Tag Archives: Mixed media

Mad Experiments with Blobs

Now I know how Dr Frankenstein felt… It’s all good fun until you create a monster.

This is surely the Weirdest Blob Ever.

Firstly, I don’t know what this blob is made of… While the kids were doing their homework (boo!) and I was cooking dinner (actually it was cooking itself) I found a piece of paper in the kids’ art and craft drawer with this mysterious stain on it. It had no odour, nor any bloody fingerprints, so I assumed it was safe to use without notifying the police.

weird thing stage 1 lores

The first thing I saw in it (although I was looking at it rotated 90 degrees anticlockwise) was the shoulder, face and tiny wings of a beast. He had strong haunches and was clearly crouching on top of something (invisible) and looking down.

weird thing stage 2 lores

I drew him in. But what was the fragmented blob beneath him? He was not crouching on it. It might be something fighting him for the whatever-it-was in between them. Then I saw the woman’s face with the veil over her head. The woman was confronting the beast. So I drew her in. I decided she was some kind of Earth Mother figure and they were fighting for control over the Earth. So I drew the Earth in… and some decidedly weird explosions….

By this time the dinner was no longer cooking itself and needed some help, and the kids were asking questions and giggling and pushing each other at the homework bench. (That’s my lame excuse for the state of the Earth Mother’s hands… or claws.)

So I beat them all soundly and sent them to bed.

No, I mean I fed them, played Trivial Pursuit with them and sent them to the shower. (I lost at Trivial Pursuit of course.)

‘Now I’ll fix this weird blob with a bit of discreet colour’, thought I. ‘The colour will work its magic…’

weirdest blob ever lores

I have no scan of the first coloured phase. Sorry ’bout that. But you’ll have to take my word for it that the colour made the blob look even weirder. Especially since the space fight was going on (at that stage) in a completely white environment.

I’m not sure why they are fighting as the Creature looks quite amiable and isn’t even raising a paw against the Earth Mother. Maybe He is trying to protect the earth and She is the one who wants to destroy it with storms, hurricanes, asteroids and plague. I would ask them if I could, but they wouldn’t hear me.

Then I added watercolour to create dark space around them but it wasn’t dark enough and the contrast became so low that the effect was one of a brownish blob surrounded by a larger greyish blob. I added some Prismacolour black pencil as a quick experiment in increasing the contrast. It succeeded to a small degree. Too small a degree.

I scanned the whole blobby mess.

In an act of insanity (given the amount of work I have to do right now!) I added a further layer of tone (purple) in PhotoShop which more or less addressed the contrast problem, and added some stars and magic sparkles. (How low can you get?)

Finally, as if to confirm that I have lost my grasp with reality, I wrote this post about the history and evolution of a nondescript and very weird blob.

However, now that it has been so thoroughly described, it can no longer be deemed nondescript… at least in the 17th Century sense of that word which is to say ‘not previously described or identified scientifically’.

I feel there are still some holes in the scientific nature of this blob though, so perhaps a thesis?

Some Fishes

I recently looked up the correct usage of fish vs. fishes. I was pleased to see that fishes is the correct term when referring to different varieties. There’s something nice about the word fishes and it goes nicely with swishes and wishes.

If you happened to be a fisherman and you caught 25 fish they would all have to be  of the same species.

These fishes are not of the same species. Some might say they were not drawn by the same artist.

Sometimes I worry that I should have a single, recognisable style; that all my work should be instantly recognisable, like a trademark. You can always recognise a Quentin Blake, a Mondrian, a Mitch Vane, (to take a more local example).

Other times, I say to myself… whatever comes out, comes out. Art is a lot about the process of discovery, the process of play, imagination, exploration, invention. And when I wander into new territory, with an insatiable curiosity for (and delight in) new artistic approaches, I am glad to be a wandering artist… I learn new things all the time and that is a great thing to find in life.

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Detailed, or static styles are not, and never will be my strong point. I’m too impatient (and ambivalent) to invest much time in details, so my ‘detailed’ work never stands up by comparison with the work of those who specialise in that area. But every now and then I come back to it, and play around and there’s something satisfying in the process, even if the result lacks both the liveliness of my quicker work and the detail that would seem to be required. Often the honesty of the piece redeems it.

In this case, the vintage Collins Dictionary (with pages disintegrating and falling out) seemed to ask for a static approach. I think the single artwork above is unremarkable. But if I were to fill the book in a similar manner with various artworks, the book itself may become a thing to treasure one day. The fish will be swallowed by the larger beast.

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Here is a return to my much quicker approach. The prismacolour artstick strikes again. It may be partly inspired by political weariness… the idea of the dangling lure… leading to what?…

But mainly it was a very rapid experiment in the power of transforming a sketch with PhotoShop colour. I’ll be using this technique in my next book, so why not?

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Finally, a very quick sketch with watercolour. The first watercolour experiment I did (not shown here) was deader than a doorknob. This was a 10 minute exercise in proving to myself that I could do the same fish with a bit of life. Not sure what he is up to. I think he may have the same kind of determined expression I adopted when drawing him…

Equine Soliloquy (continued)

I haven’t touched this project for a while. But the 52 Week Illustration Challenge theme for this week is ‘horse’ so it seemed a good reason to do some more doodles in the horse book. Most of these were done in brush pen during the hour of the kids drama class, but I’ve worked them up a little more at home today.

Horse alive, horse dead

Horse alive, horse dead

snowy squiggle horses

snowy squiggle horses

The front horse was drawn with photographic reference in front of me. The rear two emerged on their own. I like the freer, more pattern-like quality of the rear two horses, but quite like the very typical attitude of the foreground horse’s head. The two types don’t really go together but it’s a point of interest for me.

I enjoy this squiggle style of drawing. I find I do it more and more. It’s fun to let my hand (seemingly) control itself and wander very rapidly all over the page.

equine soliloquy hunched horse

Little scraggy wild horse

This is the brush pen I used quite a bit for the Cornish Soliloquy. I must buy a couple more. They are very interesting to work with. The ink doesn’t flow very quickly so they tend to get a bit affronted by my drawing style. I draw pretty quickly and the ink flow goes on strike and demands a breather every minute or so.

wild horse, captured horse

wild horse, captured horse

I was really pleased with the way this little sketch worked out. I strangely like the way the gutter interferes with the horse’s hind quarters, and I  liked the cream, blue, burnt umber colour palette.

Anzac Day war horse

Anzac Day war horse

This was an accident really. I was dissatisfied with the original sketch on the left hand side of the skeleton horse spread, and cut this black horse silhouette out very quickly to place over it. In the meantime, I painted out some protruding bits on the other page to give myself a fairly blank canvas. But this led to a new sketch on that page, and hence no need for the cutout horse.

So he went onto a new page, and I started randomly embellishing him. I started with the halter, but war horses and Anzac Day were at the back of my mind and I started putting tassels and other structures into the picture (from an outdated botanical diary). Before I knew it the background had gone smokey, fiery and the final touches were some poppies and botanical bombs in the air. The bombs also remind me of a holy trinity of sorts, but since I am not religious, they are primarily bombs… or just fruit.

I seem to have returned to muted tones for the time being.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Equine Soliloquy

equine soliloquy B&W heads

Another soliloquy seems to be forming in odd moments… ‘The Tale of Two Horses’ went on the train into the city the other day as a sketchbook, and came back with several new horses in it. More will come when I have a little time.

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In wondrously poor condition on the outside. Inside, the pages are smooth and lovely to draw on.

This one is taking its own shape more easily than the last one. Sort of ambling along.

Some pages I will start by liking, and then not. Some the other way around. It won’t bother me. It’s contemplative. And because they are horse doodles, it’s a bit like climbing cosily back into my childhood for a while. (And I draw them exactly the same way now!)

Fun drawing a foal dance over other horses. Then a squiggly cameo shape and brushy, brushiness all about.

Fun drawing a foal dance over other horses. Then a squiggly cameo shape and brushy, brushiness all about.

I’ve just done a page that is more interested in pattern, shape and contrast than in horsey correctness. It was very freeing.  But I’ll play with it some more another time, and take the shapes and tones further into pattern.

This page reminds me of two things: The poodle wallpaper we found on the walls of our 1950s house after removing the 70s wallpaper; and my brief period of lessons with Richard Birmingham.

This page reminds me of the poodle wallpaper we found on the walls of our 1950s house after removing the 70s wallpaper. It could be much better if it went further away from the horse shapes I think.

Scratchings

Yesterday afternoon I locked the girls up to keep them nearby so that I could draw them. After they got over the idea that the paints, palette, brushes and water bowl might be edible, they carried on with their scratching, leaving me to do my own scratchings. Hilda, kept coming back to check though, in case I had just forgotten about the treat I was going to give them.

This altered book thing is a little like op-shopping… you go in hoping to find a little gem, and often, you do find it! In each case here, I drew the chicken first, and then found a few words in the text to compliment the picture. It seems to nearly always be there. Mysterious, happy chance.

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‘Charming’ felt tip, watercolour and gouache on vintage book page.
This is Vita, who is a Light Sussex Bantam, and thoroughly charming.

For sale on Etsy here.

'I have quite lost my appetite' felt tip, gouache and watercolour on vintage book page. This is Vita again. Vita is ALWAYS hungry.

‘I have quite lost my appetite’ felt tip, gouache and watercolour on vintage book page.
This is Vita again. Vita is ALWAYS hungry.

For sale on Etsy here.  (sold)

'Phoebe leaned forward' felt tip, watercolour and gouache on vintage book page.  This is Hilda really. Phoebe is her stage name :-) Here she is demonstrating the Pekin 'forward tilt' which is a sign of good breeding and general loveliness on the show bench. Hilda rocks the 'forward tilt'.

‘Phoebe leaned forward’ felt tip, watercolour and gouache on vintage book page.
This is Hilda really. Phoebe is her stage name :-) Here she is demonstrating the Pekin ‘forward tilt’ which is a sign of good breeding and general loveliness on the show bench. Hilda rocks the ‘forward tilt’. She is a black birchen Pekin.

For Sale on Etsy here. (sold)

I did another of Storm, but it needs a little further tidying up… or saving… so I’ll leave it off for now.

The book, by the way, is Georgette Heyer’s ‘SYLVESTER or THE WICKED UNCLE’ 1957. The mind boggles.