Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Smell of Art

Yesterday, while my wife and me grabbed a few last minute pressies for Christmas, I took the opportunity of nipping into Gadsby's, Leicester's main art materials shop, just for a browse, you know. There's something beautiful about the collective fragrance of art materials that puts it right up there with new-mown grass, fresh bread and freshly brewed coffee. If it could be captured and bottled, I'd be happy to dab it behind my ears every morning. Ahhhhhhhh.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Getting along swimmingly

Another doodle. I was part way through drawing a face when I decided to put him into water. I rubbed out the lower part of his face, added reflection and ripples then realised he should be encountering another swimmer. The result, I'm convinced, resembles something I've seen before by another artist but I can't recall where I've seen it. It'll come to me one day I'm sure.

Wasting time

I seldom sit and watch TV. If I do, a little light flashes on a control panel somewhere in my head that says "WARNING - VALUABLE ART TIME IS BEING WASTED!" and I begin to feel I'm neglecting my whole purpose. So, I'll take up my tools and see what comes out.
This week, the astronomer Patrick Moore died aged 89. I assume this character came from that news. I wasn't trying to achieve a likeness - that would mean research and thus loss of spontaneity.
Like many of my sketches, this began with the face and spreading like ripples from a pebble dropped into still water. In this case, the scale and position of the drawing on the sheet of A4 paper meant I could only draw a head and shoulders before falling off the edge of the paper. So I thought it'd be fun to make him a little compressed. Well, why not?


Monday, 10 December 2012

My Kindom for a mask!

The Proposition
A3 Pen and ink with watercolour wash (blue flame added in acrylic)

Working on this piece, I'd drawn out the image on my regular 300gsm (140lb) Fabriano Artistico NOT Watercolour paper (for those that like that kind of information). I normally lay in the background washes first. If the shape I need to leave uncoloured is complex, I'll mask out with a latex masking fluid so I can get pretty relaxed with the colour and not peck around the edge with a fine brush while the rest of the area is drying unevenly. However, I reached for my pot of masking fluid to find it had set into a solid jelly in the jar. This often happens. Once air gets in, the latex dries and you need to replace it. I've lost count of how many jars have done that to me. I'm convinced it's the manufacturer's way of securing continued business. Needing to get the job done, I was too impatient to order in more masking fluid, I opted to do it the hard way. Yep, pecking around the edge while the rest of the background dried unevenly. I seldom lay a single wash on a background. This piece had four. That's lots of edge following and frustration.
When you have nothing else to look at, the characters are just areas of blank paper, all you see are the areas where the wash has misbehaved. Blotches, uneven colour, tide marks and dry edges, sitting, glaring back at you giving you a big wave of self doubt to swim through.
Picking yourself up by your bootstraps, you get on with it.
Naturally, once the characters are painted, everything falls into place and you wonder why you ever stressed over the background. A lesson learned though. In the time it took to paint around the figures four times, I could've walked to my local art materials supplier and bought a fresh jar of masking fluid. Plus maybe another as backup.
We live and learn.

Testing Time for The Tart Thief

I have a book project I expect to be working on in a few months. The illustrations need to have a slightly subdued palette. Often the Winsor & newton black indian ink I usually use can overpower the colour, so I wanted to carry out a test using a weaker line. I have tried diluting the ink in the past but the characteristics of the ink altered and the permanence is compromised. This test is made using FW inks Burnt Umber. I like the way the ink 'settles in' with the watercolour and ties the image together rather than shouting from the rooftops.

Tart Thief
5"x4" Pen & Ink with watercolour wash.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Finding my art

I often struggle to arrive at a character or pose or an element in a scene. When I hit this wall, I think of how my artistic heroes would handle the situation. I might even attempt to emulate their actions and draw what I think they'd draw. When that happens, I accept that the result isn't 'mine', so I continue drawing. Drawing and failing, until my own version battles through the 'impersonations' of others.
When it arrives, I know. It might have influences from those I admire, but I have to know that the result is from within me to enable me to take it forward to completion.

A conversation

I genuinely had this conversation yesterday on Facebook. All I have changed are the names and the spelling, for legibility.

Him: Hi there.  I've got a bit of a problem. I was wondering if you could help me out in any way.

Me: Go on.

Him: I've drawn a few things but I don't know if they're good enough.

Me: I don't know what you mean.

Him: I have posted a drawing and you will see what I mean.

Me: You posted it to where?

Him: The Facebook newsfeed and it's on my wall

Me: (I follow the link to his wall) Is that a rabbit playing football?

Him: No, it's an ant.

Me: What do you want of me?

Him: What do you think?

Me:  Of an ant playing football? Do you want me to comment on the idea or whether it's well drawn or what? I don't understand what my involvement is. Sorry, I think I'm missing the point.

Him: Is it good enough. Please comment on it and tell me if I can do figurines with it.

Me: You have to ask yourself - Who would buy it and why? What is different about it that makes it unique and special that would make someone want to pay money for it? As it is, I don't think it has anything going for it that would endear it to a potential buyer. Sorry.

Him: That's OK mate. I know I'm not any good, not as good as you and you have been doing it for years. So, are you telling me there's no way it'll sell?

Me: (at this point I Google 'ant football' and paste three images into a message and press 'Send'.

Him: I have been up all night thinking of something to put out there in the animal cartoon world and I came up with that. So, ants have been done then?

Me: Sure have. I get ideas all the time. The first thing I have to do is check on the internet to save me from wasting time developing an idea that someone else has tried and failed. Good luck.

Him: Thanks but if you know of anything that hasn't been done, can you tell me?

Me: Erm... you want a civil answer to that?

Him: Yes. I need help.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

I thought I'd thought of it!

I did a drawing last night and actually believed I'd arrived at the idea all by myself. I showed a friend the sketch and he told me that there are quite a few octopus hats around at the moment. I have to confess to being disappointed. Still, I'll ink it and enjoy every moment of it. So what if I didn't have an original idea!
So here it is - Soft Hat Area.