My dear wife asked for art work to decorate the house. We picked sea life. She wanted a look blending illustration with strong colors, contrast, and texture. Some image reference searches, and more than a few roughs later, I picked starfish as a subject. Not surprisingly, this turned into a full art experiment. I call it “Caravan” because it looks like these guys are on the move.
I inked the starfish in black. The composition is based on an underwater photo that I later found originated from Apple desktop images. I wanted to approximate the colors using inks, and it was nice to be able to use some color brush pens I’ve had for some time.
Trying to capture a sunny underwater scene, I would be happy to accept if the outcome just “suggested” the goal. My previous post depicts practice drawing underwater sand. Here’s where the troubles started, but I’m glad I for the value in lessons learned.
I started on the sand using grey Copics markers so delineate contours. After that came the color pen brushes. Without much variety, I thought ink washes would help extend my color choices. This idea came after messing the horizon with brownish ink (yuck). I mixed the colors with water to make the “washes”.
The Bristol paper’s non-affinity with water shows a bit of damage. Multiple applications had little effect: not efficient, time-wise. I suspect my method of using ink from the pen brushes is not the best way to go. The first washes for the sand didn’t cut it, so I used light grey Copic to blend things. I set that particular task aside to work on the actual sea stars.
This part was fun. Basing color choices on the references, and punching up the contrast, was good for my soul. I used orange, red, and yellow brush pens – cheap ones too. In the end they bled a little into the sand, but it still looks ok to me. This was my favorite part.
Going back to the sand, I tried to use a darker wash to emulate the water filtered sunlight and shadow patterns. See a little evidence of this in the lower right corner. It wasn’t that effective, so I washed it over some more, and touched it up using grey Copic marker. The water in the horizon was the last straw. Ink wash layers did not help make it as dark as I wanted, and I decided I wouldn’t deal with it, not being a major element in the composition. So I proceeded to give it a general touch up, and called it done.
As experiments go, this one could be called, both a failure, and a success. Lessons learned:
- Reminder that Bristol does not like water
- Ink washes should be kept simple, and have the right color before being applied
- Sand is best suggested.
- Sea stars rock and make colorful subjects, even if they’re slow little creatures.
- Underwater atmospheres are hard to convey
- Test your ink colors before you apply them to your final medium
- Keep things simple, concentrate on form, composition, and values from the start.
The next piece for my wife will be a b/w ink piece, or an acrylic paint experiment. She likes this one, but you know she’s biased. 🙂 (Thanks honey!)
Don’t be afraid to experiment. I know you’ll learn something useful. Thanks for dropping by, and have a great art time!