A good hair day at last!

I have probably prattled on quite a bit about how much trouble I have drawing hair. I think because I find it so difficult I tend to leave it until the last thing to do. It always ends up being a bit of an afterthought and/or, in a rush to get things finished, I don’t pay it as much attention as I do the rest of the portrait. Consequently my hair always looks a little …flat.

I have developed a few crafty ways to avoid drawing hair all together; turbans, buzz cuts and my personal favourite negative space!

I think there is a saying something along the lines of if you don’t like doing something, you should tackle it head on (pardon the sort of pun there). Maybe I just made that up. I don’t know, but it sounds like it should be an adage of some sort. So I set myself a challenge to do a hair study. No distracting facial features allowed… yikes!)

I can’t really remember where this reference photo came from. I think it was a video on Instagram and I just took a couple of screen shots with my iPad until I got something I liked. Choosing a braid turned out to be a most fortuitous, albeit unconscious, decision. It enabled me to break it down in to manageable chunks. Literally, I went braid by braid, doing each one individually, before moving on to the next.

For this drawing I used a selection of my Tombow monos; a 6B for the darkest and 5H for the lightest, then an H and a 2B for the in between. I used Cretacolor Monoliths for the bow in her hair.  These are a woodless pencil; so basically solid graphite.  I had hoped they would bring a nice sheen and ‘satin-y’ feel to the ribbon, making it look quite different to the rest of the portrait. Alas, I don’t think you can really see much difference.

Graphite pencil illustration of hair braid

I wanted to add something to finish this drawing. I feel like this is where I fall down a bit with my art work. I have a nice drawing but I don’t really know how to elevate it to the next level so to speak. So after weeks (and weeks) of procrastinating (and some encouragement from the amazingbelindaxiaillustration, I finally took the plunge deciding to apply gold leaf to the background.

I have never, ever, done any gold leafing before, but I always think it looks super cool and how hard can it be?! It’s just gluing paper to paper right? Craft 101. Yeah. No. When they say gold leaf is delicate they are not kidding. Oh my god. This stuff tears and breaks in to tiny little pieces as soon as you touch it! Consequently I now have a house full of little bits of gold leaf.

The finished product may look a little ‘rough’ but I actually didn’t want a perfectly smooth gold background. I am pretty happy with the end result. What do you think?

TOOLS

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?  Not quite!  I managed to knock over two more Myer Fashions on the Field illustrations this week with just one more left to do.. phew!

First off, this week is the 2011 winner, Angela Menz.  Angela is a milliner and designer who created this winning outfit and headpiece for $400!!  And no my sweet but ignorant husband, she is not wearing a giant vagina on her head … it’s “fashun” darling… FASHUN!  Angela is also responsible for On Track Trend which you can also follow on Instagram if you like keeping up with all things racing fashion.

If you read last week’s post you will know I chickened out of doing a complete colour pencil portrait and ended up with a bit of half and half (graphite and colour mix).  This time I went for it and did my first ever colour pencil portrait.  I am actually pretty happy with how it turned out!

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Second up is 2010 winner Jaydee Menegon who won wearing an $18 dress …bargain!

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Photo Credit 1/2

George’s American Virgin

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll be aware that this year I am embarking on creating my own… how shall we call them…dream? imaginary? projects and clients.  Last week I finished my step by step smokey eye beauty illustration featuring the lovely Matilda from Maya Organic Beauty Therapy.  This week it’s… beer labels!.  Yes, beer labels.  A bit of jump I know from makeup to beer but I am nothing if not adaptable.

There is a bit of beery back story to this one.  My husband has been an avid home brewer since before we were married.  As he likes to remind me I knowingly and willingly married in to this lifestyle.  And I don’t even like beer… at all (which I remind him that he knowing and willingly married in to).

He recently introduced his friend, George, into this weird world of yeast, hops, conditioning, carbonation, gravity. mouth feel and fermentation (I have no idea what these terms mean, I have merely heard them enough to absorbed them in to my vocabulary).

In honour of George’s first brew they asked for a specially designed beer label.

The guys came up with the name “Maiden Voyage”.  Because it was George’s first brew: “Maiden” and because the ‘Brewery’ is a 1921 train carriage that sits in our backyard (long story – not relevant to this long story).

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The brief was annoyingly suprisingly specific: a hot chick wearing a train drivers cap with an American flag (in reference to this beer being an American Pale Ale).  And she had to have big boobs… naturally.

Miss Deadly Red is an English model who I first came across on Instagram @missdeadlyred.  As soon as I heard busty beer wench – she came to mind (I hope she’s not insulted by that).  The original image is based around a photograph from Miss Deadly Red’s Instagram account.  Mind you, agreement to the final image was struck only after SEVERAL drafts and there’s not much resemblance to Miss Deadly Red in the finished product.

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I ended up not going as “busty” as the boys would like.  But I did get a lot of the other elements they wanted in; the American flag in the background, the train-drivers cap; and she’s even sporting a vintage American Express Railway Company badge with her name “Georgie” and “01” (in reference to this being the first batch of Maiden Voyage).

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As this will ultimately be a beer label and really no bigger than 10cm x 10cm, the colours need to be quite strong and crisp.  I’ve gained a bit more confidence working with Photoshop after my last project so decided to try my hand a digital colouring again.  And here she is…FINAL-V2

I was under severe time pressure to get this finished before all the beer was drunk! and I only just made it!  If I had a bit more time there’s a couple of things I would fix.  My main problem is I feel like the top half of the picture dominates because the background and the cap are such strong colours.  I did end up deepening the colours on the denim overalls and the badge but I still think the bottom half is a little ‘soft’ in comparison to the top and gets a bit lost.

Also the skin colour is a bit off.  I am pretty woeful at matching or picking colours.  If I pick what I think is a good skin colour it is likely to end up being a weird green-grey shade.  I did discover that you can look up hex codes online for all sorts of things: skin. eye colour, denim!. I used www.color-hex.com.  It is a really helpful a shortcut.

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Overall the brewers were pretty happy with “Georgie” and I now have a list of about ten upcoming brews in need of labels!

Cheers 🍺🍺🍻🍻

Photo credit 1/

New Year: New Goals -Time to get some perspective!

Last year I achieved some pretty serious personal goals and a couple of artistic ones.  I started my blog, embarked on a couple of collaborations ,which will hopefully come to fruition later this year, and generally committed a lot more time to my art.

This year (apart from cracking the elusive 1000 followers on Instagram).  I want to do more collaborations and commissions.  I suppose it is a bit about moving my art from “hobby” status in to something more like a “job”.

Secretly I have always had this unfulfilled desire to be a commercial artist.  To have people contact me with fabulous projects that just cater perfectly to my style of illustrating.  Calls from Gucci or Alexander McQueen to head to Europe and illustrate their latest runway collection from my front row seat next to one of those Kardashian people.  Or perhaps Vogue magazine want me to illustrate the top five breakout models of the 21st Century.  Hey, Beyoncé wants a family portrait?  Sure just let me check my calendar (or should that be get your people to contact me people Bey).

I know, I live in a fantasy world.  I suspect the reality of commercial illustration is a hell of a lot different to a fully paid trip to Milan, where I bash out a couple of illustrations, have cocktails with Karl and Anna and then head home, first class of course.  No doubt it’s a hard slog, some crappy, boring, ordinary jobs and not a lot of money!

I have, in the past, been requested to do a couple of small projects and I find the reality of having to draw something that somebody else wants you to draw a little frustrating!  I wanna draw what I wanna draw not what you want me to draw! (No, I don’t want to draw your baby!… unless of course it’s dressed in Dolce and Gabbana … then maybe I’ll think about it.  Oh Blue Ivy, Rumi and Sir can wear whatever they want Bey)  Truth be told I would probably be a pretty sucky commercial artist but I can still dream from time to time!

So I figured if Gucci ain’t coming to me I’m going to Gucci.  Well kind of…  I’m making my own “dream” projects.

“Yeah I’ll be king when dogs get wings
Can I help it if I still dream time to time”

– It’s Good to Be King – Tom Petty

The Beauty Pitch

I have been a bit keen to try my hand at some makeup illustrations.   You know a bit like MAC makeup have but something slightly more sophisticated or “arty” than just a one-dimensional template.

I think lots of creatives get inspired by other creatives but it is important to give credit where credit is due!.  For this project I am totally inspired by the work of New Zealand artist, Kimberley McCone, (top left www.kimberleymccone.co.nz) and Sandra Suy (bottom left www.sandrasuy.com)   (I think the images on the right are also Sandra Suy’s but they are not referenced on Pinterest).

So I pitched my concept to my lovely beautician, Emmi, who owns and runs Maya Organic Beauty Therapy.  She was totally onboard, although I sensed a bit of trepidation at the thought of posing makeup free.  Fortunately one of her staff, Matilda, happily volunteered (or had her arm twisted… I’m not entirely sure what went down!).  When I received Matilda’s makeup free selfie I was absolutely gobsmacked at what a natural beauty this girl is!  And I feel a bit sheepish adding makeup to her already gorgeous face!

Catching the light

I have to confess that this is my second attempt at drawing Matilda.  The first one I messed up and managed to make Matilda look a bit… strange!  It seems so obvious now where I went wrong but at the time I couldn’t figure out what the problem was and persevered with it far longer than I should have.  Clearly her left eye is like a centimeter higher than her right and a bit smaller, giving her a very “wonky” eyed look!

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Once I’d accepted that I would have start all over again I was determined to fix those eyes up.  I felt like it was more than just the height difference that had messed me up.

Matilda had taken a selfie with her mobile phone for me to use as a reference photograph and I had a feeling that maybe this was the source of my problems.  I did a bit of research to try to figure out what was going wrong and hopefully rectify things.

First off ‘the closer a camera is to your face, the larger your nose looks, the smaller your ears look and the more slope is applied to your forehead’ www.Gizmodo.com.  Secondly, if the camera is close to your face (i.e. arms length) and you look directly down the lens you may end up looking cross-eyed!

Finally, catch lights are the reflection of the light source on the surface of the eyes.  Catch lights can be different shapes, sizes and brightness depending on the light source itself.  There can be one in each eye or multiples, but they should be the same in each eye.  The most natural look is a round catch light.

The conventional position of catch lights is at 10 or 2 o’clock.  Allegedly the earliest portrait painters found that the most pleasing balance resulted when either of those positions was used.  Catch lights below 9 or 3 o’clock can look unnatural.  No catch lights at all will make the portrait a bit dead eyed.

Since the eyes had caused me so much trouble the first time round I went for the most conventional and allegedly aesthetically pleasing look; one round catch light in each eye at 2 o’clock.

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Second times a charm … almost

Second time around went a bit better but I ended up doing a lot more shading and detail to the entire face than I had initially planned.   My original idea had been to keep it quite simple and just detail the eyes, mouth and perhaps a little bit of the nose but once I start I can’t stop.

I didn’t really know what to do with the hair.  I didn’t want to spend too much time on it as it as it isn’t the focus of this drawing (I’ll hit my hairdresser up when I want to do a hair portrait which will be like never).

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I did this picture of Dutch model Daphne Groeneveld ages ago.  She had platinum blonde, almost white hair, styled in elaborate braids and dreadlocks.  On that occasion rather than try to draw the blonde hair, I focused on emphasising the low lights or shadows in the hair.  It gave it a more stylised effect rather than a realistic one but it was quite effective.  As Matilda has very blonde hair I thought I would try the same idea.

final-blog1.jpgIt’s all about Perspective

I am still not entirely cool with her eyes.  As my husband pointed out – ‘it’s all about perspective”.  If you compare the full face portrait with the close up, the cross-eyed look only really becomes apparent from a distance (i.e. in the full face portrait).  I guess I have learnt a valuable lesson about using selfies as a reference photograph and I will take a bit more care in the future.

Part 1 is complete and now to add the “makeup”.  My Photoshop skills are a bit limited (and my makeup application skills even more so!) so this will be a new challenge… stay tuned!

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The Tools

Arches Drawing Paper 185gsm smooth A3

Tombow mono drawing pencils 

Staedtler Mars Lumograph black 6B