I thought it might be fun to share my creative process when creating a new painting. My latest craze is sock monkeys and I am trying to build up a sweet little collection of them. Here is the birth of a Silly Sock Monkey: the new and adorable Jeffrey and his plushie pal, Ellie.
Meet Jimmy. This was the first sock monkey I ever made, using original Rockford Red heel socks. I sold him back in the days of my baby boutique, Tootsie and Grace. Luckily I took pictures, because he is the inspiration behind my collection of Sock Monkey paintings.
For every picture I create, I have inspiration from something. It might be as simple as a sweet tooth which can never be filled-- which led to my Delicious Things collection, or a random line drawn into my sketchbook, which looked like a snobby nose-- and led to my Elegant Snobbery collection. She Wore a Beehive for a Hat was inspired by a picture of a bee hive I saw in a Country Living magazine, and from that, I also sketched several other unique hat wearing ladies. And my Miss Muffet picture came about when I saw some cute little illustrations in a vintage children's book, and I wanted to create a collection using the vintage pictures in the background. It doesn't take a lot to find inspiration!
Here are my tools. If you are familiar with colored pencils, you will notice I am using Prismacolor, which are not my favorite colored pencils, but certainly do the trick. My collection of Design Spectracolor is wearing so low, that I am trying to be a big girl and wean myself early, so I don't have a nervous breakdown when the last of my most fabulous pencils in the world are gone. I'm handling things pretty okay, I think!
What you see here are:
* The pencils I will need for the picture. I like to plan my color palette before I begin, so I don't end up with some crazy color issues once I have started.
* My pencil sharpener, which I use every 35 seconds as I am a compulsive pencil sharpener.
* My kneaded eraser, which I use to dab over my illustration, first to pick up extra graphite and later to pick up extra colored pencil dust, so that I don't end up smearing the pencil dust as I work. Colored pencils are permanent, and even the smallest specks of pencil dust will make the picture look smeary and awful!
* Solvents (which are very toxic, and even the fumes are flammable, so be soooo careful when using these! Make sure you don't have candles burning nearby and ventilate your workspace well) which melt the colored pencil into the paper and create an almost watercolor effect. I use q-tips and tortillons to apply.
* Colorless Blender, which is the tan colored pencil with the clear tip. This is the pencil I use to blend my detail areas into the paper. It is pretty fabulous!!
Tracing paper is an artists best friend. I draw all my sketches onto tracing paper, because it erases beautifully, and doesn't leave my sketch paper filled with hard to erase pencil marks. From the tracing paper, I use a light box to transfer my drawing to my final paper. My friend Brian uses graphite paper to transfer his drawings, so really it is up to the artist. I adore my light box, though.
Pencil lines are permanent, no matter how light you get them. I need to transfer my work on a paper that has no previous pencil lines or eraser marks, because the colored pencils will pick up every single mark etched into the paper. Really annoying, so I can't mess up!! After the picture is transferred, I use the kneaded eraser to pick up all extra graphite, so I have very faint lines that wont show up as I add my color. I then have to tape my work to my drawing board, so I don't slide my picture around. I have been known to ruin pictures from crinkling the paper while I draw, so this is a HUGE step for me.
Here is my "ugly picture" phase. It is a good thing that I know my picture will eventually look alright, because this ugly phase is looooong, as I apply and blend layer after layer of color. I generally work small areas until they are done, but sometimes if I am not sure of my color palette, I will work the whole painting at the same time. There is nothing more annoying than finishing the foreground, and then screwing up the color in the background!!
You can see better in this picture what is finished and what isn't. I still have some work to do on the shading of the monkeys body, the blending of the grass, the background and the lollipops, but the elephant is completely finished. I usually like to finish my favorite areas first, and I thought that elephant was pretty cute!! Layering the colored pencils takes awhile for me. I love layers and with colored pencil, you have to start light and then work darker and darker. I generally just layer an area until I get bored, so luckily I don't usually go too overboard with my color!!
And here is Jeffrey and little Ellie, all nice and finished!! I think he is my favorite sock monkey yet!!
What do you think?