Tuesday, 1 July 2014

How I Do It...


So here is a bit of a how I do it post....
I often get asked what steps I go through
and what I use to get to a finished drawing so I took some photos and scans as I went
well I sort of did... I kept forgetting
but that is probably a good thing or this would have been 50 photos long
but this is a bit of a basic run through


I started with my pencil box
it has the dreaded, disgusting marmite jar on the front
which was a smart arse gift from Sandra 
who has been engaging in vegemite vs marmite wars with me for some time now...
and while I would like to not have such an abomination on my desk
it holds my commonly used pens and pencils perfectly
which perhaps means she is perhaps winning the war... for now


I worked in a Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook for this one
though I often work on loose paper as well
and used my usual Uniball eye fine pen
which is called other eye related names , like Uniball Vision in other places
no clue why companies do that... seems unneccesarily complicated doesn't it

I use sizes 2 and 5 watercolour brushes
which I pretty much use for every piece of work that I do
I'm not fussy about brands as I tend to be a brush abuser
though one here is an Art Spectrum and the other is Winsor and Newton series 7
I  don't go for the really cheap ones... they never work as well
or stand up to the abuse so mid range brushes suit me


For paints I love the Koh-i-noor brilliant watercolour wheels
these are my everyday paints and I just blu-tak them onto an old plate to form my palette
this is a serious love too... up there with chocolate and tea type love
I have so many different types of watercolours
but these are my go to for pure pigment and ease

I add a splodge of payne's grey from a tube to the centre on one wheel
and a blob of permanent rose to the other
payne's grey has to be the most versatile colour ever
perfect for shadows, or deepening colours
and permanent rose is the ultimate pink and works wonderfully with colours like orange
so with those additions I am covered for almost anything I would want to paint
the Koh-i-noor's aren't lightfast in the long term
but for work in my sketchbook or work I am going to be scanning they work perfectly
you can't go past the clear brilliant colour


I start with a bit of an outline in pen
if I work in pencil I am a bit precious and tend to not concentrate and observe
so pen makes sure I don't drift off with the pixies mid drawing
I am looking for the correct angles like along the edges of the box
and once that is right then I have a reference point to line the pens up against

again I am looking at angles and work from the far left first getting in the first pen
then over the the far right and get the ones near that edge in
then back to the left if you know what I mean
If I work from just one side then I am likely to get the scale wrong
and run out of room with four pens left over
so I go back and forth and work towards the middle
in retrospect it might have been good to scan those steps to make it a bit clearer
but I am not great at the whole planning thing at times


Once I am happy with the general positions I strengthen the lines up a bit
adding a a few details as I go
at this stage I always start to see all the places I have done a dodgy job
but I have learned to like the dodgy bits
It took time to trust that it will turn out
and no it doesn't always work
but it is a bit of paper and some scratchy lines
hardly worth stressing over
my sketchbooks and drawers are filled with almost drawings, some of which are truly awful
but there are also drawings that I thought were rubbish
but with a bit of paint turned out just fine
I have learned not to judge them as I go
nothing could stand up to the sort of scrutiny we often apply to our art


First layer of paint is usually quite strong in application
I am looking for the strongest areas of colour and also putting in the main shadows
I am not too precious at this stage either
a lot of people get caught up in shadows
but I like to look at it in terms of colour
the colours are deeper in places, and lighter in others
and I try to get those basics down
I am constantly looking up from the page to the box
lots of quick looks
not lengthy gazing and contemplating
more subject , pallette, page... subject, palette,  page... 
and I am constantly cleaning my brush as I go... it is like a nervous tick...
swirl the brush and look at the subject
check the colour and get it on the page
the quicker the better at this point so I am not overthinking it


I then strengthen up all the colours a bit more and correct any glaring errors
basically by painting over them
and if it is really bad then I use some gouache
which is the magic eraser of the watercolour world
but there wasn't a lot of paint to add to this one so it was just bits and pieces
like on the left hand pen and the marker towards the back
but basically the paint is pretty much like the previous scan

once I am happy with the paint it is all about adding pen
I am looking at adding detail and shape with the lines
it isn't just an outline but more about finding the edges
and also reinforcing the shapes of things
the lines on the top of the clips have directional lines so our brain reads them as receding
and the slight curve in lots of lines on the pens gives them a bit of shape
I also make sure that the pens that are sitting behind others are a bit darker
so it is clearer that they are shadowed and it is at that point that the front ones always emerge


Finishing off is always about grounding it on the page
so I added the shadows to the right of the tin
and strengthened the shadows along the front, top edge of the tin
 which helped it pop forward a bit more
I then added some light washes of blue and purple into the shadow
which lifts it and adds a bit of interest to what would be a fairly bland drawing colour wise
which meant I added some to the background as well
but it was looking a bit flat
so I picked up touches of green in the background
which tied into the green on the tin
and it looked pretty finished so I called it done


I worked on all three of these at the one time
adding paint to one as another dried
and pen to another while the other two were drying
I love working on a few things at once
which may say something about my attention span
 and speaking of attention span
mine is being sorely tested by such a long post
so I am off to do some drawing
happy painting all...xx

25 comments:

Dion Dior said...

Awesome process Fletch, and great art as always. Thank you for sharing. Sending you lots of Aussie hugs from the mid-west USA. Xx

Trece said...

So very helpful!! Also, I was introduced to some new tools! Thanks!!

Laurie M said...

I always love to see and read the process, you are so talented,

Jennifer McLean said...

well that was just cool now wasn't it? The best thing any artist ever told me was when you told me to concentrate on the shadows more and that shadows aren't just grey and black. Thanks Trace, always so helpful. Hugs.

Giggles said...

Thanks for the sweet tutorial!!

Hugs Giggles

Nic McLean said...

Thanks for showing us your process and the bit about working left and right and back again for scale was useful as I'm doing a small painting at the mo that I even used a grid on for the first time as it's a close up of pebbles and despite the grid I still managed to run out of room before I got to the right side! !
I love how vibrant your waterholes always look. X

Neesie said...

So where you an octopus in a previous life Trace? ;D
Working on three pieces at once...what are you trying to do to me?
It's fascinating to read all the details and now I realise I do 'EVERYTHING' wrong. For instance, I add shadow (badly) at the end!
Oh me...I'm going to have to practice my tick too. It's going to be a tough twitchy day...I can see it now :/
Thanks so much for sharing your techniques. I'm off to have a go.
Wish me luck xoxo

Snap said...

Fun to see your process. You've been hiding your multi-tasking, but I shouldn't be surprised! ;)
ox

Sandra Busby said...

I LOVED this post! Not least because of the subject, which obviously gets my whole-hearted approval, but also because I love step-by-steps too! That's it - I feel inspired! Thank you! And I must say, that those watercolour wheels may not be lightfast, but I much prefer them to my W&N watercolours! They are so much stronger and more vibrant! :0)

Polly Birchall said...

Fascinating post - I did enjoy seeing how you progress. Thank you.

Sherri B. said...

Thank you so much for sharing your process! Beautiful work.

Laure Ferlita said...

It's always fun to get a peek into someone else's process. I absolutely loved your words, "I've learned not to judge them as I go." More artists need to hear that.

Thanks so much for sharing!

Linda K said...

thank you SO much for sharing your process and products Tracey-I got some really great tips here!

Carin Cullen said...

Loved seeing your process Tracey! Thanks for sharing! xx

Darnell J Knauss said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this post on how you do it, Trace! I found the whole thing so interesting and insightful. I am mesmerized by your talent and the fact that you can work several sketches/paintings at once!! You ROCK!! Hugs, Darnell

Jo Murray said...

Thanks for the 'how to'...tho' I feel that brush mileage is what counts. Your blog posts are always a feast for the eyes, and add a little humour to my day.

Cozycomfycouch said...

Truly wonderful! Thank you for sharing your process.

Serena Lewis said...

A wonderfully informative post, Trace! I love the Koh-i-noor wheels of brilliant colour too and, I agree, Paynes Grey is such a versatile colour. I use it a lot in my acrylic work too...great for mixing natural blacks.

I loved your tip about jumping from one side to the other when laying in a busy sketch so you don't run out of room. It made total sense to me.

Thanks for sharing your process. I LOVE your work! xo

Eva Ason said...

I enjoyed seeing your different steps. These koh-I-no or wheels look cool. Love your work!!

fairy thoughts said...

great post Tracey very interesting to see the progress you go through. I love how you make ordinary everyday objects look so colourful and alive.... even though they aren't.
PS marmite every time. ha ha
janet

Rita said...

I almost clapped my hands! A step-by-step!! Myself, I can't seem to do the basic outline in the first place--LOL! I just love to see your steps and hear them explained. This was marvelous! :)

TwinkleToes2day said...

Fascinating Tracey! Thank you for this. It has explained so much more in pictures than words alone for me. Especially the shadow bit, lol. I love my watercolour wheels, you were right (of course), the colours are lush! I must look into getting some of the 'Paynes Grey' and having more of a play.
Love n hugs
:o) xox
ps - I think that showing off, your doing three at once, was a little ott ;)
lmao

Katherine Jeanne Wood said...

I always love to see other artist's process. I often wish I could get into sketching and painting from still life. I admire it greatly, and when I see sketch books like yours, it makes me envious. But something happens in my brain, and seeing all those pens in the cup overwhelm me. I freeze, and can't even begin. To single each pen out, and sketch it, paying so much attention to detail..it gives me anxiety to think of it. I don't know why. Weird, huh?

Michellem said...

Great post!! Love seeing your process - I think that one of my most favorite things that you do is your "artistic scribbling" that you add at the end. Adds so much character and personality to your art.
I need to check out the "eye" pen. . .

Viktoriya A said...

Thank you for posting the process of painting! It's amazing how you can paint the simple everyday items and make them extraordinary and so vivid. You are very very talented!