Still Alive….

Okay, so I’d understand if the title is a little hard to believe; We have been crazily busy and have basically forgotten to update the blog, in months! That’s okay though, because we can always start again! I’ve been doing some awesomely fun stuff lately, developing my skills in oil painting (exciting!) pencil (which I never really did before) and starting to work on digital!

Guilford Grimm's

For now, I’d like to post my first attempt at digital colouring of one of my drawings. Having missed the main event of the Grimm Tales show in Brighton, we took the opportunity to attend the mini-version at The Keystone, in Guilford, on the 22nd of April. I only spent just over an hour drawing, as Jake asked if I would like to take photos, as I had my decent camera on me.


Five-minute Poses

However, in the second half I managed to do a few, quick, five-minute poses. I’ve started playing around with Sharpie pens, especially as I got hold of some “Bristol Board” – ultra-white paper, that looks absolutely awesome with the contrast of the deep, black pens.

Of the three of these, I liked the one of Sofia as the devil most of all – and decided that the hard edges of this medium would make an ideal candidate for colouring on my computer. I’ve seen the results of other artist’s doing this, especially some of the illustrators, and have always been fascinated at the idea of trying it.

The results can be seen below – after putting into Photoshop, I used the multiply blending to add colour; probably not the best way to approach it, but the easiest I could immediately think of. Presumably playing around will find easier ways. I’m pretty pleased with this result – especially for a first attempt. I haven’t added any detail that wasn’t in the original, bar a couple of shade separation colourings, which leaves the colouring looking pretty flat, but I’m definitely happy with this, and will definitely be continuing on!

2012: Happy new Year!

Happy new year! It’s been quite a while since the front page was posted to (although the gallery has been kept reasonably up-to-date), so I thought it was time for an update.

November and December have been very weird months. After both of us getting terribly ill and going into hospital in mid-November, we were weak and exhausted, and this was compounded by the fact that I have been suffering from insomnia all of December. This has somewhat sidelined actively working on art projects (which is why the november card project fell beside the wayside). There are a couple of new techniques and approaches that I have picked up, and hope to post about soon, but I thought I’d take this post to list the art-related books that I received for christmas, as I am extremely happy with them.

Printmaking + Mixed Media

This is a very simple book on printmaking. This is exactly what I wanted – flicking through several books in various art shops, and looking up descriptions online only left me confused as to how to start. This book starts with simple forms of screen and block printing and seems an excellent introduction to the area.

Moonshine: Dreamworks Artists after Dark

This is a book that I have wanted for a couple of months, after watching the excellent video documentary that goes along with the book. Essentially, it’s a book of artistic images that artists who work at Dreamworks have produced in their own time. I consider it an interesting insight into the art that professional, paid artists do at home for ‘fun’.

How to draw and paint Science Fiction Art

I’ve looked at books like this one in art shops before, and the problem with an awful lot of them seems to be that they are aimed at the ultra-ultra beginner – an awful lot seem to be pretty contentless and more a step-by-step drawing instruction that an actual useful learning reference. I haven’t gone through this book yet, but it looks as though it has a nice balance – although it does have steps, they are general guidance instructions and there is an awful lot of reference imagery – it even emphasises using reference pictures to base off of. I am very much looking forward to going through this book properly.

Figures and Faces: A Sketchers handbook

This book also looks useful – I would say that it is not much use for the aforementioned ultra beginner, because there is very little text on most pages. However, there are lots of pictures, and instead of using as a read-book that teaches you things, it looks as though it will be useful as a quick reference book for ideas on how to approach a particular pose, or part of the body.

10,000 Years of Art

This is an interesting book indeed. Though small, it has 500 separate pieces of art spanning from 8000 BC to the present date, across many, many cultures. Looks like it will be an excellent reference for looking up a couple of pieces in any particular certain style.

Sophie in Cards

In the thursday themed session this week, I continues on with the card project that I mentioned in the previous post. Things were made slightly more difficult by the fact that I had mis-printed my templates, and only had nine “full size” cards (for the displays like the one below I adjust the sizes so they are identical), so tried compacting several onto one card at the beginning. Nonetheless, It was an interesting experience to do lots of small pictures again.

One problem I found this time was my speed of drawing – on the longer, 40 minute pose I all but ran out of things to do – the last five pictures were all done during the same post. Whether this is because I am getting better, or just faster, I don’t know, but I do know that I am not happy with any of the faces that I drew – for some reason I find it very difficult to capture Sophie’s likeness, and don’t think I ever have yet.

November Project: Pack of Cards

Card Template

So, November has rolled around and that means that I have a new project to start! After a bit of flip-flopping over what to do, I’ve settled on making a pack of cards! It’s something that I have been thinking about for a while, since I started using indesign to make printable templates. The other direct idea was making bookmarks, which is still on the table as a possibility, but isn’t really a big enough project.

So, playing cards. Assuming I am going to do the whole pack, I can see doing a couple of things; Either having one model per suit, or one model per card value. At the moment, I plan to do the latter, but things can always change over the course of the month. This means that there is a bit more variation, as I can fit many more models in.

I started drawing on Wednesday this week, with Johanna modelling. I have in mind for Johanna to be the value #1, as she was one of the very first models I ever drew, way back at White Night 2010, but at this moment I haven’t marked the suits or numbers on. I actually managed to get 13 pictures drawn in one session, because of the size of the drawing I was doing. Rather than adding them all separately to the gallery, I have collated them into one image, seen below.

It was an interesting experience. Not only did I have to constrain myself to the predefined spaces (which I discovered in the past is pretty hard) but I’ve never actually drawn models on this small a scale before – it’s surprisingly different, but an interesting challenge. It was also nice to have time to move around; I drew three separate pictures for the 40 minute pose, which was interesting (This brings to mind another project idea of drawing the same multi-week pose from lots of different angles).

So, the project is off to a start, and although I have a lot of work (and decisions) ahead of me, I am greatly looking forwards to it!

Better iOS gallery interface

I’ve just updated the gallery a little; when browsing on iOS devices, the interface should be a lot easier to use – the normal interface never worked very well, and required multiple clicks to do things like open albums.

There is a little loss of functionality, but it should be much easier to browse from phones and iPads. There is a button at the bottom to switch to the normal site, if you should so desire.

Apparently, the theme also works with Android devices, but until I borrow Charlotte’s phone to test I am leaving that disabled.

Building a Colour Chart

One of the first things that I did when getting my set of drawing inks, was to make a colour chart. Although each ink comes with a sample picture, I felt that this might not reflect the ink as I actually use it, so made a chart showing all of the colours, seen in this post, above. To make the chart, and the newer one I talk about in a minute, I made a template in indesign and printed them on watercolour paper, for a good white base that would reflect the drawing papers I would normally be using.

This chart, however, was flawed in two ways; For a start, when I did this I did not understand the effect of having a high loading of ink on the brush – it effectively means the layers of ink are much thicker, and so much deeper. This is why the reds and oranges all ended up looking pretty much the same, and the yellow went a very strange colour. The second flaw is in relation to how I have since started using the inks – by diluting them down. This chart only shows full density of ink loads.

The old Dilutions Chart

I had a small interest in the very beginning of my ink endeavours about the possibility of drawing with diluted ink, so much so that I actually did make a dilutions chart at the time, but only for three of the colours (and out of them, only black I can remember explicitly). So, a new chart was in order.

The result that I came up with, is the chart below. It contains every ink that I own except the gold (which does not dilute well) from a range of pure ink to 1/64 dilution. The pure ink box for each colour is split into examples of a heavily loaded layer (top) and a light brushing layer (bottom). In addition to all the coloured inks, the black indian ink has a dilution factor down to 1/1024 – this is because of the extreme density of the ink, and I have found myself practically using 1/256 so far.

I am pretty proud of this chart, and feel it was well worth the multiple hours that it took to construct. It shall be useful in the future, I am sure!

White Night Brighton, 2011

On October 29th, there was the annual festival of white night in Brighton. This is a yearly event on the night that the clocks go back, and there are many free art installations, activities, and special events spread around the Brighton “Lanes”. This event holds a special place in my heart, as it is this event last year that I first started drawing – and had great fun, despite taking an extra five months to start it consistently.

This year, Draw (the new name for the “Brighton Life Drawing Sessions”) ran a bigger session than last year, and took over the inside of St. Pauls church on West street, with public admittance from 20:00 to 4:00 am. I was part of the volunteer team that helped set up, and we all turned up four hours before the expected start to set up the modelling areas, and generally prepare for the onslaught. Luckily, there was a wonderful quantity of food provided by one of the volunteers, Keith, and there was enough time left over at the end of setting up for us all to have a banquet before the models needed to get into costume for the rest of the evening.

The evening was a great success – and in total around 600 people came to draw – at times it got very busy in the church and there was very nearly standing room only! I didn’t get as much drawing in as I should have – there was a lot of joy for me in just being in the atmosphere, chatting to people both out in the main area and in the back areas with the other volunteers. What drawing I did get done, however, was remarkably productive – and I was quite happy with the results. They can all be seen here, but I will talk about a couple of my favourites in this post.

After a set of five minute poses, which included one I liked of Lucy, I drew a slightly longer 15-20 minute post of Sofia. Now, I like drawing Sofia (our previous drawings can be seen here), and get on very well with her, but am frustrated by the fact that I find capturing her likeness pretty difficult. But the picture I did here I am extremely proud of – and is probably my best picture to date of her:

After drawing Sofia, I stopped for a chat-and-tea break, and started chatting to Michelle

Charlotte and Michelle

in the dressing room – this was to be her first time modelling, and I love chatting to new people doing anything, and love to draw people who I haven’t drawn before! I started by drawing a couple of five minute poses, then came back to draw a medium length pose of both Michelle and Charlotte. I wasn’t entirely certain on the post length for this one, so rushed on Charlotte a bit – but am generally happy.

After this, I went to draw a 15 minute of Emma, a couple of shorter ones of Charlotte, and then drew a medium length picture of another new (or just not drawn by me before) model – Amy.

After another break, it was about 3:15am and the drawing was still going on strong, despite everyone starting to feel pretty tired. I took the opportunity to draw Otto, a model I had heard of but not drawn before – a couple of weeks previously, he had apparently been doing headstands for the short poses! We didn’t quite get that, but he did do some yoga poses – including the legs-over-backwards one shown on the far left of the inset picture. It’s interesting how you get used to drawing similar poses and body structure – I had a moment frozen as I realised that I didn’t ‘know’ how to draw this pose. I definitely look forwards to drawing Otto again.

After this, there was a final, 20 minute pose which all the remaining models took part in. After my successful one of Lucy earlier, I decided to dedicate the time to drawing her again – quite apart from anything else, I liked the composition of my view and especially liked the striped tights. I’m reasonably happy with the results, especially given the mental state I was in at the time – I wonder if the hand is a little small, something that I do often, but I don’t generally have any complaints.

This was theoretically the end of the evening – and everyone started packing up. I finished colouring in the black of Lucy’s top for a minute, but then managed to get an extra, sneaky, draw in – Lucy, Emma and Frankie all lay down on the cushions for warmth and rest, and chatted for about five minutes. They were all still enough that I managed to get a group sketch that I am also pretty proud of – especially as they dispersed about the moment that I finished drawing Frankie. The faces aren’t my best, but I think I captured the moment pretty well, especially the motion of Emma’s chatting.

In summary, it was an extremely wonderful, productive evening, and I was proud to be a part of the setting up and organisation, even if my roles were only minor. I very much look forward to the next big Draw event!

Sparse Posting, Already!

So, it seems that most of a month has slipped by and there has been no updates, at least to the main blog page – the gallery has been updated almost every week with my new pictures, I just haven’t had any time to talk about them.

This month has been a very busy one, art-wise – my circus book project was a great success, and encompassed learning a good deal about calligraphy, and I started using a new technique of diluted inks. I still plan to talk about these activities at some point, but for now I think I’ll call posting bankruptcy and try to keep current, starting with a post about saturdays white night event.

Charlotte has been similarly sparse, but for various reasons she hasn’t done much drawing this month. She has been working on a couple of other things, which I hope she shall decide to talk about soon!

October Project: Circus book

With the advent of a monthly “Drawing Salon”, there is the opportunity to structure time for a big project for each month. Last month, I worked on a long pose picture of Charlotte – it is, however, not yet complete – so not posted yet.

On the 1st of this month, Jake ran the “Drawing Circus” event – a day event of life drawing, with a circus theme and a storyline. Knowing in advance the scale of this event, I purchased a concertina sketchbook (right) in order to have all the days drawings in one combined place. This is a new experience for me, as I never normally use sketchbooks, preferring to draw on free sheets of A2 or A3 paper.

The concertina sketchbook is good for this, because as the pages can be folded out to a continuous piece of paper, I am not restricted by the size of the page width, and can have different sketches relating to each other rather than separated out into different pages. Knowing some of the circus set art, because I had been helping paint and prepare them, I prepared in advance some decoration for the sketchbook – the knife-throwers star on the left. This was as a front and side motif on the sketchbook cover, and I will post proper shots of it once the project is complete.

On the day of Circus, I got a lot of drawing done – because I wanted to try and capture the whole narrative of the story, and because different poses were of different lengths, I ended up doing an awful lot of short 3-10 minute drawings. In total, I ended up doing 71 sketched poses!

So, that leaves the question: What exactly is there to do for this months project? Answer: A lot! My plans include selective colouring for the important roles (i.e. the monkeys fez is red), a whole plethora of backgrounds and scenery to draw in (I was good and kept myself drawing the poses, but leaving blank spaces most of the time for planned scenery) and finally text – I left a blank page for each ‘Act’ and intend to include a storyline summary – so this entails practicing some calligraphy. In addition, I have a few pages at the back to fill to finish the whole sketchbook, and have yet to fully decide what to do with these.

So, I have a fun months work ahead of me (oops, that month has turned into three weeks now…..)

Life Drawing Session on 29/09/11

As a child I was given a set of watercolour pencils which I never really got the hang of but always wished I could. Subsequently, when I started drawing again I wanted to try them. Luckily, WH Smith had a fantastic ‘back to school’ offer with 60% off, so I got a 36 pencil set for £7.00!!! I also purchased three brush pens that you can fill the barrels with water, this means you can apply the water to the pencils with ease and accuracy.

Three Minute Poses

We started as normal with some three minute poses which went rather well for me as I actually got most of the figure in and with okay proportion. It is true that you speed up with practice! As the three minute and some medium length poses were drawn in pencil I am still having trouble putting them up. However Nick had done a very good job here darkening the pencil lines.

For the long pose at the end of the session I had time to colour and water wash my picture. I was very pleased with how easy to use and blend the pencils were. However I noted it was better to apply the two / three etc. colours to the paper first and then add the water to achieve the desired colour. The water brush pens also proved a fantastic find as it was very convenient to use and then you just squeezed through more water to wash them through for the next area. My only irritation regarding my final picture is I cut off the hoop as I ran out of page – I wish I had started 2cm over!!