The Zodiac 2

Not all of our original concepts turn out to be practical. A case in point was my idea to paint each Zodiac sign as they progressed through a lunar month. (Aries with the moon in Aries, Taurus with the moon in Taurus, etc.) I got a late start on Aries, beginning it on the day the moon passed out of that sign, so I got it inked, but not painted. Then I only had one practical working day for Taurus and had to jump into Gemini the day after that due to other scheduling. Perhaps if I had consulted my calendar prior to diving in head first. Ah well. With a little retro-scheduling I think I have a timeline that works.

AriesFirstColor_Sm

Aries first color: Naples Yellow and Garnet Genuine over a pale wash of Buff Titanium.

The result has been to take a more realistic approach to the project. I am attempting to ink the artwork while the moon is in the sign and the painting will be an ongoing process that has to fit around my other work. The goal is to have all twelve pieces finished in time for a show in May.

Taurus_Gemini_Close_Sm

Taurus and Gemini. The calligraphy is done with a straight cut Brause nib and Calli ink. The line work with a Micron 005 marker.

A hopeful time-saver is laying out four images on a single sheet of Arches 140 lb hot press. Since I’m starting with an overall thin wash of Buff Titanium, I can do four images at once. The framework the roundel sits in will also be consistent in color. Even if this does not make the work go faster, it will make it more efficient.
Cancer is on the schedule for today. So off to work.

 

The Self-Imposed Deadline

Ideas simmer on the back burner like a pot of marinara. Concepts cook down to their essence. Images meld and mingle into new flavors. This all sounds better than “I haven’t gotten around to that project yet.” But it actually can be what happens if you let it.
I have an idea for a Large Project that fits in to my Celtic artwork and my esoteric interests rather nicely. It will eventually involve many pieces of art and I have been thinking of how to make it more manageable. One day this winter, as I was sitting in my big, comfy chair, all wrapped up and fighting off a fever, my mind got bored and started to wander. There are Celtic versions of the signs of the Zodiac that I knew would have to be part of the Large Project, but they had sat, simmering on the back burner for the last 5-6 years. And suddenly, in my bundled-up, fevered state, I saw what they were supposed to look like.
zodiaccomps
Once I knocked my fever down I went straight to the drawing board and cranked out these designs. It took me about three days. A bit more thinking, playing around with color, and gathering of opinions occurred. I needed to fit the work in between other jobs, so it sat for a while even though I knew I was starting to run up against the clock (I want these printed before a show in May).
There was then a sudden realization that I should paint each one of these while the moon is in the appropriate sign. I asked my wife where the moon was today and she told me it was in Aries until early evening. Aries, the first sign of the Zodiac. If there was a more auspicious place to start, I wasn’t going to wait for it.
I had already laid out the basic design on watercolor paper, so I did the calligraphy, traced the design elements unique to Aries, and inked it in. I didn’t get to the painting because I ran out of time before having to dash off to a meeting. But it’s underway.
ariesinkphotoweb
The moon is moving into Taurus shortly after I write this, and it will only be there for two days. This pot is no longer simmering.

A Novel Diet #5 and Art!

There’s been a bit of editing since the last post, as well as other commitments taking me away from the keyboard. I did notice, however, that editing doesn’t hold the same creative drive that writing does, even if the editing requires sizable chunks of rewriting. To scratch the creative itch, as it were, I decided to work on a drawing of my main character. It also didn’t hurt that I could use an extra piece for our local SCBWI chapter sample show. (About a dozen of us brought in postcards, tearsheets, and other printed samples for display before and after the meeting.)

I’ve been fussing around with doing black and white illustration using black Prismacolor pencils, with perhaps a black watercolor wash underneath. I love the technique but for one thing. It is so blasted slow. Layers upon layers of shading looks lovely, but takes forever, and then is very picky about scanning and reproduction. So I thought, ‘why not go back to pen and ink? That’s fast. Right?’

 

JeanRough72

The original sketch, about 1.5″ x 2.5″

I started with a small drawing of my hero out of my sketch book, scanned it, then blew it up to match the size of the original sketch of the wolf.

Wolf&JeanRough72

Resized and layered in Photoshop.

I blew them up again so the image was about 5”x8”, then printed it out and reworked it with black Prismacolor, correcting anatomy and shading. On a piece of tracing paper I did a rough ink, basically to see where to stop drawing.

Done on cheap tracing paper with a crowquill nib.

Done on cheap tracing paper with a crowquill nib.

The wolf was inked on a separate piece of tracing paper. I think the first piece was too small.

The wolf was inked on a separate piece of tracing paper. I think the first piece was too small.

Once I was reasonably confident, I put the reworked printout on my light table with a piece of Arches 90# hotpress on top, and went to town.

Overall, I like the way it turned out. The difficulty has proven to be in trying to repeat this success. I have tried twice, with another character, and neither one works as far as I’m concerned. It may simply be a matter of refining my technique, or accepting that I’m using the wrong technique. Either way, it’s worth the effort.

 

Jean&Wolf72

The final on Arches 90# hotpress watercolor paper. Crowquill with Calli black calligraphy ink.

As I mentioned at the top of this post, I did do some editing. I’m maybe a quarter or a third of the way through the manuscript, and my critique group just gave me some wonderful feedback which might actually make the book shorter. Here’s hoping.

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