I always love the start of a new year. As usual, I’ve updated my Gallery page to see all the projects I completed over the year. Sometimes years are more productive than others, and last year seems to have had a small lull, but I must remind myself that a lot of that was due to learning Adobe software and such.
As I mentioned last time, I want to bring more painting into my work, so I kept playing with the media I have on hand. I started with just watercolor pencils, to make a simple sky and normal coloring pencils for the silhouette landscape. I topped it off with a sparkly golden paint wash. I was really just getting a feel for how the pencils could layer or interact with each other, or how to add the blotchy look in the watercolors.
I saw that not all my normal coloring pencils were waterproof, as seen in the streaking here, and that was a good lesson. I went on to test all my blacks, pencil and pen, to see how water would or wouldn’t impact them. I now have that cheatsheet handy, if needed. And in a different project that I’ll post about shortly, I learned that these utensils may be waterproof, but not gesso proof. I’ll have to sit down one day and really make a scientific study of my supplies.
Another lesson learned was that I screwed up with my original deer which had been placed on the top of the hill, but rather than being frustrated with a piece “ruined” I covered it up with a large bushy tree and put a deer somewhere else. You can’t let mistakes get you down, or you’ll give up!
Then I went on to see if I could cut out cloud shapes and use them as stencils. That worked ok, and would be better if I used something impervious as the template rather than paper. But this wasn’t meant to be anything more than a technical study. I also wanted to see what would happen with drippy paint, and I used the techniques I saw online, where you paint a path with water for the watery paint to then follow.
Then I went back to the deer idea, since I realized it was important to me to have a deer in that first scene. I have always loved deer, so I was thinking that maybe they should appear more in my work. I used my camera Lucida app mentioned here to quickly sketch out a doe. Then I used small squares of tracing paper to find out what my own style of drawing a deer might look like. This went through a lot of variations (12 I think total). At the end, I saw which parts I kept including – the eyes, ear shape and darkened outlines, her adorable little chin, and the musculature of the jaw.
I also liked how some of the tracings stacked on top looked together – a faded backdrop with a crisp outline on top. A few of my doodles also included a pattern on the forehead. But for my last study, I just used color on the second sheet (tracing paper wrinkles some, but is otherwise fine for watercoloring, I noticed).
Having drawn this deer over and over, 10 times from a trace and twice without looking at it, I was able to draw another deer later at a restaurant with some crayons while we waited for food, and it turned out pretty nicely! I think adults are shamed away from tracing and copying, but it really is a starting point of how practice makes perfect. No one questions the ethics of children doing this, and I think the same freedom should be allowed for adult beginners.