Hunter | Graphite Drawing

Hunter, graphite & colour-pencils on paper, 8×10″, 2021

BACK TO GRAPHITE

I’ve been enjoying all the Inktober pieces from artists on social media, as usual I haven’t been able to get into it myself. I’m fully determined to keep saying ‘next year’ however, until I get something in for the darn monthly challenge! Meanwhile, I’ve taken a little break from watercolours again, as we near the end of the month. This one being a more fun and free project, taking a character from author Nalini Singh‘s work and imagining it into a more illustrative piece.

Starting off using the same technique from my last painting (Banshee’s Wail), and layering the preliminary drawings so they are ready for the transfer stage. This time around I wanted to play with more dramatic lighting, as I’m slowly starting to get more comfortable with it for future projects. I decided to do some simple black and white lighting samples on Paintshop Pro. It’s not a really an depth study, more of an assurance really so that I’m not going to desecrate the drawing when I work in graphite powder onto the paper. Speaking of paper, I’m using Strathmore’s Bristol 100lb. (270 g/m2) in Smooth Surface. I’ve used both the vellum and smooth surface sheets from Strathmore for many years now, and I usually shift between the two if I want more texture or not; I tend to shy away from more textured paper however because I like to scan my pieces for digital use.

I tend to use graphite powder for mainly large surfaces I want to cover, and I believe you can purchase it as well. I don’t have any experience with it so I tend to just use the saved ‘residue/remnants’ of when I sharpen my graphite (using the blade method to sharpen of course). Using a tissue I then work it in, and for this particular piece adding in various forms with my Blending Stumps. I ended up feeling that the piece was a bit on the grey-scale of things and flatter than my usual work; in which I usually have some pure black elements for contrast, so I thought it might be fun to add some colour instead. Sticking to the paranormal and fantasy aspect of the author’s work, I chose to just focus on the eyes (…or rather eye) with various shades of green colour pencils. Overall, a much needed casual and experimental project; although I never want to see leopards or spots again.

Hope you all have a fun Halloween!

A CLOSER LOOK


(This post contains affiliate links. I can receive a small amount of commission should you choose to purchase from a link provided. It helps me keep this blog going and supporting my work here on this site. I will only recommend items I’ve used and already purchased with my own money, or know enough about to recommend as an alternative.)

Inspiration in Many Forms | Pagan Folk

As I went to post my latest Wardruna inspired drawing, I realized I missed posting the last two pieces I had done. So here’s me backtracking to a couple of older sketchbook drawings. As usual I’ve been using Strathmore’s Tan Drawing Sketchbook, and I would say after using it for this long it’s the only sketchbook I’ve gone back to over and over again (sadly some of my regular sketchbooks are collecting dust). Many artists, myself included, love the amount of depth you can easily create on toned paper. You already have a working middle ground, so pushing the shadows and highlights comes easier and results in better depth in the overall drawing. At 80lb (118g/m2) I find the paper to be quite substantial as well; I’ve tested out a few markers and microns on it without any bleed-through. I’d be cautious of using things like Copics and Shinhanart Markers however, as those notoriously over saturate most paper (unless you don’t mind avoiding the use of the back of every page).

WARDRUNA ‘Lyfjaberg’, graphite and white colour-pencil on paper.

The Appeal of Pagan Folk

I’m using the term ‘pagan folk’, but sometimes placing specific genres on a musician or band can be a bit vague or confusing to others. People come across bands like Wardruna and Heilung and call them ‘Viking’, or more amusing terms such as ‘demonic’, ‘barbaric’ or the best one of all, ‘is that Ragnar?’. Wikipedia tends to take the more…generic route, and uses terms such as ‘Norwegian music group’ or ‘Faroese singer-songwriter’ for someone like Eivør Pálsdóttir. I think Heilung does the best at identifying their music as “amplified history”, as thematically they tend to gear more towards the Bronze & Iron Age. Where as a band like Faun from Germany, often has a more identifiable ‘medieval tone’ to a general audience. You also have bands like Kalandra who are referred to as ‘alternative Nordic pop’, and singer Aurora thrown into these genres as well; either because of their collaborations, or messages surrounding nature and/or wilderness in their songs. I know I just threw a whole bunch of names into the field, but I thought it would be the best way to explain the difficulty of having to explain to someone that I listen to pagan folk for inspiration, without a whole lot of head scratching.

Although fairs and festivals have been going on in Europe for a while, I think it would be fair to say that in North America at least such events aren’t as common place. The occasional summer music festival usually tend to promote musicians from Hollywood; the mainstream genres of pop, rap, rock, etc. Renaissance, Medieval or Pagan festivals weren’t something you came across, unless you were actively looking for them I suppose. There has definitely been a shift in recent years however, as Scandinavian and other European folk bands have had tours lined up more regularly across major cities in North America.

You also can’t overlook the impact of shows like Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and even Game of Thrones & Outlander for that matter, have had on this growing interest on festivals and activities surrounding historical reenactment. I think the musical aspect goes hand in hand as lot of bands like Wardruna for example, with their track ‘Helvegen’ on Vikings, drew the attention of audiences unfamiliar with pagan folk. Similarly, my introduction to my favourite singer Eivør was through the very first episode of The Last Kingdom, and drew my curiosity into discovering more artists from Northern Europe. Even in adolescence, I think I’ve always had an interest in outside what mainstream music would be playing on the radio. I remember having The Mask and Mirror & The Book of Secrets albums by Loreena McKennitt on an endless loop, then substituting it for tracks like ‘La Notte Etterna‘ from Emma Shapplin.

I think the desire to be closer to nature, live more rural, and escape from the general madness of our concrete jungles is no longer reserved to a small population. It’s also something being translated more and more into different art forms including music, and of course visual arts. You’ll be able to find a lot more contemporary artists across social media for example, displaying work that incorporate nature in some capacity; some approaching it through its beauty and volatility, others through messages for environmentalism and conservation. My work probably encapsulates the former, although there’s no denying it’s a continual effort to try and portray that accurately. I think this is where my interest in pagan folk intersects with the creation of artwork. Inspiration can be found in many forms different from your practice; photography, film, etc, but mine has overwhelming been through music and literature. I can easily get lost in the rhythms and voice of a singer; feel transported enough to feed that imagination and overactive brain, and translate it to paper and paint.


“I think many people who don’t go to church or other religious ceremonies,
I think they miss that solemn, holy place.

One of the goals with Wardruna concert is to actually create that space.
To create that serious space, moment, where you can just get lost into the music.

It’s about communication, back and forth.
About acknowledging things that are bigger than yourself. Remembering nature,
that we are part of it, etc.”

-Einar Selvik with Iron Realm Productions at Midgardsblot 2016.

If you made it this far, thank you for stopping by this longer chatty post and feel free to continue the conversation below. Take care everyone!

WARDRUNA ‘Kvitravn’, graphite & white colour pencil on paper.

The drawings for Kvitravn; the one above and the one with the white raven featuring Lindy-Fay Hella, are both inspired by Wardruna‘s latest album and the visuals from their respective music videos which you can find on Youtube.


(This post contains affiliate links. I can receive a small amount of commission should you choose to purchase from a link provided. It helps me keep this blog going and supporting my work here on this site. I will only recommend items I’ve used and already purchased with my own money, or know enough about to recommend as an alternative.)

Through the Void – Graphite Drawing

Graphite WIP for Through the Void

As a promise to myself to improve my figure drawing, (the male form in particular), I was surprisingly satisfied by the end of this piece. My current displeasure with my work was that there was something off about how my figures in my watercolour paintings were looking. There was a flatness that I didn’t really like, and really wanted to improve on. Therefore I went back to the basics with graphite. Obviously a much more forgiving medium, it gave me the chance to really analyze what I was missing in how I presented the male/female form in my work; taking a slower pace, and building up each layer with shadows, highlights & textures. I think the next step will be to play around with much more dramatic lighting to add more dimension to faces and figures.

It was also really fun to play around with some of the graphite shavings/residue I had saved from sharpening my pencils. So do save them if you sharpen your tools with a blade! 🙂 Although scanners don’t do a very good job at picking up the subtleties in traditional work, I hope you can at least see the attempt to create more solid black planes. I’ve wanted to incorporate this technique for a while now, without using black paper or ink washes. Although easily created (as seen in the halo), there will inevitably be a visible texture no matter how dark the graphite. So this technique was quite interesting to try out, as well as figuring out whether I like graphite better on white or tan-toned paper. The verdict’s still out on than one.

Through the Void, graphite on 11×14″ paper, 2020

The Mandalorian – Last Drawings of 2019

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I hope you all have enjoyed The Mandalorian as much as I have; it has given me hope for the Star Wars franchise on the big screen. Although I’m not part of the fan-base that have felt rage at the new movies, I was rather disappointed at the failure to develop the characters & plot in the manner that The Force Awakens seemed to have initially been heading towards. I can be satisfied with The Mandalorian however, and continue to enjoy the animated series, games, and books that Star Wars creators do well.

Having had the benefit of growing up with 2 older brothers, I was never short of action and sci-fi/fantasy media growing up. The Star Wars trilogy was watched to death on VHS, and my generation of course enjoyed (and criticize today 😅 ) the prequels when they came out around 2000s. Other than the unforgettable introduction of Darth Maul in the prequels, Ewan Mcgregor’s Obi-Wan really got me interested in the character and continues to be my favourite to this day. (Well ok…Obi-wan and a certain red-eyed, blue-skinned, art connoisseur 😆) Therefore, seeing director Deborah Chow behind 2 of my favourite episodes in The Mandalorian has gotten me very excited for the upcoming Obi-wan series which she’ll be behind. A really good sci-fi/fantasy show also means a longer wait for Season 2, which I shall now impatiently be waiting for.

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This is the Way, graphite on toned paper, sketchbook, 2019

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Want Some Soup?, graphite on toned paper, sketchbook, 2019

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A Creed, graphite on toned paper, sketchbook, 2019

*Prints available here.

November 1 – Sketchbook

 

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A slow end of October; in terms of sharing more work here that I had originally planned. Trying to get more paintings done for portfolio updates, as well as certain personal deadlines I want to meet. Hopefully I’ll get more new work up here soon. 🙂 Until then, a little toned paper sketch from ITV’s Sanditon. Little bummed we didn’t get a proper Austen ending from Andrew Davies. 😆 Still, a huge fan of Davies and love every adaptation he’s done.

Also, you can follow me on Instagram & Twitter if you’d like a glimpse into what I’m working on, I try to get more updates for you guys on my socials anyways. 🙂

IG: @shaima.art / Twitter: @shaima_art

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Leo Suter, Theo James – Jane Austen’s Sanditon, colour-pencils on toned paper

WIP.

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Conversations

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This drawing is probably the most fun I’ve had on an artwork this year. The initial research and reference stage had me a bit confused at first, as I hadn’t really thought about Odin’s eye until I looked at some old drawings and paintings online. I noticed a constant switch of direction of his missing right eye; my guess is mirroring had resulted in artists switching to the left side of his face. All in all a fun little project. (A side note, I had no idea how big ravens were. 😶)

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Conversations, microns & markers on paper, 8×10″, 2019

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Prints and this original will be heading to my shop soon. Head on over if you’re interested. 🙂

WIP.