Blue Iguana in Affinity Designer

Iguana graphic drawn in Affinity Designer

No, the iguana isn’t actually blue, but I thought it could do with a touch of something to break up the yellow-greens. (And frankly, titling drawings isn’t my strong suit). I started drawing this iguana in Affinity Designer a year or two ago, decided to work on it yesterday (because COVID-19, and because the dog wanted me to sit on the sofa with her), couldn’t remember what settings I was using for the black line work, and ended up just adding the color bits today.

I was pretty happy with the end result, given that it will always, always be unfinished, but holy hell did it get wrecked every time I tried to export an SVG from Affinity Designer! It got wrecked when I exported from my iPad (where it was drawn), and it got wrecked when I saved it to iCloud then exported from my iMac.

So, PNG, it is. Finite dimensions are go.

My wallet’s unwilling to open up for Illustrator.

My attention span’s unwilling to spend time figuring out if I exported incorrectly.

And imaginary iguanas are unwilling to conform to anyone else’s sense of color.

The October 2017 Smart Art Box: We Finally Played with These Awesome Acrylics!

What came in the October 2017 Smart Art box.
What came in the October 2017 Smart Art box: brushes, one canvas, three pouches of Sennelier Abstract acrylic paint, a set of eight nozzles for those pouches, and an instruction/information pamphlet. We replaced the included canvas with two 8″x8″, pre-primed canvases from our local Blick (née Utrecht).

2017 was one hell of a year. You all know most of the awful that went down last year, the stuff that has had an impact on a global scale. But it was a difficult year for my wife and I to get a lot done on a personal level, too, because of changes at her job. She had to make three trips to Wisconsin, learn SQL, learn some other stuff, study a lot, take several tests, earn several certifications, and work as part of a team to smoothly transition a hospital and medical school from one medical records system to another.

Our materials are all laid out.
All laid out. In addition to the Blick canvases, I brought my tube o’ brushes to the table. (And that table, by the way, is gloriously covered in a disposable paper tablecloth with plastic-like backing, mostly so I don’t frustrate my wife.)

It wasn’t nearly as much fun as it sounds.

My big brush.
This brush looked more my size for initially covering the canvas. I suspected that a bit of yellow ink stain on the bristles wouldn’t matter much when working with heavy-bodied acrylics.

But 2018 has arrived. That transition has been made, smoothly or otherwise, and over the four-day weekend my wife had for Christmas, we finally got a chance to dig into the pile of Smart Art boxes that have taken up residency in our dining room.

Sennelier Abstract in purple.
This is Sennelier Abstract paint in purple. It spreads on canvas wonderfully.

Because it struck us as a less-worry/more-fun sort of scenario, we opted to do the October 2017 Smart Art box, which featured Sennelier Abstract acrylic paint pouches.

A squirt of Sennelier Abstract in vermillion.
This is a squirt of Sennelier Abstract in vermilion, directly from the pouch without any nozzles attached, against a canvas swirled with purple and titanium white. I just really liked the shape of this squirt, and how visually obvious it is that Abstract is a yielding, pliable acrylic.

This was my first time playing with heavy-bodied acrylics since probably sometime in the 1980s. I didn’t know how to properly use those acrylics back then. I don’t know much more now. But I do know that pouched Sennelier paints are smoother, creamier, and way more fun to work with than those other, tubed acrylics were back in the day.

Wet, mostly finished, canvases painted with Sennelier Abstract acrylics.
These are our (mostly) finished canvases. Mine is the redder of the two, while Linda’s incorporates more purple. Linda liked using the various nozzles that came with the paint pouches. I liked using the simplest nozzle for making distinct lines, but my favorite tool on this project was an angled brush. We would both decide, later, that the edges of both paintings needed to be finished, and I would decide to add more white to my canvas.

Linda also enjoyed the Sennelier paints. Her point of comparison was to cheap, bottled acrylics, rather than stiff, tubed paint. But we both noticed the differences in working with Sennelier Abstracts, and we both agreed that we love this paint!

Linda and I with our paintings.
Linda—she’s the one in the apron with the “L” on it—and me with our paintings, before the final touches would be made. Even when working from the same source material, as was the case for this project, our end products end up nothing alike. If you want to see more of how our perceptions and expressions differ, see here, here, here, or here.

We both also agree that we’d like to add black, blue, and yellow to the trio of colors from the Smart Art box, and that we want to paint more canvases. We painted these first pieces on Christmas day, and we viewed doing the project as a Christmas present to ourselves and each other—but especially to ourselves as a couple.

Linda measuring where our new paintings will be hung.
Much like painting 8″x8″ canvases with small brushes, I lack the patience for measuring and hanging small works together in an aesthetically pleasing fashion. Fortunately for me, my wife has more patience than pretty much anyone else I know. (She also has a spirit level, and she knows how to use it.)

Our new paintings finally took their place in our living room mini-gallery on New Year’s Day, and now we’re itching to make that gallery grow!

Our new paintings are hung.
Finally, our new Sennelier Abstarct acrylic paintings are hung next to one of the bookshelves in the living room, just above an acrylic piece that Linda painted as part of a team-building exercise at her work. We’re completely cool with hanging our own work, and are in fact currently having our ink drawings from the July 2015 Smart Art box custom framed!

Kudos to Smart Art for introducing us to a lovely paint that we might never have otherwise tried, and to Sennelier for making that paint in the first place!

Bald Woman with Cape

Bald Woman with Cape Autodesk SketchBook iPad Pro Apple Pencil Sketch
Bald Woman with Cape. (Because I’ve temporarily given up on fanciful titles.) Autodesk SketchBook on iPad Pro with Apple Pencil.

I’m still very, very down with Apple’s Smart Keyboard as my favorite iPad Pro accessory, but I’m definitely warming to the Apple Pencil! (And it was nice, last night, to just draw without thinking of making things that can be converted to print-on-demand products.)

Blue-Ringed and Blood Shot

Edited November 6th, 2017, to link up the art supplies.
Updated November 22nd, 2017, to note the passing of Gumball on November 21st. R.I.P., Gumball.

A colorful. close-up drawing of a cartoon blue-ringed octopus with a blood-shot eye, rings that escape into the water, and bubbles all around.
Blue Ringed and Blood Shot. Copic Multiliner SP 0.3, Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pens, and Derwent Inktense pencils on Fluid 4 x 6 cold press watercolor block. October 24th, 2017.

This was actually drawn on the 24th of last month. I sat down to draw with a purpose in mind: To make a suitable graphic for my next post on Medium. I ended up drawing an octopus, which, frankly, happens more often than it should.

I’ll probably never post about octopuses on Medium. I can’t swim, I’ve never owned a salt water aquarium, and Gumball at the Aquarium of the Pacific is in hiding every time I visit—so all I know about octopuses I’ve learned from reading what someone else already knew.

I know enough to hazard a guess, though, that if a blue ringed octopus had a bloodshot eye, the vessels probably wouldn’t be red.

Why post a piece I’ll never put to good use? So my wife can see it later.

Why post it now? Because I’d like to get at the next sheet on that watercolor block!

Slowvember Suddenly Dawned on Me

There are two pictures today, because my Slowvember project has gone from “Hmm. What should I draw?” to “Oh! What am I drawing?!?”

Gold-edged art board with t-square, traingle, compass, eraser and drawing pencil on a black surface.
My Slowvember 2017 project-in-progress: previously-inked Canson Fanboy Manga Art Board with Wescott 12″ Junior T-Square and C-THRU triangle, Blick Large Spring Bow Compass and eraser, and a Derwent Graphic 2B pencil.

Yesterday, I had no idea what I was going to draw for this project. I responded in a logical way: I broke out the drafting tools.

I divided the art board roughly in half—both horizontally and vertically—with a t-square, traced the inside and outside of a triangle from a few positions at every innermost corner, and made circles with a compass at random intervals.

This was my first time using a Derwent Graphic Pencil, and possibly my first time using a 2H. I’m not a big fan of graphite, but I liked the feel of this pencil, and I’m hoping to give the 8B that came with the set a run once Slowvember runs out. (I also had to check out Wikipedia’s information on pencil grading, because—again—not a big fan of graphite.)

Derwent Graphik Line Maker pen on a gold-edged art board with black lines suggesting mountains and either a sunrise or sunset.
Lines suggest forms. Derwent Graphik Line Maker 0.5.

Once I was done playing with the drafting tools, I began inking the lines that I was sure I wanted to keep and use. The obvious shapes were a flat, jagged, mountainous form and a 3313 RPM vinyl record, the latter of which could easily be mistaken for a sunrise or sunset.

The challenge, then, is to take those conspicuous shapes, use them, and find a way to make them become more than what they obviously are.

Slowvember: Making the Frame

I’ve learned one quick lesson this Slowvember: Canson Fanboy Manga Art Boards don’t bear up well when too much water is applied. I expected it to perform more like Strathmore Bristol, but nope. The board I began Slowvember with has been replaced, as have the Inktense pencils I wanted to use.

Slowvember 2nd 2017

One objective I want to accomplish with this project is to make a piece that will be simple to mat and frame. I have not just a tendency, but a compulsion to work to the edges, so, on the rare occasion that one of my pieces gets framed, there’s a professional framer involved.

This was my primary motivation for using manga board: The guides around the board’s perimeter necessarily constrain me, forcing me to be conscious of, and work within, the established layout.

I inked over those rules and numbers with my Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, taking the black to the edges. And, since frames were a part of my thought process, I inked the outermost section with old, dried-up, gold ink from Winsor & Newton. It was thick and clumpy, and provided great coverage when applied with angled synthetic brushes.

I still haven’t landed on an actual concept for the project, but I know what my next step is, what tools are involved, and that it will be important to this piece’s discovery process.


Slowvember’s Slow Start

A very short, ink black Derwent Inktense pencil, held in rough, dry fingers.
That’s my ink black Derwent Inktense pencil, freshly sharpened, held over a Canson Fanboy Manga Art board. I could probably do with a new pencil. And maybe some hand lotion.

To be fair, I didn’t know that Slowvember was a thing until it was already underway. The point of Slowvember, according to the Society of Visual Storytellers, is to follow Inktober with a challenge “…to slow down the pace and work on one image and make it as good as you can.”

“While Inktober is about making a new image daily, Slowvember is about quality and getting something really good.”

And, since documenting the process is a part of the Slowvember spirit, I thought I would start at the start. Inktense pencils seem like a great way to begin a month-long art project which will probably end with more traditional inks and maybe even some Derwent Graphik Line Painters.

Are you participating in this year’s Slowvember? Feel free to comment below.

And don’t forget to hashtag!