Books About Art that Give Life

I thought I posted about the books I’ve been reading during the Pandemic to brush up on my knowledge and skills as an artist already, but turns out I forgot to actually que them up so yeah, let me back track real quick and talk about some of them :}!

Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter by James Gurney, he also has a blog and YouTube channel with lots of fantastic information and art. His book combines a lot of lessons and more from his blog and compiled into a beautiful book filled with color theory explanations and examples anyone from a novice to expert can gain something from.

Reading this book gave me everything I wanted from the studio art classes I took in college. They were good classes, but I didn’t get the understanding I thought I would from the on portraying light and color…or figure drawing. I’m still haunted by cow skulls :/.

Anyway, each chapter is broken up to a two page spread or less with all the key points you’d need to understand the concepts James is talking about. Not just talking, but also showing examples of!!

Idk about you, but nothing makes my eyes roll harder than a book about art techniques or color that’s is all text with small examples. I need to see what you are talking about, and I never had a problem grasping anything James talked about because he creates fantastic examples. All art or photos that he has created or taken himself (often from his Dinotopia series) That’s hella baller and makes this book a most have for any artist.

I got so into reading this book I had to crack open a fresh notebook to take notes in bc the highlighters weren’t enough! For each new topic I created an exercise for practicing what I’ve read. It’s actually something I’ve carried over to any reading regarded art improvement. It’s pretty nifty when I’m trying to decide where to start. Just open the lesson planner and pick something.

He has another book as well that’s called Imaginative Realism that focuses on bringing your imagination to life that I also picked up too. It’s also pretty good, but I found not nearly as practical as much of the advice would then say, “make a maquette” and I’m like….I ain’t got the time, clay, or space for all them figures (as cool as that’d be). Buutt when thinking about it, I can translate it into making 3D models for reference so not a complete bust.

I really love a lot of the fun sketches in this book and models (even if I’m not going to be making them).

The next books are geared towards watercolorist.

The New Encyclopedia of Watercolor Techniques is an incredibly helpful book for exploring watercolors. Everything is laid out neatly with ample examples for each technique discussed. This book has a nice balance of text and art that illustrates each point clearly.

It’s hella comprehensives on the many techniques and tools that can be used when painting and discusses terminology native to watercolor as a medium.

Glazing is a pretty baller technique that I’d like to play with more in future pieces.

The last book I’m going to highlight is actually from a series of how to books by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law that details how she creates her dreamy fantasy watercolor paintings.

Stephanie has created books on making fantasy worlds and the creatures that reside within them. Each book serves as a how to guide for creating fantastical creations in her style. It’s a beautiful style filled with wispy and elegant lines, and soft colors that make a splash on the page.

A lot of my line work tends to lean on the bolder side, but I definitely appreciate studying different kinds of artistic styles since you never know what you may pick up. I’m still reading through the Dreamscapes series, but I’m loving the step by step Stephanie takes from sketch to completed painting and the techniques and tools she used to get there!

When I have more recommendations, I’ll be sure to let y’all know :).

World watercolor month day 4, Quiet

Color Picks and Swatch-O-Mania

Sat down with my paints and got to swatching! Check out my charts woot!

Swatch chart made from my studio palette

These are the colors I have in my Studio Palette. I’ll break them down by brand, but they are all mixed up on my palette. All the brands I’ve chosen have fantastic colors, but as I was being very picky, some do have colors that just spoke to me more during my comparisons.

From Daniel Smith I have the most colors from Buff Titanium, Burnt Sienna, Quinacradone Gold, Quinacradone Coral, Neutral taint, and Cascade Green. Daniel smith has a huge line of beautiful colors and a ton of fun colors I just wanted to try out, Cascade Green is one I look forward to playing with more. Daniel Smith makes beautiful earthy colors, but also vibrant jewel tones too. Quin Coral is just a gorgeous color and so I had to have it. Buff titanium is a convenience color I like for mixing skin and pastels. Neutral tint is for darkening without black and more convenience.

Da Vinci: Raw Umber. I want to try out more Da Vinci colors, but many of the colors I picked out for them lost to M. Graham when I compared my swatches before buying. Now that I have it in my palette I really want to try more colors of this brand bc they set up solid and re-wet so nice and creamy! Not to mention that bang for our buck!

Sennelier: Lemon Yellow, Indian Yellow, and Ultramarine Deep. Sennelier swatched some of the loveliest light colors I’d seen, so I knew I wanted to get my yellows from them. The Ultramarine was a last minute swap, but I dig it as It works well as a softer blue.

M. Graham: Quinacradone Rose, Phthalo Green and Blue. M. Graham has some of the move vibrant colors around. They don’t set up as nice in palettes, but so long as I don’t leave them in the heat and then put them in my bag, they set up enough to travel with. I’m totally in love with the vibrant colors I get with these colors alone, and when mixed, chefs kiss!!

Holbien: Terre Verte. This was a last minute addition. I needed something that would be able to create earthy colors and decided on Terre Verte. I wanted the one from Sennelier, but was sold out so went with Holbein. I wanted to play with some Holbein colors anyway since they aren’t as granulating and offered more control when painting, but again, most of the colors I had picked out for them lost in the color comparisons to M. Graham and Daniel Smith. Now that I’ve played with this color, I also enjoy how it sets hard and re-wets well. Much like the Da Vinci, so I’d like to explore them some more in the future.

QOR: Dioxazine Purple. I was afraid to get to many QOR colors as I do enjoy having control over my paints as opposed to letting them fly around the page, but the more I practice with watercolors the less I fear that. I mean watercolor paint only goes where there is water so control where the water is and that settles that ha! This purple is such a fantastic color to mix with and a nice convince purple as purple is my favorite color. I’d be down to try more primaries from QOR for sure, specifically reds!

The colors in my Portable Paint Palette are Quin Rose and Coral, Buff Titanium, Dioxazine purple, Phtalo blue and green, Indian and lemon yellow, Burnt Sienna and Raw Umber. This palette is the one I’ll be using mostly for World Watercolor month.

Portable painting palette

These are my swatch cards for my portable palette. I just used some practice Bee Watercolor paper and then cut and laminated the swatches once dry so I could tuck them into the palette when on the go. They are front and back FYI.

I’f you are reading this live, I should have a few paintings up on the right where my Insta feed is. Im particularly proud of this one below though :3c.

Warm Junah looking up in profile

Prepping for Watercolor Month and Beyond

I have spent a good bit of this pandemic reading and getting lost in the YouTube art scene. Seeing so many talented people create beautiful and dreamy compositions really got me excited and gave me the inspiration I needed to get serious about getting on track with improving my skills with physical media again. Deciding to focus on one medium at a time for now, I’ve gotten serious about refreshing what I know, or thought I knew, about these mediums. I’m going with watercolors first as the challenge month is upon us and I’ve been itching to make my own color palette based on all the notes I’ve made thus far. I talked about the book I found most rejuvenating by James Gurney, Color and Light in an older post.

I’ve been meaning to improve my watercolor game for a few years now. I first explored the medium in high school and totally fell for how the colors looked like they were glowing when applied to paper. I tried to play more with the medium after high school, but could never achieve the same results I had in class, so I moved away form it. A few years ago I got back into wanting to use the medium again and looked into buying a decent premade set. I found the 24 pan White Nights set and used that for a bit, and even though it’s a beautiful set, I still didn’t feel as attached to it and wound up going to Gauche when my local art supply shop closed down and had a massive sale on everything in stock.

I have since left Gauche alone as the ones I had did not re-wet all too well and I rotate mediums, so ones that expire fast are off the table, but hey, play and learn.

The mediums that I come back to repeatedly and have this considered my stickers are Alcohol markers, Watercolors, Acrylic Ink, and of course digital painting (Procreate and Clip Studio Paint). I know that sounds like a lot, but trust me, this is the narrowed focus list. I LOVE customizing and that extends to every part of my life. From what I wear, to what I eat, and of course what I create. I can never just follow a recipe without throwing my own spin on it and the same goes for picking my supplies. The mediums that I actually stick with are ones that I invested the time to create my own custom sets of. It took me a second to really think about that (even though it’s totally obvious).

I spent months comparing colors for my Copic collection before ordering each marker individually. I spent weeks looking into ink properties and color combinations for my Acrylic Ink sets, I spent years looking into individual pens and pencils for drawing. When it came to watercolors, I just found a decent set and wondered why I wasn’t as excited to create with it. Even if it was a fantastic set. Open Stock is truly the way to go for me. The study, comparisons, and care that go into selecting each color makes it meaningful and gives me that much more reason to want create. That’s what was missing from my watercolor selections. Not the quality of paints, but the journey of customizing my own palette.

Painting is such a unique medium. You can make new colors from just having a small selection of colors available to you and that’s pretty neat, some knowledge on color theory will helps to avoid a ton of repeated color mixes, or over mixing in general when building a custom limited palette. Limited color choices in painting palettes are a fantastic way to see color theory in action too. My style is definitely more illustrative so I knew that I would need the ability to mix bold colors and a range of skin tones.

I studied swatches from Jane Blundell’s blog, if it’s worth a dang in the watercolor world, she’s swatched it. I then would check out Denise, of In Liquid Color to see the paints in action as she has extensive color spot light videos, reviews, and tutorials on color mixing. I also enjoyed checking out Sadie Saves the Day for more examples on beautiful illustrations and helpful reviews and information on the medium too!

For anyone that wants a quick cheat sheet to putting together a legit color palette, I’d recommend this really neat post On the Jackson’s Art blog. It’s a short and sweet entry about choosing colors for a limited pallets and its fantastic advice for crafting a limited pallet that will create a wide array of lovely mixes. Definitely worth a read if you are trying to figure out what colors to use and why when you’re starting in watercolor.

There are more resources that I used, but these are the ones I found myself going back to repeatedly when crafting my palette. Once I had my list of colors together, I was ready to shop! Of course the pandemic has art supplies in short supply, but I was fortunate enough to find what I needed through three store: Dickblick, Jerrys Artarama, and Jackson’s Art in the UK, sadly my local art supply shop packed up shop last year, so I’ve had to move supply hunting all online now since they only things left in town are Michael’s and Hobby Lobby, so yeah…nah.

The other supplies I purchased were a palette that I’d be able to add more to later for my studio, the MITJELLO 18 well palette and the Portable Paint Palette for on the go. It has 12 wells and I love its design! I had all the other tools already, but did up my brush game as I realized of all the brushes I have, the only ones I use are the Jackson’s brand Quill Brushes, I have this brush in a variety of sizes. The only brush I use that isn’t in this quill family is a 00 round for detail. They are such lovely and cheap brushes. They feel good, have a variety of sizes, go thin to thick, hold a good amount of water, and they are forgiving if I leave them in water by accident. I KKKNOOOWWW that’s a terrible habit, but I have short term memory problems that crop up at funny times and finding my brushes in good health after one of these bouts feels good.

While waiting on my supplies to arrive, I continued to practice with my older paint sets, is what I‘d love to say I did, but I didn’t. Instead, I got familiar with setting up mixing charts and read the New Encyclopedia of Watercolor Techniques: A step-by-Step Visual Directory of Watercolor Techniques by Diana Craig & Hazel Harrison and the Dreamscapes watercolor series by Stephanie Pui-mun Law. Fantastic books on using watercolors and achieving neat practical effects. I created a whole list of exercises to practice as I read too! Once I received all of my packages, I primed my palettes (made dot cards of the access paint to not be wasteful) and let my paints dry. Check them out!!

Next I’m going to paint out my watercolor mixing chart for my large palette and then make some smaller swatch sheets for the portable pallet to use for reference. I’ve studied for this and know the colors I have will make some cool colors, but being able to see the nuance of each color in person has me excited.

Getting My Watercolor Groove On

It’s time for another art challenge!! This time it’s World Watercolor Month! Another month long art challenge and you bet I’m participating and excited to reach that finish line. Amongst all the other things, I’m working on with the comic, and now planning a wedding amidst this pandemic, I’ve added this extra art exercise to my schedule as well.

Why? Well to be honest, I love the steady growth and experimentation that art challenges provide. I’m not as rigid when I participate in them, and they let me explore whatever pops into my mind. I’m not harping on myself about being consistent or trying to be a perfectionist. I take it for the learning experience it is and just create. In times like these, that kind of energy is exactly what I need to keep my creativity and self in a healthy state of existing. I also get a lot of filler characters done during these challenges for the comic too. I mean I’m going full in on the fantasy, so gotta bring the people and beings of the world to life too. Productivity all around!

I’ve wanted to dedicate time to improve my watercolor game for a few years now. Heck I even thought it would be a great idea to color all backgrounds or architectural references for MagicalMashup! in watercolor (and even did a few) before realizing that the amount of work would still be the same.

I still have to get over myself about backgrounds and just draw them more ( not only that, but mixing the palettes necessary for each nation would consume a ton of time bc I’d be trying to match the digital swatches by hand and just woof. I mean just making the digital coloring palettes took weeks alone :V).

In the end, I just kept back-burning dedicating the time needed to up my watercolor game. Often to focus on getting my digital art together, figuring out what do with acrylic inks, or learning how to use Alcohol Markers adequately.

Art is a never ending journey of learning, so I figure alternating between the mediums that I’m invested in while giving each one its own dedicated study time is the best way to satisfy my itch to use a variety of mediums. This way I can develop all four while giving them the attention they require to see improvement and get a better understanding of each medium. I love creating in all four mediums for different reasons, so logically I’d love to combine all four and see what happens. A lofty dream that will end in something amazing or terrible. Either way, I’m going for it… but not just yet. There is still only so many hours in a day. I’m still developing a comic after all and that comes first, so I get my physical media practice in usually on weekends with a few acceptations.

One BIG acceptation is an ART CHALLENGE!! What better way to start the practical part of the learning cycle then with an art challenge! It just so happened that when I was deciding when to start taking all my color theory and light studies into practice I heard about World Watercolor Month (the universe has spoken)! I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of this month long journey and sharing the results, but first I want to talk about my prep!

A parianahous  of the deep looks on at you looking at them
Just a quickie with the Kuretake gansai tambi set of watercolors that I haven’t use. I want to at least use them for use more quick sketches if nothing else.