The Birth of the PhoenixFebruary 10, 2012
A few weeks ago, I decided to participate in a homeschool art show. I was just going to enter some of my graphite drawings, but then (me being me, which means I have no idea why I was this insane) I decided to do a new peice to enter. Something a little different. Something outside of my comfort zone.
I decided to do it a week before the deadline. (I did mention my insanity, right?)
Some of you may remember my little drawing of a phoenix. This post has pictures and an explanation of my fascination with this legendary creature. I decided to base my project off of that paint-sketch, except I would make the phoenix a baby one since it doesn't make sense for a grown-up phoenix to be rising from its ashes.
The first two days were spent planning (and researching! I wanted to base the drawing off of illuminated manuscripts-- think the Book of Kells-- but I wound up making the drawing in a wildly different style.) Then the sketching and inking.
I always like looking at "behind the scenes" shots of other artist's work to get a feel for the way they go about their techniques. So I took pictures of mine. Not that anyone can learn much from them; I seriously just winged the whole drawing, and the watercolors in particular. I've been working with watercolors sporodically for less than a year.
I'm honestly quite proud of the little knotted phoniexes in the corners. This is a place where I put my research to good use! This is a "zoomorphic" knot, based on the animal-like interlacing done by the Vikings and by the early monks in the British Isles. I found a couple pictures of zoomorphic peacocks from the 9th century that I studied to see what was characteristic of this kind of design. There is a surprising dearth of images from manuscripts on Google...
I spent every ounce of my freetime that week working on this picture. And some. I stayed up past my bedtime and was cranky in the morning (nobody likes being around an obsessed artist...).
Inking a drawing using calligraphy pens and an inkwell is surprisingly calming.
Working with watercolors is also calming! (This comes as a surprise to me, after months of rebel watercolors dancing around in my palette and screaming, "We hate you! We won't do what you want! We won't cooperate! We're eeeeeevil!").
Well, I'll retract my statement. The watercolors got really opaque and covered up my pen lines, so I had to trace over the entire finished picture with more ink. Also, my Bristol board buckled really badly. Thankfully I was able to save the paper by dampening the back and putting it under 50 million textbooks (rinse and repeat. It took me three nights to mostly-flatten the paper).
I can truthfully say that this is the most detailed drawing that I have done in a long time (possibly ever!). It is certainly the most wildly-colored ever, unless you count my grade school notebooks full of rainbows.
I'm fond of taking little abstract looking photos of detailing.
Anyways, that's what I've been working on lately! I wound up finishing the project in time and got a pretty red ribbon! The first place winner's piece was an astounding graphite drawing. Now I'm going to be obsessed with graphite... I want to learn to be that good.