As a designer and and artist, I think it is important to continually learn and work toward advancing myself. It seems that every time I accomplish a certain technique or skill, I feel satisfied only for a short time and soon I begin to look for ways to push myself to a higher level. It is just my nature.
Because I am fortunate enough to be able to work doing something that I love, I am able to explore these many facets of the artistic work in the name of 'work'. I admit that I am quite spoiled in this respect, as what many are only able to do in their 'leisure time' I can justify as 'working'. It is one of the perks of creating art and designing for a living.
Over the summer, I stumbled on the work of an amazing artist and teacher named Lisa Clough. I think I was browsing some YouTube videos when I saw some of the lessons that Lisa had offered using colored pencils. Like most, I had thought that colored penciling was something that we did in grade school. Pencils were much neater than paint and it was much easier for parents and teachers to deal with a room full of students coloring than those getting messy with paint. Colored pencil work wasn't something that I would generally refer to as 'fine art.'
I can't believe how 'wrong' I was in my thinking!
If you stop over to Lisa's YouTube channel, you will understand exactly what I mean. Lisa not only works in colored pencils, but oil and acrylic paint and several other mediums. She offers a wealth of information about many different kinds of drawing and painting and I have become an enthusiastic follower. People such as she are gifts to those of us who are seeking to learn. It is rare to find someone so talented and also such a great teacher.
Long story short – I poured through her videos and visited her pages and decided to become a Patron sponsor for Lisa. This helps support her and gives back a bit for all the time and effort she puts into sharing her talent and teaching us. Sponsoring means that you agree to pay a small amount each moth to Lisa and in return you get special 'perks' from her such as access to long instructional videos (usually around 2 hours or more per project), a monthly post card with her original art featured, and special access to monthly challenges for the group. I find these all very inspiring and helpful in my own journey through art. You can do to the Patron page to read more about it.
While I have little time to work on ALL the monthly challenges, I want to try to have at least one ongoing challenge that will help me expand my skills in this area. I certainly won't finish it this month, but it will be something that I will do in the background when I have a little time here and there to do something for myself.
This month's challenge was a Christmas themed one. A white reindeer and some holiday accessories. The white deer is quite challenging because when using pencils, the light colors are much harder to do than the dark. I thought it would be something that I could learn a lot from. Here is the reference photo we were provided:
I loved the composition of this photo, and I think it will be quite interesting to work on. I wasn't crazy about the curtain in the background though, so I thought I would do my own thing with that.
Back in September, I had purchased a set of Inktense blocks and pencils by Derwent.
I liked the idea that the Inktense were warter soluable, but then once dry, the colors were permanent (unlike water colors which reconstitute each time you re-wet them.) This meant that once they were dry, they were permanent and would not bleed or smear into the subsequent layers of color, making them an excellent choice for things like backgrounds and base layers of color.
Since I wanted the background to look like old, faded wallpaper, I thought it was also the perfect opportunity to use my new cutter and create some custom stencils to make the wallpaper pattern. I quickly drew up a pretty Damask motif that I felt resembled a Christmas tree, and cut the stencil:
My cutter worked perfectly and I was thrilled with the results. (Another new avenue for me and my artwork!)
I used Fabriano Extra White 140lb hot press watercolor paper for my drawing. I wanted to use a good paper that would withstand the amount of water, pencil and erasing that it would eventually take to complete the picture.
I used frisket on the deer to mask it, as I want it to remain white at this point. I then taped off the floor area and used three different browns to wash the floor in. I kept it streaky so that it would resemble the wood grain and make it easier later. I will be using pencils over this, but for the base, I liked the effect.
I apologize for photographing it on the brown mat, but I had taped it there and didn't want to disturb it. You can see what is going on though, I think.
I then switched the taped side and began work on the wall. I washed/blotted and stippled it to give an uneven texture:
I used a darker green and my stencil to apply the wallpaper pattern, again with the Inktense blocks and water:
Finally, I once again washed the entire background before the stenciled design was dry. This made a beautiful aged effect and made the background look old:
I really like where I am so far on this. With the holidays just around the corner, that is as far as I got. I wanted the paper to be completely dry before moving on and I spent the rest of the weekend filling orders and doing some work on some of the gifts that I am making that need to be mailed out. I have to mail them soon in order for them to arrive on time.
I hope you enjoyed seeing this little progression. I also hope it inspires you to try something that you may not have considered in the past. I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that I would ever be able to create artwork like this, but the more that I see and learn, the more eager I am to try. Challenging ourselves is a great way to learn. We my not always succeed at our first attempt, but if we never try, how will we learn new things? It certainly makes for a fun and busy life.
Today is bright and sunny out. What a nice day for December! I hope you all had an enjoyable weekend and are accomplishing all you wanted to accomplish. (Do we EVER do that??)
Have a very happy Monday and a wonderful week ahead! I hope you do something creative!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"