Compassionate Artwork

Two posts in less than two weeks? Surely I’m just spoiling you? But in all seriousness, it’s nice to have things to write about again!

Last week I was asked if I would like a stall at the Compassionate Christmas Fair, held down in Halisham this December, and I’m very excited about it. The fairs aim is to promote a cruelty free lifestyle, selling vegan products and raising money for a number of different vegan and animal charities in the UK. Compassion and love for our fellow beings is something that I hold very dear to my heart, and I have been vegan for almost four years now, so it means a lot to me to finally be able to get involved in something that I feel so positively about.

I have been working on a number of artworks, my ‘Friends not Food’ series, that explores the beauty and compassion and love of the animals often overlook and exploited by many. It has been a good excercise for me, working with such varied features and shapes, animals that are certainly out of my comfort zone when it comes to drawing, and it has given me a chance to really dig my toes into the watercolours. I am a long way from mastering the medium, that’s for sure, but I am starting to understand how these paints work, and what you can get them to do!

sweetrat230 sweetrat231 sweetrat232 sweetrat233 sweetrat234

All of these so far have been on 5×7″ paper, a good size for prints, I figure! But I also finished this A4 piece last night. I’m not as happy with how this turned out compared to those above, but I suppose the composition is very different from what I have been working with previous, focusing mainly on the silly, characterful faces that these animals pull. But still, it was an enjoyable piece to pain.

It also pleases me to say that all the materials I work with don’t contain animal derivatives, so that’s always a big bonus!

Sweet Blossum

sweetrat164Today, after my office job forbidding me to come in thanks to the lack of work we have going at the moment, I decided to finish off the GiveAway prize that was given to celebrate Sweet Rattery Illustration’s second birthday!

The prize was for one of my rainbow pieces, however the winner wanted something that would fit better with their ink pieces that they had commissioned in the past. I decided that I’d use this opportunity to do some more work with the gouache, ink and promarkers combined, and I have to say I’m pretty happy with the result!

My realistic painting skills still leave much to be desired, but that will come in time I’m sure.

Twas the Night Before Christmas and … Zebra?

I finally got a chance to knuckle down and get my zebra piece finished tonight! I figured it was perhaps the only way I could distract myself from the mountain of cheese and crackers sitting in the kitchen.

I will confess I’m not 100% happy without the outcome. I think the background was, in retrospect, pretty poorly planned out in terms of the overall colour scheme. But hey, it was an experience and I’m learning to be a bit more confident with my strokes and to work outside of my usual ‘blocks’ of colour. The background itself I’m quite happy with, just think I should have perhaps used more mint green.
sweetrat153Backgrounds have been rather absent throughout the process (why yes, yes I do watch the Apprentice and yes I am now thinking in Mark’s accent), and it definitely adds a little more to the overall piece. Just need some fine tuning is all!

So, here he is, the Zebro!

As ever, gouache and ink were my medium of choice 🙂

Why I Love Promarkers

When you think markers you are probably put in mind of those old Berol felt tips you had at school, those red and blue horrors that would start the year as a shiny new set no one could wait to get their hands on, and by the end of the first art session would be found snapped under chairs, their lids having mysteriously vanished into the Void.

Honestly, just seeing them without their lids sets my teeth on edge, and I find myself irrationally angry at whoever happens to be sitting next to me.

But, in fact, felt tips can be a wonderful and delightfully simple medium to work with! In my two years of *sob* periodic unemployment after university I tried my hand at comics. Not writting them, you see, but illustrating them. I told myself that I could easily finish a 100 page graphic novel, no problem, yet partway through I realised that, actually, comics really were not for me. I get bored of doing the same thing for two long, and included in that was drawing the same character over and over and over. On the plus side, however, I invested in a decent set of fine line blacks as well as a couple of choice Letraset Promarkers. I was in love! A product that needed no water, left no mess, and that I could get really creative with. Sweet Rattery Illustrations itself started purely with Promarkers, and it became sort of the trademark of my work. Before long I began to appreciate just how versatile these markers were, working well alongside gouache paint, easy to blend with one another, and with a layering quality that allowed me to create the sort of depth that I wouldn’t have imagined you could achieve with felt tips.

I suppose the huge benefit of Promarkers is that there is no fuss. Before long you will find yourself with an entire drawer dedicated to these pens, which I’m pretty sure eventually start breeding and nesting in various places in your house, and with that drawer open, a pad in hand, you can scribble and blend to your hearts content. They are perhaps the most addictive of mediums … I have found myself buying several colours that I’m all but certain I’ll never use just because I don’t have them yet, and many a dull evening has been brightened by ordering them by hue. Truthfully, they are fun. Going crazy with a brush can be every bit as enjoyable, but there’s something … childish about them. It brings me back to my days as a child, scribbling away with the few coloured pencils I’d managed to salvage from under the sofa, imagining to myself that I was some big shot artist working for Disney. Characters come to life before you as you layer on the impossibly perfect skin tones (seriously, the days of colouring people in pink because it’s all you have are over!), and I now find it very difficult to do a pencil sketch without grabbing one of my colours, grabbing my right wrist with my left hand, trying to fight back the urge to just add ‘a liiittle bit of colour here’.

The only issue I have found, personally, with Promarkers is that they do tend to run out quickly. Despite the impracticalities, I adore working on Bristol Board, and it very quickly sucks the life out of my pens. But the smoothness of the finish is just too good to sacrifice for the sake of saving a few pounds. They are the stable of my portraits, and still the most popular of the products I offer.

A selection of old boys enjoying some Bakewell.
A selection of old boys enjoying some Bakewell.
The range of colours available make it very easy to replicate real life colours of subjects.
The range of colours available make it very easy to replicate real life colours of subjects.
One of the best things about the Promarkers is the ability to layer a colour upon itself to create degrees of shading upon the subject.
One of the best things about the Promarkers is the ability to layer a colour upon itself to create degrees of shading upon the subject.
But equally, you can use a range of different colours on a subject, which creates an almost abstract result that I'm very keen on.
But equally, you can use a range of different colours on a subject, which creates an almost abstract result that I’m very keen on.

I get the feeling that Promarkers are one of the products that, the more you use them, the more you continue to learn about them. I suppose that much in itself is true about all other mediums, but the range of different techniques and results you can get from a simple felt tip is insanely satisfying.