Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Walkthrough: Blending Markers, Portrait Style

By SL Scheibe
www.slscheibe.com | slslines.etsy.com

Here's my method of using markers for portraits. I often use shading with no blending at all but sometimes you want to make the markers work a little like paint and this is the method I use to get markers to blend just a little.

Please note you can click on these images to enlarge them. I know the first one is difficult to see due to the light color.

I start with with lightest skin tone and sketch out the face I want to draw, hair included.

My next step is to come in with a slightly darker color and add some minor shading so I can make out the features more clearly. I then go back to my original light color and go over everything, including the new darker color to help blend it in. This is using the light to dark to light blending method.

I used a darker skintone to make a few outlines clear and to shade in some shadows.

At this stage, I bring in my other darker skintones and add in shading where applicable. I blend it together with my lighter skintone using the method mentioned above.

It's time for a few more colors so here I've added pink tones and blue eyes. With the pink, I again used my lighter base skin color to go over the cheeks and help the colors to blend into each other.

I simply added some hair color using the same method, going from light to dark and then coloring light over top to blend it all in.

I used a brown .005 Micron to come in for the fine lines around eyes and some basic linework. I find the Copics and Prismacolor markers far too thick for this sort of thing on a small image (this is approx 4" x 4").

These images were blended using the same method. Click for a closer view.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

10 Minute Art: Intuitive Watercolor Faces

This article originally appeared in ArtTrader Magazine, Issue 9
By SL Scheibe
| www.slscheibe.com | SLSlines.etsy.com | SLSart.etsy.com |

These fun little ATC watercolors shouldn’t take more than 10 to 15 minutes each. They’re quick and easy to create, even for fairly new painters. The trick is to not worry about getting things perfect. You need to paint intuitively, which means you should be more interested in plopping down some shapes and shadows to suggest facial features rather than painting in actual features.

Start with a wet watercolor board or paper that you have and plop on your paints to form a very basic facial shadow. This should take about 20 seconds. Let dry and continue with another shadow/shape layer, slowing forming into a face. Each layer should take no more than a minute. You’re painting intuitively here, not realistically! That's the key point. Once you have a shape you’re happy with, take your ink pen and outline some features. Add funky lines and bubbles but don’t spend a lot of time making things perfect.These little ATCs are 10-minute bits of fun!

Here are a few more samples:

This article originally appeared in ArtTrader Magazine, Issue 9 (Winter 2010)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Vintage Acrylic Portraits: ATC Size!

This article originally appeared in ArtTrader Magazine, Issue 20
By SL Scheibe
| www.slscheibe.com | SLSlines.etsy.com | SLSart.etsy.com |

I love painting portraits and people and I love acrylic paints. And I especially love vintage photos. They are wonderful for use in collage and mixed media but also can be used as a source of fun painting reference--everything I love together in mini mail art!

For these cards, I used a thick Bristol type paper and also some illustration board. My paints are Golden and Liquitex (heavy body) brands and I used only two colors: white and black. It’s up to you which white you prefer, titanium (more opaque) or zinc (more transparent). Titanium white mixes more easily while Zinc white is better for glazing (in my opinion). Go with whatever works best for you. I used Mars Black with Titanium White and Golden’s Acrylic Glazing Liquid to thin the paints down a little and give me some extra working time.

Vintage Photos

Many of the public domain photos or those on collage sheets are unknowns, simply people like us who lived their lives many years ago. If you’re like me, you’ve probably used plenty of vintage photos in your art; whether you’re cutting them up for collage or coloring them or using them as reference for your own painting. I’ve always wondered who they were, what they did for fun or for work. Luckily, in the set of photos I used here, we know (for the most part) who they were. I grabbed these photos from the Brady-Handy Collection at the Library of Congress (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/search/?st=grid&co=brhc). There are pages and pages of public domain photos. Most were politicians or generals but there are also plenty of great portraits of singers and actors. I chose Madame La Grange  (occupation unknown but that name is awesome), Nellie Grant  (daughter of Ulysses) and Edwin Booth, actor (and yes, that brother). What’s especially great about this collection is the very high quality digital images available.

Using my photos as a reference, I paint on my undertone colors (shades) and block out shapes. I don’t draw the faces with a pencil first since I find it easier just to work our features from shapes and shadow. However, I know some people prefer to have a drawing first so do whatever is most comfortable for you.

As you can see, at this point, my faces are blanks with only a bare shape. It’s all about getting color (shade) blocks in the right places.

My next step is to work on tightening up face shapes, clothing lines and hair shapes too. Once I’m happy with the facial outlines, I work on lightly blocking in the features through shading and lines where appropriate.

The good thing about working with wet paint is that if you make a mistake, just paint over it. If you feel like your initial shading for the eye area is wrong, you can cover it up and try again. At this stage, your painting is still loosey-goosey and easy to change.

My next stage is tightening up shades, shadows and lines to make the feature and clothing sharper and more defined. Again, you can still overpaint things if you need to but most of that should have been done at the previous stage. This is your time to work on refining shape and form into nice features.

My final stage is really just more of the above step: refining, defining features and then adding in highlights where appropriate such as hair, eyes, clothing, etc.

I hope that with the three different portraits you can see that my technique is always the same:
  • Block in shape and shade (or color)
  • Define shapes and shadows
  • Refine and define features and clothing
  • Highlights and fine details

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Guerrilla Screen Printing!

This article originally appeared in ArtTrader Mag, Issue 15
By Sarah Trumpp
wonderstrange.com | wonderstrumpet.etsy.com

Once upon a time, there was a princess with a dream.  She dreamed of wearing nothing but custom T-shirts, constantly adorned with odd designs and sarcastic proclamations.  In order to make this dream come true, our fair princess priced a complete screen printing setup and nearly fell into a 50-year swoon at the price.  It was pretty steep, even on a princess’s salary.  She went through a period of making stencils for her shirts with freezer paper and an X-Acto knife and ended up with awesome shirts, with a side of carpal tunnel. Finally, she made a wish on a magic frog (or maybe Google), learned of Mod Podge screen printing, and lived happily ever after.

Okay, maybe that princess was me, and, even though I don’t have a princess’s salary and can only be considered vaguely like a princess because “Sarah” MEANS princess, I really did feel a burning need to find a way to make cool shirts without aggravating my arthritis.  The ability to make more than one shirt with the same design would be an added bonus.  There are tutorials all over the internet for screen printing with Mod Podge, but I find that it gets a little goopy when you rinse the paint out of the screen.  It dries fine and holds up to repeated usage, but the goopiness makes me nervous.  Finally, I decided to try it with gel medium, and it worked amazingly well, so that’s what we’re doing here!

  • Embroidery Hoop
  • Curtain Sheers or Screen Printing Fabric
  • Pencil
  • Gel Medium
  • Various Paintbrushes
  • Sponge Brush
  • Acrylic Craft Paint or
  • Screen Printing Ink

Step 1: First, put your fabric into your embroidery hoop and pull it tight.  SUPER tight. Tight enough that the members of Rusted Root could use it for an impromptu drum circle.  Trim off any excess fabric, leaving about an inch remaining.  You’ll note I have way less than an inch in all of my example pictures.  That was a really bad move on my part!  The sheers are slippery and will need to be pulled tight, so you’ve got to have a little bit to grab onto.

Step 2 (right): Next you should draw or print a design.  In image 1 (left), I have a digitally-designed eyeball printed out, and I drew a design that I plan on using on the backs of my canvases.  Lay your hoop fabric-side-down over your design (as in image 2, bottom) and trace with pencil. Image 3 (right) shows both of my designs traced out on the screen.  Remember that you’re hand painting this, so super-detailed designs will be very time consuming and fiddly.  Try to keep it simple!

Step 3 (right): Now using gel medium, start filling in all of the areas where you DON’T want paint.  The gel medium will act as a resist, like a bouncer at your favorite dive bar working tirelessly to keep the undesirables away.  Work around your design until you think you have all areas filled in, taking the gel all the way to the edge.  Lay it hoop-side-down and let it dry.

Step 4: Now that it’s dry, come back and find yourself a nice sunny window or bright light and hold your screen up to it.  Look for bright spots where the light is shining through (circled in the picture above) and fill those in with gel medium.  Make sure your lines aren’t jagged and your details are all filled in. 

Your design should be clearly visible when you hold it in front of the light again as pictured below:

Step 5: Lay your screen fabric-side-down on a scrap piece of fabric or paper.  Load your sponge brush up with screen printing ink or paint, hold your screen down firmly with one hand while you dab the paint on with the other.  Be very careful to only use a firm up-and-down motion or you’ll get a sloppy print like my eyeball below.  If you vary the pressure as you dab, you’ll get an awesomely worn-looking print like my skull below.   Gently lift your screen and see what you’ve got!

Now go put something awesome on all of your T-shirts, your surfboard, your refrigerator, and the side of your dog.  Once you’re finished, rinse your screen really well in the shower or with the sink sprayer,  and let it dry before reusing!

Friday, January 10, 2014

29 Faces starts in February!

29 faces challenge
Are you looking for a good challenge that will help you develop your people drawing skills? The 29 Faces blog challenge (Facebook link here) run by Ayala art is a super fun one! During the month of February, you need to draw 29 different faces and post them on your blog or on Facebook and join in on the commenting and viewing of other participants' art. This one is a little easier to do every day since you can easily do a quick sketch or a doodle and not have to worry about spending ages on a painted portrait. Any medium goes! Head on over to the blog to read up on all of the details.

Here's my set of faces from the last challenge in September 2013. Wow, tons of work! As you can see, I went all out when I had time and resorted to sketches when time was short. It's a great challenge for all levels of skill and for people with varying degrees of free time! Click for a bigger image. Hope you can join us!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tutorial: Shading with Colorless Blenders (Pencils)

One question that comes up over and over again is how to create nice, seamless blends with marker and pencil. It’s really quite simple. The trick is the colorless blender pencil. This walkthrough article describes how to use colorless blender pencils and markers to create stunning results. I love to use markers and colored pencils for making my Artist Trading Cards (ATCs). I find them the perfect tool for a quick and easy illustration and best of all, they’re not messy.

My pencils of choice are Faber-Castell Polychromos (Prismas too) and my markers of choice are Prismacolor or Copic brands. However, you can use any sort of permanent marker or pencil crayon as long as you have a blending tool. I love to use the Prismacolor brand  colorless blender as it works almost like a pencil.

Using a Colorless Blender

I start off with a base of marker only. (top)

I’ve added a few layers of rough pencil here from light to dark shades. I’m very heavy with the pencils as I prefer my colors saturated. You can clearly see my pencil marks and that’s fine as we’re about to get rid of the marks and the seams. (mid)

I use the Colorless Blender like a pencil and press fairly hard from light to dark, slowly blending the colors together until the seams and pencil disappear. You should start with the light colors and work to dark as the blender will drag colors from one spot to the next, so you need to be careful what you’re dragging. (bottom)

Tips & Tricks for Using the Colorless Blender

Prismacolor pencils and other brands can easily build up to a waxy layer and it becomes hard to add new color. If you find you can’t add new color on top, you may be applying the pencils too thickly. Try to lighten up the pressure on areas where there is a lot of color and/or shading to be done.

If you find you can’t add more color or shading because of build up, spray your card with a matte finishing spray (I use Krylon Clear Matte). Once dry, you will have a hard surface to work on once again. It will be somewhat difficult to use your blender on top of the matte finish so don’t spray until you’re nearly finished. The matte finish will allow you to add those highlights of light or dark pencil without fighting a waxy buildup.

ATC Walk-through with Marker, Colored Pencil & Blender

In summary, here are all the steps for you to view at once:

Step 1 – Line art
Step 2 – Markers
Step 3 – Adding colored pencil
Step 4 – Using a colorless blender
Step 5 – Finishing touches after a matte spray

Monday, January 6, 2014

Painting Walkthrough: Glamour Girl

If you're like me, then you have lots of art supplies hanging around and even more bits and pieces and scraps that clutter your art room. I can't even throw out used illustration board. I just re-use it for something else. I slop some book pages or old scrapbook paper over top of a bad painting and then use leftover paint to cover it all up and call it a "mixed media layer." It's a layer, right?

I took one of those ugly old used boards and re-purposed it to make a pretty glamour girl. Some of the ArtTrader team are taking part in the 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge and she was my Day 3 painting. This is what scrap art parts are for!

We'll be adding Walk-Throughs to the blog every now and then, just because they're fun to see. I love looking at people's art progress pics and seeing how they went from A to B. It can be enlightening and I often pick up tips, especially with mixed media pieces.

Here are my WIPs of the painting portion of this art piece. At top left is the face I wanted to paint and at the middle, top row is the ugly old scrap board I started with. The only thing I liked was the color so I used a bit more of my Golden brand Teal to cover things up. The flowers in the last painting are made from scrapbooking paper with a bit of red paint and gel pen over top. I ended up liking the resulting painting and stuck it in my Etsy shop. Yay for scraps!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Creating a great collage means confronting chaos...

Musings of a Self-Trained Artist: A Laywoman’s Laycolumn
By Ann D'Angelo
 www.wonderstrange.com | wonderann.etsy.com | wonderannwonders.blogspot.com

Creating a great collage means confronting chaos, not on the grand scale of Batman facing down the Joker, perhaps, but within the microcosm of the artwork, the struggle can still be epic. One of the features of great collage, after all, is layering, and since every new layer brings different patterns, nuances, and feelings to the piece, the layering process can bring visual chaos right to the front door, where at some point, it may even huff and puff like the Big Bad Wolf, sending the artist into a panic. The good news is that it’s simple enough to keep the chaos at bay by repeating colors across the layers. To illustrate the point, I will provide an anatomy of this ATC, which I photographed at multiple points during the composition:

When I am thinking about the best and most effective approach to starting a collage, I always advise selecting background papers before coloring the focal point.  In reality, however, I love coloring almost as much as I love carrot cake, so I routinely begin with my markers. After coloring this poor restrained woman, I chose a background paper that picked up the “Frost Blue” and the “Red Magenta” of my Copic markers, then added the accent paper to start repeating some of my colors right away.

Another thing that I love is to tell stories in my work, so I wanted to decide early in the process why this woman had been restrained. Answer? She spent too much money on art supplies. To create the visual impression of her as an artist, I put a piece of sketch paper on her lap and collaged a small ballerina onto it, then stamped a bucket full of paint brushes onto a piece of scrapbooking paper that repeated not only my pink color but also my Red Magenta. So far, so good.

After arranging these elements and bringing in the text, I looked at my colors again. Although the pink had been  adequately managed, the blue seemed awfully lonely, so I used my Frost Blue Copic to color in the white circle in the upper right corner of the card and gave the poor woman a blue flower in her hair.

 Of course, no sooner had the flower dried than I immediately decided I disliked it, in part because it introduced that smoky gray color in the middle that didn’t appear elsewhere in the card. There is nothing wrong with having a color in the composition that doesn’t repeat; in fact, I strive to have one in every piece. In this case, however, I already had that color idea in the form of purple, and I didn’t feel like this piece could necessarily tolerate another.

To resolve that dilemma, I replaced the flower with an element that repeated the blue and the green, without the addition of the troublesome gray. After adding the black and white polka dotted paper on the left side, I introduced two more circles, one to stand for the husband, Charles, and the other to stand for the money at stake. As a final touch, I added the black and white box to the woman’s restraint vest, not only because it repeated the black and white of the text and the polka dotted paper, but also because it picked up the rectangular shapes elsewhere on the card. 

Though simple and lighthearted, this piece illustrates the back and forth of collage, where each new part  affects the whole, which may then need altering to accommodate the part. By repeating colors at every step of the composition, artists can maintain both control and coherence. As Batman once said, “We impose meaning on the chaos of our lives. We create form [and] . . . order. It’s a choice we have to make every second of every minute of every day.”

 This article originally appeared in ArtTrader Magazine, Issue 18.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Mix it Monthly Challenge

Mix It MonthlyA few days ago, we posted about the 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge -- and that's definitely challenging. For those of you who don't have enough spare time to take on such a task, you might be interested in Pia Rom's Mix It Monthly Challenge. Each month she provides a specific theme and a color palette and you make your art accordingly and then share it on her blog. It's a fun challenge and a great way to see cool art and visit new blogs.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy new year, readers!

How many of you set art goals for the new year?  I know I have a lot of them and I even wrote a few down. Here's to art success in 2014 for everyone. Whether you have personal goals or career goals, or both, we hope you meet them all.

Here's a free digistamp to help celebrate new art goals for a brand new year. Art Warrior 2014. She looks a little disheveled and messy but that's usually what we all look like after a day of painting. Er.... or maybe it's just me.

You can find a high resolution Art Warrior on our FREEBIES! page.

Don't forget that Issue 21 is now available. You can find it (always) on our Current Issue page above.
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