Soul Collector | Watercolour Painting

Testing New Brushes

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.

Princeton Artist Brush | Neptune Series 4750 | Round Synthetic Squirrel, Size 0

Princeton Artist Brush | Neptune Series 4750 | Round Synthetic Squirrel, Size 6

Princeton Artist Brush | Neptune Series 4750 | Round Synthetic Squirrel, Size 12

The Prelim.

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.


The finished drawing ready for transfer.

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.

Soul Collector, watercolours, 8.5×11″, 2021

2021| full steam ahead

I hope I’m not giving you all whiplash with the amount of times I’ve changed the look of this site; truth be told, it’s not looking how I want it to yet. I hope you’ve all had a wonderful holiday and a good start to the year. I wanted to start off by saying thank you for all the support in 2020, whether it was here on the site, Instagram, or through orders on the Etsy Shop. It’s been amazing to see people supporting smaller businesses/artists like myself during this time, and we’re all beyond grateful.

woven path.

I briefly talked about the Woven Path Tarot months ago, and I am able to share a few more glimpses at the progress of my part of the project. I’ll link an Instagram hashtag here if you’re interested in seeing other cards from all other participating artists. There has been a slight delay, but the project will be coming to Kickstarter later on this year from Changeling Artist Collective.

If you haven’t already guessed, I’ll be illustrating Death. Going into this project I was vaguely familiar with Tarot, and so doing the initial research and learning about the Death card in particular was fascinating. The meanings, history, and symbolism associated with each card is a really interesting topic to look into if you have some spare time. If nothing else, the artwork associated with every variant deck that have come out over the years is worth the exploration. Be sure to follow Changeling Artist for all the updates going forward, and we hope you will support us on Kickstarter once the project goes live.


codex.

A piece that has been in the works since a couple months back and is now finished waiting to be evaluated, is another Kickstarter project; this time a magical collection in the form of an artbook by SPIRIDON. If you haven’t already, you have until January 18th to submit your entries for CODEX OBSCURUS. You have talents like that of Bastien Deharme and Karla Ortiz just to name a few in this artbook, so you can tell why I’m especially excited for this one. There isn’t much of the final artwork I can share yet (should it be included in the final product), but here is a little sneak peek until then.

Margarette| Watercolour Painting


Drawing Without Reference

Going into this year I really wanted to improve the way I drew faces and proportions. Most important of all I wanted to be able to see said improvements when not working with any references. I was noticing the loss of creativity that I had an abundance of, when I used to create art in the early days of middle & high school. Back then I was doing more of a manga/anime style work, however I had much more creative ideas come through in terms of design.

A really good article that caught my eye earlier this year was The Danger of Reference by Jesper Ejsing via. Muddy Colors (A website you should be following if you’re interested in acquiring a wealth of knowledge from artists in the industry). It was something that I had gotten too comfortable with, and something I hadn’t even noticed or thought about until I read Jesper’s article. I had indeed created a safety blanket for myself over these last couple years, relying heavily on references for all my work in every stage. Although there isn’t anything inherently wrong with this process (most artists require references at many stages of their work), there is a danger of killing creativity if you don’t step outside the technical once in a while. This reliance on references came from an insecurity of my own skills as an artist, and of course comparison to the masters in the fantasy art and illustration industry.

So at the end of September, as sort of a spur of the moment thing, I decided to do a painting in which I would draw a face without the help of any reference material. …Confession, I did give up on the hands πŸ˜…; something I have yet to master in terms of structure/shape. I am pleased I was able to come up with a face, composition and design at least. Small steps.

Margarette, watercolours & acrylics on paper, 8×10.5″, 2020

WIP.

This painting along with many other originals are available for purchase directly through the Shop section in this website. If you are looking for prints, please visit my Inprnt store.

July Painting – VENTRESS

The Switch

I’ve made the switch to hot-press paper. Having conversations with other artists and looking at their process, it was time to switch over and give this paper a try. I think I’ll always prefer cold-press; the texture and depth of colours you can achieve is much more satisfactory, but alas the scanning results in my opinion are rarely so for displaying work online (especially for more illustrative pieces).

Stock piling and clutter in both art and life is not something I’m keen on. Something I’ve had to reconsider during this pandemic. Luckily I had enough supplies until shops opened up again, but what I didn’t have on hand was hot-press paper. A month back, the only shop that had any in stock here in Toronto was Deserres. 4-5 ‘misroutes’ with Canpar, emails & phone-calls back and forth with both companies, and I finally had my paper arrive in a bent cardboard box. …I don’t know if I was more surprised at having received my shipment at all, or that the paper had somehow survived with minimal damage. Yay to Canadian postal service. πŸ‘πŸ˜‘

Ventress, watercolours & acrylics on 11×15″ paper, 2020

New Vision for Ventress

I chose to test out Fabriano’s Artistico Hot-Press Watercolour Paper. I would suggest everyone do a little test run before starting a new piece, but seeing as I didn’t follow my own advice it seems a tad bit hypocritical to say so. πŸ˜… After success with this paper and seeing that it wasn’t a waste of money, I’m eager to try out Arches‘ (pricier) paper as well. I had little to no warp with this one, although I’m suspicious of my 3m masking tape playing a part as well. I don’t put down a lot of heavy wet washes either, so I can’t say what the result would be for those of you who like to do so. Again, do your tests!

I suppose it’s no surprise I’m doing another Star Wars related piece. With the last season of The Clone Wars finished and looking forward to both Season 2 of The Mandalorian and The Bad Batch, my head is constantly buzzing with ideas for artwork. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Dave Filoni to continue the stories of SW Rebels characters, and that of Ventress in future animated projects. I had hoped to see more of her life after serving the Sith and her new missions as a bounty hunter; even more interactions with Boba’s team perhaps.

Achieving some ‘glowy’ eyes with acrylic paints.

Keeping the bounty hunter theme in mind, I wanted to soften Asajj’s look by giving her hair again (drawing on the flashbacks of her lavender hair as a child), as well as changing her usual Sith attire to more of a civilian one. Taking liberties of course from the original art & design, I played around with additional Sith corruption marks and tried to include references to her Dathomirian heritage with things like beaded necklaces, and of course some elements of witchcraft & necromancy. This was a fun little side project to work on, although personally it’s always nerve-raking to mess around with original visions of any series.

Process.

3rd time’s a charm; various attempts of re-imagining Ventress.
The final drawing on tracing paper before adding some tidbits of embellishments.

Emissary – Watercolour Painting

Latest painting for June, Emissary. Although I’ve found a style that has comfortably worked for me over the years, I’ve really had this urge to push myself further. I’m sure other artists have had such instances; not necessarily criticism or even a need to changes one’s style, but a nagging unsatisfactory feeling. The frustrating part is that you have it planned in your head, but the execution isn’t necessarily as forthcoming on paper. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen that I’ve fallen back to the sketchbook many times. I’ve felt my figures were in dire need of improvement. Although I’m not a realism painter by any means, I’ve felt the lack of substance in the forms I’ve drawn/painted lately. Here’s hoping to improvements in the next pieces. 🍹

Emissary, watercolours on paper, 12×18″, 2020

Sisters Cassandra – Watercolour Painting

Sisters Cassandra, watercolours & mixed-media, 11×14″, 2020

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.

I tend to use tracing paper as it’s the thinnest, but you could use whatever paper you prefer.

Once the drawing’s been transferred there’s only one thing left to do, paint! πŸ™‚ 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.

This painting is also available for purchase as prints and the original. You can find all the info by heading over to Shop.

When in Doubt, Back to the Sketchbook

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. πŸ˜†

Sparks of Rebellion, watercolours & coloured-pencils, 11×14″, 2020

WIP and planning stages: the parts that were the most fun for this piece.

Alexsandr Kallus: SW Rebels, graphite studies on sketchbook