Archive for the ‘Stabilo-All Water Soluable Pencil’ Category

both named spot

I was at the Dollar Tree when I came upon this 6×9 Road Atlas of the United States. Lucky for us they lied about the United States part by including some parts of Canada at the end of the book. Just more drawing fun for us! Even more drawings for the $1! Such a deal!

I picked Alabama to work on. It was toward the front (duh, “A”) but mostly it was because I saw a frog, very rough, in the highways and byways of the map. I’m very fond of frogs and toads of all kinds. I love their eyeballs so I drew one in right away to give me hope. I sketched in arms, a leg and squishy feet–little splayed out toes and long fingers like E.T. It was all fun and games til I tried the mouth and drew it too high. Suddenly, the long snout and high mouth made the figure all doggish. So did that neck. I was in trouble. I shifted my attention to creating the spots in orange, teal, green and yellow. I was using Stabilo® water soluble pencils, so being too lazy to get up to get water, and likely with a 10# cat all cozy on the recliner, I wet the tips of my fingers to smoosh the color around to blend it a bit. I wanted the splotches to look like those brightly colored rain forest frogs.

No matter what I did, it still looked like a dog. So I drew a collar on it’s neck. I was PUSHED TO THE WALL, people. Out of spite, I gave the frog/dog a bumpety ass.

At this point, what we have is a frog/dog floating in the middle of an Alabama map. You can’t leave a frog/dog stranded in Alabama like that, its inhumane. So I gave him a bit of his own real estate and decided to make the boundary uneven and color some of it black. I used the shapes and spaces created by the highway intersections to decide where to put the black paint. Then I drew around the map itself with black and created black photo corners. I outlined the legend and drew another rectangle at the top right to even it up. Then I wrote “frog as dog”, “dog as frog” “Both named Spot” and called it finished.

I am happiest making expressive art. If I sit down to draw a frog out of my imagination it will look way worse than Spot. But the slightest suggestion, the merest hit of a blush of a rumor that a shape is there is all it takes for me to get rolling. It can be ink, highways, blobs or scribbles, anything that suggest a shape works.

As a maker, it’s important to figure out how you work effortlessly and with the greatest degree of satisfaction. If it isn’t fun, you won’t do it. While I continue to play around with techniques I haven’t tried, materials I haven’t used, ideas I’ve never taken into practice, mostly I return to the fun of spontaneity and going with whatever unfolds. I almost always like the result. When I don’t enjoy the end result, I very likely still had fun and learned something.

I’ve made a lot of bad drawings in my life and I will make many more. From my own experience I know that anyone can get better at drawing with practice. If you are not inherently skilled in drawing, you must practice if you want to improve. There are many techniques to improve your eye/hand, right brain/hand. Presently I am studying and practicing from Carla Sonheim’s Drawing Lab and Drawing Imaginary Animals books.

Carla Sonheim also believes in the value of silly. A fun part of expressive painting and drawing is that the maker is telling the story. It’s my story so it can be whatever I want it to be. You might think a house can’t lean sideways but in my world it can. Suddenly it is Crooked World and I’m thinking of grasshopper legs and Andy Rooney’s eyebrows.  In today’s world a dog is a frog and a frog is a dog and they are both named Spot.

story

Ok, this piece sure as Sam Hill doesn’t know what to be when it grows up.

It started Innocently Enough, as these things often do. I painted the paper with watercolor, dried it. Squiggled over the top with Sharpie™ fine line black pen. Then I stenciled (of course) with the alphabet set I’ve been bragging about for several months. The one that came from the  Dollar Tree. This set, as you can see, is not a “ransom note” style, but the letters fall into a few distinct styles. The simpler block style as you see in the “Stor” and the simpler, larger more cursive style as in the “Y”. Because I did not view the letters beforehand, the Y dips dangerously close to the bottom of the paper. After I penciled the letters in, I used my Stabilio® All Water Soluble pencils and wet it with my fingertips.

I cannot even describe to you what a hot mess this was. All those squiggles behind the letters were confusing; my eyeballs were jittering in their sockets. I thought about ways I know to make layers recede and pop forward. There were so many lines as compared to the amount of letters I decided that the lines needed to be subordinate. I embark upon a Doodling Journey. The important part of the process was not to doodle OVER the letters, but under and around them. This makes the letters appear to be the topmost layer. Developing some continuity in the pattern helped as well (following the thickness and “trail” of a pair of lines).

Early on I saw the “creature” represented by the spikes, a lizard/aardvark cross that I colored green and outlined a bit. It has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the piece except, perhaps, confuse it and lend a tad of narrative. Is it the story of the creature? Or did the creature haplessly wander into The Story and couldn’t escape? Probably, there was a lot of that going around.

In some ways the image is successful but ultimately unsatisfactory. While the squiggles did help unify the image, they are still too much of a distraction. So is the green creature. But I wanted to use my Stabilo® All pencils and that alphabet stencil package, and I felt like doodling so it was satisfactory in that respect and that is the purpose of making art, right?

da1-5-16The Daily Art Challenge police would have no trouble spotting the crime here–1/4/16?? It’s 1-5-16–busted! Yes, after signing this today (in permanent Sharpie™ of course) I realized the correct date.

But, moving on to this odd fellow. The lettering is a stencil alphabet that I traced onto transparency in 8.5×11 size. Then I cut a light colored scrapbook paper to 8.5×11 size and copied the alphabet by running the paper through the printer tray. That way, instead of having to buy stickers or stamps, I can print any of my alphabet stencils into any paper. So, if you are following along with my Make Do Initiative, and I know you are, this is a creative way to make your supplies and tools more versatile and also you have stuff that nobody else has with no further financial investment. How cool is that?

For sure you remember the Dollar Tree stencil sets I’ve been bragging about. The big leaf gnome body is a stencil from the Sea Life set, cut out from an old map. The legs, arms and hat are cut from a botanical print. The tree and acorn were sketched in with a Stabilo-All®  Water Soluble Pencil (brown) and wet very delicately and smeared, which is where this pencil excels. I outlined the gnome and letters with Prismacolor® pencils. The face is from a stencil of four different cherubs.

I thought I was using Rives BFK Arches printmaking paper. During making, the paper was behaving UnBFK-ly; it was buckling. I held the paper to the light and discovered it had an Allstate watermark–it is half-sized paper I found at an estate sale and bought for it’s cotton rag content. This paper is not suitable as a collage foundation. Not sure how, but this piece was in with my pre-cut BFK supply. A tip and reminder: any foundation you use for collage has to be heavier than the paper you are applying.

I may have taken longer than an hour. It’s been a weird unpredictable day. Several business matters needed to be done during normal studio time. An installer is coming to put in some equipment. There’s been unusual unavoidable interruptions. My work was intermittent and I forgot the timer. The dog ate my homework.