Thursday, December 18, 2014

Composition Collages - A Tutorial

This tutorial has been waiting to happen for months already. I promised to do it ages ago and took the pictures weeks ago, but somehow I just didn't get around to really putting it together. That all changes today: welcome to the Composition Collages Tutorial!

If you don't know what I mean by composition collages you can check some of them here, here or here. They are basically just what they sound like: abstract collaged compositions. They are very relaxing to do and I do believe they train your eyes into seeing harmonic compostions just by practicing abstract arrangements that don't have to mean anything.

Let's get going, shall we?

What you need:
  • a substrate (I use a sketchbook, but you can work on paper or cardboard or canvas or whatever)
  • paint to colour your background with (I use gouache, but anything goes)
  • a brush and water for the paint
  • decorative papers, several kinds that go well together
  • scissors
  • glue (I use a simple glue stick, but if you work on canvas you might prefer an acrylic medium)
  • some black markers or pens that will write well on both the paper and the background
  • a circle template (this one's optional, perhaps you like to draw and cut your circles by hand, but I'm anal so I need a template, haha)
What you also need is a playful attitude and the realisation that this is supposed to be a fun and loose exercise, not deep meaningful art. Just saying. ;-)

Start by putting colour on your background. I am showing you four pages from the sketchbook so you can see how different backgrounds get different results. The first two are very hodgepodge, let's-get-some-colour-on-there. 

As you can see the second set of pages has more specific shapes. Circles and a grid. I chose my colours to fit the colours of the paper I picked out, but you can totally choose to go for more contrast and see what happens then. Experiment people!

Now it's time to put your substrate aside and get out the paper. I picked four different kinds that matched well. I do love pretty papers!

Now take your scissors and cut that paper up. Cut squares and rectangles and use your circle template (or your less anal cutting skills) to cut circles of different sizes. It's important to get different shapes and sizes. 

I usually stick to rectangles and squares and circles, but there is no reason at all why you shouldn't be cutting diamonds, hearts, stars or whatever you fancy if that's what you want.

When you've cut up your paper put the shapes aside where you can easily see and reach them and get your substrate back on the table.

Now the real fun begins! Pick a bunch of shapes and start arranging them on your backgrounds. There's all kinds of rules for composition, but I would just like to say: put them where you like them and let that be that. ;-)

Try to vary different sizes and shapes to see how they go together.  Don't overthink it. We're not going to win any awards with these compositions, we're just playing. Have fun with it!

If you have come to a composition that you like, glue that stuff down! Now the base of your work is done.

Now it's time for the finishing touches. Get your markers or pens and start outlining the shapes. You can use different marks for different shapes or different marks for the same kinds of papers. You can also outline the page itself as I did above. Or maybe you would like different thicknesses when it comes to your lines. Fine tips or broad tips leave very different marks.

You can draw outside the shapes or on top of them. Experiment and see what you like.

There, you are done! On to the next one?

The fun of this exercise is that you can vary in backgrounds and see what happens to the overall image or you can vary more in the shapes and colours of the paper pieces to see what happens. I've done dozens of these by now and none of them are the same even if they fit together. You can also see what happens if you fill up your page more or keep it very minimal. It's all part of the experiment.

Here's an example of more elaborate and colourful backgrounds for instance: 

Well, I hope you had fun seeing how these composition collages work and I hope that you want to give them a try. You just might like doing them as much as I do. If you do I would love to hear about it, either on or off the blog. My mail addy can be found at my profile on the sidebar, so feel free to mail your results to me. It always makes me happy to see what people come up with through my tutorials. Of course if anything is not clear or you have any questions you can also let me know.

Keep making stuff and have a wonderful and artsy day!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Colour doodles from the Doodle Book

I really enjoy playing in my Doodle Book, but sometimes I wonder if there's a bit of an artsy masochist hidden within me. That happens especially when I do things like this:

This is a 10x10 inch  (25x25 cm) fully doodled and coloured in page! If you've never done anything like this you may not think much of it, but let me tell you: this kind of stuff is a test on a person's patience! The drawing of the little bits and pieces in ballpoint pen already took ages, but then colouring it all in with felt tips was really exhausting. Somewhere halfway I was like "why do I do this to myself?". ;-)

But here's the kicker: the minute it's done I want to start another one! See what I mean about being an artsy masochist?

When I showed this page in the Everyday Matters Facebook Group some guy commented  (and I could hear his pleasant sarcasm through his written words): "you made good use of the entire page". Haha, that's right, I really did. I replied that no one will ever take me for a minimalist! ;-)

Here are some detail shots:

Most of this page was done in not so great artificial lighting so my colouring is far from perfect. Also I noticed that the paper in this book makes the felt tip pens bleed into each other a little here and there. I may switch to coloured pencils next time. We'll see.

Still, I'm very pleased with it, which is of course why I keep doing these. My muse likes to torture me!

Have a wonderful and artsy day, all!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Imaginary Flowers

Sometimes it's fun to just make things up. And if like me you like flowers, why not make up some of those? Here are some samples from my sketchbook!

If that doesn't bring some colour to grey winter days then I don't know what will!

Have a wonderful and artsy day!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Step by step coloured pencil portrait

I love coloured pencils! They are both beautiful and versatile and...incredibly challenging. I envy people who really master them, but I know that anybody who masters anything has put in hours and hours (and years and years) of practice.

I'm too much of a generalist in the arts to ever become a true master at anything. I just love too many different things and I kind of like it that way. But it does not keep me from practicing with media that intrigues me from time to time.

One way for me to practice with coloured pencil is to do portraits after pictures from magazines or (in this case) mail order catalogues. I thought it might be nice to show you how such a portrait develops over a few hours time, so I decided to do a step by step progress shoot of one.

Please understand, this is not a tutorial, I just wanted to show you how the different layers turn into a portrait that I consider finished. Also understand I'm not a coloured pencil painter. There are people who do ultra realistic work where you can't even see it was done with pencil anymore, and looks more like a painting. First of all I just don't have the patience for this, second I don't have the skill and third...I just kindof like the fact that you can actually see what medium was used. By that I mean that I like that you can see the pencil strokes and the texture of the paper.

Anyway, here's how it went:

The black background was obviously not done with coloured pencil, but with a brush marker to set off the portrait better. 

I'm moderately happy with the result. I love how the texture and shading of her shirt turned out, but am not too crazy about the hair and some of the shading on the neck. I'm also not sure if next time I will be doing over the drawing with a drawing pen. I might want to leave it in pencil. It's worth a try. I do think the likeness to the original was best in the original pencil drawing in the first picture.

Anyway, that's what practice is all about. You try a little here and there and you learn and some things turn out great and some things turn out okay and some things turn out rubbish. Well, I don't think this one turned out rubbish, haha, I rather like it. But I do see flaws and things I want to improve on. That's okay, I had another good practice session!

Hope you liked watching the process and wishing you a wonderful and artsy day.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Journal Pages

High time for some journal pages from my current journal Flora. She's becoming quite fat! I filled her up about two thirds and it's already hard to get her to close, so I'm thinking by the time she's done she won't be able to close at all. I just hope the binding holds. ;-)

Anyway, here are some of the latest spreads of my journal.

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy weekend!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

From the Doodle Book

I have a big square sketchbook that is just dedicated to doodling. It measures 10x10 inches (25x25 cm) which makes the pages nice and big to just play on.

Here are two of my latest doodle pages:

The left page is drawn with a drawing pen (I think it was a micron) and coloured in loosely with stabilo felt tip pens. The right page is drawn with one of the stabilo's and coloured in with coloured pencils. The paper of this book (a Hahnemühle drawing book) is better suited for pencil than marker, but I keep experimenting with it. 

Here are some close ups of both pages:

These doodles remind me of drawings I did ages ago (2011) that I called constellations. You can see some of them here. They basically connect round elements with lines into shapes. Does that even make sense? Anyway they reminded me of how stars form constellations. Just follow the link and you'll see what I mean.  I just like how sometimes an old idea can return in a completely new form.

Hope you are all experimenting and playing and making the most of it. Have a good artsy day.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

From the Sketchboook

My sketchbook is a big Fabriano Venezia one that measures about 9x12 inches (23x30 cm). I love the paper in it and I love drawing and sketching in it.

Sometimes I take it with me outside on my walks and sometimes I sit with it at my worktable. Here are some of my latest pages:

Parts of these spreads you may have already seen in other posts, but I thought it might be nice to get the full picture. As you can see not everything is picture perfect (just look at those horses, haha).

The first two spreads are the result of my walks and the last spread is done after my favorite source for models: a mail order catalogue. ;-) I'm not too crazy about the girl on the left, but I like how the right one turned out. In the end it's the practice that matters to me, so I like having both of them in there.

I hope you are sketching or painting or doing something else wonderfully artsy in your neck of the woods!

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