Sunday, 21 November 2010

Morgana & Lucy: watercolour

I did my best to take this small painting Very Seriously. All the paints were mixed in advance, I thought about the contrast between warm and cold, I created my own blacks, I dried my brush regularly and I used a damp brush to blend different layers.I DID MY BEST. So this is probably as good as it gets at this moment. Mind you, I'm not at all sure whether my efforts actually show. Do they? (Please try the full view.)

I made a version with a Photoshop texture as well. It seems like I am drifting more and more towards traditional art + texture for the look of my Gawain illustrations. I like how this technique allows me to choose a paper with which I am comfortable and then add a textured, old-ish look afterwards.

I can't believe I've painted a cat. I see one around the house every day, and yet cats remain very difficult to draw for me. This particular cat is Lucifer (Lucy for short), Morgana's pet. I shiver at the thought of having to draw him for pages on end, but - well, I simply must have cats in my story. Here's to hoping my skills will improve :).

Princess-of-Shadows' textures


the comics expert said...

I do think the efforts show, particularly in the cat's face & some of the folds.
I don't know if the textured thing is the way to go though. It's fun for a bit, but on sequentials, I think it'll bore quickly & maybe distract from the story.

the comics expert said...

Also, there's never something wrong with practising drawing cats.

ampersand said...

Well, I'm not saying that I would use texture for the entire comic - I remember my last try-out on an entire page - but I do like what it does for individual pictures.

I do practise drawing cats. But my sketches never get beyond the "furry mishap" stage so I don't care to show them :P.

Thanks for the feedback :). I thought this painting might be a leap forward, but it's not being received very well at dA, so I'm having doubts again. Aheh.

the comics expert said...

There's always going to be plenty of 'people' saying 'you're doing it wrong'. This is the internet. Your own personal progress is all you can hope for. At the very least, it displays talent, and i think it's a good-looking piece.
No Jill Thompson, mind you, but there you go.

Cecilia said...

I'm afraid to say - in total honesty - that I find this one less satisfying than others of your works (urgh, it seems I choose to write only bad things this evening). But I watched again your pastels things, and they're a lot more convincing for me. Here I find that the black lacks body and that the background isn't mixed with the foreground. That's what I'd say if you were a pupil of mine and that's what I write here, unpleasant as it may sound. And I feel guily for writing you this way.
I don't care much for cleaning brushes while painting or changing water and so on (that's why my palette is so muddy, ahah), but I'd ask you instead: why the blue and pink background? Because it's an happy scene? Insert some pink reflects on her dress too. Melt her into pink. Dare. (Not that I always follow these advices, but they're right and I repeat them to you). The wet background asks for wetness on the foregound too (IMHO), and I would have probably told you to erase the pencil line on the top of her head and allow the background and foreground to touch there.
The direction of light is uncertain. The dark shadow on the veil at the right of her head claims for shadow after her nose and inside her veil, on her own left side (under the cat's head). In general the cloths present more shadows than the skin and that's confusing.

I know you are stressed and with few time at the moment, so maybe this criticism is way too unnecessary, but you asked for it and I had to be sincere. I see you are looking for something that it's still unclear in its evolution. Sometimes, more the drafts are confusing, more the final pages look neat, and I do believe you'll find a more or less satisfying way to use watercolours. It's also possible that experimenting in what you see as a difficult field is confusing you more than it's enlightening. I'd say to try and to fail and to try again without fear, and I'll repeat my suggestion to take an illustration you like and copy it from start to end. Moreover, I'd say: don't forget the nice results you had already got (I think about the Lady under the cherry tree or Ygraine with the mistletoe or And at that holy tide etc).
I feel so bad for being harsh, especially when I consider my many faults and failures with colours (among the rest). Please forgive me and believe that I mean good :)

the comics expert said...

Hey Cecilia,
I just read what you had to say, and I don't by any means feel your comments are unfair. I wish I had more of a formal background so I could berate Eva in a more professional manner on her failings as you're doing here. Be sure (as a close friend i think i can vouch for this) that she takes your criticism, with pointers that she can use, very much to heart & won't feel depressed because of them.
It's something to work with, and I'm happy to see you really do try to help her out!

ampersand said...

@Cecilia: What Nout says :-).

Don't be annoyed because you are critiquing - that's the point! I know I'm not particularly good at ... well, so many things ... but if people don't help me figure out what's wrong, I simply don't get it. That's why I ask for help.

I think you're quite right when you say that I'm getting confused because I don't exactly know what I'm looking for. But one of my problems is that I really have no idea how the artists I admire get the effects I admire. I can't copy what they do, because I don't understand how they do it. You look at one of my pictures and say, "I would add some yellow there". Me, I have no idea why you say that and why yellow would help. In tutorials, these are the things that artists never explain. It's simply "like that" for them. For me it isn't. That's why I have to read convoluted theories and then get confused. I just don't get it. I have to memorise rules because I don't see these things myself.

I think the only thing I can do is to try out as many things as possible and see what kinds of effects I get. For that, of course, I need time. Hopefully I'll just stumble on one that I think is nice. I think that for me the trick will be to find something really simple. The Lady Under the Cherry Tree, for example, has almost no layers and no shadowing. It was painted on light, coloured drawing paper, so it couldn't take a lot of paint. It's flat. Flat I can do. So basically I think I am looking for a technique that is Mostly Flat But Not Too Boring.

I don't think I'll ever be a Fine Arts painter. Maybe the point is to accept that. I suck at realism - things like light and colour are just beyond me. But then again, the thing I really want to do is to tell stories. So I should be looking for a style that is pretty, but above all functional.

I think that maybe I understand (one part of) why you prefer my colour pencil pictures to my watercolours. It is because when I use watercolour, I have a tendency to shy away from the colourful and to mix greyish things (and then feel I have to splash some colours on the background to lighten things up, like I did with Morgana). When I use colour pencils, I can't blend them very well (= sheer incompetence), so you get lively and bright colours. (Remark also that they have no backgrounds, so I have avoided the problem of the figure blending in with its surroundings... :P) One of the things that amaze me about your watercolours is that they are so colourful and that the colours all look great together. O_O

@Nout: What you said :-).