Another inked drawing finished

It only seems like a quicker turnaround, but truth is it’s been waiting to be inked since last summer. Oops! Better late than never, right? I am trying to clear out some of the things that have piled up on my drawing table though.

From the dA info page:

I’ve been spending a lot of time messing around with ink, but not really getting much done. Time to simplify. And time to finish things that have been sitting around WAY too long.

This was originally started (the blue pencil part of it, not the inks) in early June 2015. For whatever reason, I couldn’t bring myself to ink it (despite really wanting to). So new brush in hand, I decided enough was enough. I really need to stop putting things off — I end up forgetting (or am just doing things differently now) what I was planning to do a year or more later when I finally get around to these.

The original blue pencil was done on 11×14 Strathmore drawing paper. I wanted to preserve the blue pencils, so I scanned, darkened the lines, turned it into B&W, and printed it out to transfer to 11×14 Bristol for inking. I used Black Magic ink with a Winsor & Newton series 7 #2 brush, a little bit of detail work on Thorin and a few tiny pebbles with a Micron 005 pen, a bit of touch-ups in white acrylic paint and white pencil, and a little texture-work in black pencil.

As far as the scene… I play Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO), and I have one dwarf and two elves (also a hobbit) so far. You’d think I’d be sick of seeing Thorin’s Hall/Ered Luin… well, no. My character house is there. I love that area and feel at home there. Many times, when I’d be questing (and coming across little things that were about Thorin or the Battle of the Five Armies) I would stop and just think about the story before The Hobbit. As I said on the original sketch’s page:

“I’ve been obsessed with the story-not-told in Ered Luin (most likely also because I play LOTRO and love going back there with my characters). I like to imagine Thorin would go away on trips for trade and supplies on his own, so he could think and be alone. Perhaps here, he is thinking of happy days gone by, family lost, Erebor in its glory — the mighty kingdom of Durin’s Folk. And while picking up supplies, I am sure he is also searching for information: where is his father? Any detail. Any hint. Any rumor…. always searching and wondering.”

And of course, wondering when the time would be to return to Erebor.

(I hope the scan doesn’t lose some detail. I was pressed for some time, and wanted to darken the solid black areas to get rid of the streaking that happens with scanning and hope it didn’t do anything weird to the details.)


Thorin and Goat in Ered Luin by cfgriffith on DeviantArt

 

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Breaking in a new inking brush

I have a new drawing! It was supposed to be a quick one, but sometimes these things just don’t know when to stop. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here’s the info from the dA page:

I know I seem to be focusing on Thorin as well as head/shoulder portraits, but I’ve been currently going through a few things:

– I am older, and while I’ve been drawing most of my life, there was a long break. I guess you could say I’m trying to find my old habits again, as well as any new voice or styles that might be wanting out. ;)
– Chronic pain and eyes that aren’t reliable makes for lack of confidence and shorter amounts of working time. So bigger views allow for that practice.
– Thorin’s a favorite and more familiar subject, so he’s helpful to use.

I recently was on a road trip with my husband (it was a writing conference), and while he attended things throughout the day, I relaxed in the hotel room and sketched in my sketchbook.

This was one of the sketches. It was very small, one side of his face ran into the binding area (making it non-existent for the most part), and it was in blue pencil. Also, it was very stylized and simple. But we liked him… so I decided to enlarge him, add a little more detail and finish the view for inking.

Unfortunately, that first thing I mentioned above got to me. I kept playing and changing and obsessing… as well as making stupid mistakes or flat-out not realizing I couldn’t even see what I was doing (sometimes it’s not a good idea to “just do it” — what’s the point of working if you can’t even see what you’re doing, eh?). I finally stopped myself from constantly fixing things (or making those changes that I just never seemed satisfied with), and finished him. This was really supposed to be a way to get myself drawing/inking, as well as breaking in a new brush I had not used yet. Well, at least the brush works nicely compared to the old one that was worn out!

Stylized, small, unfinished blue pencil in a sketchbook, enlarged and transferred (in blue pencil) to 11×14 Bristol. Inked with Black Magic ink, using a Winsor & Newton series 7 #2 brush. Also using a few tiny archival ink art pens, a little white pencil, and acrylic white paint for fixes as well as a little fur texture.

As far as what point in the story this is from, I had made a simple non-costume-specific cranky Thorin face. My husband, a friend, and myself voted on which costume to draw… and while working on him, I realized it made me think of the point after talking to Bilbo about the acorn, when Dwalin came to tell him about the Laketown survivors and he snapped back from his brief moment of kindness. It wasn’t intended, but works for me.

And here is the finished inked drawing:


Thorin Ink Test by cfgriffith on DeviantArt

I’m still around… just trying to work on a bigger variety of things or figure out how I want to do them. Still a huge fan of Thorin, obviously… I’m just being careful not to get burned out on drawing again like I did in the past.

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Story Narration

I may have mentioned before, and there are also links on my sidebar, but my husband is a writer and a podcaster.

He recently started a fiction podcast for his short stories, and he wrote a story for me… and asked me to read it! Oh yeah, and I also did different voices too!

A little info about the story —

Sarah Nelson is an unemployed writer trying to find her next gig while dealing with her overbearing mother. Her world changes the day she answers an ad as a writerโ€™s assistant for a famous author.

With time to focus on her own writing and learn even more about the industry from her new mentor, everything seems perfect until the day Sarah gets more than she bargained for in the form of an African Grey parrot named Horus.

You can find a link to the story itself here:

Horus

And there is also a behind-the-cut explanation episode, where he interviewed me:

Behind-the-cut: Horus

It was a lot of fun, and I can certainly see myself doing more narration and voice-work in the future too.

Please check those podcasts out, or any of Christopher’s other podcasts and stories out as well. Thanks so much!

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First finished 2016 project

I actually finished it January 31, but waited until February 1 to put it online. And waited a little longer before finally posting it on my blog.

This was the painting that took up the end of my 2015, so a lot of it was already finished. It still took another month before I finally fully completed it! Here is the text from the dA entry:

It’s been WAY too long since I last painted in acrylics (late 80’s – very early 90’s when I “regularly” used them), and in all honesty I didn’t know what I was doing. I switched over to watercolor/gouache, some coloring with markers, did some digital coloring over scanned inks… and then focused on b&w/ink as my main form of art, before taking a way-too-long break from art completely (the past few years, I’ve started adding a bit of regular pencil back into the mix). I’ve been craving painting again, so I thought it was time!

This started off as a little 3.5″x3.5″ blue pencil scrawling that was difficult to see and very vague. It went through a long process of changes until I was happy enough with it to start painting. I was very tempted to use watercolor/gouache, but they were all dried out and all my “nice” brushes were for inking — I had more supplies for acrylic, and needed to get back into practice for some upcoming acrylic paintings too.

I am not a photorealistic artist — I’m more stylized, with many years of comic books as my main focus (that’s actually how I met my husband, he is a writer). Also I am such a lover of inked art (brush), so I did use black to mix in with some colors, like the dark shadows/sections of his hair, to bring my style of drawing a little more comfortably into painting mode. This whole piece was simply practice, but also a fun experiment to see how I might like to push my way of drawing in new directions.

Acrylic paint on 11×14 canvas, and scanned with color and contrast adjustments — the scanner changed some of the tones, like the skin which is a little darker/redder than the actual painting, but taking a photo also doesn’t show the painting in its “true” form either. I also had to do a lot of scans, trying to figure out what worked best for my dark living room wall, yet also looked good enough on a digital scan without driving me mad.

I’m honestly not sure how long this took. The drawing was a drawn-out off and on thing, and when I wasn’t sick or had other things to do, I tried to push myself to work on it as much as I could every day. I also used natural light only, so I could not paint during cloudy days sadly. I just didn’t think to keep track of painting time closely enough. “Too long” would be my response, since I experimented, changed things if I didn’t like the effect, and obsessed a little too much (slowing progress even while working often on it).

Some links related to the drawing/painting and the process….
The line art used to transfer to canvas
Blog Entry about the line drawing
Blog Entry about the quick/sloppy color test
Blog Entry about the canvas transfer

And here is the finished painting:


Thorin Acrylic Portrait 1 by cfgriffith on DeviantArt

Now I need to find a frame so we can hang it on the wall with some of the inked drawings, and I hope to eventually paint Thorin’s father Thrain in a matching style to include in the little group.

I have other paintings planned as well, but right now I’m enjoying NOT working on art. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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2015 End of Year Entry

Ending 2015 the way I hope to start 2016 — painting!

Looking back on the year and what little I see in-progress and (even less) finished, I should feel a bit of disappointment in myself.

It’s not just a matter of the usual “oh wow, I surprised myself and did more than I thought” like past years. I really did have long gaps and did a lot less than planned.

Let’s look at what I did work on though…

Finished art:

Started/in-progress art & studies:

Fun news:

My almost-got-an-awesome-thing news (that was a large part of why I was so distracted this year).

Miscellaneous stuff:

Lost my old laptop and bought a new desktop, played way too much LOTRO.

Sewing and costuming?

Unless you count mending clothes here and there (which I don’t), then nope. Didn’t do anything with this hobby despite coming close/planning to do something. I hope to change that next year.

Admittedly, I had other things on my mind that distracted me too much to focus this year. I should have continued working on things (it may have even helped pass the time), but I can’t blame myself for putting art and goals off. In fact, I think I will choose to say that NOT working on things allowed me to think about projects and push myself to jump into more involved pieces. Like the acrylic painting. As of writing this blog entry, my first acrylic painting in a very long time is far along in-progress, and I hope to finish it in January if I’m able to continue without interruptions (or my usual “let’s go back and rework that section” business).

Hopes for 2016:

Finish more in-progress art, do more paintings. Get back in shape (enough back-and-forth! ARGH!) and add sewing back into the plan.

So… that’s my look-back entry for 2015. I have a painting to get back to…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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On sharing progress and repetition

If you follow me on various social media, you’ll know I take a while to finish art (now anyway — I used to finish art in a day or two before my Very Long Break). You also know I will share pieces in various stages of progress.

Sometimes I feel a little bad that I show a drawing of various stages so many times — I always imagine people are sick of the drawing before I’ve even finished it (of course, maybe it’s just that I’m tired of seeing it over and over heheh!).

That hasn’t actually been the case (and perhaps those who are more interested in just seeing the finished piece simply follow my dA or do as I do and quickly skim social media/blogs and stop when they have time or something grabs their attention).

I’ve asked or mentioned it a few times over the years, and people respond that they like to see the progress. It helps show how I work.

I also love to see the progress and various stages of things being created. In a way, it helps me to study how to do things. And really, it’s no different than many of the costuming blogs/social media I follow, and I adore seeing those in-progress things. They will also sometimes share updates of the garments and items they are making, mentioning any problems or solutions they run into. And perhaps they are documenting some of the steps for a future, all-encompassing entry about the item, or even as a test to see if they want to continue or make changes using certain tools or techniques. I admit I’ve been finding myself scrutinizing how I work, and seeing what I want to change or build even more.

I’ve also been asked a few times to create tutorials for those who are interested in even more detail about what I do or use. Just updating this blog/website can sometimes feel like more of a chore, so taking photos and figuring out how to describe or explain what I do really takes a bit of time (and in some instances, I also have alternate ways of doing things that should be shown). I guess sharing all of the progress helps me at least get a little bit of a hint of explaining, until I can get around to doing a better job. I’m so overwhelmed with all of the art I want to finish and start (and I’ve been feeling the pull to get back to sewing in addition to continuing fan art of Thorin & Co.), there are also many “tutorials” that have been waiting a long time as well.

Plus, although I am a very introverted individual, sharing even a glimpse of what’s on my drawing table on social media has become my way of staying… social.

Regardless of whether or not you document and explain (or even share what you make online), keep having fun with whatever you’re doing. Best Wishes! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Thorin Acrylic Painting Progress

Well, I admit I had been working steadily on this project and then… we got sick.

Christopher, myself, and my mother-in-law even, all came down with chest colds. Ugh. Cough-your-head-off, sneezing loudly (and strongly enough to feel like you were pulling muscles), lasting a week or two icky colds.

Being sick and miserable are not how we prefer to spend holidays or vacation time, much less both.

Worse still, all progress on everything came to an absolute halt.

I’m hoping to get progress moving along again though. I had picked up a few supplies I needed, as well as prepping the canvas. I also did a little Photoshop editing on something that had been driving me nuts. I’m hoping I managed to smooth that out a little, even if it’s not completely fixed.

Today, I took the new printout of the Thorin drawing, flipped it over to the backside, grabbed a 6B pencil, and scrawled all over the back behind the drawing. Once that was finished, I taped the printout to the front of the canvas, took something that would stand out (a red Prismacolor pencil), and traced over the printout. I had to carefully go back over a few spots a couple times (with a sharpened point), because the transfer is very light.

The printout of the drawing, taped to the canvas. There is a heavy coating of pencil lead on the backside, so when I traced over the printout lines with a red pencil (so I could see what I’d gone over and how dark), it left a light mark on the canvas.

And light pencil marks are what I want. If you remember the practice color study, the printout was very dark mostly-permanent lines. While I will be touching up the canvas transfer with a pencil to make sure I can see the guidelines and to fix anything that didn’t quite make it, I still want all the pencil lines to stay just visible enough for me to follow while painting, but to be easily covered if I want.

You can see the pencil lead on the back of the printout, and the light transferred drawing on the canvas. I still need to go back over (lightly) some of the marks so I can see during painting, and fix anything that didn’t transfer smoothly. But it is a fairly quick and easy way to get a drawing onto the surface you’ll be finishing.

It’s been a long time since I needed to transfer a drawing to canvas. I used to have these HUGE sheets of thin transfer paper, but the process I used was mostly still the same. Just, no scanners and printers back then like I have now (thank goodness)!

Still, I really hope this will be the last time I have to deal with “drawing” this picture, even though I still need to start painting it. While I do tend to do things the hard or long way ’round, this particular one has been an especially annoyingly repetitive chore. It’s gone through a lot of changes though — from a tiny, barely-there scrawled sketch, to a hopefully soon finished painting. Fingers crossed, anyway…

I’m also reminded that 2015 is coming to an end, and I will need to do my usual recap. I have a feeling I will need to make sure I remember that there were a lot of distractions and changes this year, because the “finished” pile is a lot lower than I wanted.

Maybe that just means 2016 will make me want to get to those unfinished piles a little quicker though!

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A Quick Color Paint Test

I mentioned I plan on adding a little color to my life — or, art hobby — in the future.

I also shared a drawing that was created specifically for that purpose.

This past week was spent digging through old paints and brushes, testing things out, and finally attempting a quick color study.

It’s unfinished, and I have no idea when I’ll start working on the “real” version, but at least I finally got that “oh man, can I get back to this?” nervousness out of the way and just gave it a try.

It’s been a long time

I don’t even want to think about how long it’s been since I last used acrylic paints (much less on a regular basis). I painted often as a teenager, slowly gravitated towards watercolor, and switched more and more to ink throughout adulthood.

I also flat out admit I didn’t really know what I was doing back then, so while I’m happy when something feels “familiar” during the process now, I am also forcing myself to rethink things and relearn tricks and tips.

An amusing bit of info — as an artist, I’m weird about color. I’m not that big on fashion, and have had to make an effort to wear color at all in my wardrobe. Otherwise every piece of clothing I’d own would be black (I prefer how I look in black, and the mix-and-match is so much easier when you’re groggy and in a hurry). When it comes to art, I go a bit color happy. Vibrant. I have no idea why… it’s something I just worked into my art since I’m a stylized artist anyway (I grew up on comic books so maybe that’s why I don’t think too much about colors), but I’m trying to study more realistic color shades. And try to ignore the “OMG lookitthisgorgeousvibrantBLUEwannauseiteverywhere!” ๐Ÿ˜‰

As with art (or any hobby) in general, you never stop learning.

Weird paint issues

I had some paint from the last time I tried acrylics, but I was worried they wouldn’t be so great to use. In fact, I have to stir the paint as the liquid separates from the color “paste” that comes out of the tube so I can use it. I’d been given another little acrylic set in a brand I wasn’t familiar with, but they were newer. So I focused on them first.

Starting with good ol’ basic white and burnt sienna, I tried mixing a basic flesh tone. And it was eerily purple-gray. I tried over and over that day with no success, wondering if something slipped in old habits and I was making a vital mistake, but no. It kept turning out a sickish purple-gray that I’d never seen before.

I didn’t kick myself as badly as I might think I’d normally do after a “bad” day with things going wrong (and my usual inevitable self-doubt), and the next day I was determined to mix a better basic flesh tone with extra colors and keep trying. Something nagged at me about the paint from the previous day, and I decided to use my old tube of burnt sienna… and there we go! Much better results! That was even before adding any other colors (like yellow). Apparently there is something wrong with that other paint. I will doublecheck the tube of paint again, but if it keeps giving me the freaky purple results, it’s useless.

That’s a little more like it

Finally achieving normal flesh tones, I decided to grab the watercolor paper printout and start doing a color study. I started the first day, Thursday, messing with the eyes, and moving onto a couple sections of hair. Friday, I had more time to dive in since I was finished checking paints and practicing mixing some colors.

All in a “day’s” work

When I mention drawings take me a day and a half, it’s not really true. If I can’t be interrupted midway (like say, lunch), I will start at a time after that. Say noon or 1pm. My husband usually ends his work day around 4pm, and I like to clean up and scan progress (it helps me see where I might want to make changes, along with allowing us to make in-progress animations if we want). So sometimes I only work a few hours a day, up to about 3pm or so. Rarely do I get much chance to work during the bulk of the day (and with the way my work space is situated, I usually have to wait for late-morning so I have more balanced light).

So this particular color study did not have a lot of time involved. And it didn’t need it, since it not only isn’t finished, it was merely meant as a way to see colors to use or if I needed to buy more.

Still need lots of practice

I didn’t get to do as much work as I hoped however — I ran out of the flesh tone, and would not allow myself to mix more. I definitely need to get something to slow down the drying process (something I love and hate about acrylics — it’s great that I don’t have to wait too long before painting over a layer, but very annoying that the mixed paint on my palette will dry out before I’m finished). I also need to restock some basics I’ll run out of quickly, like white.

I also worked thinly on a lot of the layers, but even while piling the paint up I discovered the printed out guidelines were too dark on this particular study. So attempting to cover those lines and put more detail in areas was useless. Especially as I ran out of the flesh tone mix.

I’ll never be a photorealistic artist — I’m stylized, and I am happier working without that much focus. I have plenty more to learn and push myself to pick up, however.

Lots more work to do

The drawing itself still needs a bit of work before I transfer it to the final canvas to be painted. There are some slight errors that are driving me a bit batty, and a few more decisions I’ll want to make (background color? No background color? Which color or effects?).

The unfinished and quick (only spent a few hours on it) color paint study. I ran out of paint and didn’t want to waste more, so it really is a bit rough. At least it let me know that, in a pinch for something simple like this, I can most likely make do with what few supplies I have. For now, anyway.

I also have a feeling I will probably gravitate more towards watercolor and gouache. I kept wanting to use the paint more like that (probably habit after all the ink washes I’ve been doing the past few years), and I also kept finding myself second-guessing whether or not I should change my mind and skip the acrylic/canvas and continue with watercolor paper and paints. Of course, I’m a little better off currently with what acrylic supplies I have. I need to completely update my watercolor and gouache. There are always other pieces, so I need to focus. Acrylic it is.

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Future sketch for practice painting

So around the end of October/beginning of November, I started working on a sketch for a future project.

I had a little alone time, when my husband was out for a while, so I grabbed my sketchbook and did some very light, scrawled/loose sketching in blue pencil. One in particular stood out to me and I considered using that. My husband was immediately drawn to it as well without my pointing it out, so I decided to run with it.

The sketch was about 3.5″ x 3.5″ and as I said, very light and loosely scrawled. A lot of my thumbnails and artistic notes are things only I could make out or understand. So I not only needed to enlarge (and lengthen from a square to a portrait-sized rectangle), but also work in the detail better.

I scanned the image and did my usual trick of playing with the color/hue and contrast, then enlarged it to fit on an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper. It was a cluttered and “noisy” image with paper shadows everywhere, making it hard to see the sketchlines or create more in regular pencil, so I grabbed a thin and thick Sharpie marker and scrawled more definite lines. I then scanned that, and printed it out to my usual 11″ x 14″ size.

It was still cluttered and also had many errors, so I used my lightbox and transferred it to a clean sheet of paper and fixed the lines and cleaned up the mess better using a blue pencil, then went over those lines with 4B and F pencils.

Not only transferring lines in blue pencil to a fresh sheet of paper, but turning the lightbox off and completely redrawing parts to fix them.

This is what I ended up with:


Thorin pencil guidelines (possiblefuture painting) by cfgriffith on DeviantArt

That seems like a lot of work, and I admit it was a little extra than I would have normally done.

I’ve been feeling a lot more out of sorts lately — I have things on my mind, and after finishing my last drawing I started getting a bit hard on myself. Too much pressure. So I tried loosening up, not allowing myself to get bent out of shape over errors or sloppy work. There was a bit of fighting (after the Sharpie sketching stage, I was really starting to hate the image), but then I finally settled in, relaxed, and enjoyed the process.

I kept the lines very basic and simple. I haven’t painted (acrylic) regularly in a very long time, and I’d like to get back to painting again (I would also work in watercolor and gouache and miss those too). I was curious to see if I could get my printer to work with some watercolor paper I had, and was shocked it fed it through without jamming.

The scanned pencil sketch printed out on artists watercolor paper (not normally meant for printers). It’s been so long since I last painted in acrylics, I wanted to practice technique without wasting time transferring to a scrap sheet, or skipping ahead and potentially risking a canvas when I’m not feeling up to it yet for various reasons.

So now I have something to play with and practice technique again, and figure out colors. I hope to eventually transfer to an actual canvas for the “real” thing when I’m ready. I’m just not sure when that will be. I need to figure out what paints and brushes I have and can use (and what needs to be thrown away), and restock more stuff. That’s why I’ve stuck mostly to ink and black and white art — a lot of the old supplies aren’t in working condition anymore.

My drawing table is starting to get covered in projects at various stages — one needing to be framed, another needs to be continued, and the last one has just been started. I need to stay focused better, I think. ;)

So I still need to get a portfolio and some frames for finished art, and start tackling the ever-growing pile of in-progress art.

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I’m now on Instagram

I have a new social media I’m on — Instagram. It’s taken me a while, since I already am on Twitter and Flickr. I take so many fun in-progress photos and I had started posting random/miscellaneous “fun” photos on Twitter… plus, my husband is there too (along with many other folks I know). I guess I decided to join in the fun.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t use my normal name, so I used my initials, part of Thorin’s name, and (at least for now) a profile photo most would recognize.

As mentioned, I’m sure I’ll share in-progress images (mostly fan art related for now, but when I eventually get back to sewing and costuming I will share those as well), and I’ve been wanting to take more pics while I’m out such as hiking or canoeing. So I’m sure there will be a little variety. Or, perhaps I may not even use it as much as Iย  use others. You never know.

As far as art goes, I’ve been in another “doing nothing” phase. I just haven’t been in the mood to do anything hobby-wise. I would love to get back to this drawing eventually, however (I apologize if there is an error or it causes scrolling issues — still getting used to using it):

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