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Some of you who follow me on my social media pages, particularly Facebook, may know that I have been working on my second art book for a while now. My first volume, titled "Dark Visions," was released in 2009. I've wanted to create another for a long time now, but the time just wasn't right. I believe that it now is and that the group of art that I have to include in it is the strongest body of work I've had. The first book focused on my artwork from approximately 2004-2009. I was a pretty young artist for much of that, and I have learned so much since then. But while saying that, I am still proud of the work included in the first book. I learned something with each painting.
I am about 65% done with my second art book. This one, unlike the first one, does include some commentary about most of the artwork. There will also be some sketches included, some never before seen. It's looking to be about 110-115 pages (subject to change, but most likely won't be less). I figure that I will probably finished this in 2018 sometime. That is the goal anyway. I don't know exactly when since I have to work on it in between some other work and I still have to do some artwork for the book. But it is coming!
Now I am trying to decided which artwork I want to be on the cover. I've narrowed it down to 5 ideas. I am looking for your feedback on which is your favorite for a cover image. Not necessarily which is your favorite painting, but which you could see best as the cover of a book.
Here are my picks:
"Unseelie," "Spirit Guides," Elf and Pooka artwork once painting is finished, "Midnight Travelers," or "Silence"
Please cast your votes in the poll below the photos. Thanks in advance! I will use the results to help lead me to the best decision. ♥
Acrylic gouache is an interesting medium that I’ve been using for the last year or so. Since I’ve started using it I’ve gotten asked a lot about what it is and how it is different from regular gouache.
I’ll start with a little background info about me. I’ve been a watercolor painter for years. It has been my go-to medium since I started painting. But I’ve always been one to experiment so on occasion tested out different media. I’ve wanted to learn a more opaque form of paint, like acrylics, gouache, and oils. I’ve been a bit hesitant to ever try oils because I’m so used to how quickly watercolors dry, I don’t know how I’d feel with such a slow drying paint. So I decided to try out acrylic paints several years ago. I did a few paintings with them… I just never really took to them. My main complaints were that because they dried so quickly it was hard to blend smoothly (this was before I knew about acrylic retarders), and I didn’t like how shiny they dried. The shine combined with the brush strokes that dried into it, made scanning my acrylic paintings very difficult. There was a lot of post-scan editing to edit out reflections and shadows, particularly with darker paintings. I wasn’t a fan. Now if I’d known about acrylic retarders back then to slow the drying time, then I’m sure the shine would have been my main complaint.
Next, I decided to give gouache a try. Regular gouache paint is a water-based paint like watercolor, only instead of being transparent, gouache is very opaque. I’ve been using white gouache to highlight my watercolor paintings forever, but I’d never done an entire painting in gouache. I thought since it was so similar to watercolors in a lot of ways that it would be the easiest for me to learn. My first attempt didn’t go very well. One mistake that I made was trying a different paper than I usually work on with my watercolors. I decided to try out this colored paper called Art Spectrum Colourfix Paper. When using this paper, the gouache wouldn’t blend without lifting up the layers underneath. It was very frustrating! Everything was a streaky mess. I gave up. I little while later I tried gouache on my usual watercolor paper, and had a much easier time. My painting “Harlequin” was that painting. Lifting could still be an issue, but it was much less of one on watercolor paper.
Then came my “Spirit Guides” painting last year. I wanted to paint it in gouache on blue colored paper. I still had several sheets of the Art Spectrum paper left, so I decided to give that another try… and the same thing happened again. A streaky mess when it came to blending. I wanted a solution that didn’t require me starting completely over because miraculously the background had turned out okay, but I encountered this issue when it came to painting her skin.
I remembered seeing Acrylic Gouache in some of my art supplies catalogs. This paint is described as being a sort of Gouache/Acrylic hybrid. It is opaque like both paints, dries to a matte finish like gouache does, but once it is dry, it dries permanently like acrylics. So theoretically, if I was painting say… skin, the first layer of color would dry down entirely so when I blended additional layers over top the bottom layers wouldn’t be reactivated by the wet paint and lift and streak.
There are a few brands available of acrylic gouache. Holbein, Turner and Jo Sonja are some examples. Jo Sonja is technically now marketed as matte flow acrylics, but older tubes say acrylic gouache on them, and from what I can tell, they work just the same. I decided to try out Turner Acryl Gouache first, because they are so affordable, just in case I didn’t like them. The picture at the beginning of this post are the first 7 tubes that I purchased.
Once they arrived, I dove back into my painting and this time I finally had success! I won’t say that there were no struggles. I hadn’t used acrylic paint in years so I had to sort of learn all over again. I found that painting with acrylic gouache is much more like painting with acrylics than like gouache. The finished product looks much like a gouache painting with it’s velvety, matte finish. But the techniques that go into painting with it are pretty much just like acrylic painting.
I use a homemade sta-wet palette, which uses a tupperware-like plastic container. I use the lid and line it with a few layers of wet paper towel and then put a layer of parchment paper over top. Then, when closed up, you can store your paint in between painting sessions without having to remix all new paint every time. It works great. I am thinking of buying a sta-wet palette just for the extra room. I haven’t yet found a bigger container that I liked.
I’ve used this paint a lot over the last year or so. Sometime exclusively, sometimes mixed with my other mediums. I really love it and it is everything that I wanted from acrylics and gouache separately but couldn’t get. I’ve used it on paper, wood, claybord panels. It’s worked pretty great on everything. Though I’m not crazy about claybord, so I seal the surface first. It is more like gesso-bord when I get done with it. Also about six months ago, I tried out an acrylic retarder with this paint, because I had the same blending issues with it as I did regular acrylic paints. Now they really do work like a dream! Adding a drop or 2 of retarder to your paint gives you way more blending time, and makes it work almost how I imagine oils would be. And if you want it more fluid but not less opaque, you can use a flow medium. I’ve gotten a lot of use out of that too for small details and lines.
Pictured to the right, is my most recent painting using acrylic gouache. “Stranded” is painted on sealed claybord. I use an acrylic glazing medium to seal it and stop claybord’s super absorbent surface properties. I would say that this painting went the most smoothly for me of all the ones I’ve done in the medium. I hope that that is a sign that I’m finally becoming comfortable with it. My goal is for it to become as second nature to me as using watercolor is. After the painting was done, I varnished it with a matte varnish. In the future, I will be sealing them first with a glazing medium before applying the varnish. Some of the detailing in her scarf was blurred by the varnish and I had to paint it back in. After some research, I’ve read that it is good to seal it first because the paint can absorb some of the water-based varnish, and if it is a fairly fresh painting, there is a chance it might smear or lift. Paintings that I’d varnished that I’d finished months prior to varnishing did not have this occur because the paint was really set. But if you can’t wait months to varnish, sealing it with a clear glazing medium first can help. A spray varnish, like Krylon Kamar Varnish, also works to seal it first. I used that for this painting after touching up her scarf, and before adding more matte varnish. I also like Jo Sonja’s mediums and vanishes.
I hope that this was helpful information for any curious about acrylic gouache. I would like to put together a tutorial in the future for this medium. I just want to get a bit more comfortable with it myself, before I try to teach others how to use it. 😉
I’m trying to get the hang of this whole WordPress thing. This will hopefully work out so that I can have an easier to maintain and update website/store. I really do love the look of my old website, but it is such a pain to update and really is a bit of a dinosaur as far as coding goes. I have very average knowledge of coding. This is my first blog post here. I imported all my old Blogger posts here, but the import didn’t include any of the pictures and since I’m an artist, that is the main point of many of my posts. So I deleted them and am starting fresh. I hadn’t really used blogger in ages anyways. I hope to use this one more often. There are a couple of tutorial-type posts that I’d like to have on here, so I may go back and just post those here. That’s all for now. I’m off to tinker with my website some more…
9/25/12: Hi everyone! I’ve been working on and just finished my Halloween sketch for this year! I think that I’m going to call it “Harvest Moon.” I love this time of year! It is definitely my favorite time of year, with the weather cooling off but not as cold as winter yet. And it is such an inspiring season!
While I was working on this sketch, I took some progress pictures that I’m going to post below. I often show paintings in progress but not how sketches come together. Sometimes sketches, such as small ACEO sketches or 4×6″ are very quick and are done in an hour or so, but this 9×12″ sketch took several hours, so it was great for showing step by step.
Often, before beginning work on a sketch, I’ll do a little messy concept sketch, just to get the basic idea and composition worked out before finalizing it. I like to have a generalized idea before starting. I really liked how this one turned out, so I didn’t change much in the final sketch. I already had a pose in mind before starting this one, (model: Faestock) but often I get the idea first and then have to go hunting for just the right references to get the anatomy as accurate as I can.
When drawing a full-bodied figure, I almost always start with the body and save the face for last. I know many find working this way strange, but I’ve found that it works best for me. I get the proportions more accurate when I work on the whole body at the same time rather than doing the face first and working my way out, if that makes sense. And it makes getting her positioned on the page how I want her easier. I can’t tell you how many times when I used to start with the face that I’d find the figure off center on the paper or even run out of room for the feet! When I started working this way I don’t encounter problems like that.
Now it is time to transfer this to watercolor paper and start painting! I don’t know how much of the painting process I will show, but I am going to be stretching the watercolor paper again for this one, and this time I have some gummed tape and gator foam board. So I think I will show what that is like to work with. Hopefully my first experience with it will go smoothly! Check back if you’re interested in seeing how that goes. 🙂
I was hoping to have gotten started on this a few days ago but I didn’t get the chance until tonight. I really won’t be able to get going on the painting until tomorrow since I have to allow time for the paper to dry after stretching it.
This is only my second time stretching my watercolor paper. I tried it for my “Midnight Travelers” painting this summer for the first time. You can see that process HERE. I didn’t really have all the “right” materials then and didn’t want to wait for them to be shipped to me, so I just made due the best I could with what I had. After a little trial and error I got it to work and was very impressed with the final result! The paper was so flat and smooth that I’m sure that I will do this with all my larger paintings from now on. I don’t really think it will be necessary for smaller ones like 5 x 7″ or smaller. I resisted this for a while because I just didn’t want to do this extra step, but I finally caved after messing up another painting due to the paper warping. I did the same thing with masking fluid for a long time. I resisted using it, but now I see it as a necessary evil.
This time around, I’m going to be using gummed tape and securing my paper to gatorfoam board. I’d never heard of this board until I’d read up on paper stretching and had seen it recommended a couple times. It’s a bit thicker than regular foam board (about a 1/2″ thick) and has a water resistant surface, so when you lay your wet watercolor paper on it, it won’t absorb any of the liquid and warp the board. I got one that is 16 x 23″ since most of my work is smaller than that, I think it will work fine for me. I love how lightweight it is too and it also doubles great as a drawing board for drawing away from a table. 🙂 The gummed tape or kraft paper tape comes in a huge roll like pictured. That aught to last me a while!
My kitty, Freya, was looking on to make sure that I did this correctly! lol
So I cut my paper to the size I want it. I left a 1 inch border around the outside for the brown tape and then since there is no way to remove the tape from the paper afterward, I left an extra 1/4″ border that will provide a little space for framing and I’ll cut away the brown tape. I’m picky like that. lol
Once the paper is dry, I will add masking tape to tape off this border and keep it paint-free. I’ve heard that you can soak the tape off of the gatorfoam board, so I hope that true.
Next, I cut four strips of the tape for each of the four sides of the paper.
To soak the paper, I have a plastic container filled with water. In order to wet the strips of gummed tape, I used the sponge brush pictured. I already had some of these from another project and they’re in the perfect 2″ size!
So I dip the paper in the water for about a 1-2 minutes and then lay it out on my gatorfoam board. I use a paper towel to run over the paper to flatten it and wipe off all excess water. You can use a clean sponge for this too. If using paper towels, make sure they don’t have a pattern printed on them as this can transfer to your paper.
Then I wet each strip of gummed tape with my sponge brush and stuck them down one at a time, making sure not to get any of the glue onto the to-be-painted surface. I hope that I didn’t smear any in there! I really tried not to, but I won’t be sure until I start painting. That seems also to be a good reason to include an extra little border like I did. If I got any glue in the little border, it won’t matter.
That is all for now. I need to allow this to dry and then I can transfer my sketch to the paper using graphite paper. So far this seems like a great method to do this! Much easier than the staples I used last time! 🙂
Going well so far! Now after some masking fluid, I’ll be ready to start painting! 🙂
I finally finished this painting. I had hoped to get it done sooner, but I didn’t get to work on it quite as much as I hoped, so it took longer. I’m really happy with how it turned out though. I liked painting the harvest moon and I like the atmosphere it creates! I always love when there’s a harvest moon! The scan unfortunately didn’t pick up on some of the subtle coloring in the background. There’s some golds and rose coloring in the glow from the moon that the scan just washed out. I think I may try re-scanning and adjusting the colors again.
It’s 9 x 12″ done in watercolor and white gouache. Hope you like it!
Since this was the first time that I tried stretching my watercolor paper using this method, I wanted to show how it was removed and worked out. I have to say that I really love this method! I’m definitely going to be working this way from now on. The painting so smooth and beautiful and I didn’t encounter any problems while working. I don’t know why I waited so long to try this.
Here is the painting all done while still taped down to the gator foam board.
The first thing that I had to do was to remove the masking tape that left a clean, white border around the image.
Then, using an X-Acto knife and a t-square as a guide I carefully cut along the edges of the paper. There was a little ridge in the tape where the papers edge was, so it was easy to see where to cut.
I’ve heard that some leave it with the brown tape, but I don’t like it, so I used my paper cutter and cut it off, leaving just the small white border around the outside. I think it looks nice this way and it leaves a little space for matting and framing.
And see how nice and flat the painting is!! It looks just like it did before I even put any paint on it. Why have I been avoiding this step again? Oh yeah, I was being lazy. But no more! For any painting that is larger than 5 x 7″ I’m going to stretch from now on. 🙂
And here is the next great part…
I’d heard that if using gator foam board, that the brown tape can be soaked off of it. So I wet some paper towels and laid them over the tape. I let it sit for about 40 minutes and…
It came right off and the board is good as new!!
I was a little worried about that, as these aren’t that cheap, so I didn’t want to have to buy a new one all the time.
So there you have it. My first attempt at stretching watercolor paper using brown gummed kraft tape and gator foam board. And it worked out perfectly! I hope you enjoyed seeing the process and the finished painting.
Happy Halloween everyone! 🙂
I’ve started a new artwork, and here is the sketch! It features a dark unicorn and fairy. I’ve only ever drawn a couple unicorns, so I was overdue to do another one. Of my others, one was a commission and the other is a really old drawing that I don’t even have on my website.
Last month sometime, I was watching the movie “The Grey” with Liam Neeson and was inspired by all the wintry landscape. And for some reason a unicorn came to mind. I can’t explain how these things happen since I don’t even know myself. lol That’s just how it came to me. And I decided to pair it with a pretty fairy, since I haven’t painted any fairies in a while. My Fairies Gallery is lagging behind, without a single painting from this year added to it. It’s time to rectify that. 😉
I have no idea what I’m going to name this painting yet. I’ll give it some though as I work. Meanwhile, I welcome any suggestions.
Anyway, the heat finally broke this week and it has been a beautiful low to mid 80s. So time to get back to work. I made one disastrous attempt at this painting. The background turned out all wrong. So I’m trying a different approach.
I’ve actually managed to go this long as a watercolor artist without ever stretching my paper. I often work small enough that the paper buckling isn’t a problem, and when I have done larger paintings I’ve gotten lucky enough that any warping of the paper didn’t effect how the painting turned out. But this is the second time this year, where I’ve had a wash turn out awful due to the paper buckling and have had to trash the painting. So I’m finally caving and am going to stretch the paper for the first time with this painting. This was kind of a spur of the moment decision, so after soaking the paper in water, I stapled it to foam board. In the future, I will get something more substantial to attach it to. I have some hardboard panels, but I they’re too thin to put staples through and they’d be really hard to remove. So hopefully the foam board will do for now. I’ve read that gator board is a good choice so I think I’ll try that next time.
Once the paper is completely dry, then I’ll transfer the sketch onto it. I’m also going to put some masking tape around the edges for a clean line, though I know I’m going to trim off at least some of the border. In the future, I will leave a larger border too. This one is cut a little close. Oh well. 🙂
I just may update this tread with some more progress of this painting, so check back if you want to see it!
Well, I’ve learned that foam board is NOT a good surface to attach this to. It seemed like it was going to go well, but then I get up this morning and see that it curved the whole board as shown in the photo. I knew that it might absorb the water since the foam board surface is just paper, but I hoped maybe it would still stay flat because of the foam. No such luck.
So, I’ve started a new method. The thing is that I have to use materials that I already have right now. The craft stores I have around me (Michaels, Hobby Lobby) are pretty worthless for a lot of art supplies. They don’t have any kind of board that would be good for stretching and don’t even have gummed tape, which would be nice to try instead of staples. I usually order a lot of my art supplies online, but I don’t want to have to wait for them to arrive. I’ll get them for future use, but I want to get started on this painting now!
This time around, I’m going to try using a piece of hardboard that I have. The main reason I didn’t try this in the first place is that I would have to use heavy duty staples, which will be harder to remove, and that the board is only 1/8″ thick and my shortest staples are 1/4″.
I’ve solved the thickness problem by taping a layer of foam board to the back of the panel. This gave just enough extra thickness that the staples didn’t poke through the back.
After cutting the paper to the size I want it, I get a container of water and dip the paper in it for a few minutes. Then I lay it flat on the board and smooth it out with a paper towel, pushing all the excess water off of the paper. Once I’m sure that it’s flat and ready, I start stapling it down.
So, now I have it stapled down and am currently waiting for it to dry completely. Fingers crossed that it will work out this time!
7/11 Part 2:
Ready to move on to painting!
I pretty much have the background done now. I added the nearest, darkest trees. I made the branches a little denser than in the sketch. I also shaded the snow and defined the fairy and unicorn so that they’re easier to see when it come time to paint them in. I may think that the background needs more work once I get the foreground figures painted, but for now it looks pretty good.
Now it is time for the fun part… painting the fairy and unicorn! I know I’m going to start her skin next. I’m not sure if I will finish her completely before moving on the the unicorn or work on them both at the same time.
I did quite a bit of work on the fairy! I hope to get this done in the next couple of days. I’m pretty happy with how it’s coming along so far. 🙂
I’m happy to say that I finished this painting last night and am really happy with how it turned out. It could be my favorite that I’ve done this year! :)After finishing the painting, I had to remove it from the board. Since this was my first time stretching my watercolor paper and I had to use heavy duty staples, I wasn’t sure how this would go. I just knew that I had to proceed very carefully! The first step was to remove the masking tape. That went well and left a nice clean border around the painting. My main concern was getting the staples out without hurting the painting.
I showed this sketch in my last post and mentioned possibly showing some of the progress, so I’m starting a new post all about this painting. I will be updating this post as the painting progresses so check back if you want to see it’s progress.
So far, I’ve pretty much done background work. I just started the skin earlier today, and plan on doing more tonight. I haven’t gotten far enough with that to show pics yet, so back to the background work.
Now, I’ve started on the clothing. I began first by filling in most of the base colors. This also included filling in behind the lacy part of the fan lightly with the colors that will be seen through it. I think that I’m still going to have to darken the part of her dress that is behind the fan.
In the second picture, I’ve colored the brown leather of her corset, gloves and choker with colored pencils. Next time I work on this, I have to finish the gold buckles and fasteners and detail the teal insert of her corset… Then onto the fan! 🙂
This time, I started with the gold/brass buckles and details. I shaded and highlighted them making them look more shiny and real. I also filled in the teal panels of her corset with colored pencil so that the coloring is smoother and now I can add the pattern back into the fabric.
Using colored pencils again, I drew the pattern back onto the fabric.
Now I can finally move onto the fan!
I began by filling in the main colors of the fan… the gears and the lacy interior. I was originally going to make the gears silver or steel gray coloring, but I decided that the fan would be much more striking if it was brass/gold too. The lace of the interior section is going to be black so I filled that in with a transparent layer of paint, and painted the gears a golden color.
I used ink to draw in the frame (?) of the fan. I’m not sure that’s what it’s called but that’s what I’ll call it. 😉 I used ink because after filling the area in with paint, I couldn’t see the lines anymore, so I basically had to redraw them. This was a lot easier to do with a ruler and ink pen than with paint and brush. And faster too. I also found later that this was nice for darken the area further. I didn’t have to worry about the lines disappearing.
After darkening the panel with another layer of paint, I drew in the lace detailing. I also used an ink pen for this and it was so much easier and faster! I’m glad that I thought to do it that way this time. I have used paint for things like this in the past and it does take quite a bit more time.
I got a bit carried away while working on the rest of the fan, and I didn’t take any more pictures until I was done. I detailed and defined the gears of the fan, and added the little bit of blood along the edge. I also added a little highlighting to the frame of the fan.
Next I can move onto the hair and hat. Then probably some finishing touches and she should be done! So when I update this next it should be with the final stages of the painting and the finished product. 🙂
I begin the hair by outlining around the edges with a small paint brush. I also outlined the hat since I intend to work on this at the same time. Before filling in the hair with paint, I added the details to the angel wing charm.
Next, I fill in all the hair and hat with dark brown paint. I let that dry completely.
Then I detail the hair and hat with colored pencil. I used several different shades of brown colored pencils for this and and a light tan color for her blonde streaks. I use Prismacolor pencils, so I used dark brown, dark umber, sienna brown and I did some dark shading with indigo and a little black. The highlights were done in ginger root and light umber and some shine added with white.
I used the same browns to color the hat.
I didn’t take anymore photos, but I used black painting to fill in a transparent wash for the veil of the hat, and I added some detailing with white colored pencil. Then I painted the larger feather of her hat a teal color to match her eyes and corset.
Having all her hair done, I decided that her face need a little more shading added, so I went back and darkened around her forehead and the right side of her face. With all that done, I then believe that she is finished!