Friday, July 21, 2017

The Smiley Cocoa Series

Some how it seems fitting that I'm posting this today instead of yesterday.  For it is the twenty first of the month and marks one more to go for my first entire year with out Cocoa.  It's funny how events can work out to such a thing as this.

I came to use the above photo for a series of drawings and paintings because of my playing with some different mediums that I have and wanting to find out that which I enjoy and that which I do not.  This little project was started back in May and I finished it near the end of June.  There would've been a couple of more pieces to this body of work but I found I really do not like oil pastels nor do I have the patience to enjoy pointillism as a technique.

The first drawing is done on Stonehenge drawing paper and I used a grid to help me get the proportions as close to correct as I could.  This is a very odd angle to draw a horse and I didn't want things to get too crazy looking.  I then used a range of drawing pencils to do the odd line shading.

I had done drawings shaded similar to this for my senior show in college.  I found them fun at the time but now I do not find it as fun.  Nor do I care for how it really turned out.  I am rusty with the black and white shading and thus got areas darker than they probably should've.

For the rest of the pieces I used my light box to trace my already drawn image on to the various papers, this way I didn't have to continually redraw from scratch.

My second work was done on Strathmore 300 series watercolor paper (cheap and crappy stuff) and with the opaque watercolors.  This was before I knew that there was a difference between translucent and opaque watercolors or even such a difference existed.  I spent too much time on this with layer after layer after layer of paint, trying to bring up the brightness of the colors.  Finally I just had to call myself done.

Next up I decided to try acrylic since by this point I was getting incredibly frustrated with watercolors and needed a change of pace.  I decided to keep to the same color palette and used  hot press illustration board for the painting surface.

My scanner picked up a bit of the shine of the paint so bits of the piece are a little lighter than they should be but over all I am happy with the result.  I need to practice painting hair in the worst way.  I'm not used to using layers since I only ever painted with one coat when using oils.

While I was waiting for my new watercolor set to arrive I decided to go ahead and work on the series using cont√® crayons on toned Stonehenge drawing paper.  I found this one a lot of fun.  I almost wish that instead of using white I would've just used the tone of the paper for white but since I let the paper be the background I could've lost Cocoa's form.  The white does help him pop more off the page.  Stonehenge drawing paper is quite smooth so I wasn't able to do much in the way of layers and blending, well at least not as much as I would've liked.  Still I am happy with how it turned out and rather like seeing the more prominent shapes.

Once my new water colors arrived, I set to work on trying them out.  I first did a few exercises but then quickly put those aside to see what I could do with the image of Cocoa.  This time I used a more expensive paper that I had ordered to see if it really was true that better paper made it easier to get better results.

There is definitely a different in how the color pops off the page and how it blended on the paper.  I really like the Stonehenge Aqua watercolor paper, this is on cold press.  I will definitely  not use inferior paper for watercolor any longer, the amount of frustration just isn't worth it.

For the background I used a couple of different colors and while the paint was still wet I put sea salt on top and then let it dry.  That is how I achieved the texture that you see.  I quite like the result and is probably my favorite part of this piece.

Lastly I decided to pull out my dip pens and ink. I used a G pen nib for the outlines and a maru nib for the shading lines. This is the first time I actually used them to shade a piece.  Before I only ever used them for outlining/line work.  I really enjoyed the process and think I've found something that I will definitely continue to hone my skills with.

I plan on trying to add watercolor color to my ink drawings at some point as well.  I think the two will work well together (at least it's what I take away from seeing other artists do so) and it may be the only way that I can help myself find a thinking process that actually works for me with watercolors.

I learned a lot working on these various pieces of the same image and that is what I set out to do when I got the idea.  It helped me better measure what is fun and what is not, not only with mediums but also how many times I can work with the same image before getting burned out.  I don't feel like all of these are successful as a piece of art but they are all successful in my learning process and that is what matters to me.


  1. What a great idea! I have toyed with the thought in the past, but I don't have enough patience for it. But you seem to have learned a lot from it.

    My favs are the conte crayon one and your last one. I think because I'm a fan of contrast but not of overly brought colours.

    The sea salt thing looks awesome! I'll definitely have to try that out some time.

    1. I had to do other stuff in between to have the patience. hehe. It was worth it for what I got out of it.

      I the contrast of those too. I do like the earthy colors of the contes. I plan on trying to expand my color palette from just bright colors. New paint calls for breaking down a few boundaries!