Art in August #31 – Knitted Cat

Knitted Cat

Knitted Cat

And so August comes to an end. My eternal thanks to Laptop on the Ironing Board for coming up with the Art in August challenge; I credit it with enabling me to survive the school holidays with some of my sanity intact (although, now the end is in sight, I seem to have entirely run out of patience!)

I thought I would end with another knitted toy, this time one of my own design (translation: I made it up.)¬†Stuffed with the proper hollow-fibre filling (from a sacrificed pillow) it’s quite soft and cuddly, even if it does look a bit miserable (maybe because it doesn’t have any whiskers, as my daughter pointed out.)

It’s been nice to blog daily again, too, although it has made me wonder how I managed to write and blog every single day last year. I must have had a screw loose! ūüėČ

Hopefully I’ll be back to writing in a week or so, after I’ve reclaimed my house from the marauding invaders (we have extra next week, as people with jobs go back to work and need childcare. I must be crazy!)

I will be working on my fifth novel, Finding Lucy. I’d love to finish it by Christmas, but I haven’t looked at it since I went into labour with my son, nearly four years ago, (where did those years go?!) so it might be Christmas 2015. I’ll keep you posted.

Art in August #25 – Elsa from Frozen

My Elsa Watercolour

My Elsa Watercolour

I think this is probably my favourite Art in August piece so far. I have to say a thousand thank yous to Laptop on the Ironing Board for coming up with the Art in August challenge – it has given me an excuse to indulge in some of my favourite creative pastimes without guilt. It’s for the blog, so it’s working, right?

Drawing animated¬†characters is something I have always enjoyed doing. I find it much easier to copy someone else’s drawing than come up with my own, and cartoons have a simplicity to them that give great results without spending hours on shading and detail.

My first attempts at copying animation, back in my teens, were when I became obsessed with drawing stills from the Watership Down movie. Back then, before the handy invention of the tablet, I had to pause the video and copy from the screen Рoccasionally tracing off the TV (in the days when they had glass screens and you could touch them) but more often sketching from the image and then redrawing in detail.

Pencil sketch

Pencil sketch

Animation was easier to copy then, as the originals were usually watercolours, in flat colour, rather than the modern CGI three-dimensional almost lifelike characters (well, apart from the scary-huge eyes and tiny chins!) The largest Disney drawings I have done are when I painted a four-foot Ariel and a three-foot flying Dumbo, together with Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, on the wall of a little girl’s bedroom. I always intended to do the same for my children, but our walls of crumbling plaster don’t really lend themselves. Besides, talk about setting a bad precedent!

Today, I was fortunate enough that the children were off trashing the playroom playing for an hour, so I was able to start the picture of Elsa I’ve been wanting to do for weeks.

As time is of a premium now I have children, I decided to use a tutorial by Mark Crilley for my drawing of Elsa. It meant I could follow step by step, focussing on things like the way the eyes tilt up and the sassy slant of the eyebrow.

After first watercolour

After first watercolour

The tutorial was brilliant, although Mark did much of his shading using coloured pencils. I’m not so good with pencils and finding any that weren’t full of broken lead proved challenging, so I used watercolour on pretty much all of it.

I’m a bit frustrated that I started too close to the top of the paper and couldn’t fit all the hair in, and the shading of the dress isn’t great because I couldn’t see it too clearly on the tutorial, but otherwise I am pleased.

I love Elsa, the “conceal, don’t feel” ice queen. They used to call me the ice maiden when I was younger – a combination of white-blonde hair and shyness that came across as arrogance – and I would give anything to have a hundredth of Elsa’s cool sass.

For now the picture will have to do!

Art in August #24 – My Little Knight

Photoshopped Knight

Photoshopped Knight

I decided that there have been so many dragons on my art posts recently that we need a knight in shining armour. So for my ‘art’ today I opted for some Photoshop work on an ipad photo of my son in fancy dress.

A few years ago I studied digital photography with the Open University and the course concentrated heavily on Photoshop. I’d used the software before but without knowing what I was doing, so it was great to learn how to do stuff properly. I have to say, for just tweaking pictures, I still prefer Windows Live Photo, but if you want to do any major work then Photoshop is pretty cool.

Many people think Photoshopping photos is somehow sacrilegious. When it comes to airbrushing women for magazines, I agree. But I’m not adverse to pumping up the colour a bit in a photo (I do it all the time with the ipad shots because they’re usually so washed out) or erasing things that shouldn’t be there: telegraph wires, toys on the floor, litter, stray birds in the sky. It’s all part of the artistic process. Besides, it’s more fun than actually tidying the room first! (I’ve even airbrushed the hairs from my leg when I needed to take a photo of my ankle tattoo, once, because I couldn’t be bothered to shave them. Now that is lazy.)

Original Knight photo

Original Knight photo

The skills have come in handy for book covers: I’ve removed a whole person from one of the images (Two Hundred Steps Home Volume Five), and in others I’ve changed the colours (The dress in Two Hundred Steps Home Volume Six) or flipped the photo the other way around (the latest Class Act cover). I did the whole dragon pendant for the original Dragon Wraiths cover, using about five different images.

I’m a bit out of practice though (and ipad shots don’t have many pixels to work with) so this isn’t my best work. But it was fun remembering how to use masks and layers. For this photo I lassoed the image of my son and gave the background a Gaussian blur (so it looked like I’d used a wide aperture like an f4, not something you have a choice with on the ipad!) Then I erased the sippy cup from the floor, and a pack of cards from the recess in the fireplace; darkened the picture on the TV; pumped up the colour on the horse and the cape; and added a black border (which was meant to look like the Instagram borders I love, but sadly doesn’t).

I’m not entirely pleased, but it was good to have a go again. And doesn’t he look cute? (Worth remembering on days when all he looks is grumpy).

Art in August #16 – Scary Sketch

My kids in a few years?

My kids in a few years?

When I did GCSE art, age 15-16, pencil was my medium. My favourite thing to do was pencil portrait sketching, preferably from posters and photos (I have a gorgeous one of Kevin Costner somewhere!).

One of the reasons I dropped art for A Level (aside from being convinced I wouldn’t get¬†the grade I needed for uni) was that the art teacher kept trying to get me to use colour and I’m nothing if not stubborn. Ironic, then, that my solo abstract art exhibition in 2011 was titled It’s All About Colour.

Today I decided to try a sketch for the first time in about half a decade. I have to admit I was nervous and excited in equal measure. I couldn’t find any of my expensive pencils – long since lost to the children. So, using a broken HB pencil and a tatty rubber, I attempted to draw my children (from a photo).

The original

The original

It had to be both of them, to minimise arguments, so the choice of picture was tough: these days it’s hard to get a picture of my son where he isn’t sticking his tongue out. Hence why my son has a Christmas hat on: this one is from last December.

I really enjoyed sketching again, although it was frustrating to have a hard pencil, and a chattering child for company. I have to say, though, the holiday is certainly letting me do things I never normally allow time for. There has to be an upside to six  weeks of relentless parenting!

What’s a bit freaky is that the end result looks sort of like my kids, but like they might look when they’re older (and my daughter has a hint of Emma Watson as Hermione about her!). An artist’s sketch of their future maybe. I wouldn’t have shared it – I’ve done better – but this Art in August challenge is all about having a go! Time to raid the playroom and find my 2B pencil…

The Art in August challenge was started by the Laptop On The Ironing Board blog.

Art in August #6 – More iPad Doodles

Olaf

Olaf

Today’s art is more KidsDoodle pictures, but this time observational sketches rather than doodles.

I quite like the random effect of the colours, having a different colour for each new stroke, because I’m normally so controlling. It’s more like doing abstract paintings than pencil sketches. Great fun. I’ve even paid the 69p to remove the advert bar! ūüôā

I think Olaf is my favourite, although I like the sketch of my daughter watching TV too, and the colourful dog sketches, because our dog is actually black. The best thing about the app is you can replay your drawing as a video. As a wannabe artist, being able to watch how the drawing took shape, one line at a time, is fascinating. I also watched the videos of some of my daughter’s sketches, which was pretty cool.

Expect to see more iPad Art this month, especially as I still feel wrung out. Besides, anything I can do on the iPad instead of surfing Facebook and checking for Amazon sales and reviews is a good thing.

This post is part of Art in August as mentioned on the Laptop on the Ironing Board blog.

Little girl

Little girl

Little boy

Little boy

Sleeping Dog

Sleeping Dog

Rainbow Kara

Rainbow Kara

Watching TV

Watching TV

Art in August #5 – IPad Art

Doodle Dragon

Doodle Dragon

I’m still sick. I don’t even know what’s wrong with me. Maybe I’m just plain exhausted, although if that’s true only a quarter of the way through the summer holidays we’re all in trouble.

I stayed in bed for a couple of hours but after the fifth, “both of you get in here right now!” in response to the escalating squabbles that seems to have marked week two of the holidays, I hauled myself into the shower and took us off to the supermarket to buy popcorn and DVDs.

The trip out finished me off, so I lay on the sofa while the kids watched Angry Birds Toons and Elmo goes to Grouchland (their choices, sigh.)

I didn’t even have the energy for reading or loombands, but every time I lay down both kids piled on me for a cuddle (which, if you don’t have 3 and 5 year-old children, is a bit like the judo I watched in the Commonwealth Games).

Doodle Firebird

Doodle Firebird

So I decided to do my August Art on the iPad, using the children’s KidsDoodle app. Oh my, it’s amazing. My fingers are big and clumsy – I really needed a stylus which I don’t have – but I had so much fun. There are a whole range of brush types, but you can’t control the colour – a different colour comes every time you touch the screen. Very difficult to draw eyes!

I couldn’t choose which of my random creations I liked best so – as the children do – I saved them all.

Here’s to feeling better tomorrow!

This post is part of the Art in August challenge on the Laptop on the Ironing Board blog.

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Art in August #2 – Painted Clay Dog

Painted clay dog

Painted clay dog

My daughter saw a flyer for a workshop to make clay dogs this holiday and I failed miserably to get her booked on it. As recompense I took her to the craft shop and let her spend the £10 it would have cost on craft materials, including a pack of air drying clay.

It’s been a long time since I modelled with anything other than playdoh and it took a while to remember how. But I very much enjoyed making my pieces and leaving my daughter to do her own without interference.

Today, despite being exhausted after a four-hour trip to the local woods to do a Gruffalo trail, and being full of cold, we managed to find the energy to paint our creations. I’m cheating slightly and saving one for tomorrow, as we have a busy weekend, but this is my dog. My daughter’s is below.

My daughter's dog

My daughter’s dog

This post is part of the Art in August challenge, as described on the Laptop on the Ironing Board blog.