About ten years ago, I took an extension class at Pasadena City College on a technique called French Wash. I was looking for a way to bring color into my drawings and boy did I find it. I have used this technique ever since and it has also allowed me to face my fears using watercolors. That is not the tale I wish to tell, so I'll get to it.
Have you ever asked yourself "Am I a real artist?" I will answer this question with something that a friend of mine told me many years ago.
Here's a bit of back story. I was working at a hardware store and would draw on every break and lunch hour. One day I was at lunch drawing and a friend of mine came into the break room.
My friend: "So, you're an artist."
Me: "Well that's what I want to be."
My friend: "You either are an artist or you are not. So, you're an artist."
Me: "Yes, I am an artist."
From that moment on, I have considered myself an artist. I know that I am not as good as some, but I am the best artist I can be at this time.
Now let me ask you the same question; Are you an artist? It's okay if you say no. Heck, I did all those years ago. Now my 7.3 readers, comes the secret. Simply say I am an artist. If you say it, you will come to believe it, then you will have the confidence to look at a blank piece of paper and see the image that is waiting to come out. The need to release that image which starts within you is what makes you an artist. It isn't skill or style, but desire.
That is what makes an artist.
Now go and make a mark.
I put a bit more work into the piece which I am calling Triple Falls.
So far I have about five hours into this piece and I have to say that I am really enjoying the way it is turning out and I can't wait to finish it up. As in all pieces that I do, I have learned a lot and here are the lessons learned:
I have always said that references are very important and I found out just how important on this piece. The references that I have been using for this piece have mostly been from my mind. That is working from places and things that I have seen, putting them together then creating from those images. When I started this piece, I wanted to have two large waterfalls with mist and billowing clouds of spray where the water meets the rocks below. Over the last year, I have created several pieces with waterfalls with a very stylized look. Not a natural look by any means, but in the viewers eye it read as a waterfall. This piece was going to have the same type of effect for the waterfalls. That was until I uploaded some images that I took in Yosemite National Park this week. Several of the images that I up loaded were of different falls in the park. Oh, how they changed my view of the world!
The first thing I noticed was how dark the walls of the cliffs are at the side of the falls due to water misting as the water cascades down. Another thing that I saw was the way the light plays with the spray at the bottom of the falls. I was trying to make them look more like clouds than the mist that they should look like. Take a look at the sketch of this piece and you will see what I mean. These two bits are really, in my opinion, bringing this piece to life.
I have also worked more on the cliff walls, shadows on the trees and a bit more on the water. I don’t know if you can tell or not, but I’m getting really excited about this piece.
I’m making my mark, how about you?
Okay, last night I got quite a bit of work done on the piece. Here's how the progression went:
I knew that I wanted the foreground to be darker to pull the viewer's eye into the piece, so I started with the tree on the left-hand side of the sketch. I added different washes of diluted ink onto the paper. I had added water to the area that is going to be leaves before adding any of the ink so that the ink would flow and not be streaked by brushstrokes. I then started to add shadows to the rocks and water to start working on making the water look reflective.
After letting the piece sit and dry for a bit, I began working on the pine trees in the background. Since I am going to have the sunlight coming in from the left-hand side of the piece, I am making sure that the right-hand side of the trees is a bit darker. Once again, I let the piece dry before continuing. In the past this used to be the hardest part for me. Just sitting and waiting for the paper to dry so that I could continue on with the drawing. Damned infuriating! I have since matured (in the last week or so) and can now put down one drawing pad for another.
Now that the paper is ready to be worked again, I started to work on the cliffs and water falls by adding light washes of ink to the piece.
I rather like the way this one is turning out so far, and that is a bit scary. When I like a piece, it gets a bit harder to continue as I don’t want to mess it up. I have said it in the past to not be afraid, just grab another piece of paper and start again. I am going to take my own advice and will show you the results in my next post.
How are your marks coming along?