Friday, May 13, 2011

Artwork for any Skill Level

The dilemma I’ve always had with selling my artwork stems somewhat from low self-confidence about my artistic ability but mainly because of the one thought that passes through my mind when I see artwork in a store. Why would I spend $50, $100, or more for a piece of artwork when “I could do that myself.”? Well, I’ve come to find that many people do not have that same thought. Either their self-confidence about their talent is lower than mine or they don’t have the time and the materials needed (paints, brushes, etc.) like I do. If you’re that person, this blog is for you. 
"Ah Nuts" ~ Watercolor & Ink
The first piece of artwork I sold was “Ah Nuts”. And along with the flowers from the “Ménage á Trois” trilogy I found this style could be completed easily and quickly. “Ah Nuts” was created for a friend and fellow artist to give to her but she insisted on purchasing the piece. I told her she was crazy to buy it, anyone could do this style… and now I’m going to prove it to her. ;)
~ Paper – watercolor paper can be expensive, so for your first time you may not want to spend that kind of money at the art store. But you also don’t want to grab plain old copy paper, it’s too thin. Bristol board or if you have a sketch pad will work, even some card stock will do.
 ~ Watercolors –no need to go out and buy expensive watercolors. Borrow your kids Crayola watercolors for school.
~ Brushes – If you’re borrowing your kids Crayola watercolors, chances are there’s a brush included. If not buy something cheap, there’s no need for a $20 brush at this point. You can typically find a package of brushes for $4-$6 in craft stores.
~ Outline –there are all kinds of pens, markers, and paints out there that will give you the same effect. I prefer using Pilot’s Precise rolling ball pen (Extra fine) and found it works great.
~ Cup of water – for dipping. Make sure when working you keep your actual drinking glass separated from the dipping cup so you don’t drink it by accident. :/
~ And most importantly, some kind of design. If you don’t feel comfortable drawing your own design the internet can be a wonderful thing. I’m sure you can find a line drawing out there that you like. Or again, you can steal from your kids. Take a picture out of their coloring book if you want to practice. I found the butterfly below online. It may be a little detailed for a beginner but you can find something with a little less.
1.  Tracing: Trace the design to your watercolor paper. Now there are several methods for transferring. I have 2 ways which I find fast and easy. If it’s daytime and you can easily reach a window you’re comfortable standing at for a while, tape your design to the window. Grab your watercolor paper and lay it over the design, trace away. You may want to lightly tape your watercolor paper to the window too.

If you don’t have a window then flip over your design and with a pencil shade the backside of the page covering all of the design area. Next place your paper design side up (shaded side down) on top of your watercolor paper and trace on top of the design. When tracing on top of the design the graphite on the backside will transfer onto your watercolor paper.

2.  Retrace: The outline on your watercolor paper may be light so go back through and retrace the outline lightly in pencil.

3. Paint!: Get out those watercolors and start painting. Biggest tip I can give you about watercolors, if you want light, fluffy colors keep more water on your brush. For darker, vibrant colors use just enough water to keep your brush wet. The pigment won’t be as diluted and more will transfer to your paper. If you want a combination of the two; start with a lighter touch and more water. As your page dries go back and add more pigment to the areas you want. You can go back over and add layers. 
Half way there!
4.  Drying Time (aka Cocktail Time): When you feel like the colors are to your liking, let the painting sit at least a few hours to make sure the paper’s dry. The last thing you want to do is rip through your work because the papers still wet. (For all the mom's out there, check out this blog. She's hilarious! )

5.  Retrace… again: Depending on how much pigment you used or how light your original pencil marks were you may want to retrace the design on top of the watercolor. Very lightly though, you don’t want to see the pencil marks after the ink outline has been added.

6.  Ink Outline: Now grab your pen and retrace the design.

You’re done!
There are so many ways to stylize this and make it your own. Maybe you don’t want to be detailed, just throw some colors in the background and trace over it. 

Or you could offset the ink outline from the actual watercolors. 

Don’t limit your creativity to just the painting itself. For “Ah Nuts” and “Menage a Trois” I used my wood burning tools to burn the edge of the paper for a rougher, earthy element. With this butterfly painting you could easily add a colorful frame and mat board to tie it all together.  

Now get started and let me know how yours turns out!

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