I’ve been meaning to get some new watercolour brushes, as the ones I’ve been using (although having served well for years) are fraying and/or have rogue hairs going in one direction. Debating on whether or not to invest in squirrel-hair brushes, I decided it wouldn’t really serve me any purpose as I like painting in a particular way; and perhaps even more impractical for those who use hot-press paper. There are definitely a wide range of brushes out there and admittedly quite overwhelming, but after watching some reviews by other artists on Youtube I settled for trying out the Princeton Neptune range. I went for the Round Synthetic Squirrel in 0, 6, & 12 (as they are the sizes I use the most) of the 4750 Series. I’ll provide links below of where I got mine, even though this is not sponsored, and I’ll be sure to provide updates on how they fare with more use. I’m loving them so far, as the handles in particular feel more comfortable than my standard ones from the art stores here like Deserres or Curry’s. If any of you have used brushes from this brand please share your experiences in the comments, or even what your favourite brushes are; I’m sure we could all glean something useful from it. In the meantime I’ll be continuing using these new brushes as I’ve done for this latest piece, and will be retiring my older brushes for inks and acrylic washes.
As usual I started out with my drawing on tracing paper, eventually transferring the finished product with a graphite backing and tracing all the lines and details. I was sharing this thought on Instagram as well but, does anyone else hate ‘transfer’ days as much as I do?! Recently I’ve been laying some scrap paper as masking (as you see on the right side), just so I have less graphite residue to erase off of my watercolour paper when I’m done transferring.
There’s no better feeling than finally getting to put pigment to paper.
You always feel ambitious with the thought of filling a piece with knotwork, until the realization sets in of having to trace said knotwork for a second time accurately. I cheated a bit with this piece as you’ll notice with my preliminary drawing as I drew in only one side; the other side was cheekily transferred by doing a mirror/flip transfer of the paper. I also decided to incorporate some cute little Robins as well; going on themes of death and souls for this painting. You might be wondering what on earth I’m talking about, and rightfully so. I often tend to come by weird articles and stories (go figure), and a few that have interested me are of Robins visiting people in grieve and mourning. One in particular was that of a woman grieving the death of her child at his grave and a robin flying and landing on her. I hadn’t known of the bird’s connection in folklore and symbolism surrounding death. Truly fascinating.
I guess this really is my first finished painting/artwork of 2021; not counting the Kickstarter group projects. I wanted to start the year off with a smaller piece, before I get underway with a painting I’ve had my mind on for a while. Hopefully, the next piece will have more improvements on anatomy and hair. Speaking of, hair…the struggle. I’ve been looking through as many watercolour tutorials as possible for painting hair in this medium. I’ve grown to dislike the way I’ve painted hair these last few months; mainly the way the strands fall, making it a bit more cartoony/’anime-y’ (for lack of a better word). I don’t know though, the verdict’s still out on this one. It may turn out that I don’t like too much realism after all.
a closer look.
I’ve been getting better at reminding myself to take more progress shots. Honestly, it’s probably one of the reasons I haven’t attempted any more Youtube videos. I mean kudos to all the art Youtubers out there, but having to constantly pull out my camera is a chore in itself; not to mention having to be pulled out of the moment to record every stage. X__X
As usual I started with a drawing on tracing paper, although you’ll notice I didn’t add the flowers. Sometimes with more simpler design details, I’ll go in directly to the watercolour paper. The drawing isn’t really meant to be ‘finished’, just the line-work (the simpler the better) so I can graphite-transfer it onto the paper. I’ve learnt the hard way that detailed line-work combined with the tooth of even hotpress paper, tends to warp the transferred drawing you get. So the solution for myself anyways, is to keep the initial process simple and add details in before painting. I’ve also stopped printing my line-art/drawing, as I used to for transferring drawings. Personally, I haven’t been finding the need to waste more paper; just using sharp pencil over the tracing paper drawing works fine. I’ll usually scan the drawing before I get started on tracing with graphite, so as to preserve all the lines I originally had for reference.
washes and paint | work in progress.
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post. I’ll have the original painting up on the Shop section sometime at the end of the week, and prints should be up by the time this blog post goes live. Take care everyone!
Well ok technically I don’t use an easel for my watercolour paintings (or drawings), I’ve resorted to just a Masonite board propped against the table and on top of my thighs at this point. 💁♀️ Small studio spaces.
Although my head’s buzzing with ideas at the moment, this month has been rather slower than I would have liked. I had been struggling with the usual artist block, which returning meant too many ideas all at once. 😫
In hopes of improving whilst simultaneously creating new artwork, I’ve decided to do a bunch of these mini drawings. Keep an eye out in the shop if you’re looking to purchase any of these upcoming small originals. 🙂
It should be noted that procrastinating on art supply restock is never a good thing; which I’m learning all too well at the moment. I’ve shared a few snaps on the process of creating this piece below (at least most of which I remembered to do as I was painting).
prelim to painting.
The current situation with the virus and limiting shopping/delivery on art supplies of course doesn’t mean an end to creating work. It is indeed a very first world problem, but an annoyance nonetheless.
I’ve been trying to return to the habit of using preliminary drawings more, and then using a method of transferring onto watercolour paper. As I’ve been trying to improve my figure drawings, I’ve noticed that my watercolour paper does tend to get a fair bit of damage from erasing and redrawing. The fact that this can happen isn’t new too me, but in all honesty we all get lazy at times.
Happy with my drawing, I scanned the work and got ready to print. If you’re interested in the method I use, you can also check out Cynthia Sheppard’s video here, where she shows how you can go from your drawing to painting. I then realized I had run out of printer ink, as well as any graphite transfer paper…Time for the old school method. I’m talking about what we did as kids, taking graphite and going over the back of a sheet of paper covering it entirely, and then placing your drawing over it and tracing over that. Its the same concept as the ones you can buy at art supply stores. I’m a bit conservative with wasting graphite however, so I usually tend to fill my ‘transfer paper’ only on the areas I know will have outlines. Often times there’s no need to have whole sheet covered, you’ll probably end up with graphite residue on a perfectly clean watercolour paper.
Once the drawing’s been transferred there’s only one thing left to do, paint! 🙂 I didn’t have the same issues I did with my Sparks of Rebellion piece; again because I removed a lot of the surface on the watercolour paper during preliminary drawings on that one. This piece was mainly in watercolours but to get a more smoother gradient on the background I opted for some Faber Castell Polychromos, and acrylic paint highlights.
If you’ve followed the progress of my latest painting (Sparks of Rebellion) on Instagram, I’d say you already know all about my displeasure of it. But let’s start with the positives shall we? I had (in my opinion) a rather successful sketch period following this meltdown. I needed to figure out what went wrong with my painting, and I would say some things became more clear. If nothing else, the prelim. work behind the painting was one of my more enjoyable ones.
What I had excitedly envisioned for the finished piece got ruined within the first few seconds of the initial wash due to…..a brush, that required more extractions of bristles off of paper than I’ve had to do. Lets say that brush shall not haunt mine or anyone else’s dreams ever again. As the painting started to develop I also began to notice more errors in terms of figure/ form, etc. Unnoticeable to the audience perhaps but as artists will know, GLARING for us. Frustrations piled on, this painting was beyond ‘fixing’ at a certain point. With a bit of help with some coloured-pencils it regained the status of being presentable. In conclusion, more discipline I’d say on checking my tools, testing colour comps. thoroughly, and most important of all, triple-checking line-work/under drawing. Mirrors and views from a distance are once again my best friends. 😆
WIP and planning stages: the parts that were the most fun for this piece.
With this painting I really wanted to continue with the fantasy elements, but also get back to the study of sheer fabrics that I enjoyed when painting Call of the Sirens. Fabrics are always intimidating for me, because if it’s sheer or even satin let’s say…well for the most part you only get one chance to get it right with watercolours. Too much paint can mess up the piece real fast, and finding how light and skin works in whole equation is another thing altogether. I’m still learning by studying from the masters, by looking at many classical paintings; ranging from Regency to Edwardian. Although, I have to find a way to adapt those techniques from oils to watercolours, which is a fun challenge.
I liked the look of the early stages of the painting as well, making a note to experiment with even less paint in future projects. Sometimes I find it a bit hard to judge how dark I need to make a watercolour painting; as most artists in this medium will know, scanning the artwork doesn’t always get you the most flattering results in the end. There’s a certain grey/dark tone or evenness I like to achieve (which I’m not doing a good job explaining unfortunately), and scanners mess it up royally with its bright light giving unwanted contrasts across the painting. I’m lucky to have a good Epson scanner, but there are some things that can’t be fixed and I do my best with Photoshop in the end. 😄
*Update on In Fate’s Hand Painting Auction
I’ve realized I hadn’t updated the info here on my blog as I had on Instagram. The original painting of In Fate’s Hand that was for auction on Ebay, has now been moved to the shop. I had some issues with Ebay account, as it was a new one, and felt it would get better views directly in the shop. 50% of the sale of the painting will still go the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation as originally planned, so please pass on the word and check it out for yourself if interested. Thanks! 🙂