Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Another period figure

Thanks to a suggestion from Linda and Jasmine, in the comments of my period figure, I have made another pose for my model, in a hot-pink dress. I was already thinking I should do another period illustration, but I didn't think it would be of the same lady in the same dress.

This caused a small dilemma however, as she was in a seated position, and that would limit me to another seated pose. If this were to be a set, I would need similar proportions on the two separate pages. Keeping this in mind, I proceeded with an idea which would not be a seated pose...because I like a challenge.

I wanted an image of her walking away from the chair, as calmly as she had sat upon it. So I started with a contour sketch first. I was mostly happy with the composition, but there were small details I fixed on the tracing paper, when I transferred the image to the clean paper, for rendering.

And then out came the hot-pink paint again...

I know there are some differences between the seated and standing figures, but to make their attire exactly the same, would've compromised each piece individually. Like I didn't want a white hat in the above pose, but if I were to colour it black (same as the other one) it would take emphasis away from the dress.

Backs of dresses are always less interesting than fronts anyway, and the lighter hat helped to create levity, as opposed to heaviness. Her skirt also looks less full in this image, as opposed to the seated one, but I wanted her curves to create interest in the dress also - and that couldn't be achieved with a much fuller skirt.

 Side by side, for comparision

So they are similar, but not exactly the same. I kind of like that! Also, the standing position is only marginally taller than the seated one, so not letting the fear of proportions prevent me from trying something different, paid off.

Thanks to Linda and Jasmine for the suggestion to make a set. It was a fun challenge to attempt, and really made me think about form and composition. I know the images themselves don't look very complicated, but the thought in making them balanced (both individually and together) was rather involved.

In fact, if you notice the white hat looks a little smaller than the black one, they were done in proportion to how far their hem lines were cast - this added balance to each pose individually.

I also had them facing each other on purpose, to show interaction, even though they're meant to be the same model. If you wanted to show disassociation, you would swap the images around, so their backs would be facing each other instead.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Period figure

I'm not normally a fashion follower, but there's an era which I think is so glamours and flattering to women's figures, that its worth reproducing - its the 1920's through to the 1950's. I'm particularly fond of this fashion, even if I wouldn't necessarily wear it today myself.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. First to where my inspiration came from - a sample pot of hot-pink paint. I found it while sorting through my supplies and wondered, how on earth could I possibly use this in a piece? The first thing which popped into my head however, was a Chanel hot-pink and black dress.

This was not typical of the fashion period I was drawing, but I didn't see any problem mashing things up, so long as the feel of the piece remained in-tact. Then it came to finding myself a suitable model.  

Oh boy...

Edited using GIMP, to make pencil stand-out

This was going to come exclusively out of my head, as I didn't want to duplicate someone else's photography. Only problem was, it came out so flat and lac lustre, I didn't even finish the piece before deciding she wasn't going to be my model. Notice all those finicky details? I should have focused on her pose instead.

Then I read Jasmine's tutorial, and WHAM! What came out on paper next, suddenly had a more natural form.

Edited using GIMP, to make crayon stand-out

Using my son's crayon was better for this type of sketching, rather than regular HB pencil. It just gave more body and filled in quicker. So when I was happy with the pose, it was on to complete the details of the fashion itself.

Edited using GIMP, to make pencil stand-out

I modelled the dress more off a Christian Dior dress, than a Chanel one, and even then its not exactly the same. I guess you could say, they're a combination of the two designs. Then I gave her a chair, probably a little French Parisian in style, to sit on.

I'm guessing this lady is outside, although she could be waiting at a cafe too. I didn't want to get too lost in background details, because it was all about her pose and style.

Then came that lovely hot-pink!

The mediums used are the acrylic paint, permanent black pen and white paper. Although it looks rather simple, the work involved getting it out of my head was incredibly complicated. But its nice to have a piece I can say is completely my own.

I did a little research on dresses and hats from the 50's, but even then, only took bits and pieces, of what I thought would work here. I even deliberately didn't give her a necklace, as it made the head and shoulders look too busy. A teardrop earring is all she has as jewellery. The hat and dress though - well that's the focal point!

If I go a little further, this piece is probably about sophistication too - of a time when women's fashion seemed to be more about intelligence and not just beauty. Men had always worn suits to look sophisticated, but women had frilly and effeminate attire only. This particular era of fashion (between the 20's and 50's) allowed women to dress more smart like a man, but without hiding their femininity either. 

But it all began for me, with a sample of hot-pink paint! What would that colour inspire you to create?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Sketching with contours

I tried a new way of sketching, thanks to a tutorial written by Jasmine at The Daily Art Tattler. It was a little unnerving at first, because it seems unnatural to how I'm used to sketching, but it also didn't take long to adapt either.

The first sketch, was of my husband at the table, typing on his laptop. It took all of a minute to do, thanks to the fact I was focusing on his form, rather than the intricate details of features. His position also didn't change much.

The second sketch was of my son. It's not as recognisable as a form, because he had his back towards me at the time, and was in the process of getting up - hence the sidewards lean. Kids are so unpredictable. I had all of 10 seconds (if that) to capture his form and so it's less accurate.

It's amazing how quickly a figure can be captured, just by filling in the shape, as opposed to the details. Once I drew the contours, I was able to sketch in some more definitive lines. While it's a relatively quick way of sketching, the longer the subject remains still, the more likely it will resemble a "natural" figure.

Thanks to Jasmine's tutorial, it was an interesting process to learn - and very quick too! Although I suspect I didn't do the tutorial real justice, as I did take my material off the paper - habits are hard to break, lol, and I did focus on drawing chunks of a person, which in essence IS a detail.

Even so, I still learned some new techniques.

Ram's head

 Derwent IXL Charcoal blocks

I purchased some Charcoal blocks for Christmas, with an idea in mind. It was a little exercise we did in high-school art class. I also purchased some black paper to use this idea on - only, I remembered too late, it was actually sepia (brown) paper we used. Oh well...

A3 black and white sketched pad

Basically the idea was to use only white chalk and black charcoal (on the brown paper) to draw a ram's skull. It was a very effective technique, but with different resources, I had to change it significantly to what we learned in school.

Close up ~ click to enlarge

It turned out okay, but like so many of my works, I end-up finding everything I don't like about it, lol. I call it my learning process. ;)

I have another idea to use the charcoal and black paper on, but that will have to wait until next year. Can you believe it's nearly 2015?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Refracted light

Introduction set of Inktense Pencils

I decided to do my "sunlight" prompt in the new Inktense pencils, I received for Christmas. They go on like a pencil, but when water is applied, turn into permanent ink. I was really excited to use them for the first time and made completing the prompt, very enjoyable.

I demonstrated the preliminary sketch yesterday. The next stage was to set down the inktense pencils, to give the illusion of refracted light, as the sunlight shone behind.

First colour application

The pencils go on smoothly, but give no real indication of what the final colour will look like...for once you add the water, it changes the application entirely.

First water application

The colours blend together really well - a little too well. It coloured some of the white pageI left for highlights, but I will remember to give more space next time. Unlike watercolour pencils, the inktense pencils, don't need a lot of water to carry the colour and there is quite a lot of pigment in a light application.

I only had 10 inktense pencils, so was limited in the colours I could use. I think they were enough to convey the application of sunlight however. But I wasn't quite finished yet. I felt like it still needed one more swirl, to harmonise the colour sequence better.

One more yellow swirl, towards the bottom  
~ click to enlarge ~

The story behind this bust is, we are all vessels of light and every day the sun rises, we reflect a little of that in our being. She is almost luminescent, changing the light as it touches her.

We need the sunlight as much as any flower or blade of grass to live.

Saturday, December 27, 2014


Something exciting has started. It's a weekly prompt hosted by Linda at The Daily Art Tattler. It's where artists can come together and share their ideas, around one simple subject matter. This time, the prompt is sunshine! I asked my husband for a prompt and he decided that sunshine may be a place to start.

For more details, visit Linda's post on how the weekly prompt works - for this round. Final pictures need to be submitted by the 31st of December. It's meant to be a fun exercise, simply creating and enjoying the exchange between other participants.

I started my idea in a sketch first, and have chosen the medium, which will be revealed at a later time...

Click to enlarge

I thought about the prompt "sunshine" for a while, tossing between light and shadows - possibly even byproducts of sunshine, like eggs and sunflowers. In the end however, settled on something completely different on a whim.

Did you ever have something you would doodle a lot, while killing time in high school? I started out with swirls on paper, but they soon evolved into heads with hair that swirled. I don't know why, they just did. Maybe the confusion of adolescence had something to do with it?

So this is very much a tip of my hat in that direction, and we'll have to see where the sunshine takes us!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Charcoal fixative

I dragged out my old high-school art portfolio, from the back of the cupboard recently. As well as bringing back some memories, it was also somewhat of a time capsule.

Within it, stood an experiment I never thought I would be testing, some 23 years later.

Dated '1991'

This was a charcoal picture I did, for an exercise (written on the back) called, Harmony and Movement. I have vague recollections of not understanding the exercise, but giving it my best shot. I scored a High Achievement, which was second to the highest score you could have achieved.

It's very amateurish, I know, but the interesting thing about this charcoal picture was how I fixed it with nothing more than hairspray. It's lived in my portfolio, pressed up against other pictures, for around 23 years. When I touched the charcoal with my fingers recently, it barely came off.

I have yet to try a proper fixative, but I think its fair to say that hairspray is a good, second alternative.

Saturday, December 20, 2014


Today, felt like an incredibly uncreative day. I think it was the downer, after the high of having my mum visit recently. We talked non-stop about art. I really enjoyed the time spent together, but was now struggling to find anything to create on my own.

Then I remembered the "still life" I promised myself to try. I know still-life can be a little unremarkable, especially when I looked around my house for something to draw - but I had to shake this funk off and get creative again. That bowl of fruit on the counter, started to look like a candidate.

I haven't used oil pastels since I was a teenager, and they were originally purchased for school assignments, so I was never going to master them. Watching a video tutorial a few weeks ago, however, helped me grasp the concept of layering. It was amazing fun to try, and the oil pastels were a delight to work with. So smooth.

Click to enlarge

These bright colours got me out of my funk, and I was surprised to have my mojo back. Creating is a state of mind, and while it doesn't have to be perfect, sometimes you have to shake-it up, to get anything out of it!

Now I just have to buy some fixative.


After falling in love with all things "chicken", several years ago, I made a sketch of one. I stumbled across it in some paperwork recently, and remembered what was going through my head.

I wanted to capture that unique personality which only belongs to chickens, so my pencil-strokes were deliberately unrefined - scratchy like a chicken, lol.

I didn't mind that it looked scribly, in fact, I wanted to duplicate that look with another medium. I thought ink & some kind of wash, would work best. Upon checking my supplies I discovered some black ink and watercolour paints.

I would draw the ink in first, then apply watercolour over the top. For this, I used a medium tapered brush.

Notice the paper buckling? I'll come back to that point, but overall, it wasn't what I was attempting to capture. The brushstrokes seemed too chunky and awkward on the page. But it was worth another try...

This time I used a smaller brush and lessened the intensity of the ink details. It seemed to help, but it still looked like a cartoon. At this point, I went online to look for some tips, and found a great video on "line & wash".

It runs for just over thirty-minutes, but is filled with a lot of incredible pointers on how to use watercolour and draw freestyle lines. The finished landscape looks gorgeous at the end too.

Well that video certainly cleared up some important details. First, I discovered I was using watercolour paints on dry paper. I only had sketch paper, that buckles with moisture - so watercolour wasn't going to work.

But I had the next best thing! Watercolour pencils. These can be used dry, in a sketch book, with a little water afterwards to blend. For the freestyle ink, I also had to ditch the brush, and use a black (waterproof) pen.

So, third time's the charm...

I was much happier with the result, as it was more in-line with the original concept.

What I learned is, sketch pads are great for experimentation, but very limited in what mediums they will work with. Anything involving moisture (except watercolour pencils) can't really be used.

I also learned I still like chickens!

Thursday, December 18, 2014


We've had a few surprises crop up lately (relatively good ones) but meeting those obligations meant a large time commitment from me. Never let it be said that I cannot multi-task however, because as 4.30 this morning, when my son decided he was going to wake-up, I did some drawing.

It's a simple watercolour pencil illustration, from something my daughter described to me a few years ago. At a local craft market, she saw an owl at a stall I must've missed. She was enamoured with it, and so I thought of making her one. Between us we made a simple sketch - but I never got around to making it.

This morning, I turned that wee picture into an illustration to remind me owls don't need to sleep at night - and that I would do something with my daughters conversation with me.

I like him. His expression hints at knowing my toddler is nocturnal too.

When my daughter saw the picture a few hours later, laying on the breakfast bar, she knew straight away. "Hey, that's my owl," she said. Then it was time to make toast.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Patchwork collage

My husband took the kids out this morning on a little shopping expedition, and it gave me some much needed time to focus on my cat collage. Was it ever hard! Unlike my Geisha who had very simple lines in the folds of her kimono and hair, the body of an animal has many more contours to follow.

My subject also had different colours in their coat, so the hunt for suitable shades in the local newspaper, had me cutting out the same segment multiple times. It had to be just the right shade, or it looked odd and ruined the subtly.

Click to enlarge

I'm not entirely happy with it, but I wonder if it's only because it didn't conform to the image I had in my head. Perhaps it works in its own way? It was meant to be a patchwork cat after all.

But I learned a lot from this particular gruelling challenge too. It's worth looking for just the right image and shade to create an illusion of depth or reflective surfaces.

 Closer view

The shadow of my cat, came from a ceiling in a hall for a community meeting. It had some fancy lighting which reflected off the white roof. This gave my shadow, a more luminous quality, that wouldn't have been so with a flat colour or just newsprint.

This was a wonderful discovery, worth the hair pulling at times.

Most of this picture is collage, with only the front of the face and front leg - a little back-leg outlining too, in watercolour pencil.

I'm glad I went for it when the opportunity arose. It was intimidating me somewhat, because I didn't know exactly how to make it work. Yet now I have something to show for moving forwards and have learned a little more about collage too.

The only way I'm going to improve my art, is by making mistakes and happy discoveries, all at the same time!


Copying is something you should try to avoid, especially when it comes to other people's work. Under no circumstances should you copy other artists work. But there are some instances where copying is allowed and can actually help the creative process.

copy (top) of original sketch (bottom)

Take my cat sketch for example. I intend to use collage, so having a copy I can trace onto the different pieces of paper I need to cut out, is extremely helpful. Given that collage can be fiddley work, I blew-up my original sketch to have an easier time with the smaller pieces.

I used my scanner and printer, to copy my own work.

copied onto greaseproof paper

I then take a piece of greaseproof paper (I buy mine from the lunch-wrap section of the supermarket, by the roll) and place it over the image I want to copy. Because it's see-through paper, I can view the image underneath and start tracing the outline.

Reverse image by turning over

To be able to copy it onto the final piece of paper, I turn the greaseproof paper over and colour the lines on the opposite side. All these steps are completed with the use of an ordinary HB pencil.

When it comes to placing my image on the new paper, exactly where I want it to go, I simply turn it over again and start tracing. I like the advantage of being able to place the image, exactly where I want it on the paper. This isn't always possible when sketching freehand.

click to enlarge final copy

Once the greaseproof paper is removed, you are left with a feint outline to fill in with the colour and mediums of your choice - in my case, its a valuable guide where to glue the newsprint I intend to collage with.

I've attempted to collage this piece already, but having two vocal kids around at the time, made it difficult to concentrate on directional lines of the newsprint. Just part of the joy of school holidays, lol.

No drama though, as I will gradually work this picture as time allows. I'd much rather be satisfied with the final artwork through the process, than rush it and regret it.

Are there any tricks you like to use, to set up your paper/boards for working?

Friday, December 12, 2014


I was looking for a new subject to capture - ultimately in collage, and so made a few preliminary sketches of our two-year old cat. She's somewhat of an animated character in real life, so much so, she's been nicknamed the assassin.

Click all images to enlarge

Here, she's playing with a pool of water, after a thunderstorm passed through. The fuzzy picture, was created unintentionally by changing the lines slightly - giving a ghost shadow.

Out for a kitty prowl in the late afternoon...

I drew this from memory, of the peaceful expression she can sometimes have while napping. It's very Buddhist, Zen, isn't it? Cats sleeping, that is. Apart from a sloth, can anything sleep more deeply than a cat?

I already know which sketch I'm going to collage with, but I may try and experiment with more.

If you see any newsprint on the pictures, its because I use recycled print paper to sketch on sometimes. Waste nothing.

Thursday, December 11, 2014



It all started with a simple sketch of a Geisha. After several incarnations, I have given my Geisha a new feel, again, this time with a completely new medium - collage using newsprint. I'm amazed how different she looks, and managed to capture some of that wistfulness I was after.


I used a local newspaper for almost all the collage, with the bottom of her kimono, from re-used paper I've printed on formerly. Her face was done in watercolour pencil, and I deliberately chose a limited palette to compliment the newsprint. Her lips I decided should stand out (given that a Geisha's smile is important) so coloured them pink.

The wisps of hair which fell down the side of her face, formerly, have been removed, but I did add a new spray of cherry blossom to hang in their place.

Click to enlarge

Next to her former self, I'm surprised by the new transformation. It amazes me how a different medium can change the look of the same image. Neither seem "better", because it was about experimentation and each has their own look, unique to the mediums I used.

This is not the end for my Geisha - I still want to experiment more!

UPDATE: here is a free tutorial on how to use watercolour pencil.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


This is my new art blog, to journal everything I attempt to create. My journey has been a long one, with many distractions stopping me from developing my love of art. But really, that's just how life goes!

Right now I am here, able to find new ways to create and share it with the world.