I thought it was the ugliest palette ever…

I picked up a reddish-orange colored pencil to sketch with the other day and decided, “I should base today’s color scheme off this pencil.”

As my hand automatically reached out for the paints, my brain short-circuited. I don’t normally use a bright, bold red in my limited palettes. What do I do? Pastels don’t match this color, do I even have matching colors?? In the midst if the internal struggle on what the hell color even is, I looked down to find my hand and eyes subconsciously coordinated what I thought was the absolute ugliest color palette in the world.

This grody palette consists of vermillion, a weird/obnoxious limey-yellow-green color, a sort-of-pastel yellow, lilac, and a dark periwinkle I like to call “burple”. Burple can’t decide if it wants to be blue or purple. How am I supposed to make that work?? Just imagine those colors for a hot second. Laying those out on a palette looked like fresh spring barf…gross.

The paint was already on the palette by this point, so I’m basically committed now. I decided to start painting. To my surprise, the owl that I painted looked kind of alright in the colors. I mean it is an obnoxious owl so it gets a pass on the weird color combo, right? I decided to give the palette another shot and went for something I thought surely could never work; a portrait.

As it turns out, I really liked the effect on that too! It looked kind of vintage, and…I don’t know. Something about it just works. Suddenly my brain explodes with 2.3 billion other ideas on what I think this palette would be suitable for. It has certainly grown on me, so expect to see this pretty-ugly combo for a while šŸ˜‰

Illustrating with Alcohol Markers

In need of a fresh update on my portfolio, I’ve been trying out new materials and techniques while illustrating. I’ve fallen pretty deep into a comfort zone that consists of mainly animals, people and the occasional flowers/food. I want to branch out a bit more and get comfortable applying my style to other subjects. I also want to unify my style a bit more so it can still look cohesive and recognizable across various materials/subjects.

This week I’ve been trying out Copic markers. My style heavily relies on the texture and shapes of brushstrokes, so alcohol markers are quite a challenge for me. I’m finding that I’m going to need to develop a slightly more distinguished shape language for the sketching of subjects to make a non-paint piece still look like my style.

Here are a few of the better illustrations I’ve done with markers. They still look far-removed from the rest of my work.

On the note of expanding subjects…I’m still a bit overwhelmed. There are so many things I’d like to try that I don’t know where to start. For the time being I’ve just taken to illustrating objects around me, but I would like to organize a bit more structure around them. If you have any advice about choosing a subject for a self-initiated project and sticking with it, please let me know! I’d really appreciate it!

Painting a Bat Skull with Gouache

Recently completed this painting of a vampire bat’s skull with gouache. I managed to film the process and condense the footage into a neat little time lapse. My video editing skills are still pretty rusty, but I’m getting a little bit faster at it.

Original gouache painting of a bat skull with flowers

Toned paper shows off gouache so well!

The paper I used is the Canson Mi-Teintes toned drawing paper. I have to say, this is my absolute favorite paper for gouache. The colors are gorgeous (which is great because I personally don’t like using gouache on white paper) and it hold up surprisingly well, considering how thin the paper is. Of course it still warps a bit, as any thin paper with a ton of water on it does, but never as much as I expect. It definitely helps to tape it down while painting, and to press it for a while after it’s dry.

I did not add any other materials to this illustration, but I have found in the past that even after layering gouache, the texture still shows up nicely and can handle a fair amount of colored pencil on top. I highly recommend this paper if you’d like to try a toned paper.

Here’s the time lapse I made if you’d like to check it out!

I had sketched the skull a bit too small and, naturally, didn’t realize until I started painting. I considered trimming the paper down to 9×9″, but then I thought I’d try adding a pattern down the side instead. I kind of like the effect it has, but I made sure to leave enough space to trim the painting to a neat square if desired.

The original as well as square prints are now available in my Etsy shop!