Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fun with my new Chacos

I'm a big fan of Chacos, I have been wearing them for 10 years. But I'm not the kind of fan that has to have 20 pairs of my favorite shoe--no just one pair is fine with me.

Well my favorite pair recently died on me, after nursing them along for 10 years with one resole and one re-webbing.  So I recently got new ones, and wanted to "commemorate" them with a painting.

I'm not that big into Still Life as an artist, but for Chacos I will make an exception.

 I set up some DIY lighting using a tripod, metal clamp-on light, and a plastic white table.
After drawing the outlines of the Chacos onto an 8x10" sheet of Arches 140lb cold press watercolor paper with pencil, I started painting.  It seems to me that getting strong light on your subject and capturing the value range is pretty important.  So I started by doing a purple under-painting (using Quinacridone Rose and Ultramarine) for the values.  I started exploring the blacks here also by adding New Gamboge to my mix.

When the under-painting and first blacks were dry, including a wet-into-wet of the three colors for the gray of the sole, I worked on the straps.  For them I used mixes of Manganese Blue Nova, Phthalo Green Blue Shade, and Ultramarine.

For the final touch I mixed up some wet puddles of the teal and the purple to load a brush with and create some splats.  Blowing through a straw at the resulting splat puddles created the radial lines.  A fun little commemoration for my beloved new Chacos.  May they last me another 10 years!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Finding the Sketchbook for Me, Finding Myself

Writing down my thoughts has come naturally to me all of my life.  I have been keeping a written diary/journal pretty much continuously since I was a girl, since I started my very first diary in 1975.  I still have that diary from 1975, by the way.  I have all of my diaries and journals though the years, because keeping a diary or journal has always been precious to me.  I learn about myself when I write out my thoughts and feelings, I work to solve my problems and issues, I take notes about what is happening in my life that I can refer to later if I forget.

Drawing and illustrating, on the other hand, is something I recently developed a habit of and I still feel like I am still in training for.  If you've been following me in this blog, you've seen me try my first sketchbook, and several thereafter, of all different types, makes, and models.  It taking me awhile to learn about this new part of myself and what works for me.  It feels like I've tried them all.

But I may have settled on a system that leaves me feeling content, a system that is working for me now.
You see, I've have recently learned about myself that I cannot keep an illustrated journal without wanting to write a lot of stuff right beside it.  I just can't let go of my love of writing.  I tried to not write so much, especially in sketchbooks that contained expensive paper meant for watercolor painting.  I tried keeping separate books, one I would sketch and paint in and one I would write in, but I didn't really like working in separate books, either.  It got too confusing having to decide what to put where, or where I put what.

I found that when I put pretty fabric over the cover of the Canson Universal Sketch book (my only real gripe about this particular sketchbook), I have found the perfect place for me to feel free to write AND sketch AND paint to journal my life.  The books are so cheap (less than $4 at Dick Blick for 100 sheets per 5.5x8.5" book) that I feel like I can put anything in them without "wasting" paper.  The paper is smooth with just a hint of tooth, and surprisingly strong for 65 lb paper.  When I draw or write in ink, it doesn't bleed or even show through to the other side.  And to my delight, it takes a layer or two of watercolor paints with only the slightest puckering!  When I paint on it, it's almost like painting on hot press paper, which I am really growing fond of.  I kind of like the splotchy effect I get with it!

The paper does get weakened if I work it too much with the brush though!  But this is a small drawback, especially since I have actual watercolor paper I can use whenever I want to make a "real" watercolor sketch or painting (which is something I do also pretty much every day).

I love that I can feel free to use it for a quick ink-only cactus and rock study outside, or to draw some thumbnail drawings to see if they could work design-wise in a future painting.  It's a place I can explore things on a whim, and write about the experience of doing it.

And it's a place where if I want to study value and not necessarily color, I can do that too!

What do I call this wonderful book where I feel free to put anything?  There are so many names people use for it:  sketchbook, artist's journal, illustrated journal, junk journal, or just--journal.

Whatever you want to call it, I am feeling happy right now that I have found a kind of book that I can feel free to do most anything in, and treasure later, in spite of the book itself being cheap, or maybe because of it...