Urban Garden Banner – Persimmons

Today I completed the persimmon section of the piece except for some cleanup. I’ll probably work some of the color in a couple of the leaves, but I need to think about that once the other sections are completed.  I’m happy with the results so far, but not happy with the photos.  For some reason they make the drawing look slightly fuzzy and is not picking up some of the detail.  I’ll have to play around with settings and maybe use my digital camera rather than my phone.  I have included a photo of the work so far.Jan29 2016 (3)


I am learning to make a few compromises because of having to work in a smaller size than my usual pieces. It’s actually about a quarter of the average size and it’s taking a little more time to translate detail to that size.  I have started and stopped a couple of times while working to make sure depth and perspective look true.  Also, because this will be enlarged to twelve times the size of the original drawing, I need to defer to a little less “scientific illustration” in favor of a bit more “graphic” style.  Otherwise I worry about how well it will scale up.

Planning on starting on the orange tree tomorrow. Looking forward to working on the honeybee.


Work in Progress -Urban Garden Banner

Lots of distractions the last couple of days so have not gotten as much done on the drawing as I would have liked. That aside, I feel like I made good progress once I a chance to focus.  I decided to start on the persimmons.  Interesting the number of different oranges, reds and golds I needed to use initially seemed like a jarring combination.  But once laid down, blended and shadows added, are looking good.  The subtlety of the color gradations in the actual fruit is lovely, and capturing that is enjoyable.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I am mostly working in Prismacolor. A trick I learnedpers-sm some time ago using black grape for shadows rather than grays and black.  It is really effective.  The effect is soft and it does not muddy the colors at all.  I am using Tuscan red to outline the fruit so it will pop from a distance.  The work will be enlarged for a banner, so I am using sign painting techniques I learned in school.  It’s kind of nice to know I finally have an opportunity to use something that seemed a little obscure at the time.  Also nice to know I can still retrieve information like this since it’s been more than a while since I was in college.  I have included a picture of the drawing to date.

Work in Progress -Urban Garden Banner

I started on the fourth step of the artwork for the banner, working out the colors, blending and shading for each of the subjects. This piece has a lot of greens, yellows and oranges.  Some of the distinctions between similar colors are subtle so for the purpose of ensuring details stand out and do not merge together, some style techniques may be needed.  I will be playing around with different techniques and will report what I decide to do later.

The surface I am using for the art is Dura-Lar by Grafix® (@ArtGrafix) a matte film. It’s a great material.  I love the fact I can draw on both sides.  The colors are rich and have a look of being illuminated.  Another plus is there is no issue with bloom from the wax in the color pencils.

I’ll be using Prismacolor Premier pencils (@PrismacolorUS) for the most part, switching to polychromos (FaberCastell) for sharper detail if needed. I may try using Prismacolor Verathin pencils for fine detail, but I’m not happy with the color.  It lacks the richness of the premier pencils.  Whatever I decide to do will be discussed in a future blog.Palette 1

To work out the combinations of colors for the palette I use strips of the film to try different combinations. I label the one’s that work to make blending easier when I am producing the final piece.  This saves me a lot of time in the long run.  I hate working out problem on the actual piece and try to avoid having to make changes, erasing, etc., on the actual work.  I have included a picture of the palette in progress.  I hope to wrap this step up tomorrow and begin working on the final version tomorrow or the day after.  Hopefully things will move along at a reasonably quick pace.

Work in Progress

I have started on a new project this week, a banner design for a middle school urban garden. The teacher who is the driving force behind the garden approached me at an event at a local winery.  I had a booth and she liked my work and asked if I would be willing to donate my time by designing a piece of art to help promote a school’s urban garden.  I’m all for kids having a hands on experience,   getting outside and being rewarded, literally, with the fruits of their labor, so I agreed.  The artwork will be used on a 6 ft. by 3 ft. banner that will hang on the fence of the garden fronting the school and facing a large city park.

I have a lot of work stacked up so I need to keep moving on this and complete it quickly. That being said, the first step of blocking the layout is done as well as the second step of researching reference material on plants and trees in the garden.  Happy that went more quickly than normal for me, especially given the garden has a large variety of plants, more than I have seen in other community gardens.  Along with an impressive assortment of vegetables and herbs, they also have a mini orchard and grape vines.  The client also would like several different types of insects as part of the artwork.  While it would be great to include every type of fruit, vegetable and herb, it’s not practical and would make for a confusingly busy composition.

Step three, where I am now in the process, is deciding what subjects to include in the piece and completing the design draft. Since the banner will be large it needs to pop from a distance.  With that in mind, I am currently favoring rich, bright colors and larger subjects.  Lots of red, orange red, orange, yellow, gold and purple, and many hues of green.Jan 23 2016 Draft

As I am working on the draft and have just added a honey bee, I’m wondering if I need to make the insects larger. Don’t want it to look like a genetics experiment gone wrong, but I don’t want them to get lost in the mix.  Not too worried about the planned butterfly, but concerned about the honey bee and ladybug.  I’ll let you know what I decide in a few days.  I have included a photo of the WIP as of today.Jan23 2016 v2draft jan 23 v2

Don’t know if this will be the final layout but I am happy with the direction so far. I am anxious to complete the draft and review with the client so I can get started on the final work.  I’m on a roll and don’t want to lose momentum.

Introspection on Process

Started working on a new piece today. I need to find ways to shorten the time I spend searching for and examining reference material.  My analytical side seems to always win out.  The advice from Diana…”you just have to do it!” probably needs to become my mantra for research.  I mean really, how many photos and type descriptions do I need of a persimmon tree or grape vine?

My commitment is to give myself a time limit for research, then go with what I have. SamSea Grapee applies to photos I take for a project.  Do I need 300 photos of a subject when I know I’ll only use three or four to work from?  The time it takes to go through all the photos is too much, and really overwhelms my thought processes.   Maybe I need to spend time drawing outside where I only have one reference to work with.  Might be just the ticket.

I have decided to set a goal to start including shots of my work in progress starting with my next blog entry. I always work better under pressure, so here’s hoping that’s true in this case.

My Mentor…

Maui Palm by Diana Leone

This is my inaugural blog entry.  So bear with me as I work my way out of my comfort zone.

I am of the old school, where process and progress were guarded and only the final work was shared.  What nonsense!  I have always sought out other creative people to share ideas, rant when frustrated, and to get guidance and inspiration.  Without this community, I, and every other artist would be spinning in place.

As I built this community, I occasionally met a mentor.  Most recently a gifted artist and quilter graciously shared her wisdom and ethic with me.  After showing her my work, discussing what I wanted to achieve, she intently stared at me and almost shouted: “You have to do it!”  Her enthusiasm was heady stuff and very contagious.  Her name is Diana Leone.  Sadly, she passed away this summer, and I will miss her on many levels.

So, in honor of Diana’s directive, I am doing “it”. I’m sharing my journey, process, and work with a wider audience and hoping for more inspiration, support, and direction from others like me.

Find out more about Diana Leone at  www.DianaLeone.com.