Friday, 22 August 2014

75 Day Sketch Challenge - No. 21-30

Another 10 sketches in my 75 Day Sketch Challenge done, 30 altogether now, a whole month, basically. And so far, I've kept up the one-a-day, which really makes me happy. I can't remember how long they say it takes to make something a habit, but this is certainly starting to become a habit. Doing my daily sketching has become a part of my daily planning. If I know that I won't have time to draw in the evening, I do it in my lunch break. On those days, when I go to Yoga or Pilates in my lunch break, I try to keep the evening free, and schedule my social life around my daily sketching. Which isn't very difficult, I don't go out very often. On a day like last Tuesday, when both lunchtime and evening were taken up, I sneak in a little 5 minute sketch whenever I find the time. So far, it worked fine.

Actually, last Tuesday, my portrait drawing class started again, so technically, I spent two hours drawing anyway. But since I dedicated this little sketchbook to the challenge, I have to do my daily challenge sketch in it, no matter how much I draw elsewhere on that day. That is one thing I'm really looking forward to when the challenge is over. Not to be restricted to a certain sketchbook, but to sketch in and on whatever I feel like. And because I'm sharing all my challenge sketches, I'm more careful with my drawings, making sure that they're halfway presentable, and not being quite so adventurous and experimental as I might like to be. So when I want to try out something that I'm not sure is going to work out, I do that in a different journal, which I know I don't feel i have to share if I don't want to.

But of course I'm also learning a lot about how I sketch, what works for me. Even though I miss working with pencil, I've stuck to the no pencil-rule so far and always used some kind of pen for the initial drawing. Except with No. 26, which was done entirely with coloured pencils (the scanner didn't really pick up the grey one). I know that I don't need a pencil to do an initial sketch, but sometimes, at least some help lines would be useful, to get the proportions and perspective right. The pencil will definitely be a part of my daily sketching after the challenge.

The main thing, though, has been to get into the habit of daily sketches. And so far, that's been a great success.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

75 Day Sketch Challenge - No. 8-20

I thought I had posted the first 10 drawings of my 75 Days Sketch Challenge in my last post, and so I was waiting until I had finished the next 10 before scanning and posting them, but then realised that I had only shared the first 7 so far. So here are the past 14 sketches.

So far, I have succeeded in doing one drawing each day, but that might change by the end of the summer, when my portrait drawing class and my Swedish class start again. I do try to do my drawing in my lunch break if possible, if can't draw in the evening. Some of the drawings have been inspired by the lessons in Sketchbook Skool, especially last week's class with Andrea Joseph, which was all about the good old ballpoint pen (and other pens too). I've meant do some pen-only drawings too, but so far, I just couldn't resist colour - coloured pencils or watercolour for most of them. But hey, I've still got 55 days to go.

I am enjoying the challenge so far, although it sometimes really is a challenge. It's not the drawing itself that is the problem, though, it's finding something to draw when I'm tired and uninspired. Some are quicker, some take more time, depending how much time, and energy, I have. But I really, really enjoy to draw every day. Even if it's just a quick sketch of my pens.

There's one thing, though, that I'm beginning to find a little bit frustrating - the pen only restriction. I know, I know, it's all about getting confident with drawing with pen and not relying on the good old pencil, or rather the eraser. But I'm finding it very limiting. What I want to do right now, with the help of the challenge, is to explore different styles, techniques, mediums. Including the pencil (but not necessarily the eraser). Of course I do other drawings besides those for the sketch challenge, at the weekends, when I have the time. But during the week, these drawings for the challenge are all I've got time for. So I might eventually break that rule, but only because I feel that I would benefit from it. I want this challenge to be a helpful part of how I draw, and will draw in the future, not something completely different, that I just do so that it's done, and put away once I've finished. But we'll see. There's still 55 days to go...

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

75 Day Sketch Challenge - slightly adapted

I haven't been around much in blogland lately, over a month since my last post. I meant to write several posts, composed them in my mind, took the photos - and then just never got round to it. Sometimes, one just needs a break. I haven't taken a break from drawing, though. Quite the contrary. I've been drawing and sketching more than ever, and I'm slowly getting into the habit of drawing every day, which I hope I'll be able to keep up when life gets more busy again after the quiet of summer. I haven't touched my acrylic paints in months, but that's okay too. I'm happy exploring different aspects, techniques, styles... of drawing, playing around with watercolours, and experimenting with new mediums. I'm sure the time will come eventually, when I feel ready to pick up those paints again.

We're in the middle of the second course of Sketchbook Skool, and as with the first course, I'm so inspired by the teachers, and my fellow klassmates. Even if I haven't done all the homework (yet), I'm learning something from every new klass, and it all comes together in different ways in my drawings. Brenda Swenson, one of the teachers in the second course, suggested the 75 Day Sketch Challenge. I think this challenge has been around for quite some time, I remember having seen people doing and posting about it before (although it seems to have disappeared now). Basically, the idea is to do 75 pen drawings, without doing an outline in pencil first, within 75 days, preferably one every day. I love drawing with pencils, and I also think that it's quite okay to use it for an initial outline, if it makes you feel more comfortable. But using pen only is a good exercise to build up your drawing skills and confidence, and the challenge itself is a great way to get into the habit of daily drawing. Both things I want to develop (and the reason for doing the challenge).

I have adjusted the rules a little bit, though. For some reason, you're only allowed to use black or blue ink. Not quite sure why, but I've only just managed to get one of my Noodler Ahab flex pens working (I have two, and it seems that I can only get to work one of them at the time), and the ink (Noodler's Brown) flows so beautifully, that I have to make the best of it as long as it lasts. And then there are the red and green Bic pens too... And I'm adding colour to my drawings too, watercolours and coloured pencils. I'll certainly do some sketches without colours too, but for the moment, I just want to play with my new Daniel Smith watercolours (which are finally available in Switzerland), and my new coloured pencils. So here are the first seven of my 75 drawings, all of them drawn in ink, #1 and #3 over a watercolour background, #5 with watercolour over ink, and #2, 4, 76 and seven with coloured pencil over ink:

I'm using a Handbook for the challenge. I was going to my pile of empty sketchbooks to find one that had enough pages for the challenge. I don't know why I felt I had to do each drawing on an individual (single or double) page, as I really like those composite pages, but there you go. They're lovely sketchbooks with paper that seems quite thin but which takes watercolour very well, without bleeding.

I also meant to write something about the re-discovery of a new/old medium - the coloured pencil, but I think I'll have to put that into a separate post, or else this one gets just too long.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Summer of Colour. Week 2: Coral, Teal and Bright White

It's week two of Summer of Colour, and this week's colours are:

Coral & Teal 
with a Smudge, Splash or Pop of Bright White

Again, like last week, it took me all week to come up with something, but this afternoon, I finally sat down, took my toy elephant model out of the bookcase, grabbed my watercolours, and started sketching. I really love the combination of red and teal, I was a bit sceptical, I must admit, I'm not much of a red person, but the really do look great together. The page's not quite finished yet, I want to add some writing, but it'll have to wait a bit.

Next week's colours will be up tomorrow. Can't wait!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Adding colour to sketchbook portraits

I'm having lots of fun with my ink pen portraits in my sketchbooks. They're quick to do, and therefore perfect for a bit of creativity when you're really to tired to do anything else than flop on the sofa after work.

I'm trying out different ways to add some colour to the portraits. Gouache hasn't really been a favourite medium of mine, I've tried it out before, but then always went back to watercolours. But last night I thought I'd give it a try again, and I must say I'm very pleased with the result. They're more vibrant than watercolours and a good match to the bold lines of the ink brush pen.

The only drawback with the gouache is still the same as with watercolours when it comes to Moleskine sketchbooks. But as long as you don't want to create an accomplished work of watercolour/gouache art but just want to a bit of colour to your sketch, it works well enough.

The Liquitex acrylic markers on the other hand work very well on the Moleskine paper, but have some limitations when it comes to blending and transparency. But they're great for adding bold colour.

I bought some Tombow dual brush pens earlier this week, as I thought they'd be useful for adding a touch of colour quickly when you're out and about. They had some other pens, Shinhan or something there too, with a great selection of colours, but their smell was just overpowering. I'm not usually over sensual to the various smells of my art materials, but those definitely were too much. The Tombows are water based (maybe the others are alcohol based?), and don't smell at all. They're not as smooth and blending as I would have liked, you can see the individual strokes, but apart from that, they work well enough, also in a Moleskine.

I usually take photos of my work to post on my blog, but this time I tried to scan them instead. I've tried scanning before, and I was never happy with the results, and I wasn't this time either. But due to some technical problems (mainly due to Yahoo Mail being even more annoying than they have been for the past few weeks, i.e. simply refusing to let me access my account at all today), I had to use the scans for this post. The scanner never seems to get the colours right, and is having particular problems with the Moleskine paper (all images but the first are Moleskine). It doesn't seem to recognise the creamy colour of the paper but instead scans it as white, and as a result, all the other colours turn out wrong too (and in some areas didn't even catch the colour at all). I've tried to adjust them as well as possible in Photoshop, but they're still far from accurate.

What do you use for taking pictures of your work for your blog? I know that there are a lot of people who do use scanners, and if you do, I'd be more than happy to get some tips on how to successfully scan my images, as I seem to be doing something wrong.

And last but not least 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Summer of Colour, Week 1: Aqua, Yellow and Hot Pink

We're in the first week of Summer of Colour, and this week's colours are:

Aqua Blue & Yellow
With a Smudge, Splash or Pop of Hot Pink

Such a cheerful, happy and summerly combination of colours, and I was really looking forward to playing with these. But, I've been wrecking my brain all week, and just couldn't come up with anything. Today, the last day of the first week, I've finally managed to get something on paper. The three pears in my fruitbowl, with their different shades of yellow, gave me some inspiration at last, and luckily, I've got quite a selection of different yellows in my paintbox to match.

Week two will start tomorrow, with a new combination of colours. Can't wait to see what they are! And hopefully, it won't take me the whole week again to come with something.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Portraits from life, brush pens, and ready to party

Some weeks ago, I decided to quit pottery class, and instead take a portrait drawing class again, and I'm so glad I did. I had taken that class two years ago, and totally enjoyed it, and I'm totally enjoy it again now. It's not a class specifically with model (which would make the class more expensive) but our teacher sees to it that we have a model to draw about every other session. Last week, Werner sat for us again, and we tried to capture his likeness in ink. Our teacher had given us reed pens that she had cut herself to try out, and I decided to work in my portrait Moleskine journal, trying out different kinds of ink pens along with the reed pen. 

For the one below I used a grey Pentel brush pen. They come in different colours but aren't refillable, and on the Moleskine sketchbook paper, it behaved similar to watercolours - not so well.

For the bigger portrait below, I used the reed pen with India ink. It works great, and I like the idea of making your own pens, but depending on the paper, the ink can run out quickly, and you need to dip your pen into the ink bottle every few seconds, which can disrupt your line. But it worked well enough in the Moleskine. For the smaller one, I used a Pentel pocket brush, a new acquisition which I really like. The pen takes cartridges, and so can be refilled and used again and again (until you've worn out the brush, I guess), but as far as I know, the cartridges only come in black, and the ink is not completely opaque but can appear a bit faded.

After the break, Rosmarie joined Werner as model, and it was nice to have a female to draw too.  I would have liked to do a drawing of both of them together, but from where I sat, they were too far from each other, so I decided to focus on Rosmarie. Because both models are a bit more mature in age, they have much more interesting faces full of characteristic lines. Although I sometimes find it a bit difficult, to really make them look as old and wrinkly as they are, especially the women. I'm always afraid that they'll be offended, somehow (I showed her the two portraits, and she wasn't). Which is probably also the reason why the first portrait I did of her, on the left, looks much younger. The one on the right is more accurate, although I didn't quite manage to capture her lovely smile. 

Here you can also see better how "faint" the brush pen is. I've since found another brush pen, which is the same size as the Pentel one, but which can be used with a converter too, like a fountain pen, which means you have a much greater variety of colours to choose from (bottled ink), and which also can be filled with a lovely carbon ink, which dries instantly, is completely waterproof, and really is pitch black.

The portrait on the left below also started as a portrait of Rosmarie, but after two hours of intensely concentrated drawing, I just ran out of energy, and I soon knew that nothing satisfactory would come out of it, and that the best thing was to stop. I had meant to work a bit more on the sketch at home, to finish it, but then decided that I liked the unfinished one, and just added a touch of colour with a Liquitex paint marker. I had never tried them out on Moleskine paper, and I'm really pleased with the result. 

I decided to try out some more pens and paint marker and painted the portrait on the left last Friday night, on the sofa. I was watching tv, an old series from the 70s, where the camera focuses much longer on objects and faces than it does today, and I thought I might do a sketch. It turned out to be too fast for me, after all, so I just did an imaginary face, added some paint, and then added some stamped lettering too. As I've mentioned before, I'm not a party girl at all, and a perfect Friday night for me is spent on the sofa, with a sketchbook and something good on telly, a nice cup of tea and an early night, so that I can get up early on Saturday morning and spend the day in the studio. So this is probably the expression I would have on my face if someone suggested to me to go out clubbing and partying all night on a Friday night. Slight terror, frantically wrecking my brain to come up with a reasonable and accnptable excuse why I absolutely can't go out.

For the two portraits below, I used a big fat Faber-Castell pit Artist Brush Pen. It's great as you can fill in bigger areas quickly, but also has quite a fine tip. And it's nice and dark too. Both drawn from imagination, and using the paint markers for background, and some letter stamps.

Well, I might not be a party girl when it comes to going out on a Friday night (or any other night, really), but one party I definitely like to go to is the fabulous Paint Party Friday. Pop over and have a look at what everyone else has created, it's always a great inspiration.