Archive | February 2014

Butterflies – Work in progress

Butterflies. Watercolour pencils on watercolour paper. 2014

I am using the smoother side of the rough watercolour paper this time. Much better. And I used my window as a light table when I transfered my preliminary sketch to the watercolour paper. I only sketched the butterflies; the background was created during the process.

The days are still not long enough to allow using my window panes as a light table during the week when I come home from work. This leads to a certain work flow in which I do the sketching and the research for references during the week, then do the transfer to the watercolour paper on the weekend and continue with the painting during the week.

This is the general plan. But I allow myself to digress from it. I am hoping to get this painting finished on the next weekend. A new painting probably will have to wait for another week. It is a very thin line between having goals and trying to meet them and putting onself under too much pressure. We’ll see.

Direct Marketing

I’ve got a Zazzle shop, I’ve openend a portfolio at RedBubble, and I offer cards in my Artflakes shop. However I noticed one thing: People like to take things into their hands, feel the thickness of the card, take a look at the colours. Many people want to see the product in reality before they buy it. That’s one of the reasons people would not buy my cards online.

Here in Germany you can upload your photos and image files to a drugstore and have your cards and postcards printed for an acceptable price. You can either have single items or a set of 10 cards or postcards. So I selected two of my coloured pencil paintings, uploaded them and had them printed out. Last Sunday I went to an dance and concert at the Hephata church here in Berlin and took the cards with me in order to show them to my friend Claudia. I did this after the concert, when we were sitting together with some members of the church community. Encouraged by Claudia I passed my cards around, waiting for the reaction to come. And what a reaction it was! The people liked the cards very much, were interested in hearing about “how I did it” and told me to show them at the church café, put in a frame, so that they couldn’t be taken away easily.

In addition to that a colleague of mine had had a look at this blog, and now I’ve got a commission! She sent me the links to some of the paintings in a mail and asked me to have these paintings printed on cards. Wow!

So I’ve learnt three important things:

  • If people know you personally, they are much readier to buy something from you.
  • If people can touch the product and see what it looks like in reality, the chance of selling the product to them is much bigger.
  • It is also helpful to be ready to talk about your art, your mediums, your subjects. Sometimes people won’t ask you because they are too shy – and sometimes they don’t want to hear long stories, so you have to find the right way to communicate with your audience.

And by the way I also learnt that there is a term for that kind of marketing – they call it “direct marketing”. Well, I’m off to photoshop now, preparing my next set of prints…

Butterfly undecided

Butterfly. Watercolour pencils on rough watercolour paper, 2014

The watercolour paper I’ve got has two sides – one very rough, the other a bit smoother. With this painting here I used the rougher side. The advantage is that the paper is still fixed on the pad, and there’s no danger of the paper buckling. However, I am not 100 per cent satisfied because in my opinion there’s a wee bit too much of the texture to be seen on the painting.

I had no reference for the painting. Of course I had a look at some butterflies, but I took my artistic license regarding the colour of the butterfly as well as the colours and shapes of the blossom. I had a tropical atmosphere in my mind with rich vivid colours.

Hibiscus Lady – final version

Hibiscus Lady. Watercolour pencils on drawing cardboard. February 2014

I tried something new when I did the hair. I first wetted the paper and then applied the watercolour pencil. You get a very rich colour when you do this; however with the drawing cardboard I was running the risk of damaging the paper. I managed to avoid that but I now know that drawing cardboard is not the paper to be used when working with watercolour pencils in this way.

I am still looking for hot-pressed watercolour paper. The watercolour paper pad I’ve got contains sheets of rough paper. The back of this paper is smoother, but I don’t want to remove it from the pad. Well, I’ve got a big catalogue from Boesner which is a rather famous shop here in Germany and will spend some time investigating. …

The Hibiscus Lady – WIP

Hibiscus Lady – work in progress

I decided to have a go at a female portrait, after having done abstracts and surreal landscapes. Of course paintings done with watercolour pencils need a lot more time than for example acrylics or paintings done with soft pastels. I even discovered something like a zen attitude – focusing on each and every dry pencil stroke, and then touching it with the wet brush, watching how colours change and become vivid. Moving onward to another part of the painting in order to let the paper dry, repeating the same process, adding one pencil stroke to the other, wetting it carefully, letting it dry.

I don’t know how long it will take to be finished, but I’ll let it take its time. No hurrying. It is something to look for at the end of the work day, something to come home to.

Naked tree – watercolour pencils painting

Bark. Watercolour pencils on drawing cardboard

You probably will ask: “Why can a tree be called ‘naked’?” Well – I was thinking of the structures of the wood beneath the bark, of the smooth surfaces, smooth on one hand, but twisted, gnarly and maybe broken on the other hand. I have no clue whether a tree like this exists at all – but I can feel the wooden structures under my fingers.



A Splash of Paint

“A Splash of paint” – that’s the ongoing series of the Painting and Drawing Channel which is sponsored by the SAA, the Society of All Artists. The video below shows Part One of the episode 41, focusing on how to do cat’s whiskers and add highlights to a cat portrait done with pastels and presenting a special kind of brush which is called swordliner brush.

Each episode consists of four parts which last each about 12-15 minutes. There are parts focusing on acrylics, on oil painting, on watercolour painting, and now and then there is an interview with a so called “book worm” who presents a new art book.

I have been following those videos for quite some time. I am doing it because of the variety of subjects and mediums and because I’ve found it easy to watch and listen to them, although English is not my first language.

So maybe you’d also like to subscribe to the channel on YouTube?

Wild colours

Wild colours. Watercolour pencils on sketching paper. February 2014.

I hadn’t done a preliminary sketch before painting this abstract image. First there was the ornament in the middle, then the rest followed. I also didn’t plan the colours in the beginning – I so to speak followed my intuition.

I learnt one important thing doing this: be careful about the direction of your brush strokes! Always do them in one direction, otherwise you’ll get patterns of paint which are not so desirable. The other thing I learnt was that black tends to be a greyish black with wet watercolour pencils. You really have to press hard with the black pencil and wet your brush only a wee bit.

I had no specific reference for the painting, but of course I’ve looked at many, many pieces of wonderful abstract and decorative art, and so my imagination has been inspired by many artists.

Flying Bird – watercolour pencils

Flying Bird. Watercolour pencils on sketching paper. February 2014

This is another version of the flying bird, this time painted with watercolour pencils. More and more I am enjoying the number of media I’ve got – soft pastels, oil pastels, markers, acrylic paints, coloured pencils and, yes, watercolour pencils.

These watercolour pencils were the first medium I bought. When I used them in the time after I used them dry. But now – some years later – I enjoy using them wet. I’ve got a wee tiny little brush, and I try to use as little water as possible.

The paper I used for the painting is sketching paper. The surface is not too smooth, and it is eating up my pencils. But is has been lying around for two years or so, so I thought I’d try it.

Flying Bird

Flying Bird. Pastel Pencils on Acrylic paper. February 2014

At the moment I am experimenting with paper and soft pastels and pastel pencils. I tried Ingres paper but I found it way too thin. Maybe I shouldn’t have used a brown Ingres paper – I got no vivid colours at all and did something which I rarely do – I threw the piece into the dustbin.

The paper I used for the flying bird which you can see above is acrylic paper. It has a textured surface  – a bit of a “tooth”, but it is smoother than the rough watercolour paper I used for my grassy rocks. I still have to try it for the soft pastels, because the bird is painted with pastel pencils.

I thought I’d put the bird into a frame which I coloured with my markers (haven’t used them for ages!).