Here is another one of my 3D black and white line paper sculpture illustrations that combines #Inktober with #Sculptober, a small family of giraffes.
Inktober is a 31-day social media art challenge where artists from all over the world participate. The idea is that during the month of October, artists post a new ink drawing daily on their social media sites using the #inktober hashtag. This is a fun, motivational challenge any artist can participate in and a great way to practice your drawing and inking skills and to get into the habit of drawing every day.
How did Inktober get started? In 2009, artist Jake Parker wanted to improve his inking skills and instill good drawing habits. As a personal challenge, he decided he would post a daily inked drawing for an entire month on social media. People began to notice his daily posts and looked forward to seeing the next one. His personal challenge has now grown into a worldwide event every October.
Because it is a voluntary challenge, there are no hard and fast rules with a bunch of strict requirements — no mandatory items that must be drawn, no tests, no grades, everyone will pass, and you will most likely improve your drawing and inking skills. So it’s a win-win situation. The main concept is to challenge yourself — to practice — but then you have to put it out there — post it online. (For me that is the hardest part!)
I use Winsor & Newton watercolors and gouache paints, which comes in a tube. Typically I can keep the watercolor paints on my palette for several weeks. I used a large plastic 12″ x 15″ tray with individual cups around the outside with a large area inside the tray to mix your paints. It came with a lid, which was nice because it helped to prevent your paints from drying out so quickly.
If I knew I wouldn’t be able to get back to my painting for more than a few days, I would cover the plastic tray in plastic wrap and then put the lid overtop of the tray. This method gave me a couple of extra days, maybe a week or so, before my paints dried out completely. While it is true that all you have to do is add water to revive your dried up watercolor paints, it is better to keep the paints wet.
If the paint dries out completely and you go back to add water it will often times be gritty and is difficult and if not impossible to get rid of that graininess. When using grainy watercolors, that beautiful wash of blue you just laid down on your watercolor paper will have these tiny specks of dried paint here and there that can be very distracting, ruining your serene sky. (I have made this mistake in the past, only to have to redo the whole thing once again!)
A few years ago I started to use paint trays that come with individual cups with tight fitting lids. Even though the mixing area is smaller than my old tray, I’ve found this type of tray really suits my way of working. Ninety percent of my paintings are smaller than 9″ x 12″ so I don’t require huge areas to mix up my washes.
These paint trays solve my problem with the paints drying out too quickly. Since they have individual cups, even if one color dries out or your cadmium yellow accidentally got alizarin crimson mixed into it, you can easily and quickly change out one cup of color — wash it out, refill it and you are good to go!
Every now and then I still like to completely wash out all of my paint cups and paint trays. I especially like to do this before beginning a large project or series of projects — it is part of my ritual, a fresh start.
As I clean off my drawing table, organize pencils, brushes, papers, gather reference material, and sketches, I am also thinking about this new project. At this stage, the sketches are already completed and finalized so I am beginning to think, what will I work on first? What colors will I use? Should I do a color study first? How detailed will the picture be?
Once my desk is cleaned off and organized, my paint trays are washed out and cleaned, it is time to add the paints. I always putting the paints in the same place in the same order. Being consistent with the placement of the paints in the tray is very helpful. For example, when I want to mix up a yellowish green, I immediately know which container holds my new gamboge, cadmium yellow and spectrum yellow, creating an easy method of mixing the color I want to use.
Using good tools, organization, simplifying your process, and creating a consistent set up with your paints will help you be more efficient in your work.
Butterflies are so beautiful – all those colors and different shaped wings! I couldn’t resist painting this birdwing butterfly. What makes these butterflies so impressive are its stunning colors. The black against the yellow, is such a stark contrast in color, but then the bluish green in the wings blends and camouflages among the colors in their surroundings. As the wings flutter against the leaves, the butterfly can get lost amongst the shadows in the trees and the blues in the sky.
There aren’t too many butterflies that have a touch of red on their bodies like the birdwing butterfly. Just one more element that makes them so spectacular. Because of the red and black colors on this butterfly, it inspired me to include a little black and red ladybug in the painting. The tiny little paper ladybug sitting on the leaf in the upper left corner, creates a three dimensional element to the watercolor painting.
This miniature hand painted watercolor birdwing butterfly is now in available for sale in my shop. The outside frame of the butterfly measures 4.5” x 3.5” x 1.25.”
Hold onto all those old sketch books. They are filled with lots of ideas and reference material. I can’t tell you have often I have gone back to look through my sketch books. There are lots of ideas of things I wanted to do, to create and sketches of things I want to transfer into paper sculpture. Even the sketch books from 10 and 20 years ago are helpful. It can spark new ideas. It reminds you of where you’ve been and how far you’ve come. They contain ideas that can spark a new idea. Sometimes it is an idea I had twenty years ago but forgot about it, but now I can now grow upon that thought.
What hidden treasures do you have saved inside your old sketch books?
Even though I didn’t make it to any of the beaches this season, I was thinking about all of the different beach and ocean related items I have made throughout the years. Watercolors, pen and ink drawings, and paper sculptures. I’ve discovered that one of my favorite things to paper sculpt are beach themed items. But the funny thing is, I prefer to go for long walks in the woods and vacation in the mountains, than swim in the ocean.
There are so many interesting and awesome things to make from the shore and beach. Seashells, fish, coral reefs, crabs, and seahorses to name a few. I like the challenge of recreating all the textures and colors of the objects. Sea creatures are such interesting looking animals.
Sometimes I challenge myself to create photorealistic pieces, like the Paper Shells or Crab On The Beach, pictured here. Other times, it is fun to imagine something very colorful and delightful, like the seahorse among all the different types of coral in Under The Sea.
I hope my beach-themed paper sculptures make you smile. Enjoy the last couple weeks of the summer! Be safe and have some fun!
It was nice to be able to relax and do some plein air painting while I was on vacation. I very seldom paint outside, so it was good to challenge myself to work outside and to paint some landscapes in watercolors.