The Progression of Maggie

Using the same type of process as I was doing for my Musician/Singer Series, I wanted to make a late birthday gift for my Bestie, Michelle, who was moving back from San Francisco. Sneakily, I looked through her Facebook and found a perfect image of her Great Dane, Maggie.

Maggie, The Goofy Great Dane

When creating your own artwork or photography, think about keeping compositions off center or not entirely symmetrical. It helps create intrigue when it isn’t stuck in the center of the paper or photo. There was a lot of personality to the picture above because of her right ear being folded in on itself and it not looking like the other ear. Once drawn out in pencil (often use Faber-Castell or Staedtler brands) on an 8″x10″ piece of watercolor paper, I did have a moment where I wondered if the ear would be too weird, but I ultimately stuck with it.

WIP Great Dane Portrait
WIP Penciled Portrait of Maggie

It took me a while to get going on the inking of the pencil drawing because (to this day) inking makes me nervous. Ha! There is this fear that one stroke is going to ruin the whole piece. Especially, since ballpoint pens do have a tendency to spit ink from time to time. I try to switch to a different pen (I have several of one kind I like) when that happens, and that tends to help the problem. Or I have a little strip of paper that I will roll the ballpoint tip on to clean it up. Once I finished the inking without any catastrophes, I felt it really brought her to life.

WIP Inked Maggie
WIP Inked Portrait of Maggie

After I doodled in the background with a finer ballpoint pen, I felt I might have taken away from the dog by doing so and decided to paint the background thick enough to dim the doodles. At first, I was thinking of painting everything in bright colors but after my dad mentioned it would be a shame to not leave the dog white I was tempted to do as he suggested. Concentrating on only painting her tongue, inner ear, slightly in the eyes, and then the background, I went to town. This town I was painting dominantly pink, and then I realized I had almost obliterated the doodle background. Whoops! I gave it a day to dry before I went back over the doodles with the thin ballpoint, and BAM it looked great!

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
-Scott Adams

Final Painted Drawing of Maggie
Final Painted Drawing of Maggie

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Musician/Singer Series Pt. 2: Lajon Witherspoon & Florence Welch

Lajon Witherspoon Pencil Sketch

WIP pencil drawing of Lajon Witherspoon on watercolor paper

This pencil drawing from my Musician/Singer Series depicts Lajon Witherspoon, who is the vocalist for the alternative metal group Sevendust. The screaming in some metal bands can make my toes curl, but Lajon’s smooth and deep vocals are haunting to me. Plus, it helps that they have a strong melody in their music, and it isn’t just hardcore two note riffing the whole time. Lajon’s vocal range makes their music even more powerful to me.

WIP Inked Lajon Witherspoon

WIP inked version of Lajon Witherspoon

If you haven’t read my previous entry introducing the Musician/Singer Series, I had gone through various music videos from each band or artist to grab screenshots that I could use for reference. As a side note, I began to notice that music videos where the bands were all male seemed to have dramatic lighting creating high contrast and switched sometimes between B&W to color. Meanwhile, all of the women musicians were definitely more sexed up. The Pop and R&B genres had bright colors and less clothing. It’s sad that so many of our women musicians are encouraged to flaunt what they have, but most of the men never do. Not to say it never happens, but I found it an interesting observation while I was working on this project.

Final of Lajon Witherspoon

“Life is changing. I can’t go on without you. Rearranging. I will be strong. I’ll stand by you.”
-“Angel’s Son” by Sevendust

In the painting stage of each drawing in my series, I wanted to keep the colors unexpected for the viewer. I love painting in tones that are not the typical skin color. I chose colors by the feeling I had for each image. It’s hard to explain, but some of them just screamed at me what colors should be within the piece. Since I knew it was going to be a series, I did try to stick within about 5-6 different colors and usually painted with only 3 of the 5-6 colors in each piece.

The acrylic I like to use is by Liquitex. Their Professional Acrylic Artist Color Heavy Body in tubes has strong color and can go on thick or thin depending on how much water you have in your brush. They can be pretty expensive, but they do last a long time if you do not paint in very thick layers. Grumbacher’s Academy Acrylics are also another type of paint that I enjoy using. They are not heavy body like the Liquitex and will be more transparent when you paint with them (plus they are cheaper). I like to use the Academy Acrylics like Dioxazine Purple painted over top of a Liquitex Cobalt Blue to get a darker shade. Some artist’s may use the tube of black intentionally for shading or to make dark colors, but I do find it flattens the work. When you see someone with black hair, it can have a blue or purple cast depending on the lighting. It’s difficult to get that if you use straight up black, and that is why I will use other colors to create “black”. Also, I tend to not mix my colors on my palette ahead of time. I allow them to mix on the paper.

Final of Florence Welch

“And when we first came here, we were cold and we were clear.
With no colors in our skin, ‘Til we let the spectrum in”
-“Spectrum” by Florence and the Machine

Another piece from the series is of Florence Welch, who is the singer from the English indie rock band Florence and the Machine. I am not that familiar with the band and have only heard some of their music. Her voice was what caught my attention, and I couldn’t resist not including her in my series.

4X6 Orange Flower Doodle

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

4X6 Orange Flower Doodle

I haven’t mentioned this, but I did finally have a chance over the weekend to redesign this blog to give it a fresh look. It’s shameful how long I allowed it to become stagnant, but honestly I have struggled lately with creating art. Inspiration wasn’t far away, but once I would get home and try to put pen to paper I would give up. Maybe I needed the break? Hard to tell because I did feel horrible about not making art. As a child, I was constantly drawing my favorite cartoons, making up my own newspapers with comic strips in them, creating cards for people’s birthdays, etc. Maybe it can be too easy to not make time for the things we love because of our adult responsibilities.

The doodle above is the beginning of me breaking through my Artist’s Block. Since I have been incredibly inspired with painting pottery, I have begun to cut 4″ x 6″ rectangles out of watercolor sheets to doodle various flowers with my Sharpie’s that could potentially end up on a piece of pottery. Though I drew on the watercolor paper because I thought I could play around with watercolor on top of the Sharpie ink at some point. Or even use acrylic, which is what I have been doing in the past.

Here’s to hoping that I will continue to make time for my art and to stay inspired. Sometimes you have to jump in head first. 🙂