Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Commissions

Finally I can reveal the work I did for Christmas gifts. These first two are woodburnings done on commission. Ollie is a Welsh corgi, an adorable fluffy breed of dog in my opinion. Because of the light color of his coat, I decided a dark background would bring him out more. I'm not sure if Kahlua is any particular breed or a mix, but his dark coat made it easier to leave the background plain. I loved the floppy ear!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Making Mistakes and Learning a Lesson

bobcat drawing in progressThe drawing here is the beginning of a bobcat. I'm using smooth bristol paper with charcoal and using what I've been calling "the indent method" to an extreme. I'm quite pleased with how it started out, but unfortunately, I really messed up those whiskers over the eyes so I'll have to start over. This was gearing up to be my best work yet, but I just couldn't fix them. I tried a new technique and it didn't work. What can I say. That's how you get better, by taking chances and making mistakes.

So what did I do? I used an empty mechanical pencil to indent the paper where the whiskers will go. Usually, the charcoal glides over it leaving the indent white (my next drawing tip will be a detailed explanation of this technique). Instead, I decided to use a chamois with charcoal dust on it to dab charcoal onto the paper and get an interesting background texture. Well, the indents must not have been very clean, because the charcoal and even some chamois fibers got stuck in them. No amount of erasing and reindenting and redoing could correct it. I'm just glad I didn't do more of the cat before starting the background, or I might have lost a lot more time.

Drawing Tip #17: Use the Right Paper

When I started doing charcoal work back in January, I didn't really know what kind of paper to use. After some other artists' recommendations, I bought a pad of 14"x17" Strathmore bristol vellum. Vellum is a textured paper that holds onto charcoal very well. I've been using that paper all year. Then I heard that you can get much more detail out of smooth bristol paper, so I bought a small 9"x12" pad of that to try. What a difference! Even the charcoal works wonderfully with it. I'll definitely be getting larger sizes of this paper for future work. I like the bristol paper because it is thick and sturdy, doesn't wrinkle, holds repeated erasings and many layers of drawing, and is acid-free. Of course, there are many other kinds of drawing paper out there that will give similar results.

Ultimately, you need to use paper that is suited to your subject and your technique. Drawing on textured paper will end up with a textured look, which is why I think the vellum worked well for my animals. Smooth paper is better for people and other smooth subjects, and is also much easier to get detail onto.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Craziness

I really didn't intend to go so long without a post, but things have been just so busy lately! I've had three Christmas commissions (which I will post after Christmas) and wanted to get them done in time for shipping. Also, a few days before Thanksgiving my 2-year-old daughter decided she doesn't want to nap anymore. This took away my largest block of art-time. The good news is she loves to draw, too. I set up her kid-sized table and chairs with her pad of paper and box of markers and crayons, and my table-top easel on the kitchen counter, and we draw together.

So now that I have shipped off the last of my Christmas gifts, I will have a little more time to devote to my own art. I'll be starting the zebras soon and working on the coral reef more, and I promise I will get another drawing tip posted in the next couple weeks. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the snow and try to relax.