Illustration Friday - cats

>> 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.


TheTart January 25, 2006  

Love all the details...and that paint box is great...

The Tart

Anonymous,  January 25, 2006  

This was an interesting little insight!

Anonymous,  January 25, 2006  

Thanks so much for sharing this! It makes painting seem so much more accessible now. I'd love to practice a bit with my kids.

steve January 25, 2006  

Great job. I like how you took the time and effort in this piece and broke down the process here.

patricia zapata January 25, 2006  

Love the painting and THANKS for the details of how you work!

valerie walsh January 25, 2006  

this is such a charming painting and thank you for sharing your technique!

Anonymous,  January 26, 2006  

I switched to watercolour pans when my second kid was born cause I just didn't have time to muck around with tubes -- and I was surprised at how much I love pans. All these years and no one told me. I have always loved blocks, though -- the thrill of a new Arches block just can't be beat.

Anonymous,  January 26, 2006  

This sweet kitty remind me of my childhood, from some children's book I had. Nice memories.*~*
-Marjorie Ann

Anonymous,  January 26, 2006  

Thanks so much for the insight into your process. I really appreciate the detailled info on the WHYs of what you do - too messy, smoother, etc. As other commenters have mentioned, it's a great reminder that it IS approachable. It also seems SIMPLE, which leaves more room for creativity in the way it doesn't leave you scrambling or hung up on this supply or that thing... you just get out the stuff and GO!

Ellen February 16, 2006  

I also appreciate the insight into your processes. I am re-kindling my art and am a little shy about computer graphics. My style is detailed pen and ink. I am still a little nervous about adding colour...but getting braver!

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