A fun technique that creates a soothing and mysterious atmosphere: put down a rich watercolor wash in two or more shades of blue. Drip rubbing alcohol into the wet paint to create bubbles. Then use only white (or, in this case, white and pale green) to draw your subject. Don’t draw too much –leave parts of the scene to the imagination of the viewer. Fun!
What do you get when you combine figure drawing, plant/animal/insect sketches, basic watercolor techniques, drawing natural habitat — then season the mixture with fairy tale illustration? An interactive online course called Draw & Paint Fairies in Nature, which begins next week. There are still a few places left in this work-at-your-own-pace, personally guided drawing adventure. Here’s the sequence of our 10 lessons — the “Draw” segment of each is done in students’ sketchbooks, and the “Paint” segment is done in simple watercolor with a bit of colored pencil:
Lesson 1: Where do fairies come from? Draw: Val’s four-step sketch technique, infant proportions, simple facial features, sketch exercise. Paint: Using gouache, making skin tones, glazing and lifting color, baby fairy project.
Lesson 2: How do fairies fly? Draw: Toddler proportions, drawing different kinds of wings, sketch exercise. Paint: Very young fairy in flight.
Lesson 3: Why do fairies love flowers? Draw: Six-year-old proportions, drawing favorite flowers, sketch exercise. Paint: Garden fairy child.
Lesson 4: What do fairies wear? Draw: Older child proportions, creating clothing from nature, creating clothing for fairy royalty, drawing fabric, drawing fairy hats and caps, sketch exercise. Paint: Your own fairy finery.
Lesson 5: Where do fairies live? Draw: Teen proportions, sketching fairy habitats, sketch exercise. Paint: A fairy at home.
Lesson 6: Why do birds allow fairies to ride on their backs? Draw: Adult female fairy proportions, drawing birds, drawing the seated figure, sketch exercise. Paint: Fairy riding a favorite bird.
Lesson 7: Who are the fairies’ other friends? Draw: Adult male fairy proportions, drawing small woodland creatures, sketch exercise. Paint: Fairy with a furry friend of your choice.
Lesson 8: Can fairies live in the water? Draw: Water sprites and naiads, drawing fins and scales, sketch exercise. Paint: Water sprite painted over a toned color wash, a trick for creating bubbles, creating very unusual skin tones.
Lesson 9: Are fairies always young? Draw: Older adult proportions and features, how to show age and wisdom, how to draw gray or white hair, sketch exercise. Paint: A fairy godmother.
Lesson 10: Are all fairies good? Draw: Expressive faces and actions – how to show a sly or mischievous nature, how to tell a story with your drawing, sketch exercise. Paint: A trickster fairy.
What’s your favorite “studio soundtrack”? I like to draw while listening to my favorite Celtic band, Mithril. Their music — sometimes pensive, sometimes get-up-and-dance exuberant — never fails to refresh and inspire me!
Recently, I had the privilege of creating artwork for the interior sleeve for their new CD, “Along the Road.” Eels in sinks! Wailing banshees! Giant turnips! An illustrator never knows what the day may hold…
I’d like to share their new CD, “Along the Road,” with my other artist friends, so I’m giving away two. You can keep one, and give the other away on your own blog or facebook page. (I’ll gladly mail the CDs anywhere, so feel free to join in, wherever you are.)
Simply leave a comment to enter. I’ll select the winners through random.org on Friday. Enjoy!
…and just in time for spring planting, here’s my first printable garden calendar page. (I’ll have April ready to post in a few days.) This is my little gift to the world, and I will gladly send a pdf file, as each new page is completed, to anyone who asks. March is ready for you this very minute, so drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org . Enjoy!
This week, I’ve been writing and drawing an upcoming post for Love Pencils, the blog of the Derwent Pencil Company. It’s a step-by-step illustrated tutorial on drawing eyes. I thought I could cover it with a couple of sketches and a paragraph or two, but one thing led to another, and… well… the result was a worktable covered in eyes!
I started with just my black-and-white graphite sketch of a young fairy and his mouse friend, printed it on vellum paper in archival ink… then I added multiple layers of rich colored pencil by hand, so that the finished image is a one-of-a kind original. In thanks to readers of The Illustrated Garden blog, I will make 20 of these artworks available for $40 apiece… each signed, numbered and matted in an acid-free 8×10 inch mat. I’ll also provide free shipping anywhere in the United States.
Oh! And one more thing… each piece of fairy art will come with a packet of heirloom herb or vegetable seeds from my garden, tucked inside a hand-embellished seed package. Email me to order.
Despite years and years spent in Girl Scouts, I never mastered the art of knot tying. Sheepshank, bowline, fisherman’s hitch — no matter which one I attempted, the end result was always something that resembled a very large, critically injured spider. So this week, when I needed a bamboo trellis along one end of a raised bed, I tried to think of ways to avoid lashing anything together.
The solution? Nylon zip ties, officially known as cable ties. They are durable, weatherproof, and can last for years. They are also cheap — around $3 for a package of 50 — and if you can’t find them in your local hardware store, you can get them at Amazon. (The traditional material for this purpose, waxed twine, starts around $10 per roll and requires six feet of twine for each knot.) I used 8″ black ties, which fit nicely around thumb-thick stalks of bamboo with a couple of inches left over to pull tight and snip off. They look like this:
One more tip: be sure to have your bamboo beagle-tested for strength and durability.