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My Bicycle Series has come to a close, and I’ve been a bit off the radar. The reason is I burnt myself out. I think we’ve all dealt with burnout at some point in our lives. Preparing for this show I worked like a mad woman. I have a day job, which is very mentally taxing, but I’d come home every night and work on my paintings and drawings until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I also had to think about prepping for the show, getting the venue ready, sending out invites and all the other logistical stuff. I enjoyed it all, but pushed myself too hard, then crashed.
I wanted to take a small break from drawing, and that helped me get caught up on the other parts of my life, but it went on way too long and left me feeling very unsatisfied. The pain of not drawing became greater than the burnout! I’m happy to say that break is over, and I have lots of fun things to share with you.
So what exactly was I doing to make all the art for this show? Here is a little bit about my process.
Every drawing starts with a sketch. What I love about the sketching part is I can do it while I’m hanging out with friends, since it isn’t require all my focus. It’s actually more fun if I’m distracted, then my lines are more free. I got a lot of my early sketches done during one long evening of board games, doodling away while I waited for my move to come around.
I used to clean up my sketches before scanning, but I’ve been working digitally for so long I feel pretty comfortable drawing right on top of my blue sketch. The digital drawing is where I can play with my color palette, fix the character’s anatomy and pose, even change her outfit if need be. When I’m done I have a beautiful clean illustration that’s perfect for making prints.
Normally I stop there, but I was having an Art Show and I didn’t want to just expose prints! By creating acrylic paintings of my digital illustrations I could not only expose my work, but offer a one-of-a-kind piece of art. These paintings have my personal, human touch to them.
When creating a painting I use my digital as the base. Remember, the digital is where I fix all the errors and details. So it should be really easy now right? hahaha…nope.
I project my line art onto a canvas and trace over the projection in pencil. I’ll lose a lot of the details in this process, luckily I’m tracing my own drawings, so its easy for me to fix. 😉
Before I start painting I take them outside and spray them with a matte varnish. If I forget this step my pencil lines smear into my bright colors when I start painting.
This is much more pleasant to do is summer.
Then the painting starts! I’ve learned from experience to mix a large batch of all my colors before hand. Since I’m painting large flat areas of color there is no room for mistakes. Acrylic paint is notoriously hard to match! It dries darker than it looks wet, so you can never really get a skin tone back if you have to mix a new batch of paint.
That doesn’t mean I don’t still sometimes get confused about which jar of paint is which.
First I do all the flats, then shades, then highlights. It’s almost exactly like my digital process, except my dark outline is the last thing to apply.
I actually love the feeling of painting, the way the paint feels being pushed around the canvas, mixing colours, cleaning my brushes and stepping back to observe and fix my work. It’s really special to watch my characters evolve in front of me. I really feel like they are My Girls! I feel very personal about each of them, and I certainly wanted each one to receive the same level of care and detail from me.
I’ve tried painting the lines on, but I find a big, black sharpie is the best tool for this. It’s clean and covers the paint underneath 100%. Just don’t make a mistake!!
As a final touch everything gets an acrylic glaze, then varnish.
And Voila! Art!
Thanks for reading all about my art show experience. Now that you’ve made it to the end I have a special treat for you!
Did you know there were 3 girls who never made it into the art show?
I’ve finished them up digitally and I’d love to share them with you. Not only that but I’ve written a background story for each girl.
If you want to see my new girls and get a story about each one, then sign up for my newsletter below and you’ll receive one story a day for the next 8 days!
My newsletter will also keep you updated on the latest art I’m making, you’ll get an insiders look at my process.