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Expanding my choices

Even though I’ve already transferred my drawing, I continue to have other ideas about how I feel like painting, in general. I went on a run to pick up some masking fluid today, and an extra kneaded eraser. I hung out in the art supply store for a while, seeing if anything might intrigue me. I picked up a couple of different painting surfaces, held onto them for a while, and put them back. I finally settled on some Claybord/Aquabord that is meant for use with watercolor. I keep looking for a one-size-fits-all painting surface solution since I keep feeling frustrated. This sounded like a good potential compromise, if it works well. I’ve never tried it, and so it will be interesting to see what effects it gives. It will also be interesting to see if I try it, considering all the wavering I’ve been doing 🙂

This surface is also available in a cradled format, which gives it that deep profile which is popular as of late. Personally, I do not feel all that contemporary, and prefer frames to that more modern look. I like to have the option to put a painting in a frame, and your framing options all but disappear when your painting has a thick profile like that. I feel like I’m butting heads a lot lately with what I perceive to be popular, and I’m getting unnecessarily confused over it.

I’m also feeling drawn more toward fantasy art, angels in particular. Something is brewing inside and I’m not sure what it is yet. A sense of dissatisfaction, some nervousness, perhaps a desire for comfort. I don’t know. I feel like I’m having some growing pains.

I suppose the sane thing is to stay the course with the four small drawings I’ve already done, and do them on the watercolor paper I’ve already cut and marked. I’ll see how I feel about it as I go.

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Forging ahead in the face of uncertainty…Transferring

Moving on…This a quick rundown on transferring a drawing to watercolor paper (or a surface of your choice). The first step is to cut a piece of tracing paper slightly larger than your original drawing, and tape it over the original drawing. I’m using Scotch 3M Safe-Release tape (the white kind you find in art and craft stores) so it won’t disturb the surface of my sketchbook when I remove the tracing paper. There are different kinds of artist tapes, that don’t leave residue, for different surfaces. I use a mechanical pencil to outline the main areas of my drawing onto the tracing paper. I use solid pencil lines to represent areas where I will want to paint a hard edge (like the outer edge of the head), and dotted lines where I will want to paint a soft shaded edge (like a shadow).

Once I have a tracing, I tape my watercolor paper to a firm surface, my work table in this case. I tape it down with Scotch Drafting Tape this time, for a more secure hold. I don’t want it to slip. I tape my tracing in place over the watercolor paper using the Safe-Release. I can keep an eye on the tracing if it starts to move, and so it doesn’t matter as much. To be more secure, you can use the drafting tape instead. I sharpen a hard pencil. I like to use a 2H. If it is too sharp or hard, it will cut the tracing paper. So experiment first for a good balance.

I slip a piece of transfer paper (I use Saral) between the tracing paper and the watercolor paper. You can use homemade graphite paper, if you wish. To make some, take a piece of tracing paper and a 2B pencil (the wide flat ones work best), and cover the paper with graphite. Once you’ve covered it, take a cotton ball with some rubbing alcohol on it, and rub it across the graphite-covered surface to even it. Let it dry and you’ve got your own transfer paper. Carefully trace your drawing with your hard pencil, avoiding leaning too hard on your drawing as you go. Putting an extra piece of paper under the ball or side of your hand is helpful so you don’t make smudge marks through the papers with your hand.

When you’ve transferred all your lines, remove the tape from one corner of your tracing and double check that you’ve gotten all the lines transferred. Once everything looks fine, remove the tape and the graphite paper. Don’t slide it any more than you need to. Lifting it up makes fewer smudges. You will have some smudges anyway.

Take a clean kneaded eraser and press and release the eraser on the watercolor paper, gently lifting the excess graphite off. This is how you get the smudges off, but you also want lighten your lines, if necessary, leaving only faint lines to paint by. Some watercolor colors will lock the graphite lines in place and you won’t be able to erase them. So, it is best to work with the faintest lines with which you can stand to work. Knead your eraser frequently to avoid putting the smudges back onto your paper. Kneading it keeps it “clean” (at some point, it will become too full of graphite and you will need to get a new eraser).

That’s about it. If you are transferring to canvas, you will want to secure your tracing to it with canvas tape (tape for use with canvas), because the others won’t hold. If you have canvas on stretcher bars, you will want to put a book or some other filler under the canvas to keep it rigid while you transfer your lines.

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Getting ready to paint?

After a lot of fussing over how wide I wanted my borders to be, I cut out some watercolor paper. I don’t know what’s gnawing at me, but something is. It may just be that nervousness you get when you are about to start a painting, or maybe it is something more. Last night, I started thinking the little animals in my recent drawings looked uncomfortable, or restricted, in their clothes, and then I started thinking that was a metaphor for my own discomfort. Or perhaps I was just reading something into the drawings based on my own feelings. Art is a tricky two-way street, of sorts. It is, in one part, contrived by the artist to create an effect, while at the same time, it often reveals things about the artist, even to the artist herself (or himself). I say this realizing it is a bit humorous since I am in a quandary over pictures of animals wearing dresses. But the weird thing is that this is always true.

So, on some level, I am feeling constricted, whether it is by painting medium, subject, marketability issues, or just in general. I’m having some trouble getting to the heart of what it is that I want to do that I’m not doing. I can’t decide if I am stymied by wanting to do more things than I can possibly do all at once, or if there is something, some idea, that wants to be expressed that isn’t being expressed. I could suggest many possibilities, but I just don’t know which one is the answer, if there is one answer. All I can do is try different things on for size and see if any fit.

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Lop-eared Bunny

I have added a lop rabbit to my sketchbook menagerie. I am trying to stay the course and make them into watercolor paintings. I have a terrible time trying to make decisions about “how” to do things. There are sooooo many options. I am always trying to come up with a one-size-fits-all solution, something everyone would like. And that’s just crazy.

My current distraction has been that people seem to have a preference for paintings on canvas, at least when collecting originals, but I know that my work will be of better quality at this size if I work in watercolor. I’d like to expand my portfolio of artwork, for licensing and for printmaking, and quality is important to me. Things just get twisted up in my mind when I try to incorporate marketing everything into what I am doing. But, then, do you ever know your market? Opportunities come along that you never anticipated, and it seems that you should have been doing that other thing you came up with last year. Or someone wants that painting for which you never thought you’d find a use.

Underneath the tranquil, pretty, or whimsical exterior of all your work, lies a long sequence of risks. Maybe it’s called “art” in recognition of the skill you exhibit in choosing what to let show in your work.