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Thursday, 5 March 2015

New Challenge - a Portrait

There's something relaxing in making such kind of illustrations. More observation, less geometrical thinking. On the other hand accuracy is crucial. Every millimeter plays a large role as it can change someone's facial features beyond recognition.
But there is even a bigger problem with portraying an actual person. It's an anxiety about the reaction of a model. Supposingly the vast majority of people are particularly sensitive regarding their appearance. I know that from my own experience. Yep... it's time for a short personal digression:

Over ten years ago my parents commissioned an artist to make a pastel portrait of me. When I saw results I was, to put it mildly, disappointed by the way I was presented, or maybe perceived? The approbation from the family didn't make my mood better (I would say the contrary). How could they praise that? The girl on the  portrait looked completely different from my own self-image. In my (presumably biased) opinion she actually didn't look like a girl, but like a not-so-pretty, emaciated boy. It took several  years before I admitted to myself, that maybe... just maybe... I looked... just a tiny little bit... like a not-so-cute boy back then. Anyway, since then I have a very cautious approach to the subject of portraits.

Now let's get back to Patrick- an owner of Elly Guitar Company (what a luck that he have a healthy approach to the subject :D ). Illustration below is a part of Elly's guitars series and is meant to be used as a background for telling the company's story.

1. Pencil sketch - rather delicate as it's meant to be a base for watercolors.

2. Watercolor background and subtle sepia shadows. At this point I'll explain the process of making such a "weathered" paper. We use a broad brush to wet the whole sheet with plenty of clear water. Then we place a very diluted watercolor paint with the same broad brush (I used few shades of brown and yellow here). We need to move the paper in various directions for quite a long time to allow the paint flow in the way we want. Of course the final effect is more unpredictable than well planned, but it's possible to influence it intentionally to some extent. Here and there (but rather not everywhere) we can place a pinch of salt  or splash denser paint. Sometimes we can use a paper towel to wipe excess diluted paint. I noticed that results are more convenience if the edges are more "interesting"  than the central part. 

3. I admit that I was struggling for a quite long time with Patrick's nose :D

4. Additional elements. As this drawing is a sort of continuation of guitar schematics series,  it require a similar frame. I also pasted a schematic of one of these guitars (digital technique can be so useful sometimes :) )

5. There's only left to add a text about Elly history in the blank space!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Watercolors - Beginnings

"But what am I going to see?
I don't know. In a certain sense, it depends on you.” 

S. LEM "Solaris" 

Today's story will concern my beginnings in struggling with watercolors. Maybe it doesn't sound too interesting. What's even worse, maybe it really isn't too interesting. Nevertheless this story should be uplifting for those who are doubting in their ability of mastering this technique.
I admit that some people just have a sense for watercolors. They know intuitively in which proportions the paint should be diluted to create both delicate and precise work. They can avoid unwanted smudges and "moldy" patterns. Well, I'm not one of them. 
While struggling with watercolors I felt a mix of frustration and desperation fueled by low self-esteem. However I had to  mobilize myself just enough to be able to pass an entrance exam for the Faculty of Architecture and then cope with art classes during studies. I just had to find the way to conquer watercolors before they defeat me.

STAGE 1. First (and second, and third) attempts with watercolors were a series of defeats and setbacks. Paint flew in all possible directions (especially in those directions it shouldn't). Alternatively it was so dense and sticky that it was losing its transparent properties and just couldn't be smeared. Drawing something precisely was almost impossible, not mentioning about drawing it aesthetically (I'm using the word "drawing" because despite appearances watercolor is a drawing technique).

STAGE 2. Even if a pen or pencil sketch was not a big problem for me, watercolors were destroying all my previous efforts. Apparently it's easier to have control over lines than over spots. I noticed a simple relation: the less paint on my works, the better.
Slowly and laboriously I began to learn how to control watercolors, i.e. how much water should be added depending on desired results or what the pressure of a brush should be. It's easier to focus on that while using only one color.  A very gentle application of paint didn't cover a pen drawing but only indicated the light direction and suggested dimensionality. Temporarily I resigned from striving for photorealism and the result appeared to have its charm :)

STAGE 3. But with time my  palette expanded to a staggering number of 3 and later even 5 colors. Nowadays I rarely  exceed this number because, as it's commonly known, many hues can be easily achieved  by mixing specific paints.  

STAGE 4. After a long time of arduous attempts I finally comprehended how to depict details with watercolors. The key to success is getting a very thin brush...

...and gaining a practice in using it. Sketches were needed only to set the overall composition and became quite invisible under more boldly used watercolor paint.

STAGE 5. Of course I'm still trying to develop my abilities and facing new challenges, but that's a story for a different post :)