>> Wednesday, January 25, 2006
This is the first in a series of three paintings I am doing for one of the first illustration clients I ever had. She has a small publishing company called Stargazer Press that she started up herself. These three paintings will be birthday presents for her three children.
I was also asked about how I work, so I'll describe it now. First of all I do a sketch, and then scan it and send to the client for approval (if there is one). Even when it's commissioned for a personal gift (ie. not from a publisher) I still send a sketch to make sure the person is going to be happy with the picture. Once I'm happy with the sketch I transfer it to a watercolour block using graphite paper. I trace the sketch on top of the graphite paper (with a fine tip ball point pen) and the lines are transferred to the watercolour paper but can be erased later on.
After I've transferred the sketch I ink it using a waterproof pen. I use uni-ball vision micro pens, they're affordable (I go through a lot of them) and waterproof, and they're quite smooth with a suitable thickness of line for my artwork. Then I wait for the ink to dry, an hour or so is safe. Then I erase the graphite lines and I'm ready to paint.
The paper I like to use is the Aquarelle Arches Hot Pressed Watercolor Block. The Block has the paper glued all the way around so you don't need to pre-stretch your paper, and it keeps it from warping and buckling which can happen once you start applying watercolour. Also if you tape your paper to a desk you can't move it around, so I like being able to angle the block a bit as I paint. I prefer Hot Pressed to Cold Pressed, because I like the smooth surface. It suits my style and allows for small details. (Cold press is the kind of watercolour paper that has a texture to it, and when you brush paint over it the bumps can create small white flecks where the paint hasn't made contact - an effect some artists like to have in their paintings.) Arches Watercolor blocks are a bit expensive, but when I have tons of art to do and a short deadline it's worth it.
I like using watercolour pans, it's what I'm used to, and I don't really like fiddling with the tubes. I do use tubes to refill the pans though. It's a more affordable way to buy paint, plus it can be better quality. This is my paintbox, it has a fold out tray for mixing, and I made a painted template because sometimes paint dries very dark and it's difficult to tell what the colour is. So that's it! That's how I work these days, but like most artists I've developed tricks as I go along so I always pay attention when I read about how others work.