Tea

It’s tea time! How about a little picnic in front of the wood stove?

This is my contribution for Illustration Friday’s promt “tea”. This week, my focus was on planning the whole drawing ahead so I could paint everything on the same layer instead of adding bits and pieces using collage. I do like the collage technique, especially to create some shadows. But I have to be honest: sometimes I just tend to use it just because I’m lazy!

Here is what I did this time:
1. Spend more time  than usual drawing the whole thing in pencil, using photos as reference for the perspective.
2. Paint in watercolors
3. Add some lines and texture with color pencils.
4. Use white acrylics to paint the vapor swirls.

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Birch Forest Spring

Birch Forest Spring || Watercolor and cut paper collage || by marion

One of the things I love most about living in Scandinavia is the strong contrast between seasons. But even from week to week, nature keeps changing drastically. When I started thinking about making a spring version of my birch forest, the things that came to my mind were these little flowers and tender green birch leaves. In reality, they come several weeks apart (and perhaps not exactly in the same spots); but what’s the point of making art if you can’t play with the rules of nature?

spring flowers

As for the fall version, I painted the foreground birches, birds, flowers and leaves on a separate piece of paper before cutting them and gluing them onto the background.

Cut paper pieces || spring flowers || by marion

Cotton paper is wonderful to paint on. I enjoyed playing with successive layers of paint and letting the transparency of watercolors do its magic.

The making of the birch forest ||cut paper and watercolor || by marion

This time I tried adding some extra leaves on the forest floor. I’m not sure it adds any interest though. I also prefer the way the shadows of the trees look on the fall version.

I think I’ll make the summer version next. Winter will require a bit more research: there’s a lot of white to think about!

But this week I’m taking a little break from birds and trees to work on some greeting cards designs. What about you? I hope you have a great week!


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Another Birch Forest

Birch Forest Spring || Watercolor and cut paper collage in progress || by marion

Autumn is in the air already. Berry picking and wall painting are on hold. Back to my watercolors and glue I’m making the most of rainy days: the spring version of my birch forest is almost done! I have glued all the trees and flowers, and now I’m working on some bird sketches.

How is your week coming along ?


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Birch Forest Song: the final painting

Birch Forest Song || Watercolor and cut paper collage || by marion

And here is the final piece!

When I showed the preliminary drawing to the friend who commissioned the piece, she said that she liked the new composition, but that she would prefer it without the leaves on the forest floor. Instead, she suggested using little touches of color to represent the carpet of leaves.

I was happy to do so. I also decided to add some yellow foliage in the background, since the top part looked too empty.

I painted the black and white birches, the leaves and the bird on separate pieces of paper before cutting them and gluing them onto the background.

And finally, I painted some drop shadows which were a great improvement since they really added some depth.

I’m quite happy with the result. But most importantly, this was a super interesting and fun project to work on. My friend was great at giving me constructive feedback along the process (and very patient, too!). It really helped me to improve the piece and learn tons of new skills.

 


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Birch Forest Song : A Drawing In Progress

Birch Forest Song || Drawing process 04 || by marion

This week, I finally finished the Birch Forest Song painting/collage I was working on for a friend. Yay!

While it makes its way to her mailbox, here is a pencil drawing version I made to test a different composition after this attempt.

And here are some (bad) photos I took during the process:
Birch Forest Song || Drawing process 01 || by marion

Birch Forest Song || Drawing process 02 || by marion

Birch Forest Song || Drawing process 03 || by marion


 


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Birch Forest Song : A Painting In Progress

Birch forest song // watercolor and cut paper collage // by marion

While everything is green and blooming around me, I am working on some autumn leaves. A friend asked me if I could paint something for her, and of course I was thrilled. Thanks, friend! Her wishes were : yellow and orange.

We made a shared pinterest board to gather inspiration and after a little brainstorming, ended up with the idea of an autumn leaves pattern, a little robin, yellow, orange, brown and gray tones.

It seems that my brain transformed “autumn leaves pattern” into “birch forest”. Don’t ask me why. (It might have something to do with Sweden).

birch forest, västerbotten, sweden
So, this is the first study I made. As usual I used a combination of watercolor and cut paper collage.

rougegorge_relief02_small

The composition is too flat, and the background doesn’t have enough texture.

But since then I’ve made progress, so stay tuned!


 


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More Winter Woods

Collage Pieces: Watercolor, watercolor pencils and cut paper

After making some sketches, it was time to make a finished version of my winter woods image. I decided to make it a collage for two reasons. First, I just like working with both watercolors and cut paper. Second, collage makes it easier to work on the different layers of the image, adding and removing elements and adjusting their positions along the way.

It’s a perfect technique for me, since I don’t have the patience to do a lot of planning and sketching — although I’m working on it!

If you want to see what an awesome artist can do with this kind of technique, do have a look at Phoebe Wahl‘s fantastic work. Needless to say, I’m nowhere near that level, but bear with me!

Forest background painting: watercolors and watercolor pencils
After seeing some tutorials here and there, I tried experimenting with watercolors and salt for the sky: I used coarse salt, so I obtained a pretty rough texture. Next time I’ll try finer grains. Initially I had not drawn any trees on this background, but I added some when I realized that the whole image looked really weird without them.

Scanning collage pieces
Since I wanted to be able to adjust each layer all along, and because scanning non-flat images doesn’t work for me, I scanned everything separately and made my collage digitally in GIMP. Many of you are probably used to working with either GIMP of Photoshop, but I’m rather new at it. I hope you won’t mind me sharing very basic techniques as I’m learning them. Also, any tips?

Using a green background (or a red one for the trees) as for chroma keying made it easier to find the contours of each object using GIMP’s foreground select tool.

Draft of the digital collage

After putting each object in a different layer, I was able to make a rough draft. Of course the contours still needed a lot of work, the quick foreground extraction left some unwanted transparency on the bottom left tree and there were too many saturated pixels on the path.Re-scanning the bottom part to remove saturation

I re-scanned the bottom part of the background with different contrast settings. This way I got rid of most saturated pixels, but the colors were still not very good.

Digital collage without shadows

Here is the result after I spent some hours cleaning the contours. Thankfully, there are good podcasts to listen to! I also adjusted the colors on the path and in the ray of light. I added the character’s shadow using the “perspective shadow” tool in GIMP.

Final digital collage with shadows
Finally I added some drop shadows to give the whole thing a cut-paper-y look.
What do you think?

This was fun,  I learned a lot, and I feel motivated to practice more.


other things on my desk


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Some Things

window_snow_lamp
Something comforting: snow, at last, and a lamp lit by the window.

Something Ine whispers “to her two-years-old. And also a little to [her]self: don’t be afraid”. Google translate won’t render her nice writing, but still, her words are worth reading.

Something thoughtful Milla wrote about what happened the past week. I think she has a pretty good point.

Something very interesting illustrator Akin Duzakin says about illustrating a children’s book called “Why am I here” (Hvorfor er jeg her) written by Constance Ørbeck-Nilssen and how they wanted to create “a politically-charged picture book that might investigate the idea of ‘us’ versus ‘them’, the ‘others’ in society”. A link found through Jake Haye’s pinterest, another great place for those interested in illustration.

Have a good weekend.


other things


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Some Things

frozen leave

Something thoughtful Sohini wrote about being a literature student — and that many students and researchers in other fields could also probably relate to.

Speaking of students and researchers, something hilarious and perfectly illustrative that @AcademicPain replied to my prompt. Tag them with an “academic pain”, and they’ll make a gif out of it.

Something super interesting about the process behind the cover of a children’s book, Wildwood, by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis. I always love when artists share the behind-the-scenes like this. I should also mention that I found this link through Anja Øverbye’s pinterest which I warmly recommend to anyone interested in drawing , illustration and graphic novels. Anja is a talented Norwegian illustrator and graphic novelist, and also shares a lot of her own work and process on her blog.

A very interesting blog I discovered this week, and something unexpected that made me very happy. Thank you for your kind words, M!

Have a good weekend!
garden frost

frost


other things


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Back To It

watercolors

watercolor painting

color pencils

These past few weeks have been a about sewing and knitting. Now I’m back to cutting paper and messing around with colors. I’m making more bookworms, experimenting with new patterns, and snapping little touches of orange on my desk along the way.

making papercuts


more photo challenges


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