art journal tricks, paints and pens, sketchbooks, stuff i've made

sketchbook pages

20 OCtober 2014As departure draws nigh, I am making more of an effort to do something in my various sketchbooks, every free day of the week. These ink bottles, done this morning, taught me two important things:
1) That it’s a good idea to do some warm-up drawingsI The bottle of Burmese Amber ink was the first attempt. Meh. I used the actual ink to colour it in, and it bled into the cheap graph paper, went all dull, mixed with the black drawing ink and turned dirty. It’s a lovely ink to write with, though…the writing above it is an example of this J. Herbin ink.
20 OCtober 2014 detailThen I did the bottle of J. Herbin’s 1670 Rouge Hematite ink. Better. I used masking fluid to block out the highlights, and used watercolours instead of the ink, itself. Glad I did, because although Rouge Hematite is a beautiful ink, it has one very serious flaw…it never really ‘fixes’ into the paper. I made the mistake of using the ink to write its name under the drawing. Long after it had dried, as I was pencilling-in the bottle of W&N ink, I realised that my hand was smudging and spreading the red ink over the drawing. Eek! 1670 Rouge Hematite, I love you, but I can’t live with you.20 OCtober 2014 detailFinally, I painted the bottle of Winsor & Newton waterproof black ink. Used the masking fluid more boldly, here…and I’ve learned that, when painting glossy surfaces like glass, there has to be a really bold contrast between the highlights and the darkest areas, and that they are adjacent to each other.

2) It pays to draw from life, and without gimmicks. Before I start drawing/painting anything, I’m overcome with laziness. The task always seems too hard, the subject too complicated for my skill level, and I am tempted to pass on drawing, altogether. Or I am tempted to resort to dirty tricks, like taking a photograph of the subject, printing it out, and then tracing/transferring the basic lines to the paper as a light pencil sketch.

This means putting off the drawing for some other day, because I don’t have a printer at home. It means losing the motivation and the feeling of the moment. It also means that I would never have learned to draw things.

It’s a real blessing that I can’t print things out on the boat! Every drawing I push myself to do is a small step forward, I feel. Even three little bottle drawings, spaced an hour apart, show massive improvement. I’m no Dürer or Da Vinci (probably because I don’t draw enough…those guys drew several dozens of little sketches, every single day, for decades!) but I have come a long way from the stick figures I used to draw in my twenties (and before then, no drawing at all)!

When improvement is so apparent in each small attempt, doesn’t it stand to reason that a small drawing or two each day will, at the end of a year—at the end of five years of traveling and sketching—take my skills to a whole new level? If it’s that easy, what on earth have I been waiting for all this time? A fairy godmother? Deus ex machina? Good grief, Nat.


19 October 2014
Last night’s drawing, in poor light, using graphite pencils, a bit of charcoal pencil, and something called Progresso by Koh-i-Noor, an aquarelle graphite pencil which is really lovely, makes a silvery-grey wash that is still quite erasable when dry.


7 October 2014I suck at monochromatic drawings because I almost never do them…but I would like to get better at using graphite and charcoal, because when done well, these drawings are so beautiful, achieve so much with so little! So even though I don’t like the grey drawings I’ve done recently, I will keep going with pencils and charcoal. A better understanding of greyscale values will help with my coloured work, too.

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journaling + mail art, paints and pens, stuff i've made

W&G sketchbook pages

Inspired to the point of nail biting by Jennifer Orkin Lewis’s painting a day, and hoping to get into the habit of doing a small painting regularly (once a week is all I’ve managed)…before I set off on my big adventure ‘out there’, I picked up where I left off in this palm-sized honey of a handbound watercolor book, and tried to do a little something on free days. Even if it was just a color chart, or a copy of some bizarre character by Bosch.

Watercolours and gouache.

15 Sept 2014

Oct 6 2014

Oct 6 2014

Oct 5 2014

16 Sept 2014

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art + design, Inspirations

Jennifer Orkin Lewis, via Lisa Congdon

7.1 & 2 by Jennifer Orkin Lewis

Jennifer Orkin Lewis’s Daily Sketchbook Paintings…oh, to do something like this on my travels! Or even just to do something like this, at home, every single day, without losing the plot or getting distracted, or letting laziness take over!

What a fabulous journal she’s got! I drool over every page. In an interview with Lisa Congdon of Today is Going to be Awesome,  Jennifer says that she spends just thirty minutes on each page. Thirty minutes! I look at any one of her journal pages, and I know I would struggle to do it within two hours. But maybe that’s because I don’t paint a journal page every single day. Duh.

These 365-day projects, though I admire them like crazy in others, have just never worked out for me…my good intentions and initial enthusiasm about a project are built on such weak foundations. Oh, well, that’s not quite accurate, I have managed to make a pot of coffee every morning for the past 16 years of my life, or something like that. (Now that’s something to think about…perspective shift! Convince self that art is coffee, and that I will kill someone if I don’t do it! LOL)

*sigh* You know I only posted this to satisfy a preposterous inner need, right now, to be Jennifer Orkin Lewis…as though sharing someone’s amazing work will allow a little bit of the achievement to rub off on me…vicarious blogging. It’s lame. :)

Daily Sketchbook Paintings 7.1-20 | August Wren.

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paints and pens, stuff i've made

Pinkland + Spirographs in acrylic

caramel caravel2

Day Two of this painting. Still very much a Work In Progress. And yes, it is very pink, isn’t it? Maybe it should be called “Portuguese Arriving to Sack Electric Ladyland”. I had a lot of fun when I started, which is why so much got done in just two days. But I sort of hit a wall this afternoon, and now I don’t know what to do with it.

As usual, I like parts of what I’ve done…but not the painting as a whole. Not sure what’s bugging me about it, but I suspect the whole painting should be flipped to its mirror image, so that the boat is entering the scene from the left (forget about it, easier to paint a new painting!) Also, I think the sea should be a reddish purple (I thought of Homer’s “wine-dark sea”) and the ship should be something really goofy…not just some dwarf version of a real caravel…

…but god, I am so tired of wrestling with it—it measures 2′ x 3′ and I have been standing in front of it all day—and I don’t know if I will ever get around to making such big changes. Right now, I can’t LOOK at it any longer, I am so tired of staring at it that it all dissolves into puddles of colorful mud when I try. I think I’ll just turn it to face the wall for a while, and see what I think of it in a week or two.

caramel caravel1

I did learn something new, exciting and funky on this painting: A fine-tipped Posca paint marker (1-MR) will fit in the holes of a Spirograph! This means a lot to me. At last, I can use my Spirograph with more than black drawing pens or ballpoints! I am besotted with Posca pens, anyway, because they are water-based acrylic paint pens, and they draw a rich, opaque line, and they glide over any surface like an oil slick; knowing I can use them to draw Spirographs just means that I love them more than ever.

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paints and pens, stuff i've made

Lace on the skin

A Night in MoroccoInspired by North African henna deigns, I put paint in a fine-tipped squeeze bottle and applied it to a painting of hands in exactly the same way that one would apply real henna. then I stamped the dark blue background in gold acrylics with a small hand-carved wooden printing block from India, and picked out the petal shapes in a lighter perriwinkle blue. So simple and quick, but very satisfying. I love intricate ornamental patterns. Very happy with this finished painting: romantic, feminine and it looks like lace from across the room.

All in all, a good way to have spent the day! :)

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I love abstract painting…probably because it is so much harder to do well, because there is nothing familiar, recognisable to comfort the viewer or fool her into thinking that she understands anything about the work or the artist behind the work.

It is paint dancing on its own, when paint is not being coerced into parading as something else…like a tree, or Magritte’s treacherous image of a pipe that is not a pipe (because, hello, it is paint). I’m still amazed when I meet people who will discuss a painting of something as though it is that thing, and not a skin of paint dried on canvas. Reminds me of the simple folks in the Philippines who would throw drink cans and rubbish at a movie screen when the bad guy appeared…

“I’m very interested in when something coalesces, so when something that could feel random and chaotic stops feeling like that and feels balanced, and at ease with itself, when it stops being cacophony and starts being rhythm and music…”

I’m very interested in that, too. Counting the days till the Mermaid I work for comes back…

Exhibits, journaling + mail art, mixed media, paints and pens, stuff i've made

The Art of Tea Exhibition is on this weekend

Tactile Arts Exhibition: The Art of Tea

Tactile Arts Contemporary Craft Studios & Gallery
19 Conacher St., Fannie Bay, Darwin, NT
Opening 10:30 AM on Saturday, May 3rd
Runs till May 25 2014

Tactile Arts comprises dozens of talented craftspeople and artists working in glass, ceramics, textiles, jewelry, and anything else you can name, so if you love tea motifs you’re sure to find something delightful at this themed exhibition. These are what I’ve put in:

tea journals

gold roses tea cup

albatross tea  cup

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Online Shops, paints and pens, stuff i've made

Craft-bottomed girls, get on your bikes and ride!

A girly retro pink bicycle, resplendent with wire baskets and crocheted doily wheels—don’t snigger, this is actually a pretty accurate representation of the bicycle I still ride…only mine’s red and named Ruby Belle—sets off (on her own, because I wasn’t confident enough to paint a rider!) to have an adventure some place exotic and fabulous!

Just posted this in my Society6 shop today.

Art is afoot…society6 has added rugs to their list of products.

The original was painted some years ago, and disappeared en route to Germany by post. Luckily, I took high-res pictures.

 

Handmade journals with this design are coming, too…no, not on Society6! I mean my own handmade and bound journals, covered in beautiful linen-cotton canvas (as soon as I get my Spoonflower fabric…I’M SO EXCITED!). Stay tuned!

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