Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Crafting 1: Dragon-Scale Phone Case

Dragon-Skin Phone Case over Otter Box
Time: 1 day
Materials: Duct Tape, Paint, Crafting Knife (razor/X-acto)
Success Level: Eh?

See directions and tips below.

Hello! So this post is a bit of a crafting failure (or pseudo-failure [see below for why]). As a rule I don't typically do crafting projects; it's just not my area of expertise. However, my Otterbox case has been looking quite decrepit as of late (the softer plastic part was peeling) so I've long been planning to cover it up with duct tape. However I couldn't just have a boring silver finish; I wanted a dragon-scale case. I wish I would've taken more pictures to show the process but it's super inconvenient to take pictures of the thing you normally take pictures with...

Anyways this was a really simple project following the following steps:
1: cut rows of scales into duct tape with a crafting knife
2: lay scales AS NEATLY AS POSSIBLE (one of my failures) on phone case covering entire case
3: brush over scales with colored paint
4: brush upwards over scales with black paint to accentuate the scales

Ways I failed:
1: I cut really sloppy scales of all sorts of different sizes
2: I laid out my scales really messily and didn't really bother to cut out the other openings in the case
2a) I had little wrinkly bits of folded scales
2b) I had some scales almost completely overlapped
2c) I didn't bother to make smooth duct tape edges on my case
3: I used glass paint that is heat-set. Of course I knew better than to but my plastic phone case in the oven, but turns out the paint didn't take to the duct tape, so now it's all peeling off. I think acrylic paint is supposed to stick to duct tape perhaps, but don't quote me on that.
4: I cut the duct tape such that the grain was horizontal though I wanted my scales to have a vertical grain. I kind of achieved this by brushing both the colored and black paint vertically

Other Tips:
1: Find paint that sticks to duct tape
2: If you can find a paint that's supposed to stick to duct tape (probably acrylic ?) also try to find one that's transparent so you maintain the shine of the tape into the scales
3: Cut the duct tape scales with a vertical grain
4: Take the time to cut the scales as neatly and same size as possible
5: Take the time to lay the scales down neatly - try to avoid wrinkles and bunches
6: brush on the black paint stroking upwards so that the paint accumulates in the crevices of the duct tape scale design and accentuates the scales. This also helps to hide any rough edges on the cuts.

I'm really glad I went for it and created my dragon scale phone cover even though I messed up a bit along the way. Overall I think this design has a lot of potential especially in the hands of a crafty person who can cut and place neat scales. I'm not sure how long mine will last since the glass paint I used is flaking off. If all the paint comes off I may try to redo it with my acrylics; or I may decide to redo the whole project; or I may decide to do something else with my peeling case. [Note I plan on getting a new phone within the year which is why I totally don't mind doing whatever with my current phone case]. This design was a ton of fun and even though I wished it would've come out a little better I'm still pretty content with the results! (At least until all the paint falls off)...

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Side Note 1: New Watercolor Palette!

My Old Palette:

My New Palette(s):

My palette has increased!!! My old palette was a hodgepodge of mixed and polluted colors, most of which I only had the scarcest remains of. Starting from the middle right and going around counter clockwise the colors are approximately: Alizarin Crimson, Dioxazine Violet, either Burnt or Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna, Payne's Gray, some mix of Indigo and Ultramarine Blue, Yellow Ochre, and 3 different yellows all of which I believe were polluted versions of Gamboge. The center was a mix of Viridian, Hooker's Green, and Gamboge. Basically the whole thing was a mess and I didn't have enough space for my colors, and some colors I didn't even know what they were. Also out of all of those colors the only ones I had more supply of were Alizarin Crimson, Dioxazine Violet, Payne's Gray, and Gamboge.

Then, a couple of months ago my beautiful amazing mother bought me Hooker's Green, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, and Lamp Black! I don't remember the last time I painted with an actual blue color besides Indigo, and don't get me wrong I love the dark richness of Indigo but I've been yearning for a nice pure blue color. I was also down to the dregs of my burnt sienna, so it was nice to breath a sigh of relief having some backup. Unfortunately though I didn't have any room on my palette and I also decided I didn't want to mix the new colors with the old since most of the old colors had become quite polluted.

Then just a couple days ago I went to a different art store that had an amazing supply of watercolors so I quickly snatched up all of the necessities I was almost out of!!! (Viridian, Indigo, Yellow Ochre, and Burnt Umber). I also bought two nice clean palettes so I could have plenty of space for my colors and I was able to separate them approximately into cool and warm colors. My total supply of water color paints can be seen below.

The Paints:

I feel so spoiled now! I used to have 10ish weird polluted/mixed colors and now I have 13 beautiful hues including a 'real' color blue and 3 lovely shades of green (my favorite color).

In clockwise order I have: Cool - Dioxazine Violet, Lamp Black, Payne's Gray, Indigo, Ultramarine Blue, Viridian, Hooker's Green Dark, and Hooker's Green Light; Warm - Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, Gamboge Yellow, Yellow Ochre.

Plus plenty of mixing space (now that the center isn't an 11th color well) and room for more colors ;)

I'm still going to use up the paint on my old palette, but I'm super excited about all of my new colors and space. The only thing I forgot was that it would've been nice to have a covered palette so that the paint chips don't come off, so I'm actually going to try to design a 3D printed palette cover for my new palettes, and I also have plants for a palette/paint carrier to hold the palettes level and to keep all of my paint in the same spot, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Painting 7: Group Event Canvas Painting

 A Day in the Field
11 in. x 14 in.
Craft Acrylics on Canvas Board
February 2017
1.5 hrs

So this will probably be my shortest post yet since this painting literally took me under two hours and had zero planning/preparation. I created this during a women in engineering canvas painting event. All of the materials were supplied so I used cheap craft paint and cheap, soft brushes. 

There are a couple big projects I've been thinking about and tossing around in my head so I was considering doing a prototype of one of those to sort of lay things would while I had a limited supply of paint and 1.5 hrs to be as creative as I possible could.

Instead I decided to paint something - anything - whatever vision appeared in my head - and just go for it. I wanted to paint non-stop as hard as I could for an hour and a half (since I'm normally a really slow painter) without worrying about the details, without using any references, just purely going off of what was in my head an experimenting with which techniques would work best for the equipment at my disposal.

I had this vision. This is something that I've wanted to paint but not exactly in this form. I wanted to paint something for my dad, or at least something that feels like him. I have this vision of a grand majestic watercolor of fields and trees and pheasants flying overhead and my dog (a beautiful majestic [crazy] German Shorthaired Pointer) poised angled slightly toward the camera, coat gleaming in the sun, foot pointed, muscles rippling - a hunting dog's paradise more or less. This is not that picture. This was a slightly warped picture that popped into my head with a much more simplistic layout, almost whimsical dog meets bird subject. I wanted everything to be strokey and simple but still give off the impression of what the picture was.

Overall I'm really happy with it. I have a couple (one main) issues with it and I was hesitant to event titles this 'Painting 7' since I wouldn't truly consider this a complete actual painting, but I was proud that I displayed what I wanted to displayed, I had a bunch of fun making it, and it mostly matches the vision in my mind.

This was the first time I painted completely without reference (besides for one quick glance at a pheasant to check their coloring and another quick glance at my dog to make sure I had his spots in relatively the right place) [the previous fanart landscape was another picture I did mostly without reference except for the horses]. My goal was to just paint and to see if I could actually put my mind on canvas. I have this notion that I am not a talented enough artist to do that, but at the same time I've never really trusted myself to try, so I wanted to just go for it.

Obviously this is not a very detailed piece. Between the time constraint and the brushes constraint and the materials constraint my main goal was to give it the feeling of a field even though I have big chunky blocks of grass but I still think you can really feel the texture, etc.

[apparently I lied about this being a short post; I can make a novel out of anything]

I was really proud of these birds. Just a couple quick strokes and Voila! I was so unbelievably proud of the bird on the far right (though I wish his shadows and highlights were reversed so they made more sense.) But this was literally 2 seconds work and honestly it's probably one of the best parts of the picture.

Here's my little pheasant. Wish he had a little more shadow variation but I was mainly focusing on color. He is a bit flat though...

This is both my favorite and least favorite part of this piece. Of course it's my puppy and I love him, and overall I think the impression of the dog is decent (though it begs for detail and muscle definition and nice deep shadows) but the rough halo around the dog from later darker additions of grass is what bothers me the most. I wish he had a nice clean outline so event if he wasn't super detailed, he'd still stand out as I wanted him to. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I like his ear though (and event his face shape in general - though the pointing leg could do with much improvement and definition).

Overall this was really great and I definitely want to be a big more free with my painting. The last two paintings were some of my fastest and probably most fun to paint because I did them so much more free form than usual. I'm finally learning not to rely of references so much and to explore life and expression a little more. 

Hopefully this was a good warm-up and I can finish a real new acrylic painting soon ;)
[or maybe I'll just go back and hide in my watercolors; acrylic is scary]

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Fan Art 2: Queen's Thief - Sea of Olives

Sea of Olives
Based off of The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Medium: Watercolor
Time: A week
Size: 11x15 in.
Date: January 2017

Other Fan Art for the same series: Costis & Aris

So this is my landscape fan art for the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner! I was super excited to do this because I have had a couple scenes that I've been wanting to paint for a long time but alas life so I could never find the time. Then Mrs. Turner announced an ARC contest for her new book so I decided I was just going to go for it!!! This is my first watercolor painting in over 4 years, and there are definitely a lot of things I would have done differently (SUGAR D: ) [which if you'd like to hear more about you can see in the progress section below ;) ] but overall it was really fun and I am relatively happy with it! (Especially since I didn't really have a reference for most of it and mostly just made things up as I went - this was especially fun with the horses cause I never knew which color I'd make them until it happened.)

This is a scene from The Thief. This is one of... three (I think) scenes that I've always wanted to paint from the Queen's Thief series. Basically I pictured the Magus, Pol, Sophos, Ambiades, and of course Gen on horseback looking out over the Sea of Olives which is a huge expanse of olive trees planted ages ago for the gods. I ended up doing this painting in a rush, plus I'm super out of practice with watercolors (my first love <3 ), so as I result there is a lot I would have done differently or planned out better but overall I'm super happy that I finished it and that it looks approximately and especially that my horses are up to my roommates standard which is a huge accomplishment since she's the horse master. Anyways I can't describe how much I love this book series and how happy they make me so I was glad I finally got this out there :D

Note: Like I mentioned I did this in a bit of a rush which was both good and bad. The good was that it was a bunch of fun and I got to do things more spontaneously; the bad was that I didn't get a chance to plan things out super well or to make things super accurate to the series. But overall it was a bunch of fun, I regained some (a very very very small amount) of skills with my beloved watercolors, and this was probably the most original [ironic since it's a fan art ;) ], picture I've ever made (since most of my other paintings were from basically a single photo reference and this one was almost purely made up with various references, none of which were represented in entirety or anything close to it).

Work in progress:

These were some of my sketches for the layout of the picture. I wanted them all to be on horses going through the Sea of Olives, but I also wanted to have the effect of the rows upon rows of olive trees rolling over hills and fading off into the distance. I couldn't figure out a good way to have them both among the olive trees and also able to see far into the distance, so eventually I decided to put them up on a bit of a cliff or rocky area with one olive tree in the foreground and giving them the vantage point of seeing all of the trees in the distance.

Here's the original lightly sponged background rows of olive trees. Of course I couldn't keep it simple and probably redid them and roughed them up at least eight times. I also have a nice wash for the sky (which also ended up getting redone by accident). I believe I was using an indigo for the sky and some sort of Frankenstein green color that was in my palette that I think once contained Viridian Hue. Note I also put liquid frisket in approximate locations for the Magus, Ambiades, and Sophos (though I really should have taken the time to draw them out better because this messed me up a lot later on).

Here I added in the second level of olive trees. I also drew in Gen's horse and an approximation of Gen leaning over half terrified, half too tired/sore/weary to care ;) . [Which my roommate pointed out was much too far back on the horse so I had to shift time around a bit later - oh plus the horse vertical front foot was a bit to far forward so I had to shift that back about a millimeter as well ;) ]

I added some more detailing in the background and had the interesting idea of adding a bunch of cool indigo shadows in for the grove [spontaneously deciding the sun was somewhere over on the left ;) ]

SUGAR - this was horrible. I couldn't decide what I wanted to do for the path that they were on and decided that I was going to put a bunch of different flecks of colors on a mostly brown to dark indigo path. Then I thought putting a salt texture might be cool since it's a watercolor technique I never really used to use at all (simply because it makes a mess plus it makes you wait a long time). Unfortunately for some reason I do not have salt in my dorm room, but I do have sugar... so I thought why not? what's the worst it can do? It was horrible - worse than I ever could have imagined. The sugar dissolved in with the paint and dried in a hard sticky mess - I about thought I had ruined my picture but thankfully I was able to sponge and scrub most of it away though of course it had the effect of practically destroying all of that paper - thank goodness it was just were the ground was though so it was just going to be sorts of brownish and non-distinct anyways. [Also note that in addition to sugar I also picked some salt off of some peanut butter pretzels and add them to the monstrosity ;) ]

Here is my fixed path which I gave a dried sponge texture. I also tried to make the foreground olive bearable and failed.

I made the foreground olive slightly more bearable. I was absolutely in love with the trunk though! Yes! I painted Magus, Ambiades, and Sophos (and theirs horses minus the tails). I really wanted Sophos shirt to be bright and rich (since Ambiades should look dull in comparison) but it bothers me a bit... Also note that I had a lot of fun making up horse colors. The furthest eventually became something of a bay. I really wanted the second horse to have lavender highlights in the sun so it became a brownish color. And I wanted to use my yellow ochre on Sophos' horse - so that's how it became a light chestnut-ish.

I started on Pol's horse. Oh! and I also did the rocks! I was really happy with the couple of rocks on the bottom but I was making up the ones on the right as I went so they ended up a bit blurry. I was going to go back in and mess with them a bit but didn't have time.

Pol's horse was totally looking orange and purple for a bit but I ended up pulling it off! And for the last horse I decided to do a nice pure burnt sienna!

I added some more details on the horse, adding muscle tone, etc. And......

Voilà! [Though hopefully I can get a better picture in the daylight] - I was rather proud of Gen's braid and I thought the color on his horse came out great!


We have a limited supply of paper towels in my dorm room so my arm naturally became my blotting paper... Good thing this wasn't acrylic ;)

My palette! It is wonderfully speckly and artsy! I need to get a better palette but this one actually worked out pretty well~

Well that's all!!! I had a bunch of fun with this and it was nice to paint again!

Have a good day and be blessed in your endeavors!!! ;)