Process of the Mushroom-village

Just like it took me longer than it should to realize that I could use my current interest for mushrooms to make art, so did it take a while for me to start combining the mushrooms with my love for tiny houses.
I don’t know what took me so long. Mushroom houses are already a big thing, and I’ve drawn some before I got interested in the fungi-species. Oh well, at least it hit me eventually.
Here’s the steps I took to make my latest mushroom-painting.

Starting out with a little sketch in my notepad.
At first it was a quick drawing of only the shrooms, that’s where the idea of tiny houses hit me, and the architecture came along, and finally I added some people. It all looked really messy, so I had to use my colored pencils to be able to see what’s what.scan0030

I liked the idea, and made a bigger tryout-version. You can see how much the paper has buckled, it’s because it’s made on a regular paper, and not the one made for watercolor. It was only supposed to be a pencil-sketch, but again it was so hard to tell the objects apart, so I was only going to use a little bit of colour, but got carried away, and both colored and outlined the whole thing. It’s almost a finished piece all by itself, but not good enough to stop there.
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From there, I traced that picture onto another regular paper. Changed the houses, added and took away a few details, all that stuff. I went back to including people in this one (you can see them in pencil where I haven’t drawn over them with ink) but I changed my mind. If I were able to make the painting bigger I would’ve kept them, but with the current size they would end up too small, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make them as clear as they needed to be in order to make a good addition to the piece. So I ignored them, and outlined the rest with ink, mostly just so I could see it better when I traced it onto the thick watercolor paper.
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After that, it was all in pencil on my fancy-paper thanks to a homemade lightbox. Any window plus daylight would’ve worked just as well.
I drew over the outlining with a brown pencil- the kind that won’t erase – and removed all the gray. That makes for a more colourful picture.
Then it’s finally time for the watercolor! Here’s the first layer of paint, with a pencil sharpener for scale:
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I’m so happy to finally have a phone with a camera on it, so I can document this stuff with ease. The only downside is that the photos don’t make justice to the reality. Maybe it’s the cloudy weather, but it seems like no matter how I try, the photos turn out very gray and pale compared to the actual painting.

Looks like it’s about to be finished here, but it’s really only halfway through:
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And then, finally finished!
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I struggled a bit with the surroundings. I realized too late that I had only planned for the actual mushrooms, and not the back/foreground. Those parts were improvised, and I wish I had spent some time on that. It could’ve been worse though, and I’m quite happy with how it all turned out.

I’m really looking forward to the day I get to live in a real house, and have enough space to make big paintings. Then I can make this one over and include the villagers.

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Little Christmas-painting

Merry Christmas, or happy whatever other holiday you’re engaged in!

I’m no fan of holiday-celebrations myself. It’s not that I have anything against christmas, it just happens to be filled with things that makes me nervous, so I usually try to avoid it all.
I was planning on spending the day alone, but agreed to come with my boyfriend to his mom’s house. Luckily, their idea of a good christmas celebration looks a lot like mine.  They spent the whole day playing computer games and watching series, and I was listening to music and painting this:

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Say what you want about Christmas, but the theme sure makes for some idyllic motives.

It almost beats that one year when the whole celebration was eating clementines and watching die hard.

Hope everyone else also got to spend the weekend the way they wanted to.

Mushrooms (hi again)

Hello. Seems like my blogging-breaks are just getting longer and longer. Been three months since last time I wrote, I think. All the latest posts are starting with “sorry I’ve not been around”.
I really like writing here (and have about seven unfinished posts just laying around) but I’m making too much of a big deal out of it, and end up not doing anything at all.
This was all just meant to be a log of my process. I think I became too self conscious when people started following it.
So, yeah. Time to stop taking things so freakkng seriously and just write whatever whenever.

Today it’s about mushrooms!
But first, a little something about how my interests can be kinda disruptive.

So, I like making catalogues. Like this one:
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These are really great to have, because my memory and imagination really isn’t the best, and I tend to draw the same kind of plants over and over again.
With this little piece of paper closeby, it makes it really easy to change it up a bit.

Last month, I was going to get started on a catalogue of insects. This is how far I got:
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As you can tell, the small ones are in line with the plant-catalogue. Just some random insects to refer to for later. Suddenly I felt the need to draw some actual insects. so I did. Then, I felt the need to split my insects into sections. I mean, there are the ones with wings, the ones who crawl, the small ones and big ones and the ones with hundreds of legs.
I just wanted a bit of order.

This led me to two sleepless days of researching insect-classification, and this little map of species.

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I must admit, I think the result is pretty great. But this isn’t the kind of information I will be using for anything ever, so it was pretty much just a huge waste of time.

Yeah, my sudden bursts of interest sometimes reaches a point of obsession, and as I said. It can be very disruptive. I really should’ve been working on something else.

Anyways, that didn’t stop me, and once I was finished with the insects, I did the exact same thing with fungi. Not just the mushrooms, but also mold, lichen, yeast……. All of it.
Now, I won’t be showing you that map, because it’s not even finished yet. But I’ve been way into mushrooms for a month now, and the obsession has luckily tuned out and is down to a healthy hobby-level.
Instead of focusing too much on the classification of the species, I’m more into painting the ones that I think look cool. Here are some:

The shaggy ink cap:
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Pixie’s parasol (what a great name!)
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Verdigris agaric. I went way overboard with the background here.

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Pagoda fungus:
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It took me waaay too long to realize I could make this into bigger pieces of art. But I finally got it!
I really like this one of the oyster mushroom:
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And lastly, some mushroom I forgot the name of. Here I was mostly inspired by the fact that the fungis genealogy is closer to humans than to plants. Which is super cool, and I now consider them to be little people just standing around in the forest.
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Anyone got really into mushrooms now? No? Still just me, huh?

The ideal living conditions.

I want to move.
I really, really want to go someplace else.
I want to live somewhere where I can have my own table to paint at, to be able to have both a paper and a laptop out at the same time. Somewhere where the whole house doesn’t lift from the ground each time someone takes a step.
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<—This one’s from february.

 

 

 

 

Yeah, I know. Sorry about the complaining. I’m just a little frustrated these days, and I’m telling myself that moving into a real house would fix all of my problems.
I know it might not. And I know that complaining doesn’t solve anything. But where am I to let out my discontentment if not on the internet, right?
Also, I am actually trying to do something about it. I’m trying to buy a house. Or, we’re trying to buy a house – I don’t think he likes it when I talk about him, but i do in fact, still, have a boyfriend – And as a very low income household, we can’t get a loan. Luckily, we are an extremely low expense household too, so saving up to a whole house isn’t completely unrealistic. As long as it’s a cheap house.

Were still some time away from it, but the closer we get, the more dangerously dreamy I become about it.
Like this:

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This seems like a nice place to live. It is likely to move around a lot, but at least there are no neighbours, and with the best garden ever.scan0200
This one is probably located in a windowsill somewhere. If it’s in an abandoned house, I could live with it. If it’s inhabited, no. I would feel too much like a pet. And not the good kind, like a cat or dog. More like a stick insect or goldfish.scan0202

Seems a little windy, but you don’t get more privacy than this.scan0192This place would be completely ideal. I still want to live with the boyfriend of course, but we all need our private space, so…. One of us can have the left one, the other the right, and we’ll eat dinner and watch cartoons in the middle.
The dog just has to learn to swim…

 

Process of the rooftop-painting, and learning so many new things.

As the title suggests, this is about the process I went through with a painting.
My regular procedure is more or less to get an idea, sketch it down on a watercolor paper, and start painting.  This leaves me with a lot of ugly paintings and unfinished ideas.
And yes, it is stupid of me to not realize this until now: I should start putting a bit more work into my work.
As you might know, I am self taught, and reason to why I’m stupid number two is: Even the self taught learn from somewhere, but not me. I’ve been painting and painting, for my whole life, but I haven’t actually taught myself anything. I never understood that there’s a difference between practice and conscious learning. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I found out that there’s such a thing as youtube tutorials. Really. The thought never hit me that the internet can provide useful information….
Stupid.

iIt seems my actual learning has barely started yet. I’m quite disappointed in myself for not figuring this out years ago.
Anyways, one of the first things I learned was how much work other artists put into their paintings. Sketches, thumbnails, color tests….. It almost seems like most of the work is done before the actual painting is even started.
Obviously, I have got to try that.

So, here is an idea that I had a while ago, and I thought about the motive for a while. I’ve been struggling with architecture for a long time, but put a lot of practice into it, and my first thought was just to try out my newfound house-drawing-skills. Then it just happened to get a sad superhero and people in windows.

I started out by doing a little test. This piece is about 7 x 7 cm, and is practically what the whole thing would’ve looked like if I had followed my regular procedure.
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I liked the houses in this one, but not the placing of them. I wanted more windows facing the viewer, so I made a little sketch, based on a house I drew a while ago.
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Still not satisfied with this one, so I made another, that started out as a combination of the two, but turned out completely different.scan0158
Now, this one turned out pretty good. There were a worse pencil version of it at first that I didn’t document, but it’s basically the same, just with a lot of ink on it, and better details.
I took this sketch and traced it onto a watercolor paper.

I didn’t document the step by step process of the actual painting. But I did take one photo, just after I put the first layer of watercolor down.
A few things I did with this one that I almost never do (because of stupid) was making color tests during the process, and taping my paper down.  Also, it’s the first time I’ve tried stretching the paper. Something I didn’t know about until two weeks ago, but really wish I had. In case you’re as unaware as I was, you do it so that the paper won’t buckle when you put water on it, and it makes everything amazingly easy.
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I didn’t think of having the smoke from the chimneys until right here. I started painting the sky from the top, and with half the page white, I realized that it’s the perfect way to make the little superhero show better.

And, well, after this it was just layer upon layer, until I thought it was finished. It turned out like this:
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I am very happy I took all those extra steps, because it really is one of the best paintings I’ve made. Funny thing is, that it’s far from my favourite painting I ever made. I actually don’t like it that much at all, but only because of the motive. It is still clear that this one is of much higher quality than anything I’ve done before. And I know it’s not just me, because I’ve never received so much positive response for a painting as I have with this one.

Again, I really wish I had started doing this a long time ago. But better late than never.
I am so excited about next year, when I’ve learned even more and look back at this one and think it’s crap. Just like I do with the stuff I made a year ago today.

Now I’m off to keep learning something new.

Em

Breakout of the creative block.

Hello everyone! How are you?
I feel fantastic myself, because since my last post about my “creative block” (I guess that’s a good name for that?) I’ve found a way to break out of it!
It was so simple, it’s ridiculous.
I just went into town, found an art supplies shop, and got myself some new paints and brushes. Immediately my fingers started itching, and I rushed back home to try them out.

I wanted to try something new, so I started working on some characters. I’m quite tired of the way my characters look, and I want to make them softer, and more personal.
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I love these noses, but have been scared to use them. Mostly because the authors I’ve worked with wants their characters as cute as possible, which means big eyes, big heads, small mouths and noses. I find that pretty boring.
I’m a bit more confident now, so I’ll start working on these again, and I guess I’ll just have to use them for my own projects.
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Ok, so this one got a little messed up. It was just too many experiments squeezed onto one tiny paper. That’s what happens when you get too excited.

I had no idea it would have such a huge effect. Only two cakes of watercolor and a set of detail-brushes has kept me in a great mood for days.
Of course I have bought art supplies before, but never like this.
For me, just like most people, money has almost always been the main cause for worry in my life. I won’t go deeper into the state of my economy than letting you know that I’ve been living in a caravan for six years and my wardrobe is entirely made up of clothes that are either found or received as gifts. I wouldn’t buy anything that isn’t absolutely necessary, and of course the same goes for art supplies. In case you didn’t know, those are usually pretty expensive, so whenever I’ve had to buy some new papers or something, I’ve been afraid to use them. My expensive watercolor papers and quality paints are reserved for commissions and masterpieces ONLY. So buying new art supplies has always been more of a burden to me than anything else.

However, since I got that park-job, I’m making a lot more money. Now, I have an economic freedom I’ve never experienced before. Suddenly, the rent is not a constant worry, and I can buy food because of want instead of need. What a luxury!
I’m still hesitant about buying things that I don’t need, even though I can. But this time, I gave myself an excuse: it’s my birthday! I haven’t celebrated that for years, and I don’t get any gifts from myself or anyone else. So it’s really a poor excuse. But without it, I wouldn’t have let myself buy those paints and brushes, and I’m so glad I did.

Next time I come across the block, I probably won’t have an excuse to spend unnecessary money, so I’ll have to figure out some other way to deal with it.
For now I’m just really glad to be back on track, with my awesome brushes.

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Practice and practice and nothing is working out.

Hello my dear imaginary friends. It’s been a long while since I wrote you guys. I haven’t really had anything to write about.
I want these posts to have some sort of meaning. If it’s to document my own progress, voice an opinion or share some information doesn’t really matter, as long as there’s some sort of meaningful content. But right now I don’t really have anything like that. So I guess this post is all about the lack of those things. And I hope that expressing it will help me get past it.
I’ve been feeling very stuck lately. My motivation is down and the inspiration is failing me as well. This is nothing new. Both inspiration and motivation are things that come and go, and honestly, the lack of them are more usual. Mostly you just have to force it.
Painting is not like bicycling, and you have to keep that stuff alive. And the way to do that is going back to that canvas and make something. Every. Single. Day. No matter how much it sucks. It is essential for improvement, and for discipline.
But yeah. It really sucks. When you are frustrated with your work and it seems like you’re going nowhere, forcing a painting can be depressing.  But you still just have to get through it. And don’t forget that it won’t always be like this.

So here’s how I’ve tried getting out of my rut.

One way that can sometimes spark some motivation in me is to explore my colors. I don’t do color tests nearly as much as I should, but when I do, it’s not unusual that I find some fantastic color that I feel like I need to make something more with.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work this time. I actually hate these:tests
The least awful, however, is the yellow and purple. These tests looks pretty bad, but it’s usually a color combination that I like, so I tried making something out of it:

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Some form of abstract landscape? Still, this had no effect, except for a little more frustration.
Maybe making a color chart will help?  Even if it doesn’t, it’s always a good idea to get to know your colors better.chart
Nope. No effect here either.

Ok, let go of the color stuff. Lets try and practice something more concrete. I still need to work on houses and environments, so let’s do that. I lack the imagination to come up with something myself, so I just google and pinterest for a while to find something to depict.

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Some very lovely houses somewhere in eastern Europe that I made look pretty terrible. Man, was this a bad painting day.

Let’s do a few more:
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Ok, so these aren’t completely terrible. I’m actually pretty happy with the right and left one.
And here is when something starts to happen. Even if I didn’t come up with the motives myself, as soon as I manage to paint something that I think looks good, the urge to paint more starts to grow. And finally, I got motivated enough to make something out of imagination:
scan0113It’s just a tiny (8 x 8 cm) study of color and composition, and while I’m not particularly happy with the result, it’s so much better than nothing at all.

I’m still not completely back on track, but I’m getting there.

This deep dip in motivation didn’t come out of nowhere. It’s not coincidental that my lust for creating goes down together with my mood. I’ve been down in other areas too. The old depression has paid me a visit again(that happens sometimes), my workspace is far from ideal, my schedule has been messed with by things I’m unable to control, and I’m pretty stressed out in general. But again, it’s so important to keep the painting going. It’s hard, because painting is emotional work, and it can feel impossible to get into that state of mind that is needed to create the things you want. But it’s easier to get out of it if you try.
Gosh, I wish I was one of those people that can channel their bad moods into great art. I guess it’s something one can learn, but I’m not there yet. For me, I just need to force it for a while and remember that things always get better. Then worse. And then better again.

Keep on painting (or doing that kind of creative stuff that you do) y’all!

A little PS.
While I’m not updating the blog a lot, because of the intention to have some meaningful content here, I do upload a lot of my daily work on other places. For example, I recently became so modern that I got an instagram-account! I try to update that at least a few times a week, so if you’re more interested in seeing the paintings than reading about them, that’s the place you want to go.  https://www.instagram.com/emblagranqvist/

More lighthouse

As you can see, I’ve continued on the lighthouse-track. I really liked the motive, and since I’ve been forcing myself to practice, I feel a bit more confident in drawing buildings. I thought I’d make a little more elaborate lighthouse(-house).

It started out as just a sketch, during some downtime in the playground. There’s not much to do there on the rainy days, so I get a lot of drawing-time.

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So, after making the sketch, I wanted to make more out of it, and so I traced it to a watercolor paper, with the help of a window.
I’m going back and forth between the brown pencil and the ink right now, I thought this one would look good with pencil.
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And the final result:

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I’m quite happy with it. I’ve never used this particular color palette before, but I think I made the right choice.
Every painting is a new learning experience, and here I’ve noticed that I should practice drawing rocks. Those are obviously not correct in any way in this one. Maybe tomorrow.

That’s all for today. Have a nice sunday!

Em

Diary in May

A little late, but here are my documents from last month:

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The summarising spread for the whole month.
My hair is longer than it’s ever been, it’s quite annoying. Mom’s house is full of kittens.
I slaughtered a rooster for the first time(the handling of the body was worse than the actual killing). I’m getting a lot of exercise from carrying bicycles and digging up the vegetable garden.  And, only returning to your home every other week during springtime makes for an even greener happy surprise every time you get there.

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I’m getting a lot of visitors in my bed these days.
And I’m trying to make characters out of objects. Not diary-related, but a really fun exercise which I will look more into sometime.

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For some reason, all the animals are following me around all day. Pretty sure that the dogs just like me, the cats probably wants to eat me, and the chickens are looking for revenge.

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Children I’ve encountered, and the plan for the garden.

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And lastly, these two dog-drawings that you’ve already seen, and an overlook on mom’s place. It’s a really nice place.

Happy June!

A little lighthouse keeper

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Early each morning he rows out on the ocean to fish. Laying out a net would be more effective, but he has no need for saving time. He has nothing else to do besides turning the light on and off, and the occasional maintenance of the lamp. And he enjoys being out in his boat much more than the inside of the lighthouse.scan0112.jpg
He spends all day on the ocean. She is always good to him, mostly quiet, but even in storm, she spares his little house from the worst waves. Only once in all their years together she took a brick from his roof. But nothing more.

scan0110.jpgAs the sun starts setting, he returns to his little island to cook some dinner, but most importantly, to light up the big lamp. There are rarely any boats passing here, but nevertheless, it is of the biggest importance that it gets lit up every night. Because what if?

scan0111.jpgSometimes he goes out in the boat again, once it’s dark. It’s a beautiful sight to see what he hopes is the lifesaving light of the big lamp that he’s been carefully tending to for years and years.  Oftentimes he falls asleep out there, but he never drifts too far. He usually wakes up before dusk anyways, right in time to follow the light home, to turn it off, and return to his beloved ocean once again.

It’s a very uneventful life. Just how he likes it.