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But First….

May 9, 2018

Before I pull the gouache tubes out there is some unfinished business that needs to be dealt with. The Sherwin book has been sitting on the shelf for quite a while.  Although I seem to be constantly changing my focus, not being able to do any easel painting changes the game, creating a void that brings about an unintentional refocusing. Over the last few days, I have been re-reading my rough drafts and reviewing the illustrations of our little friend’s adventure. I have also got two 10′ x 10′ illustrations started and nearing finish.

sherwin and armadillo progress2

“After dark, Sherwin awoke to the sounds of grunts and rustling of grass. Knowing that armadillos eat grubs, worms and yes… even snails, he moved quietly further back under the rocks.”

While all of the illustrations for this story are currently pen & ink and watercolor, Sherwin and the Armadillo incorporates gouache. The original ink drawing had some heavy-handed black outlining the armadillo and gave the appearance of it being in some kind of cave or burrow. That wasn’t the intention.  The armadillo is supposed to be moving through the grass. I simply got caught up in the trap of “if a little bit is good, then a lot is better”. It showed up dramatically when the watercolor went on and nearly destroyed the drawing.

I was faced with the choice of trying to repair the artwork or completely redraw it.  It has been my experience that there is a 50/50 chance of the piece being as good as the original. Because I start my illustrations directly onto the paper in pencil and take a pretty casual approach to inking, I’ve found that often there is a loss of spontaneity and freedom when one is redrawn. So I chose to try to repair this one. Chinese white and watercolor didn’t quite get the job done in trying to pull the grasses out of the black, so I used gouache to repaint that area and then retouched the ink work. It’s almost there and I think I’ve saved this illustration.

sherwin and squirrel. progress

“You can’t see the world from down here. You need to climb up to the tops of the trees to see the world!”

Sherwin’s encounter with the squirrel is ink and watercolor. While the trees in these illustrations are usually twisted and gnarly I wanted to put some emphasis on their height in keeping with the conversation.


The Tools

The ink work in these illustrations consists of Micron pens (#1 and 5) for the fine work and Sharpies for the bold line touch-ups.  If you’ve been following for very long, you know we live in an RV and my studio is a corner in the living area. The whole process has to be contained in a small area. I use a small Windsor & Newton watercolor palette and replace the colors from tubes when necessary. Idea sketches are done in one of my favorite sketchbooks, the Canson Mixed Media 5.5″ x 8.5′ with 98 lb paper that takes any medium, wet or dry.  The final work is usually done on Strathmore 140 lb Watercolor paper in the 11″ x 15″ size. The paper takes my fine Micron ink work well. The Sharpies are a little different. The hold so much ink and the tip is so fibrous that I can only touch the paper surface for an instant or it will bleed.  I still use them because I like the look they give to my ink drawings.

There is more Sherwin to be done and I’m looking forward to seeing where it leads.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jane permalink
    May 9, 2018 6:28 pm

    Delightful work! Thanks for sharing!

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