Monday, August 27, 2012

Friendly Giant

This is a painting I did for Illustration Friday! This week's topic is "Tall".
 And here's a closeup:
 And this is what the sketch looks like:
The scan quality is a lot higher than my old watercolors if you notice. I finally, FINALLY bought myself a nice scanner. There are more light bulbs in my new scanner so you don't see as much of the texture of the watercolor paper, which looks GREAT in real life, but ends up just looking dirty when scanned.

Also, I added a new blue into my palette. It was hard to use at first. Every pigment behaves differently. It's not just a matter of switching out the colors and expecting things to behave as they used to. I wasn't sure if I liked Winsor Blue at first, because when it dried it left little white pocks all over, but I really like the hue. I guess I will keep practicing with it and see if it belongs in my palette permanently. Trying new things is fun.

I am so tired. I have been so busy all day! I finished editing my 100+ paged sketchbook and sent it off to the printers for a proof copy. I hope they do a good job! Secondly, I dragged my butt to figure drawing today. Third, I finished knitting up a sock for my husband, who never has to wear store-bought for as long as I live, as I keep him well-supplied. Forth, I painted this for Illustration Friday, did 2 loads of laundry, organized and cleaned my office space, and did a half-hour cardio workout. I hope I won't be too destroyed tomorrow at work. I recently changed jobs! Last week was my first week at Zynga, Austin TX. I hope I have a good second week!

Well, it's 3:15. It's definitely time to get some rest


Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Sketchy Day

My painting buddies and I wanted to do some serious painting in Bastrop today but the weather was not cooperating, so we sat outside of a restaurant, ordered some junk food (fries, onion rings, ice cream) and sketched away while it rained off and on.
On the way home, we made a quick pit stop at the zoo. We didn't stay long, just long enough to get a few pages of animals sketches.

And that's all for now!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Watercolor - Bastrop River Co

Went to Bastrop today and painted this. I've lived just a short car ride from Bastrop for the last 6 years but I never went. Shame on me, it's a cute little town with lots of things to paint. Anyway, I painted this little boat rental place:

And here's a sequential of how I painted it. I didn't like how wimpy my washes were on stage 2. Also, I was under a tree, and the dappled light was throwing my camera off. Sorry for the poor photography!

In all honesty, the painting didn't turn out how I had it in my head. There are things I really don't like about it. My spouse says that it's a fine painting and that the failings are all in my head and that I should post it. So if you like my painting, you have him to thank for me posting it. :)

Until next time!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Watercolor - Texas State Capitol

What a great day. Sat on a blanket and painted this. Buildings are hard. They have SO MUCH detail on them, ESPECIALLY the texas state capitol. The trick is to have few areas of detail and areas that are generalized. When you have both of these elements, the details become implied. Anyway, I hope you find the painting satisfying! I sure had fun painting it.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Koi Watercolors with Step-by-Step instructions


Skittered to San Antonio today to check out the Japanese Tea Garden they had there. I found a not-so-high-traffic spot and painted some koi.

Plein Air painting is no joke. It's hard work lugging your painting gear all over the place in 103-degree weather, then sitting in one spot trying not to sweat on your paper. Studio painting is for wussies. It's all worth it when you gather a crowd and they exclaim how beautiful your painting is. :) That doesn't happen in a studio!

OK now for the step-by-step:

Step one: Get yourself a cool hat. I knitted this hat! And a lady was like: OMG! COOL HAT! Did you make it? and I'm all... YEAH MAN! FIST BUMP. Well, it didn't go quite like that, but close.

Step Two and Three - draw it, and paint it. When I draw, I go from general to detailed. When I paint, I usually do the opposite - from detailed to general, which some say is counter-intuitive.

So, when I put down a stroke, I try to get the Color, Value, and Edge quality right the first time. Unlike many watercolorists, I don't build up color and value from light washes, I try to get it right immediately. This is called Alla Prima painting, Alla Prima is Italian for "First Attempt".
First Attempt painting is fast. Faster than glazing. It's a little more scary because a big bold dark mark cannot be built up to. It's there right away. But speed is a huge advantage when plein air painting where you want to be quick. Another advantage of alla prima watercolor painting is the ability to soften edges. When you put a mark down, you can soften it immediately by working the neighboring color or by touching it with water. Can't do that when you're glazing.
 Whenever I paint, I try to paint things that are next to each other, relating their color and edge quality as I go. I'm not all over the place, but I do keep the overall piece in mind, in my head, about where I want specific values to go. As you can see, I started with the fish head, then the water around the fish, keeping it wet-on-wet so the water bleeds into the fish a little bit.
 Then I take a break. Here's me with a GIANT LOLLIPOP. (Cotton candy flavored.)

 I lied a little. This painting is not completely Alla Prima. I glazed the water. The reason is that it was necessary. In order to get large dark washes you need a lot of water. That unfortunately washes down the colors and makes it wimpy. The alternative was to glaze. The water in the painting was glazed with Indigo Blue. It's a great pigment to glaze with. It doesn't lift as easily as other pigments. I did keep softening the indigo into the fish however. This integrates the fish into the water. Remember: hard edges separate, soft edges integrate. If the fish were all hard-edged, it would look like cardboard cutouts.
 I added some subtle fishy shadows and voila, got yourself a koi painting.
 Now show it off! Here's me Vanna Whiting it up.

Well, I hope you liked my painting and my step-by-step. I know, the instructions weren't that specific. For that you'll have to go to my youtube channel and follow the tutorials. These are more like general tips and an overview of how I work.

Until next time!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

observational pen drawings

I do a lot of observational drawing. They're fun and they keep the pen moving. When I draw out of my head, I mostly stare at the paper blankly and get a nosebleed from thinking too hard about what to draw. Observational work is fun because there's no shortage of things to draw. You get lots and lots of practice and it prepares you for when you do have to do imagination drawings. This discipline informs the other. So carry your sketchbook with you everywhere and draw everything in sight!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Zoo Sketches and Tips and Shortcuts for Beginners

Here are some sketches from the zoo yesterday!

Today I was asked for drawing tips. My gut response is to just say, practice practice practice. This is true! That's probably the single most important thing I can tell you. But if you want something that you can work on IMMEDIATELY, and see results on your very next drawing, there are three things I can think of.

1) It's really amazing how few lines or strokes you need to represent an image. Look at my kangaroos. Other than lines for restating, You have about a dozen lines and BAM - you have a kangaroo. Try practicing stroke economy. Think before you place down lines. You draw less and the viewer fills in the details. You'll have a nice, clean picture that's easy to read. And you can start doing this right now!!

2) Shape design. Simple, overall shape design. A lot of Disney characters can be distilled into a few simple shapes. The details go on top of these simple shapes. Work with an overall simple shape first, you'll be amazed at how good your drawings will become! Look at the geese. They have simple overall shapes. I've captured their goose-ness with the big picture, the details only help.

3) Relate. Often, I see drawings that are good except that things are just off. Always know where the center line is and always relate left and right. Things line up rhythmically. (See Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian man). How does the left knee relate to the right? Left shoulder to right shoulder? Relating makes a drawing more solid. Check out the crocodiles. (The drawing of the pair) See how I drew a centerline down the back of the croc? That's so I can quickly relate the left and right side. You'd be surprised how many artists overlook this process!

So, those are my specific tips for beginners. Practice is a general tip, good for everything, but I think these tips can make your very next drawing better!


Thursday, August 2, 2012


Watercolor piece for Illustration Friday. This week's topic was "Lonely".  I hope I captured the word with this pin-up.
here's a closer look at the details:

 And here's the sketch. I am always disappointed with the tracing. The girl's face on the sketch is better. When I traced it, it lost something. I tried again and again and I couldn't get the nuances of the sketch onto the watercolor paper. Sketches look fresher. There's also a certain tour de force to a quickly executed and well done sketch. Painting is just tedium. Sketching is where the real talent lies I think. It's where you can see the real artist.

Want to know a cool word that artists sometimes throw around? "Kinesthesia." It basically means an awareness of your body. I tried drawing this out of my head I was going nowhere. Finally, I got on the ground and got in the pose, and suddenly the pose became easier to draw. That's why you should always act out your poses if it's possible.

Until next time!