December 14, 2014

This time of year is kind of fun for crafty people, but kinda not fun, all at the same time.  We get to make all sorts of goodies for people but we can’t tell anyone about any of it!  It’s all CIA-levels of secrecy, all the time.  And where’s the fun in that???

On that note, I can’t tell you much of what I’ve been working on.  But there are a few things: I went to a yoga workshop a few weeks ago and my friend Mairi (Yoga Instructor Extraordinaire) brought along all the large kapok bolsters I sewed for her over the spring.  Then, because she is worth her weight in gold, she spent the weekend telling everyone who used one that I made them for her, which resulted in a whole slew of new business for me.  See what I mean?  Gold, I tell ya.

And I have also finished a bunch of new paintings and finally got them scanned, copied, framed/matted and photographed.  Did you see that?  In my shop?  No?  Well, whatchya waitin’ fer ta go see ’em? Go on, now.  I’ll wait for you here.

Ok, good, you’re back.  So other than that, it’s mostly Top Secret Classified Special Ops craftiness (pardon the pun…har) ’round here.  I’ll show you, eventually.

For now though, I thought it might be fun to show you a little peek behind the scenes.  I am working on this custom painting for my neighbour, who happens to be our vet and has bailed me out of many a minor scrape (and who happens to be an all-around good egg).  Her mom owns a barred parakeet and she wanted something special done up for her for Christmas.  So, I jumped at the chance and I (impressively!) remembered to take photos of my progress, to show you how this all goes down.  It goes without saying that I wasn’t going for fancy photography here, right?  Ok.  So here goes:

The first step is to sketch up the bird in pencil and start playing with the knitted goods. Sometimes, it takes a few tries to get the right garment on there. This was the third hat I gave him.

Once the overall image is figured out, I go over everything with indelible ink pen and erase all the pencil marks.

Next comes a pale wash. Watercolour is different than a lot of other mediums; you start with the light tones and work your way to darker. It’s not very forgiving, so you have to be patient and let everything dry between steps, unless you’re looking for wet-on-wet colour bleeding effects (which I am not).

Once the washes are dry, I start to layer some very simple shading. Pretty much every colour in a painting is actually a blend of several different tints and tones. Instead of always mixing the colours to get exactly what I’m looking for, I will often exploit the translucency of watercolour to allow the undercoats to shine through the subsequent layers. That’s what makes things look so fresh. It’s also why there are so many layers. And why the price of the piece is what it is.

More layering…

And still more layering… You still with me?

By now, I’ve started to add some details, like the knit stitches in the hat, and some of the individual feather textures. I’m also big on contrast, so I spend a fair bit of time intensifying the shadows and making sure that I start to get a sense of form (3D). I want my work to look like it might pop off the page – no flat images for me.

Some things are starting to really take shape, here. I’ve coloured in the eye, the hat is mostly finished, and now I’ve done the wash on the scarf. (I didn’t start on the scarf before because I wanted to make sure that the green of the body didn’t bleed into it…again, watercolour is tricky that way.)

More shading in the scarf and the pompom…

…and here he is, in all his tam-wearing glory (I’ve decided that he is a whiskey-drinking Scotsman). I am quite pleased with him and I think Emily will be, too. He passes my husband’s test, and that’s usually a good sign!

Oh! Can’t forget that last little step.

Danielle WhiteDecember 14, 2014