I May Have a New Love/Hate Relationship

Weird lines, you guys. I know. They’re annoying. That’s what I get for leaving a page blank so that I could have a  two page spread of ravens in my sketchbook and then putting washi tape on the other side of the page…

I don’t know what I was thinking. I probably wasn’t. Again. I have a bunch of this super skinny washi tape from when I was a lot more into bullet journaling than I am now. Now I have art to fill that creative void. Seriously though, I had 16 rolls of super skinny washi. Now I have like almost 14…rounding down. Can you round washi?? This doesn’t include the slightly thicker than super skinny, the normal size, the thick ones, and then the BLAM THICC! size. I just thought it would be a pretty way to divide the pages into almost equal boxes to do faces in. Lesson learned.

I’ll use a marker or paint next time like a normal person.

What I love: I think I did a good job capturing the movement of the bird. I really like the lines on the wing on the right side of the page. I spent a lot of time making sure the lines were deliberate and showed that we were seeing both the inside and outside of the same wing. I think I did a better job of shading black on black using only graphite this time, despite still not really knowing how to portray feather textures. (Or portraying them at all…)

I like the curve of the beak and getting the lower beak to flow into the top beak (you know, describing beak location/parts the way you describe lips is a lot more awkward than I thought it would be) was more difficult than I thought it would be, but I think I did it. 

The feet and claws are a bit awkward, but they look like feet and claws, so mission accomplished?

What I Can Improve: Learn feather texture! 😀 Don’t put washi on the other side of the page before you draw on it. 

I didn’t really (again with this theme) know how to show light passing through a feather, so the tail feathers look off when you look at the chunky tail stubby thing that they grow out of. Learning more shading techniques so that the feathers sticking out of the right side wing look more natural and less accidental would help, as well as either learning how to fake it or blend it better at the bottom of the same wing. There was so much shadow there that even when I zoomed way in on the picture, I could not see where wing ended and the body continued, so I did the best I could, and it looks like the wing was cut off. I wanted to improvise, but not having enough experience and very limited internet while drawing in the waiting room (which prevented looking up more references) made me think that the better choice would be to not improvise. I also wanted to stay true to the reference as best as I could.

…and now for the real reason why you’re here. My newest love/hate relationship. Pastels. My husband bought me a premiere subscription to Paletteful Packs for my birthday, and in June’s box where a bunch of pastels, both soft and hard, some sponge thingies, velvelt paper, and a pad of pastel paper.

I have zero experience with chalk pastels. I’ve played with oil ones a couple times… and by “played with” I mean “made a mess of.” So I made a test page to see how they work. I mean… a swatch page. That’s the more professional way of saying it, lol. Normally, I was making all kinds of “swatches” in my sketchbooks to help me to stop treating them like they’re precious.

For whatever reason though, I didn’t want to do that in the #project366 sketchbooks. I still feel they’re precious, kind of. Like, I feel as though I need to have a drawing on every page. No practices, no real studies… my ravens don’t count; they’re full drawings, haha. By study, I mean super sketchy, messy lines, teaching my brain and hands to cooperate and draw what I actually see, instead of what I think I see. Lots of mannequins, weird gestures, poses, pages and pages of just hands… and so on.

I think I need to get over that. Quickly. So I made that messy page and tested out the colors and smudges, and the spongey tools. I had fun. I also was extremely frustrated with the General’s pastel sticks. They were very hard and I was afraid they were going to rip the paper. I actually haven’t used the velvet velour paper or any of the pastel paper because they were so hard and I didn’t want to ruin the pages. I spent just about the entire month off and on looking up ways to soften the sticks and just kept finding guides to the different types. I gave up my search and dove in. I really liked the PanPastels, but those were the soft ones and were ultra vibrant. It wasn’t until this morning that I found a dark corner of the internet where people discussed ways to soften the sticks. I may try them later. 

What I love:  I really enjoyed the smooth, creamy PanPastel blending. The black pastel stick from General’s I think is straight charcoal, which I also enjoy working with, but for the exact opposite reasons as the PanPastels. It’s scratchy, but smooth. It feels exactly like how you would imagine rubbing charcoal on paper would feel, but was still surprising that it was like that.

, and yeah that’s about it.Now, since I had no idea what to do with the pastels and I had taken so long to figure out how to use them, I used the “water” prompt that came with the subscription box and made this. I love the color, the blend-y-ness, and yeah, that’s about it. It’s just pretty to look at.

What I Can Improve: First, I’d like a better idea of what I’m doing before I just dive in. I didn’t want to “sketch” anything, because I figured the graphite would be able to be seen under the pastel, so I didn’t sketch beforehand. Which I think that is why the horizon line is crooked….and I didn’t even notice that at all while I was working on this.

The red wasn’t as vibrant as I wanted it to be, so that looks a little off where it meets the blue. I also think I reversed the reflection in the water, so it looks like water and a beach with no sunlight reflection on it. If I were to go back in and add the yellow on the water, it would turn green….which is the only pastel I think I did not use aside from the two grey toned ones. I may try this again on better paper with some of the tips I read to soften the hard pastels. I just broke them in half and used the broken/inside end and that kind of worked.

So, like… I don’t know where I stand on pastels. On the one hand, I really enjoy the PanPastels, and if I want to use pastels again, I will definitely be looking for more of their colors. On the other hand, I don’t think I’ll be using the fancy schmancy blending sponges, because they feel and behave just like a makeup wedge sponge thing that you can get a bunch of in the makeup section of the store… and the “knife” tool thing looks and behaves very similarly to the eye makeup sponge things that come in the drugstore palettes. On another hand, the stick pastels are very hard and weird to work with… some were difficult to even get pigment on the paper with… like the red. And on even another hand, if the softening tips work, then the sticks may become a more viable supply to work with and I may enjoy using pastels more. I know a lot of people don’t like them because they’re difficult and messy, but honestly, the messy part is what makes them fun for me… so is that another hand? How many hands are we up to know? Am I an octopus yet?

June 29, 2019

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