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The above is the second and final attempt at an illustration for my daughter’s wedding invitation.  I tried, once again, to choose my colors to send a message within the painting and tried to make one more masculine and the other feminine, but think they could be either in this depending  on the energy of the individuals.  I chose to represent gray horses as they are born a color and slowly turn white over the years. Much different than a truly white horse that is born white. I hoped to represent the idea that we all have gray areas in our lives that  become more clear and less gray as we steadily grow. I wish for them this growth in their relationship and shared journey together.  I chose the colors of blue and yellow running together in the background.  The yellow representing knowledge of self and the blue to represent truth. Through their self truths running together,  they begin to blend and come forward as green(stands for the heart chakra) and filled with unconditional love. For these ideas I went loosely with the different chakra colors for what they represent.  There are many interpretations of what color stands for so I understand the colors that I chose could mean something different to another.

For those that like to see the steps in creating this image, I have included the steps below.

The above is the drawing with the first washes of color to the horses. I made a gray from cerulean blue and halloween orange for the darker shadow shapes. I included light washes of permanent rose for areas of warmth where I saw it on the forms. I also used frisket to save white hairs as well as light gray hairs from this wash tone in the horses’ manes.

In the second step, I made a bluer gray from manganese blue and halloween orange and defined the faces of the horses and some of the strands of hair in the mane. I mixed ultramarine blue and halloween orange to make an even darker gray for the points of their ears, mane hairs and to define the muzzles and nostrils. The eyes were created using combinations of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna. The pinkish areas were created using light aureolin and light permanent rose. This gave me enough representation of the forms to go ahead and work my background.

I made soupy wet washes (large) of aureolin and cerulean blue and fed them into the background very quickly and very wet so that they began to run together.  I then picked up the board and tipped it this way and that so the colors began to run together and hint at a bit of green. I allowed this to dry overnight before going on.

Next, I removed the frisket on the mane and forelock areas and began working in strands of gray in all shades. I also detailed the eyes and furthur grayed the pigment around them. This was the stage where I tried to balance everything and punch my darks.

   final painting

Above is a painting that has taken much thought and stretched me to the maximum of my abilities. It began with a request from my daughter for a watercolor, by me, for her wedding invitation.  I felt honored by the request and had visions of all the colorful things I could try. Visions of two hands clasping, flowers, a pathway through a beautiful landscape, etc. Then she said, “I would like it to be two horses touching noses, perhaps. Could you make one decidedly feminine and the other more masculine?”  I said, “But, it’s a wedding!”  She said, “We are trying to incorporate something for both of us that means a lot to us through the colors we choose and the invitations and the decorations.”  How could I argue that as I was the one who exposed her to horses, in the first place. Why not?

The first roadblock was finding reference material to work from. There are lovely photos of horses but there is a little thing called plagiarism. Thanks to wet canvas, I found several images that I thought I could work with. BUT!!!!! The light was poor on the subjects, the colors drab and I was going to need lots of help from my own background to pull this off.

The above image is my first attempt and may be the one they use as they like it very much.  I changed the colors of the original horses to gold. I wanted to pass on some hidden meaning that I hope their relationship is  successful and the best it can be as they bring the golden parts of themselves to work toward the best for them and their family. I chose to paint the background in varying shades of copper, like the copper penny, wishing them luck along the way. I had to elongate and bulk up the form of the horse on the right to fit the request for that one to appear as masculine as he does. My daughter pointed out that he ended up looking like her old quarter horse,” Buddy”, when I was finished. Perhaps a little memory of him slipped into my mind as I created him. I had to refine and change some lines on the horse to the left to make her look feminine.  By far, the most difficult task was sculpting the forms in their faces. I used yellow ochre, yellow ochre light, raw sienna, a little burnt sienna, halloween orange and even some quin gold and aureolin before I was satisfied.  The grays around the muzzles and eyes were mixtures of halloween orange and magnesium blue in varying strengths.

I have one more attempt using two other subjects for the next one and changing the color scheme so that she has two to choose from. I will post it if it should be halfway presentable.

Thank-you to fellow blogger and friend, June Malone, who has gone before me in wedding invitation illustration. Everytime my mind said, “I can’t.”,  I thought of her and the joy with which she moved forward and created a wonderful image for her relative’s invitation.

  click to enlarge

The above painting was done, following the steps in the post found here. I used an eyedropper to draw the wolf paws but an ink nib to make a finer line on the human legs and feet.  This piece was inspired by my sister. She wanted me to try to take my previous piece, re-draw it, and insert childrens feet dancing. She asked that I work with the color red indicating the first chakra energy.  She wanted me to attempt to make the legs and feet of the human appear as though they blended with the reds of the background and not be as prominent as the foreground wolf paws. What I was striving for here was energy, earth, movement and union. I hope I have at least touched on some of these things.

  click to enlarge

On March 1st of this year, Eva posted a beautiful poem titled “wolf summer”.    Much of her poetry stimulates strong visuals in my mind’s eye.  Sometimes she encourages me to try to illustrate what I see. I struggled with this and set it aside. Everytime I tried to draw wolf paws, they did not satisfy me.  The other day, I felt a need to do something wildly creative and had read a post on Creativity Journey where Myrna used an eyedropper and ink to draw her image. I had already drawn many “Lucy” paws and elongated them until I felt they looked like wolf paws.  I could not find adequate reference materials to feature wolf paws only how their legs might look while running, so my composition was designed using Lucy paws in all sorts of running/moving positions.

The above drawing was done with an eyedropper, but I did not blot my lines with a tissue as Myrna’s post described. I drew very quickly so the ink would still be wet and spritzed the surface of the paper so the ink bled irregularly from the marks. My hopes were to create the impression of dirt being churned up by the running feet.  I wish I had quickly snapped a picture of the drawing prior to spritzing. I liked the effect the eye dropper drawing created in my line work.  After this dried, I flung frisket across the surface (rather than tapping) to  create white streaks and dots to emulate movement and create texture.

Once the frisket dried, I began painting the washes. It takes some patience and acceptance to work with watercolor and ink. Even though I used waterproof ink, there is still some gray residue that gets lifted into the pigment that tends to gray the image a little.  I always have to do multiple washes to achieve the color I want in these. To finish, I brightened the legs and paws with white gouache and removed the frisket after it dried.

Eva also creates beautiful art!

 click to enlarge

On March 2nd, blogger Yousei  thanked me for the use of my painting for her banner as she had wanted something new at the top of her blog.  Thank-you, Yousei.  We e-mailed a little back and forth and the task of coming up with something pertinent, hopefully to her blog, became the next project I undertook.  I repeat, I do NOT consider myself an illustrator. Designing a banner took some measuring skills as they are a certain size. Even as close as I tried to measure my watercolor paper, I still had to crop the above image a little on the bottom. I know. No big deal, but it was for me, Miss  NON-TECHNICAL!

Here is the thought behind the banner.  Yousei’s blog is a writing blog, primarily poetry. You can check it out, here.  She uses the name Yousei Hime which translated means “fairy princess”.  Her blog name, Shiteki Na Usagi, stands for “poetic rabbit”.  She likes blue bonnets.  She was able to send me a picture of her favorite rabbit.  However, the thought that came to my mind was that I don’t do princesses.  🙂   I searched through my drawings from life drawing and found a simple line drawing of a woman that I thought looked feminine and right for the part and drew her on the right side of the banner.  I then went in search of “bunnies” in different positions as I was not too intrigued with just the idea of one rabbit and found a lovely assortment of poses I could use. I carefully placed her favorite rabbit looking at her.  It is the little gold one facing her.  I decided to keep the woman looking pensive as though she is  hearing the rabbit speak to her through her mind’s eye.  I rendered the other rabbits all in variations of the same color so they appeared to be of the same warren or family. I overlapped and entertwined their shapes, one atop the other, not unlike verse I hoped.  The bluebonnets were rendered using pointillism in order to supply more color and variation. 

I first thought rabbits would be an easy subject material to work with, but not so. Other than their ears and eyes they are like an oval or a ball, neccessitating my search for the ins and outs of their form.  I will return to trying to paint them again in the future.

Two weeks ago I visited Eva’s blog and found this poem titled “1:37am sleepless”. I was impressed and commented because it brought sights and sounds and movement alive for me through the way she worded it.  I am not a writer but have taken an interest in what a few writers are doing so I follow them. To make a long story short, Eva replied to my comment asking if I would try to illustrate her poem. The above is my attempt to do so.  Let me say, right up front, that I am not an illustrator. I rely heavily on what I see to create a drawing or painting. In preparation for this painting, I drew numerous figures. I had some figure drawings from my sessions of life drawing and I have several figure books. I had to come up with figures I saw in my mind when I read her poem so some of these have been fattened up. Two have tops from one pose and legs from another. I actually got the lady looking over her shoulder from turning and staring at myself in the mirror to see how my body twisted and how much of the side of her head I’d need to include. The yellow taxi that seems to be soaring in for a landing (incorrect perspective on that) happens to be what my Jetta looks like as I stare down its’ side from behind.  OK, the pre-drawings were done.

Next I decided  how I wanted to lay it out. I hope I captured a viewpoint a little above the street. I chose to overlap the women leading one’s eye across the page in a serpentine manner and including a post in the background. The light source isn’t defined in the hopes that the yellow casts all around would suggest street lamplight. I tried to capture sadness in the little blonde woman in the foreground, the energy of the smoker swirling  her cigarette in the background, the clicking of heels with the blonde walking away and the taxi pick-ups with the woman reaching for the back door of the taxi starting to open for her. I tried to develop the personality of a lady of the evening in the facial expression of  the foreground lady in green.

I realised how little of streetlife I knew as I painted this. I’ve only seen these women featured in police documentaries on TV or seen fleeting pictures in photo magazines that accomplished photographers have taken.  This is pretty much the vision I had when I read Eva’s poem. There are things I wish I had done better and they would include more lost edges, more abstract look and a darker and more somber scene.  Next time! There is always something we wish we had captured a little better.

Thanks Eva!

Below are mini’s cropped from the above painting. I thought they were interesting. Click any of the images to enlarge.

My sister’s (Nancy Williams) book, Yoga Therapy for Every Special Child, is about to be released! Congratulations Nancy! I hope you reach out to many by sharing your program this year and in the years to come.

When Nancy began writing her book, she asked me to illustrate it. I drew and redrew to attempt to tailor my drawing skills to what she needed to best illustrate her text. This consisted of creating  simple line drawings of yoga poses to go along with her approach to yoga therapy for special children. I learned that I needed to push back self-expression and “draw out” the excess lines so the poses would be revealed in an easy illustration for the reader to assimilate.

For more on illustration check out Curious Crow’s new post on the subject.

June Malone has also talked about illustration.

Thank-you to Jay Bastian for his careful tutelage in Photoshop. Without these skills, I would not have known how to submit my drawings digitally.