I’ve already spoken here about my rediscovery of inlay and how much I love it, but I haven’t stopped at just physically making it with paper and scalpel! I got an iPad a couple of months ago, and I’ve been using scanned in watercolour textures since I got it. (It’s true that I have always done this with digital work as a way of giving it traditional textures) Procreate has fulfilled my main reason for getting an iPad; I can make a finished piece of artwork with just one portable piece of kit! I’ve even recently done an entire commission from the iPad, which made the whole process a much more relaxing process, especially as the project had a short deadline.
Working digitally also means exploring more abstract concepts for me; it frees me from worries about ‘good enough’ ideas, which is so wonderful! I don’t believe I would ever have produced the artworks in this blog post by had (or indeed with my Wacom).
I really truly can’t keep a really consistent style up for more than a few months. I just feel like there are so many things to try, why would I want to only do one thing forever??
I’d love to get an agent, but they want work which is more pinned down; I’m just not ready for that! I want to keep exploring my style and trying new things. But actually, then I look at the work of Deanna Staffo and John Hendrix and I think, perhaps it’s ok to keep playing.
These portraits were made on a sudden whim to retry some techniques I learned during my A level textile art course. I absolutely adored textile art, as it was basically using different media to express the same things I was expressing in my Art A level, without feeling constrained by painting techniques and portraits (I guess I kind of played it more safe in art). My first big final piece in textile art was a series of embroidered photographs. They were not good!! But I so enjoyed doing them. I find hand embroidery puts me almost into a trance, I can just do it for hours, and having to work slowly forces you to consider every mark you make. And french knots are just so fun to make.
The other technique I’ve brought back is paper inlay. Honestly when we learned it it blew my mind, it’s so simple but I think it looks SO much nicer than simply collaging paper, and it’s less likely to get rough around the edges. It’s so different to just putting paint to paper, too; I can be a lot more experimental with the paint, which results in more interesting colours and textures, and the edges are so CRISP!! I really love having it back in my practise.
Of course, the most unifying feature of these illustrations are the portraits. Portraits are my first and greatest love in art; I could never, never get tired of them. Every person’s face is different, and every face can express so many different emotions. They’re purple because I just really adore the softer colour compared to black/grey. I started using purple in my watercolours because graphite doesn’t scan very well, plus the colours I use are really vibrant so the grey stood out like a sore thumb. I think the purple makes the images look warmer, plus I like the softer texture of the leads.
Making these portraits were so meditative to me. I didn’t plan ahead, I just found a photo I liked, and as I drew I thought about what would compliment the portrait. I think pieces like this would work really well for magazine editorials, too!
I painted this for my mum all the way back in August! I recently touched it up so I thought I’d finally scan it in to show you.
Tragically for me, I’ve never been to Florence, but I so enjoyed painting it! I’ll look forward to getting there one day.
Have you been to Florence?