Monday, 8 December 2014

the creative process

Monday, 8 December 2014
Today, my wonderful husband took our toddler to playgroup, and I got to play with my pencils. I have been wanting to do something more to my Geisha sketch, but was waiting for the right time. I played around with different sketches first.

Exploring the subject

From my original picture in my sketch book, I took a copy on see-through paper and flipped it to see what she would look like facing a different direction (centre). I even experimented with a bit more of her kimono (left) but in the end, decided I liked my original sketch, best.

Down to business

Next I broke out my amazingly old (like from high school) water colour pencils and a selection of brushes. I was a little nervous about tackling this picture, because it's been years since I used this medium - decades!

But the only way you'll know how to use them again, is by picking them up. So I did, and learned some new things about my technique. I used more colour than I wanted on her face, but I've always been heavy on shades, so next time go lighter.

I also wanted to have a delicate look with the water colour pencils, but discovered the nature of colouring with pencils, leads to blocks of colour instead. More experimentation with blending is required. So how did it turn out...?

Click to enlarge

As suspected, my paper buckled due to being a regular sketch pad, instead of proper water colour paper. I'm not entirely happy with how it turned out (yeah, my own worst critic) because it wasn't the look and feel I was going for. I wanted the piece to be more wistful and delicate.

Even though I'm not wowed by the final product, I'm still glad I took the plunge and started experimenting - because that's the only way I'll learn to use any medium better.

I'm toying with the idea of doing the same picture, differently, as a challenge for myself. Actually that's the perfect time for me to mention Linda M's blog, who is going to start a creative challenge by drawing a picture a day. Put your hand-up over there, if you're interested.


  1. Gorgeous! I love the colorwork and I actually like that the blocks of color are there though I relate to the surprise you must of felt at the water color pencils. I have only played with them to reinforce line in a watercolor painting-very gingerly lines-because I wasn't sure of what they might do otherwise.
    I admire how tenacious you are in reproducing your work to try out different options. I think you chose the best composition out of the lot-you have described a whistfulness so expression on her face with the implied breeze going through her hair is enough.

    I was also surprised at how small your page is. I was assuming a much larger paper for some reason. Again though, the size can really play off the delicacy of the moment you are trying to capture.

    I love the folds and once again my eye is drawn to her neck thanks to your pencil work. That neck! lol.

    By the way, if anybody reading is interested in joining the challenge you mentioned, I just wanted to say that its for all levels-even somebody who just doodles or has even less experience than that. The only real requirement is that members participate and intereact with each other. The rest of the challenge is going to be flexible so that members can feel free to explore their own artistic goals. Thanks for mentioning it!

    1. Thanks for your feedback, it all helps. Those watercolour pencils are tricky, because you need to colour in blocks, but I also want to have the gentle flow of watercolour. I'm still learning, but its fun. Less is more. :)

      The sketch pad is A5, and I transfer to a piece, roughly A4, which gives me room for background. I figure if I'm going to experiment, I might as well keep it to a manageable size and upscale as I get more confident. I use the back of recycled A4 paper to mess around with sketches too. My resources are many and varied - make do!

      I wanted to mention the challenge because I never know who reads my blog, who may also have a budding artistic side. The challenge is a perfect excuse to mess around with whatever inspires individuals. It doesn't start with the expectation of art worthy of hanging in a gallery, but is more about the process of creating instead.

      Because we all struggle with shaking the cobwebs off, if our creative side has been in storage for a while, lol. Mine has been for like two decades now! ;)

    2. Did you see that Ted talk I posted? The man had not done art in a few years and decided to do art everyday and found out to his own surprise that he is an illustrator! He also got a show at the end of the year iin a gallery which is not easy feat. And I think he sells his art.
      In my dreams I would like the challenge to be a collective-whereby we do end up selling commercial work. But those ideas are in the infancy stages.
      Again, anybody is welcome to join!

      I was looking for a sample of work to show you but there are alot out there-, I really love the work of Matisse as you know. He and a few others of his era were very intrigued by the Orient which included the Middle east and India to them and sometimes you see the giesha in the background of their work-most often in lovely colors and stronger shapes like you used.
      Even if you don't consider this a success because you had a mood you wanted to convey-do you yourself see that there is a direction you can take that is bolder in some ways than your original idea that is actually just as successful.
      You said you are not happy how it turned out and you pointed out the "flaws". But what about the strengths? Do you see them? I do.

    3. I knew you favoured Matisse, and googled to see what images you're referring to in this context. He was impressed greatly through the ornate Eastern Cultures, and I get that bold context now. Truly, the Geisha's dark-black hair isn't something which can be toned down, but I'm still going to experiment anyway, lol.

      But your suggestion has given me more ideas where I can take this particular Geisha too. I will pursue the wistfulness I'm after, but also try a more bolder application of colour in a separate piece. Too many great ideas here! ;)

      I'm not sure I see it as a "strength" but your message has filtered through so I can experiment further, and that's always the fun part. Thanks for your honest appraisal.

    4. I think that the hair will be dependent on light source? I am terrible at doing hair-in all mediums- but my daughter always says, "highlights mom".

      Its strength is in your original drawing-great proportion and perspective. I think bold is a nice contrast to the message. If you are more inclined to a softer piece then I agree to that-but I think this piece in itself-as a stand alone-has a lot to offer-despite the flaws.

    5. By "agree" I mean that I am supportive of it and your ideas for it. Not like I am cracking a whip. lol. It sounded funny to me after I posted.

  2. It's good! I'm not sure about the wistfulness, though. Somehow that downturn in the corner of the mouth seems almost petulant. I can quite put my finger on her expression. I wonder what she's thinking!

    I agree, there's too much colour in the face, or not enough in the forehead...probably needs a better balance.

    I think that's a great idea, doing the same picture differently...different media, maybe? I remember in art at high school, we were required to do a composition (the same one) in several different media.

    You're making me think....maybe I could take up drawing again??? ;-)

    1. Thanks for your honest appraisal. It gives me things to reflect on. Most Geisha have white make-up all over, and that's what I wanted, but once I got into shading I knew I stuffed it up, but couldn't go back. I've got more ideas to work on now that I did this first attempt.

      I know what you mean about her expression. Every time I try to give her a face, it's like she's saying, "well, what are YOU thinking". She wants me to experiment more, I think. Geisha (artist) have evolved in the Japanese culture for thousands of years, so she's keeping an experienced eye on how I develop, lol. ;)

      Different media? I have some strange ideas brewing. I'd love to know what you experimented with at high school though. Was there a medium you loved the most? Oh, and PS: I'd LOVE to see you draw again! Whatever inspires you tomorrow, get a pen and paper and start scratching away. It's fun. It does bring back memories of youth, of the simpler times when imagination seemed like a superpower, lol. ;)

    2. Is there an element in a Geisha that you relate yourself Chris? She looks highly intelligent and I know that she is. You are also highly intelligent BUT there is an almost hands off sexuality to her that was given to her by western thought more so than her own culture-is she defiant?
      You can say no, no, and no. I'm just tossing stuff out there to see who she is. I was taught that if I drew a cup it could be a self portrait. If I put a cup and an orange on top that orange can be society-fililng me up or weighing me down-and if a flower is placed turned away it could be my relationships.
      So I am wondering if you have thought about these things-I dont' think about them in everything I do-that would be impossible-but its a good way to see things.

    3. I actually wanted to start drawing plants (snap! foodnstuff, lol) but then went for a portrait as I've always enjoyed drawing faces. I decided I wanted something a little unfamiliar to me, so considered Geisha. To my surprise, when I looked up the meaning, I found the translation was "artist" and how these women dedicate their lives to the pursuit of entertainment and entertaining others. I found my perfect subject, even though I didn't realise it!

      If there's any confusion between East and West, you're seeing my struggle as a Westerner, capturing an Eastern iconology. The more I try and capture her, a little bit of me rubs off - hence the constant distancing to try and appreciate her in a new way. Exploring different media will help me too.

      I like the analogy with the cup, and it makes perfect sense too. When we are painting we are putting ourselves into the picture, as much as trying to capture the essence of what we draw. It's funny, because I'm not looking for myself in this Geisha, but I'm surprised how much she's reflecting aspects of me too. ;)

    4. I don't think you created a confusion between East and West-I think that the confusion exists already:) I was wondering if she symbolized something for you or if it was just a topic you found fascinating. Its natural that a part of you will rub off onto your work-its your work! Again, I actually prefer the boldness you presented to the softer approach-it just seems to suit this work-and of course there is preference involved on my end.

  3. Oh, of course, I remember the geisha make-up now.

    I mostly used oils at school, but tried oil pastels and acrylic. I think acrylics were pretty new then (this was in the late 1950's early 60's would you believe). I tried pencil sketches some years ago and did a few things I was pleased with, but nothing since. I would love to learn botanical drawing...comes from the gardening connection I suppose. Time is the problem.

    Will look forward to seeing more of your work. Keep it going.

    1. If you ever want to expand on your skills to include botanical drawings, I would love for you to join us in this challenge. Sometimes the five minutes of doodling is all you need-other times you might end up clearing space to do a full work. The challenge itself is to put a mark on paper-if its a dot and nothing for that day then so be it. No pressure-to join that is-but also a no pressure challenge.

    2. I graduated in 1991 and we never touched oils - that's interesting how the art curriculum changed. We did dabble in acrylic paints though, and I enjoyed the oil pastels - which I still have, by the way. They're as old as my pencils. I will break them out at some point too.

      As I said to linda M, above, I was originally contemplating a study of plants and I know they will feature at some point. I get your gardening connection, lol. ;)


Throw your pebble into the pool...

Thinking small in a big world...

  © Blogger template Shush by 2009

Back to TOP