Journal52 2015 Prompt 2: Just Be #Journal52 #ArtJournal #ColoredPencil

The second prompt for Journal52 2015 was 'Just Be'.

I've mentioned, often, that I seldom plan my work.  However, after musing on this prompt for a bit I had the idea of someone lazing against a tree, just being.

I wanted to keep my process simple, and I wanted the process to 'just happen' as well.  So how to bring my vision about while still letting my finished piece be a surprise?

For those interested, I've written up my solution below.

Stillman & Birn Delta sketchbook
Tim Holtz Distress Markers: Rusty Hinge, Worn Lipstick, Tumbled Glass
American Craft Stamp Marker: Aqua
Coloursoft Colored Pencils: Electric Blue, Lime Green, Mid Green, Deep Fuschia, Bright Orange
Blending Stump/Tortillon

Starting in the corners, and then more or less at random, I colored portions of the page using water-soluable markers.  Then I blended all the colors together with a water brush.

My choices were important here, but not critical.  Most of this watercolor was just a base and would be covered up.  But what I wanted to keep in mind was that some of the color would show through and would affect the colored pencil colors.  

I needed a similar range of watercolors as I'd be using with the colored pencils, or things could get muddy.

But I didn't know exactly what colors I'd be using!  So, I thought, hmmm. My vision was of someone in the woods.  I needed colors that might suggest fleshtones, and trees and grass and shrubbery. 

I went through my watercolor markers and pulled out a few colors that knew I liked and that were close enough to the above choices. 

Note: Having used these watercolor markers and colored pencils before, I have a good idea how they will work together.  If you aren't sure then try using them together on a piece of paper.  Write notes so you'll remember what colors you used.  Try to stay with the blends you like--don't worry if it is muddy or not. Your criteria should be--do I like it or not.    Keep your experiments in a book or box, so you can go back later and see what worked.

Note: When I say that I'm adding my colors at random, I am--sort of.  After a while, you just sort of know how you want things to go.  Practice is the best teacher, but I thought about it, and this is roughly what I do.  Most of the time.  Some of the time.
  1. Pick three colors
    • Choose one color to be most dominant (it doesn't matter which one)
      • make five rough shapes of different sizes-leave lots of white space
        • make sure to have some of the shapes towards the top
        • make sure to have some of the shapes in the middle
        • make sure to have some of the shapes towards the bottom
    • Choose another color to be less dominant (it doesn't matter which one)
      • make four rough shapes of different sizes-leave lots of white space
        • make sure to have some of the shapes towards the top
        • make sure to have some of the shapes in the middle
        • make sure to have some of the shapes towards the bottom
    • Take the remaining color
      • make three rough shapes of different sizes-leave white space
        • make sure to have some of the shapes towards the top
        • make sure to have some of the shapes in the middle
        • make sure to have some of the shapes towards the bottom
  2. Blend the colors
    • Blend like color to like in most places
    • In at least 3 or 4 areas overlap and blend two different colors together
    • Cover the whole page, but leave some areas almost the color of the paper

This is the page I came up with, more or less following my advice above. (The white streaks were caused from glue that was spilled on the page when I was working on another page).

And, now comes the element of making my finished piece a surprise, even to myself.

I looked at this, and said 'Where's a girl in here?'  Can you see her?  Once I found the wild, bushy, green hair surrounding a face, I had it.  Her legs seemed chopped off though.  Oh well, I thought. I'm never afraid to suggest rather than make things perfectly clear.  I'm not sure my scan picked it up, but I used color in the shadowed areas to suggest her legs were bent back at the knee. Possibly, she's holding a foot in the hand that is behind her.

I apologize, because I had intended to take more photos, so this would be a step by step, showing how I picked out the form of the girl, but I got caught up.

In essence, I used the colored pencils around the shape of the girl first.  I did the same for the words 'just be'.

Then I used the colored pencil to darken the areas between -- the gap between arm and body and between her legs. Looking at the watercolor base, you wouldn't think there was much flesh color there, but once I had color pencil all around it, the fleshtones were more apparent.

I left the girl altogether for a while, and concentrated on the background.  I let the watercolor underneath suggest where light and shadow might fall.  Mostly, I squirkled, but in some areas I drew lines meant to suggest grass or larger ovals to suggest leaves.

After one layer of pencil on the background, I went back to the girl and started working on details.  

For her outfit, I used directional lines to suggest folds and shape.  I used the tortillon stump to blend the shadowed areas so they'd be more blended and darker.  In the areas, where I wanted to suggest sunlight touching, I squirkled very loosely, letting lots of the watercolor show through.

I shadowed the areas to emphasize the contours of her face and arms.  With a sharp pencil, I added her eyes.

Once satisfied with the girl, I went back to the background and her hair, adding 3 or 4 more layers of color.  After blending the shadows underneath and behind the girl, I added another layer of the same colors I had used on her earlier, bringing the values more in line with the background.

That was it.  I had a drawing that satisfied my starting vision, without knowing exactly what I was going to get.  I could follow this procedure and come up with a different work every time. I feel this keeps me fresh, and keeps my interest.

All told, it took about 30-40 minutes.