Friday, February 10, 2017
A long time ago (when I was a teenager), I purchased a book called Studio. In it were the works of four comic book artist who decided to put aside comics and create work to sell as prints and posters. Jeff Jones, Barry Windsor Smith, Mike Kaluta and Bernie Wrightson. Loved the book and still have my well loved and worn copy Somewhere in my closet). It was in those pages that I heard of the medium gouache for the first time. I purchased some tubes of the paint and began to use them on and off.
A short time after, while I was attending the High School of Art and Design in New York City I saw a teacher, Mr Doktor use the medium in an early morning paint group I used to attend. It was the first time I saw someone actually painting with gouache.
Although I worked more often with transparent watercolor and also oils, I would paint in gouache every now and then. I used it more often when my children were born because I was concerned about them, gouache was easier to put away and there were no solvents used. For many years I continued to use both gouache and transparent watercolor. Although I wanted to return to oils ( and I did every now and then) It was always easier to use the gouache.
Brief history of what I learned about using the medium
There were not many instructional booklets written about gouache at the time so I had to learn about the medium where I can. I learned how a lot of illustrators used gouache and one of the tricks they employed was to use it in combination with casein white. I think I read that about the illustrator Harry Anderson but it was something that was done by a lot of the old illustrators. I tried different papers and currently enjoy using Arches watercolor cold pressed art board (which is a sheet of arches watercolor paper mounted on an archival illustration board). After using Windsor and Newton Designer colors for years I switched to Turner gouache because that brand of paint covers better. I have also began using casein with gouache. I start out a painting in casein and finish it in gouache. This seems to help with some of the gouache colors looking too high key making the values jump. The casein under painting seems to mute the colors making the values easier to control. This was a recent change so I'm not entirely sure if this is what the casein is doing, but it looks promising.
Pretty recently the artist James Gurney started making instructional videos on watercolor, gouache and casein. These videos are very good as well as inexpensive. He also has a YouTube channel with some short segments from his videos. Artist Jeff Watts has online classes on painting in gouache at Watts Atelier as well as some excellent tutorials on his YouTube channel.
James Gurney videos here
Watts Atelier here
Thursday, January 26, 2017
Currently I am dedicating a sketchbook to just pen and ink sketches. The goal of this book is to 1) fill at least one page a day of random drawings, and 2) to feel free to try as many different styles as I want.
I make these sketches from imagination or I use reference photos. So far I am enjoying working in this sketchbook to the point where I can not go to sleep till I fill out a page. The only draw back is that I didn't pick out a a sketchbook with heavier weight paper that would allow for wash drawings but the paper is decent for straight pen and ink drawings. Next pen and ink sketchbook will be a heavier weight paper.
Friday, January 6, 2017
So far in this new year I have made a commitment to do at least one ink drawing a day in a sketchbook set aside specifically for pen and ink work. I enter drawings in this sketchbook in addition to whatever else I may be working on.
What I've given myself the liberty to do is to try as many styles as I want to try. Usually there is a combination of influences or things that I've seen that I want to try. As a result the drawings may not seem like they are all done by the same artist (me of course). But this is my sketchbook, its not about doing something finished and polished (although that doesn't mean I let myself do a bad drawing) it's about practice or trying new things and just having fun.
We've always been told that drawing daily is a way of improving ones drawing skills. Part of that is being able to look at the drawings and realize ones weakness. For me I see that I need to focus more on correcting the drawing and less about the rendering. I see mistakes like the incorrect placement of the features. One eye maybe slightly lower than the other or the nose or mouth may be a bit off the axis of the head. Repeatedly noticing these things helps me to be more conscious of it as I draw. In your sketchbook you're allowed to make a bad drawing but the next one has to be better.
Monday, December 19, 2016
What do I try to accomplish in my sketchbook besides trying to make better drawings? I try different styles, different marks. I flesh out characters from a story I will illustrate or a story I am reading or have read.
The sketchbook is a place to think, to play, to resolve fundamental things about putting a picture together or about drawing in general. Its for resolving how to draw an ear, how to construct a head from life, photos or imagination.
It is a place, a real place where I go to everyday.
These sketches from my sketchbook are my daily sketches done on my lunch hour at work and time spent at the end of the day before I turn in for bed, Sometimes they are made early in the morning before taking off for work.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Sunday, December 11, 2016
Been a little while since I picked up a brush to paint. I had spent the last two months doing pen and ink drawings and sketches and thinking about how much I wanted to paint.
I decided that I would spend this weekend painting with gouache. The painting on the left was done with a limited palette. I used Lamp Black, Permanent Scarlet, Yellow Ochre and White. Based on the Zorn Palette, but not the exact same colors he used- he used Ivory Black (a blueish black), Cadmium Red Medium, Yellow Ochre and White.
It was a new thing for me to paint with a limited palette. At first I wanted to add ultramarine Blue because it would've been easier to add cooler colors but I decided to stick to the limited palette. It turned out to be a good decision because one of the challenges I have with introducing some of the other colors is that I find it harder to control the values. Colors like Ultramarine Blue when I apply them appear darker when wet but when they dry they appear too high key even when mixed with other colors. I keep having to go back into the color to mute it.
I will try this limited palette again but next time I will use the exact colors Zorn did.
The other painting (which was actually done first) Was done using the palette I would normally use.
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
I try to keep busy on my lunch hour at work and by busy I mean I don't let the hour go by without sketching something. Usually I use some sort of reference that either I photographed myself or got from the internet. If I don't have anything that I think is interesting then of course I rely on my imagination.
The thing is that I make the hour a sacred time in which drawing is like meditation. A quick bite to eat only subtracts about 10 minutes from the hour and I may go a little bit past the hour (what my boss doesn't know won't hurt him).