Backgrounds and What Goes on Top—Another ViewOctober 7, 2009
Above: I couldn’t sleep on Thursday night so I threw a couple sheep photos from the Fair up on my computer screen and sketched using a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen (most of the lines are now obscured) and Stabilo Tones. This journal has pages of Hahnemühle Gutenberg. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
I don’t have a before image of the background only for this page, but I think you can clearly see what was there. It was a completely painted background (I used acrylic inks). Next I took a silver Brilliance ink pad, and rubbed it on the right and left edges of the paper, over a torn mask so there is a soft wavy demarcation. It is most clearly seen at the left of the page spread, working its way up next to the ewe’s face. When the stamp ink was dry I did some outlining with a purple Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Brush Pen. Next I added a bit of collaged foil paper and a fortune. The last was totally covered by the ewe’s nose, and I didn’t write down what it said before I covered it—something about trying a bunch of things before settling and stability?!
This sketch was made more quickly than other recent sketches. I didn’t know how far I would go with it and I was scribbling with a lot of different colors, knowing my only real plan was to have the pink and magenta figure prominently.
I found that the Pentel Pocket brush pen wasn’t drying on the foil, so it smeared when I wet the first layer of Stabilo Tones for blending. Then I dried everything with the heat gun and that seemed to stabilize the ink lines on the foil. Or I simply stayed away from them with water!
I wanted to post this image because of the “background” discussion I’ve been having on my blog, but also because of my color selections for this ewe. This particular breed of sheep has a lot of pink skin around the eyes and nose and I thought it would work well on the existing background of blues, lavenders, and foil.
But the main purpose of the sketch was to work out some way to handle the coat. In my reference photos of three sheep in the same pen their coats were covered with soil. (They would be sheared before judging so a clean coat was not needed.) This lent a gray aspect to things. I didn’t think that approach would work well with the background colors already in existence. (Though a pink and grey sheep is probably in my future as an acrylic painting!)
If I had been painting the ewe with my watercolors or gouache, I would probably have stayed with my usual color blends and choices and gone after something realistic in color use. Because I was working with my 60-color set of Stabilo Tones, which doesn’t have some colors I would normally use and has other odd colors like beige and peach which I would normally blend, I was able to simply grab colors and give them a try and push away from where I might usually go.
I like the resultant sketch because of that, and know that I will work these color choices into an acrylic painting at some point.
Whether you change media to do it, or simply make different color selections (for instance limiting yourself to a different triad than you normally use), spend some time working out new color approaches in your journal. It’s a painless way to find new favorite combinations or deal with issues like muddy coats.