The design process part usually takes me the most amount of time. I look at a lot of images. I browse pinterest and google images for inspiration and then print out a handful of reference images to create my design from. And I sit on it – I’m not a big sketcher. When I create the idea comes and then I draw/design. For this piece I saw a photograph of a dragonfly sitting on an echinacea. What really struck my about the image was the way you could just see the flower through the wings. I got very very excited to use my resist techniques to produce the shimmer and layers.
The scan misses the see through effect of the wings and the metallic shimmer. Well – I guess that is why people love and pay more for originals. Prints and digital images don’t do art justice – you can’s see the details quite the same. I use watercolor and acrylic to create areas of resist and absorption.
Step One: Drawing and outlining the dragonfly in gold gel pen and the time consuming task of veining all the tiny little cell outlines inside the wings – see close-up image below.
Step Two: I use gel pens in areas I want the watercolor to resist as fine lines. I also use crayola crayons – it could be any wax crayon but crayola’s work great and I can choose from lots of colors! The wax resists the watercolor in an irregular way and gives a depth and interest that is not precise like the gel pens. I used a dandelion yellow crayon to draw the stylized leaves. When using the acrylic & watercolor technique – always start with choosing where you don’t want the watercolor to penetrate the images. Here I laid in very thick pink acrylic for the flower petals so that the color would not change when the watercolor is placed on top.
Step Three: Have faith! Choose your colors and start laying it in. The resist actually helps with this step – you know where you are going. Don’t worry if you think you’ve made a decision you aren’t sure of. I have had to overcome my great dislike as an artist of sharing in process pieces because I never ever love it until it’s done. There are things that you will need to do to a piece that looks odd as you are doing it. I put some very strong color on the dragonfly’s spine and when I first put it down it looked horrible and it stuck out like a sore thumb. With just using watercolor it is very difficult to take back a bold color although there are ways but with this technique you are also using acrylic and acrylic and metallics can cover many sins! Have faith and keep going – my motto for pretty much everything in life.
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the process. Please feel free to leave a comment – I adore hearing from you! Also if you have any questions about the process or art techniques in general I’m happy to give a go at answering them. I’m including a materials list and the free coloring download. Feel free to print it out for your children to color and post on our Facebook page or if you’d like to create your own D For Dragonfly – use the download for a template – and please share your creation with us on our wall too! Art is the most fun when it’s unpretentious and shared!
acrylic paints – any brand and on a budget go to Michael’s or Hobby Lobby and buy the acrylic craft paints – they come in every color you can imagine and often go on sale for under a dollar. Don’t think you have to use anything expensive to create beautiful art – using less expensive art allows you to not think it’s precious – something that stalled me for years.
watercolor paper – buy some better quality watercolor paper it will make a very big difference :)
Fun but not necessary -metallic paints in acrylic, watercolor, gouache. Experiment with interference metallics too!
Have a beautiful and peaceful day!