Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The New Stuff...

I thought it would be fun to share my process with you as we build up to the launch day. 

No, I didn't wake up one day and have this big, bright light bulb above my head go off with the results of what I am currently producing.  

If that is how all successful ideas started, I would be chalk full of them and never ever sleep.  

I get plenty of sleep.  Probably too much according to some people in my life, but I resolve to stick to the story that I have a condition as told to me by a medical professional.  

Back to my story.  

So as I'm sure you are well aware, I started this whole gig creating these black and white illustrations on canvas.  If you didn't know, I started this whole gig creating these black and white illustrations on canvas. 

While I do enjoy the modern quality and stark contrasts my initial venture provided, I felt that I needed more.  

My shop needed more.   

I just wasn't sure what that more was.  If you are familiar with the art process, you know how unpredictable it can be.  If you don't, allow me to let you in on a little secret:  

Every idea that falls from an artists fingers is not always a masterpiece.  

You are either shocked by this revelation, or just rolled your eyes in exasperation, but stick with me. 

Perfectionism is a double edged sword in a lot of respects, and a common denominator in the artist equation.  While there are a few exceptions to the rule, even the simplest pieces you've gazed at took hours in the making.  (I did say there were a few exceptions)  It always starts with a glimmer of an idea and, usually, butt-loads of trial and error.

I toyed with the idea of adding color to some future black and white illustrations, but the results of my experiments were less than satisfactory, save for one.  

Plus I wanted some cheaper options for the craft fair that didn't bust the budge but were still one-of-a-kind artist originals. 

Enter the watercolor note cards that I previously featured.  That's where it started.  I wanted to create some quick one-off illustrations that were small and fun.  Then I thought maybe some bigger, less note card-ish pieces would be desirable as well if people liked my illustration style.  

Enter the "splash technique".  The first one I started, I was trying for a very watercolor kind of look that portrayed the fluid quality that watercolor possesses. 

The splatter effect was so fascinating to me, that I didn't want to lose that when I worked in the subject matter.  So my solution was to only work within the confines of the actual splatter created.  I enjoyed the whimsical, dreamy quality and wanted to try other subject matter to see if I could essentially recreate that effect. 

I enjoy the fact that every piece is different.  In the beginning I would just mix different colors in a random splatter on the watercolor paper.  Once dried I would create a subject matter depending on how the colors dried together.  It was exciting to take an act of chaos and turn it into composition.  

Basically, I loved the challenge.  Like playing on the hardest setting of a video game.  

There was still one little quirk that bothered me about the initial piece, though before it was done.  The perfectionist in me couldn't let it go.

With the note cards, it was just simple designs with an illustration, watercolor tints, and then a black micron pen to define the detail a little.

With creating the entire page in background colors first and working on the composition and subject matter later, I found that the colors ended up a bit more muted.  The color theorist side of my brain was like,

"Oh, you dumbass, its because the watercolor is opaque and mixes with the background colors."

The colors weren't as vibrant either unless I used less water.  The answer to my problem was sitting in front of me.  Why couldn't I use Copic Markers to add a little vibrancy and definition to the composition after the initial shading was completed in watercolor washes?

I guess my pieces would be considered more "mixed media" than just simple watercolors now.  I've also incorporated a little white charcoal pencil for certain highlights.  Once I added the marker definition, the difference was drastic.  My pieces looked more.  

And you know I was searching for that something more all along.  See for yourself:

Initial Background Splash and Watercolor wash for shading

That's it.  The whole shebang.   

My start was small and tentative with color incorporation.  Now I feel like the thing has morphed and gained a life of its own.  And hey, I'm working gradually into larger pieces which is cool.  Cuz, ya know, who doesn't want to challenge themselves to move past their own limitations? 

Only then can you truly grow.  

Man.  That shit should be on a fortune cookie....



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