It’s that time of year again…

Inktober time! I’ll be trying again to complete a new ink painting everyday for the month of October. I’ll be posting them daily to Instagram (find me @cait_gadd on there in case you wanna follow along!).

As per usual, I’ll be loosely following a weekly prompt. So far, I’m starting of warming up my inking skills with a week of painting antiques. I bought some new inks, so these will also serve as tests of sorts.

For the rest of the prompts, I’m thinking a week of insects and flowers (Fall always reminds of spook Halloween things, which always makes me think of bugs), different animals with their respective skulls, and not sure about the last week yet. I may just go rando and toss themes out the window by that point.

My whole goal this year though, is to get better at using colored inks and incorporating more ink into my work in general. I have a ton of colored, and even some iridescent, inks but I have a hard time making them work in a piece. I also pretty much only use inks during October for the Inktober challenge and for the occasional black and white commission so I’d really just like to get some more use out of them as I enjoy painting with them and really love how they look.

New inks I’m looking forward to trying out:
-Speedball Acrylic Ink in Indigo (cobalt or primary blue would be more accurate, though)
-Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Ink in Violet and Teal
-Daler Rowney FW Acrylic Inks in Sepia and Process Magenta
I’ll post an update on how it goes at the end of the month!

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 😉

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!

Lots of Commissions After a Slow June

Business was painfully slow in June, but luckily picked up for the month of July. Mostly painted pet portraits (my favorite!), but I did get some fun new inquiries as well. My favorite commission this month, was painting an animal in a glass bottle with a detailed background.

I love designing unique bottles for the animals I paint in them, but it’s something I hadn’t done in a while. The client was super lovely to work with. She asked for a fairly detailed swamp-like setting, which I was a bit nervous about at first as I don’t often paint detailed scenes. It turned out to be a fun challenge, though, and we were pleased with the result.

Process of painting a watercolor, bottled salamander in a swamp

Painting stages

Another unique commission I’m currently working on, is painting a snowy evergreen scene for a local client. Lots of backgrounds this month so it’s been good practice. Got clearance yesterday to go ahead and start painting the sketch, so I’ll be sure to post some progress shots later.

Between working and waiting for approval of various stages of paintings, I’ve just been working on filling in some gaps in my portfolio. I’d like to continue painting animals, but I’d really like to paint more food and just general…non-animal things as well. Admittedly, it’s been more difficult than I thought to adapt my style to other subjects. Hopefully some pieces will actually be making the cut soon. Always a work in progress~

As always, thanks for reading and I hope you have a lovely week! 🙂

Catching Up

Sorry for the absence! I’ve been quite busy lately so I’ll catch you up quickly:

-Thought I was losing my job so I doubled down on art, made a huge plan for overhaul to my portfolio, Etsy shop, business plans, commissions, etc.

-Didn’t lose job, super busy with summer festivities, painted my living room/studio walls, and then ran out of time for art

-Currently trying to find balance between being able to pay at least most of my bills by cutting day job to part time, and getting my art career off the ground.

I’ve been working on making more Youtube videos (editing takes me forever so it’s still pretty slow going) but I’ve been having fun working on them when I can. It’s something l’d really like to work on more. I’ve made clay pins for my bag that a lot of people liked so I’m currently working on a batch for a shop update (hoping by early September) . I’ve added some more custom options to my Etsy shop, as I find it’s easier for people to feel comfortable commissioning an artist that way. Finally, I’ve been working on new stickers for my shop, updating my Redbubble and working on adding digital prints to my Etsy shop.

Clay Pins!

(A shop update is in progress!)

polymer clay pins cute colorful animal shapes.jpg

Pink & Blue Pet Portraits

pink and blue pet portrait paintings in watercolor.png

A simple, quick and budget-friendly option

 

Dayjob // Dreamjob Drama:

My day job (a retail job I’m not particularly fond of) changed things around and my hours got cut from full time to about 15 hours per week. At that point I would not even earn close to a minimum wage. So with the extra time, I could either get a second day job (not much to choose from in my tiny town) and quit my art career….or double down and try to get my career off the ground. Clearly I chose the art.

I had all this extra free time so I worked on new products and paintings and marketing and had a few commissions come in and things were looking a little less bleak…..but now my day job changed things around again and I am back to 35-40 hours per week…..I barely earn enough to live as it is, and while I have the comfort of “okay I can pay most of my bills…” I no longer have time for all the plans I made for my art.

At this point….I think I just need to take that leap. Otherwise I’ll be forever stuck in my shitty little comfort zone where I’m miserable but surviving. I think I really need that little push. You know, the fire under your ass that be like, “HEY GET MOVING I DON’T CARE IF YOU’RE WORRIED OR IT’S NOT PERFECT OR IT’S UNCOMFORTABLE!!”

So maybe I’m not flat out quitting my part time job, but cutting it dangerously low to force myself to be responsible for making up the rest of the money I need to live from my art. A craft that I have been honing for a solid decade.

Also it’s summer so everyone and their mother wants me to be there for their wedding/graduation/birthday/their kid’s birthday/fireworks/etc…..so family and friends have gotten the largest slice of free time I had. I was trying to be productive and just ended up planning too much and spreading myself too thin. You know how it is.

How to Paint with a Limited Color Palette

A questions I’m often asked is; “How do you choose colors/make stuff so colorful??”

how to use limited color palette watercolor painting

I figured I’d finally address this where I can write a lengthy explanation that I can direct people towards. So if you really want to know specifically, keep reading. TLDR? Very carefully.

(Also, I made a video explaining it too! I do drop some f-bombs, though, so be warned!)

I have always loved bright and colorful things and art or objects with a pleasing color scheme. Especially analogous color schemes with the one offbeat color that stands out real nice. I was also mystified for the better part of 10 years on how to use colors in such a way. I want all the colors, but am then immediately overwhelmed by them. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m far from mastery on this and will likely never achieve it, but I’ve finally found a good starting point to work from.

Pick 3 colors and stick to them.

I mean it. No others until you’re confident with those 3 together.

Pick three colors you really like and force them to play nice. Easy route? Primary colors. Easy route with a slight twist and totally different aesthetic? Pink, yellow and blue. I find these the easiest to start out with (like how they teach you primary colors in kindergarten). But don’t mix them and make extra colors just yet. Try using these colors alone in different ratios on a painting. Pick one thing to paint and replace all the dark colors with blue, for example. The mid-tone values can be replaced with pink, and the lighter tones with yellow.

Once you get a sense of how the colors are working, you can start darkening/lightening or saturating/de-saturating each shade. Then slowly incorporate more colors as you go. For this piece, I ended up mixing the pink and blue to make a purple color for the rocks and shadows. I also added Payne’s grey to get a much darker, but still harmonious, blue tone for the darkest parts of the fox (eyes and nose). Don’t be afraid to try again a few more times if it didn’t turn out well the first time.

There are sooooo many different looks you can achieve based on different proportions of just those three colors alone. Maybe try dialing one color back a bit and adding more of another. Choosing colors becomes more and more intuitive with each piece you make. Trial and error is the name of the game here. Once you become super comfortable (like, uncomfortably comfortable) with this trio, start adding different colors or swapping one out for something totally different.

I filmed the painting process of this piece and narrated it. Once I’ve finished editing & uploading the video, I’ll link it here. Just in case you want to hear my rambling instead of reading it.

Video Process

I’ll be making a follow up video and blog post in the future about how to choose weird colors and force those to be friends later (featuring acrylics). Hopefully I’ll get better at explaining things, too. If there’s something I missed or I can improve on, or if you just have more questions let me know!

Materials used in this painting:

  • Winsor & Newton Watercolors (Cotman series) in Permanent Rose, Yellow Ochre, Cobalt Blue and Payne’s Grey.

  • Strathmore 400 Series watercolor paper

  • Winsor & Newton Cotman Brushes (the blue ones) and Princeton Elite (?) brushes (the black ones)

I hope this was helpful to you, and thank you much for reading! 🙂

Now go forth and make shit colorful!

Back to Digital Painting

Initially, I began as a digital artist, It’s been nearly a year and a half since I’ve actually painted something in Photoshop. Just got back into it recently, and boy did I miss it. I’m pleased to find that my traditional painting style now translates pretty well back into digital illustrations, too! 🙂

Old tablet rant…

The whole reason I initially stopped painting digitally was (I think properly explained in a previous post), in short, because my computer didn’t work with my fancy drawing tablet. So, I decided to work on traditional art instead, and loved it more.

I’ve since gotten rid of my fancy Cintiq because I felt guilty for letting it sit there collecting dust. Of course 3 months after that happens, my old Intuos tablet I’ve had for a good 7 years, decides to hate me. I spend almost 2 hours every time I hook it up, messing with the drivers. Plus the cord has been chewed up a bit and falls out of the tablet in the middle of working.

I think those days of shoving it in my bag and running around campus during college did the thing no favors whatsoever.

…end rant

I’ve got a new drawing tablet now, though, so I’m really looking forward to adding digital paintings and commissions to my portfolio. It’s the Wacom Intuos medium with Bluetooth, and I love it! (It’s even minty green) I would definitely recommend this tablet to anyone looking to start out with digital art.

Programs I Use for Digital Painting:

I am often asked what programs I use to paint with, so here are a few favorites:

  • Adobe Photoshop: I learned to use this in college and while it can have a pretty steep learning curve, it has so many great features. Personally, this is my go-to.
  • Paint Tool SAI: I’m not sure if this program is still available, but I love it and I have been using it for about 10 years now. It’s very simple, inexpensive and worth every penny. The blending brushes it has are amazing, and you can make such crisp line work with it. (Not available for Mac unfortunately)
  • Fire Alpaca: Similar to SAI, but I personally get a little confused with the layout. It does offer crisp lines and still has a simple enough layout that makes getting started pretty easy. It’s free and is also available for Mac, which makes it a good replacement for SAI.
  • Krita: An awesome Photoshop replacement. A lot of cool features and brush settings, though definitely has a learning curve to get used to. Also, I found it super difficult to set my eyedropper tool to a different hotkey which is, oddly, a deal-breaker for me. This program is amazing and is also free.

Here are a few of the pieces I’ve tried recently with the new tablet, all in Photoshop:

 

Catching Up & Finishing my 365-day Drawing Challenge on Instagram

Time to catch up…

Oh hello there! It’s been a while since I’ve made a post hasn’t it? I ran out of time for extra things in November. I just worked a ton, made some new year’s goals and finished a year long drawing challenge.

Did you have a good holiday season, or was it a lot of chaos too?

I posted a new drawing to Instagram every day for an entire year!

Another big thing I’ve accomplished recently, was finishing a 365-day drawing challenge! I’ve made a post before about what I’ve learnt along the way, but I just can’t believe I actually made it to the end. A new drawing or painting. Every. Single. Day to make.

Then there’s the photo to take, editing said photo, writing a blurb to go with it, tagging it, and then eventually posting it to Instagram. It was a ton of work but I am so happy I stuck it out to the whole way through.

This accomplishment itself deserves a whole post, so I’ll probably be posting a detailed conclusion of that soon.

New year’s resolutions

I’ve recently had a look back at what I’ve accomplished in 2018, and was surprised I could actually cross off most of the resolutions I made. I started an Etsy shop, built my website portfolio, started this little blog here, and a ton of other more personal goals ❤

Going forward into the new year, I’ve made a couple new goals. I want to really focus on my portfolio to get more commissions as well as some larger, professional editorial work under my belt.

Right now, what I want more than anything in the world, is to make painting and illustration my full time job and be able to leave my less-than-stellar retail day job. I also want to keep blogging here to improve at writing, and I think I’d like to start making more videos for Youtube as well. I even got a fancy (for me anyways) new microphone for it, so ya girl’s gonna be adding voiceovers to vids now~

Anyways, thanks for reading!

More Commissions & Last Call for Christmas!

Haven’t really had the chance to work on those lofty shop update goals I mentioned in an earlier post, as I’ve had a lot of commissions lately. Not that I’m complaining, I’d love for my day job to consist solely of painting adorable animals and lovely people. Between those and my current day job, however, I’ve had very little free time for all the other shop updates I’ve been wanting to do.

On the other hand, I can start plenty early for next year’s seasonal shop update by starting all those ideas I had in January 2019!

Here were a few of my favorite commissions over the last couple of weeks:

I have to say, it’s been a huge learning curve for selling things during the holidays. From item stock to time management. It’s been rough trying to figure out the last day you can ship something and have it arrive in time for Christmas. But hopefully I’ll have improved a lot and will be better prepared next year!

Last Call for Custom Art Christmas Gifts: DECEMBER 10th!

As of right now, DECEMBER 10th will be the cutoff point for ordering any custom paintings to arrive before Christmas. (US only) This date may change if I get a bunch of orders. (I’ll keep you posted!)

You can still order after the 10th of course, but they may not arrive until after Christmas at that point.

(For international orders, I can’t really give a date due to the delays packages can face going through customs, but the sooner the better!)

 

Learning to Draw Animals

This year, one of my biggest goals was to learn how to draw animals and become comfortable with painting them. I was never good at drawing animals. They always turned out looking broken and creepy with backwards legs, due to a gross misunderstanding of anatomy. That, or just very stiff and awkward like a product of picture day in middle school.

Now they are currently my favorite subjects to draw and paint. Pet portraits and animal-themed nursery art are also what I’m commissioned for the most. It’s really interesting to reflect back on that.

A tip if you want to learn to draw animals. Really pay attention to the fundamental shapes that make up the body and the flow of them. You will see similarities in the anatomy repeat between different animals and those fundamentals will help you learn to draw any animal way faster. (Though, to be fair, this advice could probably be applied to drawing literally anything)

Remember, basic shapes are good. Basic shapes are your friends.

Also, Practice makes perfect…or vast improvements at the very least~

(On a side-note, I feel super weird not including any fun pictures or anything. Until the holidays are over, though, I’m not going to have a whole lot of time to put into my blog 😦 I’ll update and beautify when and where I can, however!)