This week I have finally got stuck back into the Cassowary I started months ago.  I know I have been slack, it’s been staring at me since before Xmas, but I made a point of getting back into it on the weekend and I must say I am so happy that I did.  It has been too long since I have worked with my favorite medium (soft pastels).  The feeling of getting your hands into it is incredible and the brightness of the pigments in them always blows my mind.  As you can see in this picture the blues are just beautiful.  The next step is the reds in the neck which will also be extremely vivid.  Hopefully by next weeks blog, I will be able to show you all the finished piece.

cassowary
Cassowary in Soft Pastel

I worked on the background a lot and am pretty happy with where its at.  I wanted a muted dark look depicting the dense bush and rainforest these guys are native too.  So I chose dark browns, greens and blues to achieve this.  To keep the colours visible over the black, you put them down first and blend them in.  The black gets added at the last stage around the other colours and then blended up to them.  If you laid a solid black down first and then tried to put the lighter colours on top, when you blended them together the black would always come to the top and you would lose the brightness of the lighter colour giving you a muddy effect.  You can always go darker but it is much harder to make something lighter.

Another tip is, I have used a white sanded pastel paper as the substrait.  Even though the majority of this drawing is dark, most would assume that I would use a black pastel board.  However white works best to keep the brightness and vividness of the beautiful colours in the cassowary.  They would all be a bit duller if I drew them over black.  So if you want a pastel to stay really bright, then always use white.   🙂    I am actually going to start another leopard pastel soon which I will use a black sanded pastel board because I want it rather subdued and looking like its just getting the light as its walking forward.  So stay tuned for this to see the difference.

So now I’ve probably bored anyone who isn’t into pastels haha  but I hope to give many tips and insights into all the different mediums I use.  Don’t be shy to shoot me a message if you have any questions.

Until next week, Kerri x

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Flooded Friday

Well, it’s been an interesting few days here in Queensland.  To the north of us, there has been an enormous cyclone called Debbie, who has been wreaking havoc through the beautiful islands and beaches of northern Queensland.  But she wasn’t finished there, she has now, as I am writing this headed south of our property dumping unrelenting rain on Brisbane and the Gold Coast causing river heights and flooding we have never seen before.  I feel especially lucky that my family and I  have got out of this extreme weather event without any damage.  My thoughts are with all of those that have sustained damage and are at this moment being evacuated from their homes.  It has been that extreme that our government have shut over 1000 schools for the last 2 days, and urged all business to close by midday so everyone could get home safely before the flooding started.  So believe me this was a huge event for South East Queensland.  For such an extreme weather event that has affected millions of people, I can proudly say that there have been no fatalities as I am writing this.  So a big shoutout to all our emergency services and governments by being on top of this and getting everyone prepared before it hit.

Ok well, just a quick note on what I’m up to on the art side of things.  I have a few pieces I am about to start as there are a few competitions I would like to enter in April, so I really need to get my finger out and start drawing.  I am still totally hopeless at getting sidetracked, but this is a weekend that I don’t really have too much planned so I am hoping to get a bit achieved and start sharing some progress photos on my social media soon.

So until next week, stay safe and dry people 🙂

New Year – New goals

Welcome to 2017….   As the heading says, New Year – New Goals.  I had a few goals last year but unfortunately, I didn’t actually accomplish too many of them.  As with anyone who is trying to become an Artist, they know too well how hard that is to do when you are working a full-time job.

This blog for one is a big Goal I didn’t stick with, as you can tell by the blog post dates, this is the first one in a couple of months.  Plus I haven’t finished the amount of Artwork I was hoping to.  I think my biggest problem is procrastinating.  I seem to have all of these ideas but when it comes down to actually getting started on them I always manage to get sidetracked and before I know it, the time I had put aside for creating has been used up either cleaning, dealing with kids, or wasting time on social media.

So this year I have got myself a few tools that I hope will help me to stay on track.  I have purchased The Makers Yearbook. A 200-page goal setting & productivity workbook and 2017 planner designed especially for Artists, Crafters & Designer-Makers.  Already I feel as though by writing down my goals and filling in the planner etc.  I am on top of what I want to achieve for the year as regards to how many paintings I want to complete, what competitions I want to enter, online courses to complete that I have already signed up for.  So if you are having the same problem as me I highly recommend checking this book out.

Another thing I have done is get a free app for the Pomodoro method, which is a timer that runs in 25min increments,  you then have a five-minute break and then complete another 25minutes.  Try to achieve 4 of these in a row before having a big break of 1/2 hour or more.  Continue with this method until you have completed your task/goal.  Alongside this, you should have a list of tasks/goals you want to achieve for the day and once they have been completed you can cross them off.  By physically crossing something out gives you a great sense of achievement.  Another thing to do is keep a notebook near you while you are working so if you have any brilliant ideas you just write it down and continue working until the timer stops, then you can follow up on your idea later.

So I am happy that I have figured out where my weak points are in reaching my goals and am trying some new methods to try and fix them.

Happy New Year to everyone and I hope this helps with your own creative practice.

Kerri xx

Using Resin over my drawings

I’ve finally started to try the Resin I bought at the beginning of the year, I think I was just too scared to use it for these reasons

a) if I stuff it up, then I have just ruined my artwork that I have spent hours creating and    b) it costs so much money

Well, I bit the bullet and used it over my latest elephant drawing I did in Caran D’ache Graftwood pencils, (which I love by the way).  I think I will do a blog post explaining how much I love these at a later date haha.

glass-coat

So this is the resin I used and I must say I am pretty impressed with it.  I bought it for the main reason that it is odourless.  I have used epoxy resins before with my work and they stink. So this being odourless is perfect for my makeshift art studio in the garage which is directly joined to the house.  Don’t want to stink everyone out and have them whining at me 🙂

I purchased this from Glass Coat themselves for around $65 for the 500mm but once you added postage it was closer to $90, which is a huge amount of money to waste if I wrecked it, it’s also a large amount of money to factor into the cost of a painting for resale.  I think out of this pack I would just get 3 x 400mm square panels covered.  I’m pretty sure I could get it cheaper within my industry so I will have to do some homework on that because it really isn’t feasible to keep using it at this price.

Anyway, apart from the price, I absolutely love it.  It is really easy to use and the bubbles come straight out with a heat gun.  Here’s a little video of me pouring it and then going over with the gun.  You can also use tweezers to pick out any bits of dust etc. that may fall on it, but this needs to be done while it is still wet.  It is a must to undertake this whole process in a dust free environment.  I just used my daughter’s little tanning tent and pegged a sheet to the front and then the whole garage is off limits to everyone for the next 12hrs while it’s drying.  It’s not perfect but seems to keep 90% of the dust out.

elephantSo this is my elephant before I poured the resin on and if you check out this video you will see it after it has resin on it.  It is really hard to get a good photo once the resin is on due to the shine but you can get a good idea with the video.

It worked out great and like I said was very easy to do.  All you need is three  empty plastic cups.  I large and 2 small.  The large one I used was one of the red cups for beer pong and the smaller ones were just the really cheap clear cups. One stirring stick or a bit of stiff cardboard and a heat gun.  Just remember that anything you are pouring the resin into or stirring it with will be ruined as it doesn’t clean up very well.

Another must is to have your painting dead set level or as the resin dries it will gradually pour off to whatever side is the lowest.  This is so important as the resin takes many hours to set off so it will move if it isn’t level.

So you pretty much just pour equal amounts of each part of the resin into the small clear cups (enough to cover your work) and then transfer those both into the large red cup and mix really well.  Once you are sure they are blended together well you can then just pour it over your artwork.  Using the same piece of cardboard you used to stir with you can level it over the resin to make sure that all of the art is covered fairly evenly.  Like I said it will slowly move by itself but I like to give it a help along just to be sure.  Once I am happy that the coverage is total and even,  I then use a heat gun for maybe 30 seconds to just go over the surface.  This will instantly get out any bubbles that have formed during the mixing process.  Check all over for any bits of fluff etc and remove those with tweezers.  I usually run back over quickly with the heat gun if there have been a few bits to remove.  And that’s it.  Just walk away and come back in the morning to see how it turned out.

I will do another post on how I built the shadow box frame for this elephant art.

If you have any questions about using resin, be sure to comment below.

Until next week, Happy Painting 🙂

Kerri xx

Free Photo Friday!!!

Hey guys,  I saw this great idea on another blog and thought it would be perfect for mine and hopefully great for you guys too. And since this week I have talked about taking a great reference photo I reckon what better week to kick this off.

Each Friday I will add a high-quality reference image that has been taken by myself so is copyright free for you to use as inspiration for your artwork.  Sounds great hey 🙂

Just follow this link to download it from dropbox.

My Patrons over at Patreon already receive 2 free images a month plus line art etc, so this is an additional image to what I will be posting on there.

I know how hard it is to get good clear reference images that are copyright free for you to use in your own work.  I will let you in on one great site that is worth a look and that is Paint My Photo, everything is copyright free and is well worth the visit.

Let me know if there is anything, in particular, you are looking for and I might be able to help.

Happy painting 🙂

Kerri xx

The importance of a good clear Reference Image

I am extremely lucky to live only 30 minutes away from Australia Zoo, one of Australias most iconic tourist destinations.  I have a yearly pass and am a regular visitor.  I haven’t quite got the confidence to actually sit and sketch the animals but I am working up to it soon I think 🙂  What I am doing at the moment is taking about a million photos of the animals.  I click away all day and then when I get home you can guarantee that only about 10% are actually any good haha.  I think I need more lessons with my camera.

Anyway, this is working for me at the moment so I will continue with it.  I don’t think you can have too many reference images, it’s all just a matter of keeping a good filing system on your computer.  I have just installed adobe bridge so I am keen to try and figure out how to use it as I have heard it is great for this purpose.

kangaroo-demo

I like to take photos of the animal in whole but I will then zoom up and take photos of individual elements such as the eye, feet, mouth etc.  It is also a good idea to get plenty of photos of the animal in various stages of movement,  I guess this is where most artists start sketching to try and capture that feeling but you can still get it with photos, or even better yet,  take a bit of video of the animal in motion as well,  if you really want to get the feel of what you are painting then it’s a great idea and great practice to set yourself up in front of your computer at home and try and do some sketches of the animal you have filmed.  It really helps to get the feel of that animal before you start on your masterpiece 🙂

flower                                                          When I am taking my photos I always try and look for good composition, I know that you can always crop etc on the computer but it definitely makes it a whole lot easier if you have an idea of composition whilst out on site.

 

I did a one-day photography course earlier this year with Chris Bray Photography at Australia Zoo and it taught me the basics of my Nikon DSLR camera.  It was well worth the money as I have had the camera for 5 years and was only using it on automatic,  now I know enough of the basics to see me taking great photos for my artwork reference.  Hey, I’m never gonna win any awards but I can still get some great photos to work with.

I pretty much stay in Aperture mode (A) on my wheel.  I find that I like most of my shots to have a short depth of field, which means only the subject I’m trying to shoot will be in focus.  Everything else behind and in front will be blurry.  My go to number on this is 5.6.  The only other thing I use a lot is the Exposure Compensate Wheel.  This is brilliant for adjusting the lighting.  Because I am always wandering around the Zoo, the lighting varies a lot.  Some animal enclosures are in the sun and of course, some are in the shadows or inside, so this little dial is a godsend to quickly adjust the exposure.

Its pretty much as simple as holding your finger down on the +/- button and turning the dial.  You will see a scale on your screen that will go up and down depending on which direction you turn your dial.  When the scale goes to the + side you will get lighter photos and when it goes to the – side you will get darker photos.  Just keep checking your viewfinder after each shot until you are happy with the lighting.  It’s quick adjustments like this that are crucial to taking good wildlife photos as the animals always seem to be camera shy so speed is necessary to getting a good shot.

Once I am back home and have some time, I will go over the photos I have taken that day and sort out the junk (blurry etc.) from the promising.  I then import them into Adobe Lightroom and sort out my favorites by giving them a star rating.  I find this is the best way to keep my photos organized.  5 stars are my images that I want to make a painting from so they are the ones that I set to work adjusting the colours, tones etc and working out composition.

To work out the composition of a planned piece, I first look at my photo and decide what size I think will work best for it, tall and skinny, wide, square.  Usually, the layout will jump out at me when I’m looking at the photo, this is partly due to my composition ideas I had while taking the photo, this is where I said it helps a lot to pre-think it during the picture taking process.

I don’t usually draw things small, the bigger the better I reckon haha.  My biggest problem was finding the paper large enough to work on but I have just solved this problem with my latest order of a 1.2mtr wide roll of pastel paper and 1mtr wide sheets of Arches Watercolour paper, so now I am not restricted in any way.

One last  tool I use before I am satisfied with my reference image and before I transfer it onto my drawing surface and that is my photoshop overlays of Composition Guides.  I have 3 of these which are:

Rule of Thirds – Probably the simplest of all composition guides and if you only use just one then this is.   The most important elements of your composition shouldrule-of-thirds be placed along the left or right vertical thirds and/or the top and bottom horizontal thirds. In addition, the four intersections of these lines are called the “power points.” This is where a subject should be placed to give it emphasis, and it is here where the eye is automatically drawn.

 

Golden Mean – The golden ratio appears in some patterns in nature, a spiral shell for example.  It has been used by the greatest painters to proportion their works and keep it aesthetically pleasing.

 

diamond-guideDiamond Guide – Probably the most complex but still can be used in most situations.     This one is useful for creating strong lead lines to the focal point.  Imagine where you might place a face, where the eyes will look.

 

I hope this has given you an insight into how I compose my work and also given you some ideas for your own interesting compositions.

Now don’t say I never give you guys anything, here is my Photoshop File of all 3 different composition guides for you to use on your own layouts.  Just place this file over your picture in photoshop and hide the guides you don’t want to use.   Simple 🙂

The only way I could figure out how to share this photoshop file with everyone was as a dropbox link,  I hope this works for everyone.  If not comment below with your email address and I will send the file directly to you.

Happy Painting 🙂

Kerri xx