Thursday, 31 January 2013

Mail Me Art 3

So, after that nonsense with gesso, I decided to make my own envelope from my favourite Hot Press watercolour paper - 300gsm Fabriano Artistico.
Doing a piece of art for the second time instils a confidence that, if it were available in bottles, I'd happily dab some behind each ear daily.

That was yesterday. Today I made the sheet up into an envelope, took it to the post office and watched it get dropped into a sack with lots of boring mail. Fly my beauty, fly!

I was delighted to hear from Darren Di Lieto that it had arrived safely, though cheeky Darren refused to say whether it had sustained any battle scars from the postal system. I'll have to wait until I see it on the gallery wall.

For those that like such stuff, here's a detail:

Mail Me Art 2

My mermaids needed a background, so on a visit to my father-in-law's, having taken some reference with me, I sat and sketched.
Then, since the mermaids are being a little mean to the octopus, it made sense to have some of the local residents witness the scene. So, I went fishing. What usually happens in this situation is I'll draw and draw until something clicks. Somewhere in this sheet are several fishy shapes that I liked.
I had no intention of using sharks or predatory eels, but a little creative meandering is always good for the soul, right?
Having arrived at a background and occupants, I gathered the elements and set off on my adventure.
The Mail Me Art idea is that the art is made by hand on an envelope. I tried inking my drawing directly onto a manila c5 envelope, but it went fluffy and not good. I applied two coats of gesso to fix the surface and provide a white background for my colour. Gesso dried and cured for 24hrs. I traced my drawing down using graphite, then inked with my regular crowquill nibs using Winsor & Newton Indian ink. It applied a little scratchy and I expected the abrasive gesso to eat my nib, but all went well. I took away the pencil drawing from the surface with my regular Staedtler Mars plastic eraser - none better. Ink, as solid as a rock, no fade or loss. On to the next stage - adding colour washes. Because this art is scheduled to run the gauntlet of the postal system and potentially be delivered by Postie in the rain, I opted for acrylic inks. At least they'd stand a chance of surviving a downpour.
First wash, dilute turquoise, big gentle brush. In big strokes, I laid the colour on in big loose strokes. Disaster! The ink wash broke the bond between the ink and the white gesso and my drawing was breaking up and floating away on a sea of colour.
This is after the first wash. A lesson learned there I think.
More soon.

Mail Me Art

I'm honoured to have been invited to take part in the third Mail Me Art event being organised by Little Chimp Society supremo Darren Di Lieto. The idea is that selected artists and illustrators create a piece of art on the outside of a c5 envelope, then mail it, naked, exposed and unwrapped, to Darren.
The art is then shown in various locations and reproduced in a gorgeous book of art, the profits from the sale of which go to three charities.
See HERE for details.

On a whim, I thought mermaids would be nice. I don't think I ever painted a mermaid, so it'd be an adventure for me too.

First of all I needed to find my mermaid. This first one came out cute enough but a little too Chris Sanders I think.

As I drew a few more, I decided on a 'mean mermaids' angle, so I could have a little fun with it.
This felt more 'mine'.

More soon.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Enthralled 5

I want the lighting to be late evening, dusky, with enough light remaining to give some local colour and a bluish highlight to the sitters. The central light source will be the fire, but that will be quite local and should decay quickley. After collecting reference of camp fires and dusk colours, I started some quick low res colour exercises. This is a bit too lively, but it's a starting point.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Enthralled 4

Tighter drawing time!

Even though I'd figured out my monsters prior to getting to this stage, I'd decided to keep the development of the storyteller until now. This was another feisty one. She must've passed through a dozen poses, seated, leaning toward her audience, stomping, stretching, jumping. I managed to wrestle her into place eventually. I even kind of like those big hands!
Over recent days my wife and I went on a few walks to woods, country parks and a couple of abbeys, which gave me the opportunity to photograph trees and forests, fallen logs and rocky outcrops to incorporate in the drawing. I'd preferred to have a few more leaves on the trees, but hey, you can't have everything.

Next step is to rough out colours.

Enthralled 3

Find those monsters!

Using my development sketch as a guide to approximate shape, I went a-huntin' monster!
There are times when a solution seems to fall from the pencil and there are others where the right shape will put up a struggle. When the latter happens, I just draw and draw until something clicks.
That elusive little chap in the foreground went from spider/crab thing, through freakish warty worm, nasty toothy rat thing to cute horned nose spiked thing. I must've drawn as many as twenty options before arriving at something that would happily sit on that rock! Strangely, the other three were so keen to be drawn, they almost leapt onto the paper!

Next stage, drawing up proper.

Enthralled 2

With the thumbnail sketch providing a very rough layout, the next step was for me to sketch out the scene a little better. I liked the idea of the storyteller having a rocky outcrop as a backdrop where the camp fire could cast a dramatic shadow and also have the fire illuminate the faces of the monsters. At this stage I wasn't sure how many monsters to include. They all had to be different, not too scary, but clearly wild things with individual characters. I enjoy the challenge of capturing expression and gesture, so giving the audience a look of involvement and captivation was something I was really looking forward to.
I felt an arc of creatures decreasing in size would work best and four of the beasties dropped into place comfortably. The little fella in the foreground, though just a blob at this stage, was eluding me.

The next stage, however, would sort that out.

Enthralled 1

Over the next few posts I hope to provide a series of updates of a piece entitled 'Enthralled'.
The image is to show an enthusiastic young storyteller and her captivated audience of monsters.

These thumbnails are the first steps at establishing balance and composition. Once I'd chosen which I felt did the job best, the next stage is to rough out the scene.
More soon.