the koi with more opaque paint, covering the blue where the fish will be. I'm thinking I want to use white, cream, yellows, reds and oranges on the fish to create a nice contrast between the background and the fish. I sketched out some compositions to get an idea of how to set up the painting. I'm leaning toward the composition with two fish, which will be different colors to set them apart from one another since they are so close in proximity to each other. We'll see :)
90 days! Wow...I'm really impressed with myself. I am so good at giving up on/quitting things, especially when it feels hard but I haven't quit this project, and it hasn't always been in a walk in the park. I really have no idea when this project will end but it's helping me be more focused on art making and learning that I just can't let it go yet. In fact, I could stand to be even more focused than I have been. I'm going to think about if I need to be a bit more structured with my project.
Today's contribution is my completed "The Great Escape." I added in the gold wire details on the birdcage and a few details on the bird. I wanted to keep them simple so that the vivid colors aren't covered. I free-handed the lines on the cage so they are pretty wonky. Part of me wishes I'd spent more time and gotten more precise with them but another part of me really likes the wonkiness...the cage is quirky and I like quirky. I like how this came out. I especially like my bird. I'll have to draw that again. Like I said yesterday, I like this imagery and will likely use it again!
I have really enjoyed working with colored pencil but I'd really like to learn how to use them better. I know there are several ways to blend the colors aside from just layering. I really like layering but I just haven't been using the right surfaces (paper) and I often end up with clumps of wax and pigment. I've been reading a couple of books on colored pencil techniques and apparently that happens when there isn't enough tooth left on the paper and the wax/pigment just slide around on each other. So, I need to be using toothier paper in general. Another way to blend is to use solvents. I have a few large sets of colored pencils (150 Prismacolors and 120 Spectrum Noir Blendable Pencils and 90 Irojiten Pencils). I love, love, love the Irojitens. They are sublimely blendable without solvents. They are creamy but don't crumble. I've also not had too much trouble with clumping. I didn't include them in today's experimenting/playing because I already know how I like to use them. The Prismas (P) and Spectrum Noirs (SN) preform differently from the Irojitens and from each other, too. Both are creamy but hard enough to maintain a point. Both though give off crumbs and become clumpy. They just don't blend together the same way as the Irojitens. So, today I decided to play around with both sets and several blending techniques to see how they preform. Admittedly, I didn't take a ton of care with the application of color to the paper. I didn't necessarily cover the tooth or blend the edges of the different shades together as carefully as I might in other situations. I just wanted to see how the solvents dissolve the pencil and how it moves around the paper.
Here's a summary of my play:
Large blue petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (Right) & Tombow Blending marker - The paper got fairly "wet" and it seemed like the colors were dissolving and blending well but once dry they don't look like they blended together at all.
Large Pink petals SN Pencils (Left) P Pencils (Right) & Mineral Spirits - I had to dip the cotton swab with pretty much every swipe as the paper just soaked it up but overall there was pretty good dissolving of the pencil and the edges between the colors did obscure pretty well. I wonder if using a brush or maybe a cloth rather than a swab would help with breaking down the pencil.
Large Aqua petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (Right) & National Colored Pencil Blender Pen - I'm not sure what the solvent in this exactly is. It smells a little like alcohol but not really very strong so I think it's more than just alcohol. I feel like this worked better with the SN pencils than the P ones. The paper got pretty wet but it dried quickly and it seemed to work pretty well.
Large Purple petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (Right) & Rubbing Alcohol - The paper got very wet and the color changed dramatically while it was wet. The color returned to "normal" once it was dry but there seems to be a film or something over the SN petal and the color was inconsistently removed on the P pencils. I definitely won't be using straight rubbing alcohol again.
Small Blue petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (right) & Blender pencil - If I understand correctly the blender pencil adds colorless wax to the top of what's already been laid down to blend them together. I've used this pencil with success in other work, in smaller spaces but I had less success this time on both pencils. There is decent obscuring of the edges between the shades but I did get clumping with both sets.
Small Pink petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (right) & white underlayer & Burnished with white. The color application on top of the white base layer was pretty smooth and it was a bit easier to blend the edges between the shades with the initial application but the burnishing with white let to clumping.
Small Aqua petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (right) & Burnisher Pencil. Supposedly the burnisher pencil is supposed to help melt the underlayers of wax and mix the colors together. I've burnished with success in the past but this just didn't work well. Color coverage is inconsistent and very little blending of edges actually happened.
Small Purple petals SN Pencils (left) P Pencils (right) & burnished with white P pencil. This technique can work well but the color is dramatically altered. This is better blending of the colors but what started out as dark purples are now much, much lighter. I'm thinking a little white goes a long way.
So, there you have it...a summary of my experience with colored pencil blending. This was not a resounding success but I really was just playing around. Unfortunately, I didn't really get the kind of information I was hoping for in terms of how best to use these pencils, especially the SN ones. One thing I really need to give more thought to before I start a colored pencil project, though, is my choice of surface/paper. I've been able to use smooth paper with the Irojiten pencils, I think because they just blend so well, but I need to select toothier paper to use with the other brands.
I have this "problem" and I've talked about it before. Now, I guess it's really a good "problem" to have but it perplexes me still. It seems like at some point every week, I get to a point where I have just too many ideas and I can't decide where to start. I guess the problem doesn't really lie in the abundance of ideas part of the equation but rather in the inability to decide. I haven't figured out why I get so stuck in this situation. I was stuck for YEARS with no ideas at all and now I have so many I still end up paralyzed. I'm thinking there has to be fear in there somewhere..."what if I pick the wrong idea?", "what if I mess it up this time and then never come back to it?", "what if I end up wasting materials?"...I'm certain there are many others. Why are these "what if" questions always skewed negatively? I would much rather think "what if it's amazing?!", "what if I sell it for a ton of money?!", "what if I love it and decide to make more?!". That feels so much better...I think I really need to be aware when those negative questions are coming and shift them!
I hit that paralyzed state again this morning as I tried to come up with what to work on today. I settled on playing around with my PanPastels. I've had these for more than a year now but hadn't even opened them. I've worked with pastels before, both hard and soft, and I like them but these are different...even have special tools for application. I've looked around online a bit for some techniques/tips but didn't really find anything compelling to do so I just figured I start with a flower. The application is kind of wonky and I don't really like how big the applicators are. I guess my paper was also just a little rough because one side of one of the sponges tore a little. I know these are made especially for use with the PanPastels but I'm not a fan of them so far although I do love how rich and vibrant the colors themselves come out. I think I need to keep playing to see how to build up layers, get nice shading, etc. I only have the six pans shown in the picture but I think I'll be adding them to my wishlist!
Got started on another drawing using the ink stained paper from a couple weeks ago. I've really been wanting to put some koi fish into my art but I haven't had the right opportunity. The flowers on these inky paper pieces have been interesting so I thought this might be a good way to try a koi. I might have more time to work on this tonight but I want to be more careful with these. I do layers of the white acrylic ink to obscure the background and on the last one I didn't let the layers dry enough in between and I ended up with cracks in several places on the paper. I'm trying to resuscitate it by covering the cracks but I'm not sure I can save it. But that mistake gave me the knowledge I needed to avoid doing that again. So, this one (and probably future ones) will take more time to complete to allow for ample drying. I'm hopeful, though, that I'll have it done tomorrow. I'm really excited to see how this one evolves. I don't really have any definite plans for it (I have some ideas but who knows what will make it to the paper!). Tune in tomorrow for more on my koi!
Once again, I'm inspired by Tara Leaver. She posted a pic of her sketchbook where she's working on a rainy street scene with oil pastel. I love hers (click on her name above to see the post) and decided to try it myself. I used water soluble oil pastels. Mine definitely looks different from hers but I like it. I wish I had used sturdier paper since I ended up using so much water but I didn't really expect to use that much when I started it. The goal was abstraction but I think this ended up being impressionistic. I do like it and maybe I'll try it again with different media and see what happens with it. I really do love abstraction, which makes sense since I'm not so much a fan of realism/ultra realism.
I've hit week 11. I think every week I say the same thing...the time goes by so fast. I'm so happy I started this project. I'm still grieving the loss of my dog and will likely be grieving for a while. There are still daily tears but it feel so good to be able to shift my focus onto my art. I think it keeps me from falling into self-pity but isn't the kind of distraction that keeps me from feeling the pain. I loved her so much and everyday wish I could have her back but I know that isn't possible and wallowing in her loss doesn't honor her so I choose to keep throwing myself into my art, to learn as much as I can, to find my voice. So, this project goes on...for how long, who knows? I hope you'll stick with me :)
I got some great suggestions over on my Facebook page for my next 30 ways to draw something piece but I just wasn't feeling it today. I do some tutoring on the side to bring in some additional income and this summer I've been working with a high school student to prepare for first-year Spanish in the fall semester. I spent hours last night and this morning before our appointment trying to find some exercises to help him learn the vocabulary better. This ate up a ton of art time but it was time well spent as he loved what I found and was much more engaged than pretty much any other time this summer!
So, my contribution to my daily art project for today is three colored pencil flowers. This past weekend, I drew some simple flower designs on a sheet of Bristol paper. I didn't really know what I would do with them but they came in handy today. I cut them out from the larger sheet and decided to color three of them. I opted not to outline them with ink so that the edges would stay soft. I used Prismacolor colored pencils and using three shades of each color, a blender pencil and a white pencil I colored and shaded each flower and leaf.. I find with these pencils that the wax builds up quickly and I have to be careful to not build up too many layers. I suspect the surface of the paper is also too smooth for too many layers of the pencils. I really, really love Tobow's Irojiten colored pencils as they layer and blend so nicely and smoothly but they are also pretty pricy so I admit I'm a little precious with them. Maybe I can get a second set of them and then just go to town! The Prismacolors are really lovely, too, though and come in a huge 150 pencil set! I never thought I'd like colored pencils but I totally do!
I'm thinking never! Maybe I'll stop posting about it at some point but I have never been so productive creatively as I have been doing this project. Now, I have more classes to take, several in progress projects to finish and then I started a new one today...wow!
Yesterday I mentioned that I was considering cutting up the ink page that I wasn't that happy with and using the pieces as background to other ideas. Today's piece is one of those ideas. I have this huge dictionary to use and I love words so it makes sense to integrate them into my work. Today's piece includes the definition for the word "flourish" and then I stamped the word flourish a few times around the page. I think it's fun but I think I need bigger letters. This piece is 5.5" x 7". I made a list of a bunch of "positive" words and have started cutting them out from the dictionary pages. That part is going to take a while! I'm thinking that some of the words will warrant more representational elements on the page but we'll see how they shape out. What do you think? Is this something I should keep working on?