Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Step-By-Step Illustration, Part One

I adore when other artists do step-by-step demos of how they work. I usually forget to pick up the camera, or find that the verbal part of my brain has been temporarily suspended while painting, so it's too hard to talk about what I'm doing as I'm doing it. But I thought it was about time for a demo of my own. So, here goes...

1) Rough sketch (from my sketchbook, a few weeks ago). I was thinking about wind, and motion, and sunlight peeking through clouds, and a more muted, late-winter-into-spring color palette:


















2) Sketch transferred very, very lightly in pencil via lightbox to watercolor paper. (Can you see it?):

















3) Here, I've started drawing with colored pencil. I like to have the basic lines and textures on the page before starting the color:


















4) I work in pencil and watercolor, and go back and forth between the two, building up layers of line and color. I've tried to make a piece go faster by laying the color down darker in the beginning, but that approach always seems to backfire. Either the texture doesn't build the way I want, or I panic and think I've wrecked the piece. Slower is better, in this case! Here's the beginning of the color, in a faint wash:

















5) I try to build up the color as much as I can before going back to the pencil line. There's no real formula for this. Sometimes it's just a matter of being bored with one and wanting to go back to the other for a while:

















At this point I'm still not really sure if the piece is going to work or not. I like to call this the "Ohmygawditsawful stage." Seriously, I can't count how many times I've gotten frustrated and started a piece over, only to go back to the original later on. I should really have "Keep Going!" tattooed onto my arm, because that's the only way to get through this stage. Sometimes a short nap, or my kids telling me to step away from the painting helps, too. (I've trained them well!)

Stay tuned for Part Deux, and the final art!

11 comments:

Mary Pierce said...

I also adore when artists post step-by-step directions of their work, so thank you. For what it's worth - I don't think this is awful at all! You've got it all, sun peeking through clouds and trees, wind movement, soft, muted colors. Bravo!

elizabeth said...

Full of energy and verve!
Yes, I think it will work!

Jennifer said...

Aw, thanks, Mary! The awful stage usually comes after looking at it too long and losing all sense of perspective. (Which is where naps come in handy!)

Thank you, Elizabeth! :-)

Marion Eldridge said...

This is spectacular, Jennifer! Loved the step by step - very interesting to me because I have worked in a similar way. I like that you go back and forth. Thanks for doing this.
The piece is gorgeous! So much energy. Stunning! And, will only be more so when complete!

Kirsten said...

This is wonderful Jen, thanks for letting us be a fly on the wall (or the cat on the desk) Everyone has those moments of doubt and pain, just keep rocking. What you create is beautiful!

Jennifer said...

Thank you, Marion! I've enjoyed your process pieces so much, too. Makes me want to try my hand at digital, someday!

And Kirsten, you are too kind! Thank you. :-)

m.b said...

Jennifer - do you size your watercolor paper? Is that the blue masking tape for painting walls? I'm just curious. I usually do watercolor underpainting on my colored pencil work and it makes the paper very ripple-y and warped. I'm trying to work out a way to keep it nice and flat.

Jennifer Lee Young said...

This so great that you shared this with us. I just love the step-by-step illustration process. It looks beautiful. Please keep posting. :)

Jennifer said...

Melinda, yes, it's house painter tape! I was running into the same problem, and only recently discovered this. It works great!

Jennifer, thanks so much! :-)

June said...

This is a lovely step-by-step post Jennifer. It is always refreshing to see how others create their artwork. (And also reassuring to know others go through the "Ohmygawditsawful stage" too!)

Jennifer said...

Thank you, June. Glad you enjoyed it! And I agree, it's comforting to know we all go though that stage. ;-)