Ink is for the birds…

Today I am going to focus my post on ink painting, specifically, ink painting with acrylic inks and ink pens.

I have fallen in love with my acrylic inks and ink paint pens. They are amazing and so versatile.  The wolf portrait I have been working on now for over a year (due to lack of some time in the studio) is being painted all in ink.  I started with Derwents inktense pencils as the base coat and then went on to Daler Rowney F&W acrylic inks.  I am also using Molotow and Montana ink markers.  Can I tell you that if you have never used or only used once or twice inks and didn’t like them, you are using the wrong inks. All of these brands (and not to sound like a commercial) work like either watercolors (depends on the amount of water added) or liquid acrylics.  I started using them on watercolor paper but soon found out the using boards is so much better with the inks.  I am going to highlight a step by step from my holiday in Florida for how I use the inks now.

So, first things first, I always draw my picture out.  I chose the majestic crowned crane.

Drawing of the crowned crane with palette, ink and pen set up.

Drawing of the crowned crane with palette, ink and pen set up.

I actually drew this out as a sample for my teen students when I was teaching them how to use inks.  I figured I would finish it at some later date.  I realized that since my holiday was about relaxing and rejuvenating, I would be able to get some sketching and painting in.  The resort I was at had tons of animals and guess what majestic bird.  Yep, that’s right….The crowned Crane!  So I was able to use the bird in the flesh to continue and finish my painting.  Most of the first base coat I did in class for the students.  When I got to the resort, however, I went into full-fledged painter mode.  My studio went from being in my home and the museum to the Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort down at Walt Disney World.  My balcony became my zen zone with all the animals outside my window.  It may have been hot and humid but I stayed outside to finish this little guy using the live bird as my color guide.

My travel studio at my resort on holiday.

My travel studio at my resort on holiday.

Nyala antelope outside my balcony.

Nyala antelope outside my balcony.

View from my balcony.

View from my balcony.

First base coat, done before I got there.  Second base coat, started and done.  Since these are base coats I just watered my brush down and used the ink thin like watercolor.  Next, I started to add less water so that more bold color would start to stand out on the painting.  Shadows, highlights, anywhere I want overlapping color to come through is next.  Usually with watercolor, for shadows I water down slightly but for the inks I went back to watering down like the first base coat.  Inks are very opaque so using this method to add the shadows works perfectly.

Since I was outside painting, it did not take long to wait for the inks to dry.  Surprisingly, inks dry at around the same rate or faster than watercolors.

After all the base coats, shadow and highlight layers, I started adding detail.  Now, the fact that I was painting the colors from the live bird meant that I would have to be patient.  The bird is moving around, at a far distance so I would sometimes have to look through my camera lens to see the detail on the bird.  I started adding little by little strokes from both my brush and directly from the markers.  After overlapping many layers I finally finished.  The result is a colorful portrait of the crowned crane in all its majestic and radiant glory.

Finished painting. Crowned crane, 6x6", inks on aquaboard. Resource from my own photos and from life painting.

Finished painting. Crowned crane, 6×6″, inks on aquaboard. Resource from my own photos and from life painting.

I hope you enjoyed seeing my how I use inks as much as I love painting with them.  See you all really soon!

Rebe

Nigel, the Brown pelican – Part 2

Nigel is back and finally finished!

In my last post about the brown pelican, Nigel (yes, after the pelican from Finding Nemo), I wrote about how I started to create this illustration: drawing the outline, shading and color decisions, and starting detail.  This post touches on the rest of detail and making decisions about whether or not to add extra bold details using a different media (ink) which is different from the main illustration.

Below, is where I left off on the last post.  I finished up the face, head and neck and started a light coat of color on the rest of the body and feet.

Nigel with head and neck completed. Light color on the rest of the body and feet.

Usually, I love to take a drawing like this and just add all my detail at once when using colored pencils that have a color range of 132.  However, this illustration I am using the Derwent 24 colored drawing pencil set.  As I have said on the last post and the Snowy Owl post, this limited amount of pencils has forced me to be more creative with how I add the colors, since the range of colors happen to be of a natural toned palette.  That is right, no bright colors like red or yellow.  That is why you should never challenge me when it comes to anything artistic, LOL.  I will sometimes, yet maybe, kind of, always prevail, LOL.  😉

A month ago, I met with all my other fellow artists from the Artist at the field group and decided to spend the entire day at the museum to finish this illustration.  Um, just for people who are not from Chicago, the month of February was free month at the Field Museum.  It was just a tad crowded!

So, I started adding my shadows and blending the colors for the back and wing.  What is nice about doing the feathers on a water bound bird is that they are matted down; that means, they are not fluffy and you cannot see nor distinguish the individual feathers on the body.  I am in heaven just thinking about it.  What you do see are the patterns and the color breaks.  This is basically where I started on that busy Saturday.  Adding the color breaks which are the shadows and lighter areas of the plumage.

The first part of adding shadows plays like a slow song; you have a slow and mellow beginning, a building of suspense in the middle, and a big crescendo in the end. So for the pelican, I first added the base color which is the layer you want to see through the entire area. Then, I started to add more reflective colors that will compliment the base color which enhances the detail which was the final layer added.

Now, on to Nigel’s back.  Using all the same techniques and procedures, I went through and finished the pelican’s back and then proceeded the finish the wing.

Once I had the all the color done on the body, it was time to start on the feet.  I was one my way home with this one as I added more and more color to the webbed little feet.  Knowing that I had just two feet left made me feel elated at getting the colored pencil part of the piece finished on that Saturday.

So, as I finished the feet I realized this is it.  Nigel, the brown pelican is done!

Finished brown pelican.

Finished brown pelican.

Finished piece next to the mount at the museum.

Finished piece next to the mount at the museum.

Until my next post, CHEERS everyone!

Nigel, the Brown pelican – Part 1

It’s a bird… it’s a plane… Nah, it’s just a brown pelican named Nigel.

In my last post, I talked about some goals I had and one of them was to finish artwork I started last year (and the year before, and the year before that, and so on).  Well, the brown pelican will be the first colored pencil that I should get done.  This is the first of two posts that I will write about the progression of this bird illustration.

Six months ago, I started adding color to the brown pelican drawing I did last year at this time.  And yes, I have decided to name this pelican — he shall be called Nigel (of Finding Nemo fame).  Nigel resides in the Field Museum’s North American Bird Hall exhibit (photo below).  I decided to use the same pencils I used on the Snowy Owl; Derwent colored drawing pencils which are a non-wax based pencil with a smooth, creamy texture (read aloud sultry commercial voice, LOL).  Although, some people thought I was crazy for using something that only has 24 colors in it’s color range, I found it to be very calming knowing I didn’t have to search for the perfect colors.  I was able to just use the 24 I had and mix them to get the tones of what the snowy owl showed on the mount.

Okay, enough of that.  Back to Nigel, the little brown pelican.  I started with the outline.  I used an aqua green colored matte board as my ground.  I have come to love working on matte board and have also found that I can seek out matte board scraps at any art, craft, or hobby shops framing department.  More likely it’s just an unhealthy relationship with matte board that I crave when I go to these stores.  But back to the matte board.  I like the durability of it the most; it stands up to erasing, is hard to bend and just looks really nice.  For any dark colored board or paper, I use a white pencil and this drawing was no exception.  So, now the best thing I did was just to start the sketch, then I moved onto my regular routine of “measuring, crawling, measuring, crawling” to get the portrait just right.

Drawing the brown pelican in the exhibit with the pelican mount.

Drawing the brown pelican in the exhibit with the pelican mount.

Yes, that is a six inch pink dinosaur ruler I use to line out my drawing.

Once I finished the outline, I started adding color.  I am using that same color range of 24 colored pencils which is a limited palette but I like the challenge of layering the colors to achieve the final result.  I started with a thin, light layer of color over almost the whole sketch.  I like to look for colors that you would not naturally see within the subject for that reflective effect when more colors are added on top.  This is what the underlying layer is used for in all my illustrations; those unusual colors that you may not see in the object become incorporated into the picture to not only enhance what you see but create that visual life-like feel to the animal.

The part that I like the best is detail.  DETAIL, DETAIL, DETAIL! SAY IT WITH ME: I love doing detail work! Details sum up everything that I have done so far into the finite finishings that will make the piece worthwhile in all my effort.  😉

So, with this glorifying statement of how I LOVE doing detail work, Nigel has become one of my favorite birds to work on.  I started the detail by slowly adding more color to fill in the shaded and lighter areas of the pelican.  For any other piece, I would normally work over the whole thing during this process.  However, the elongated dimensions of the pelican make it a bit daunting so I decided to start at the top and work my way down.  I cannot stress enough, the detail is always the best part because this is where the drawing and underlying colors come together.

IMG_20141018_134140248

Detail started on the head and beak.

So, I will leave you now until I finish the piece within the next month.  I hope you all enjoyed this post and also learned a little something about the drawing process (and how much I LOVE detail work, LOL).  Until next time, CHEERS!

Coming in Part 2:  How on earth does Nigel the brown pelican look so realistic?  It’s all about the proportions, color and DETAIL!  Stay tuned.

New adventures in video! OOOOoooooo!

Video Adventures 1

So I found this video on my computer that my cousin Melissa shot (for some odd reason) of me coloring in the snowy owls face.  Even though it is only 12 second long, it shows how I slowly layer color to create the texture of the feathers on the face.  Hopefully, I will be able to show more videos of me drawing and painting in the future.  The video is on my Facebook page at this link,

mini-Video 1 – Snowy owl tidbits

or you can just go to my Facebook page Banasiak Art Galleryand click on the “Videos” tab to see the first of many videos to come.

Adding color to the Snowy owl's face creating the texture of the feathers.

Adding color to the Snowy owl’s face creating the texture of the feathers. Photo by Melissa Wagner.

Who, who….. the snowy owl that’s who!

It’s been awhile since I posted so here is a little something about the latest piece I have recently finished.

Just a little background about why some things take me longer to finish than others.

When I am busy at my regular job and also in life, I tend to start new drawings, illustrations, paintings, or other fine art pieces and then decide to slowly walk away and let the idea of leaving them fester inside me until I give myself a non-committal deadline, if that is what you can call it.  I also have a problem with staying on task, which is me self-diagnosing myself with ADHD and using it as an excuse.  I jump from one started project to the next and back to another and the cycle goes on and on and on, until I start to pull my slowly whitening hair out.  You get the picture.  Sooner or later, everything does get done……eventually.

So this brings me to explain the “Who” in my blog title this month.  I started an illustration of the snowy owl mount in the bird exhibit hall at the Field Museum about a year ago.  I drew the outline one Saturday and then put it back in my portfolio and decided to draw something else.

Outline of the Snowy owl illustration.

Well, last September I decided to start adding color.  Every Saturday that I met with my one art group called Artist at the field, I worked on this owl.  I decided that I wanted to use colored pencils.  They are one of those media that I am so comfortable with that I can basically use them in my sleep, plus the fact I have not created anything in colored pencil in a long time, I mean a very long time.  Since the snowy owl doesn’t have too much coloration I opted to use my Derwent drawing pencils.  There are AWESOME!  24 colors in the range and they are dull and muted colors perfect for the owl.  I LOVE THEM!  They are wonderful because they erase with ease just like a graphite pencil.  I figured, why not, so slowly I added color.

Color on the face.

Color on the face.

The face was first.  A little white here, a little brown there, a little blue here.  The muted colors actually worked well on the dark colored paper I picked. I added color as highlights, I added other colors as shadows, but the best part was using the pencils to create the pattern on the wings and back.

Ventral plumage and start of the wings.

Ventral plumage and start of the wings.

Wing and the feather pattern.

Wing and the feather pattern.

The trick is you do not draw out each and every feather. The technique I use is placing color as highlights or shadows where you see it to give the illusion that there are feathers. I also make sure I use pencils that are really sharp.  The tip being sharp is very essential to getting the little feathered texture on the wings and underbelly.

After I had the owl finished, I started on the rodent in the owl’s talons.  The poor little guy never had a chance.  Oh well.  Finishing the rodent was pretty easy, one, it was a small area of the paper, and two, it was nice to actually put strokes of hair on the paper. Once the rodent was finished I started the snow and rock.

Rodent finished and starting the rock.

Rodent finished and starting the rock.

The foreshortening and slant of the rock seemed very odd when I drew it at first.  Once I started to color it in I noticed that I needed to either add more bumps and pot marks or take away where there were too much texture.  All in all, I think I was pretty successful in creating a realistic rock.

Rock and snow.

Rock and snow.

With that last stroke I was able to put down my pencils and breath a sigh of relief.  I had finished one more piece.  I was so excited that when my group colleagues came to get me for lunch they saw me jumping around for joy.  Yay, I got a little excited.  I love that feeling of satisfaction when I finish a piece.  What was also nice was when I placed the finished piece in front of the exhibit mount I was drawing, every person passing by stopped to say how beautiful it was.  And here is the finished Snowy Owl.

Snowy owl, 2014, Dewent colored drawing pencils on Mi-tients paper, 19x25.  Copyright Banasiak Art Gallery and Rebe Banasiak.

Snowy owl, 2014, Dewent colored drawing pencils on Mi-tients paper, 19×25. Copyright Banasiak Art Gallery and Rebe Banasiak.

Snowy owl with mount in exhibit case.

Snowy owl with mount in exhibit case.