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Weekly Artwork Round-Up

No point in calling it Artwork Wednesday, because this post is (a) not featured on Wednesday, and (b) ridiculously late.

One art problem I’ve faced recently is how to deal with reference photos. Printing every photo I want to draw from uses a lot of paper and ink. Sketching with my laptop precariously balanced on my knees is not only bad for the laptop and my arms and legs, but eraser crumbs get between the computer keys. So…why don’t I just rest the laptop on a table? Because I hate, hate, hate people seeing the reference photo on the screen or seeing my drawing when I’m first sketching. It’s not so bad if the drawing looks like a human with clothes on, but before I get the sketch to that stage…

Anyway, I have  five pictures to show this week!

First up is Sanchia, a character from my semi-western story with a working title of Gentle Fire.  I picture Sanchia so vividly that it was great to capture that on paper more or less easily!  Also notice that the wool skeins drape over her wrists so that I don’t have to bother drawing hands like yarn skeins do in real life.  Especially since she’s paused her work to listen to someone talk.

This is the cabin that Durant and his family live when they first move to the western colonies.  The table is just slabs of wood set on sawn logs, and there are no proper shelves, cupboards, or even beds yet.  But it’s their own house on their own property, and that’s enough for them once they survive the journey.

Nonetheless, Wilson promised to build proper shelves and beds as soon as possible.

I drew this with charcoal–and there’s a funny story to go along with it.  Ever since I began drawing, Dad tried to get me interested in charcoal drawing, because we had a kit and tutorial series somewhere in our detached office.  I was too busy learning to use pencils, however, to turn my attention to charcoal.  Fast forward a couple of years to when I bought an art set only for the little art mannequin to use for drawing poses.  But charcoal pencils were included in the set–and out of random curiosity, I used them to draw this.  And–

I. Love. Charcoal.

I promptly informed Dad about this and thanked him for mentioning that medium and the art set out in the office.  And for the record, my parents are right 99% of the time.  🙂

My brother Chris suggested I draw concept art for my story to get an idea of the atmosphere and aesthetic–so I took his advice and started watercolor sketches in my leather sketchbook.  This is the rancho of another character: Barros (father of Maria, whom I mentioned here, and Teresita, whom I haven’t mentioned yet. 🙂 )

Another watercolor sketch, this one of the books Durant brought to the west.  The bottom one is a book of natural science; the next one up is a biography; the third is a small volume of poetry; the fourth is a novel of some sort; the fifth is  a brief history of the nation; the sixth (the long, grey one) is a primer; and the topmost book is Durant’s personal record book where he jots down financial information, a brief description of the day’s events, and sometimes his nephew’s antics.

Speaking of nephews, here’s Alex, Durant’s eldest nephew.  With his uncle’s hat on his head–Durant has a habit of dropping his hat on the head of whichever nephew is nearest!

Part of me wants to draw Lennox again, and get back to A Tale of Two Cities fanart–but I can’t stop drawing my Gentle Fire characters!  So who knows what artwork I’ll have to showcase next week!

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Artwork Thursday – New Art Supplies!

Late is better than never, right?  My internet connection kept breaking yesterday, and so I couldn’t log on here and get the post up.  *sighs*  But here we are now!

While at Hobby Lobby the other day, I saw a beautiful leather sketchbook with soft pages that might hold watercolor nicely.  I decided to take the risk and buy it…

Isn’t it gorgeous?  And when I’ve used up the pages, I think I know how to remove the leather cover and re-use it for another journal.

I also picked up a portable watercolor set…

…which was an impulse purchase, but a good one.  I’ve wanted for years to have a portable watercolor set so I could paint outside and use the scenery around me as reference.

Here I am painting outside!  After getting nearly blinded by sunlight reflecting off those white pages, I prudently relocated to a shady spot.  The journal pages did hold watercolor pretty well–not as perfectly as my professional watercolor paper, but well enough for sketching!

I also tried sketching with pencil in the leather journal…

…but it’s rather hard to erase without shredding the page.  This is my character Sanchia, from my semi-western story.

Same character with some shading and detail.  Not sure which version I like better!

This is myself caricatured as a walnut.  And before you all blink in disbelief and unsubscribe, let me explain: I was goofing off with a friend through text and making her laugh…and then got this hilarious image of myself as nut with a posh hat.  So I doodled the image!  Also, I shall make “sass with class” my personal motto.  🙂

I’ve kept up my crocheting…

…and made a cover for a chair cushion.  I even followed a crochet pattern–sort of.  I’m one of those crocheters who change the pattern as suits their needs.  🙂  No harm in being flexible!

Then at the last minute yesterday, I realized it was Flag Day…

…so I doodled this (and the leather journal holds colored pencil pretty well too–good to know!)

I also left off the stars because it would take until next Flag Day to draw them all!  🙂

And I finally finished a drawing I’d started weeks ago…

…this is Maria, another character from the semi-western.  She’s quiet, but fun-loving, and so she’s jumping off rocks or something like that here.

That’s all for now!

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Artwork Wednesday – Back to Watercolor!

Before my watercolor painting frenzy began, I drew a couple of pictures with dry media.

I drew this in the car.  The highway was a long smooth stretch, and so I was able to sketch without worrying about bumps in the road.  And without getting car-sick, which is the real miracle.  🙂

This is my character, Mary, (from the semi-western story) and half of a quote from Pinterest.  The full quote says:

“Typical MBTI Description: INTJs are the cool-headed geniuses of the 16 types.  With their love of objective reasoning and  uncanny intuition, no one can fool this intellectual mastermind.  Actual INTJs: Where are my socks?”

Which is definitely Mary, so here she is, a bit confused.  Although she does use objective reasoning and generally points out the principle or detail that everyone else missed.

I started this one weeks ago, got extremely close to finishing, and therefore, didn’t bother finishing until now.  *headdesk*  Yet another victim falls prey to the “Oh-there’s-plenty-of-time” mindset.  Anyway, I absolutely loved painting all that mist in watercolor–it was difficult keeping an eye on the paint to make sure it didn’t drift into an area where it shouldn’t–but the work paid off!

A tulip tree blossom.

Some daffodils that didn’t turn out quite as detailed as I’d hoped.

But while painting the daffodils, I watched The Fellowship of the Ring–and got a sudden urge to paint a Shire landscape.

So I did.  This is a very small painting, maybe 3″x5″, but that may have actually helped me not go overboard with detail.

That’s all for now!

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Artwork Wednesday

Artwork Wednesday is finally back!  There isn’t much to show, I’m afraid, because I often have to choose between art and writing each week.  I’ll have to see if I can fix that and do a little drawing and a little writing each day.

In the meantime, here’s what I did over the last couple of weeks.

This picture was actually finished weeks ago, and I forgot to upload it.  I found some colored pencil tutorials online and used the technique in those tutorials for this picture.  In short, the technique requires many layers and washes of color.  It reduces the “sketchy” look that I complained about in my year-end art roundup, but it also whittles my pencils down really fast.  🙂

Then last week, I returned to watercolor painting…

With this painting, I didn’t worry to much about details and laid down the colors and shadows loosely.  Which was one of my New Year art goals–to quit refining artwork into oblivion.   And this turned out rather well, and I hope it marks the start of a journey out of perfectionism.  🙂

This was supposed to be a nice, sunny, warm painting, and ended up looking more like a summer gothic detail.  At least I figured out how to create really dark shadows in watercolor.

Another suggestion from Chris!  It was a good one–and he’s inadvertently helping improve my skill by suggesting varied subjects.  He also wanted me to draw another picture of Bucky (which is sketched and awaiting refinement) and another picture of Batman.  And then Gingersnap wants me to draw Poe Dameron.  I hope to have those completed before too long!

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Artwork Wednesday

Not a lot of artwork to show this week, but it’s because the pieces I worked on were difficult–and I even redid some.  Hopefully, there will be more artwork next week!

Sydney Carton?  Who’s that?  Not someone I mention often, is it?  🙂  Actually, I’m playing around with outfit ideas for  him.  I’ve always pictured him in green, for some reason, and decided to use symbolism in the color: green represents life, renewal, rebirth–but I put him in a muddy shade of green to represent his decayed hopes and ambition.  Brown is often associated with down-to-earth, wholesomeness, dependability–and that’s the color of his waistcoat, the hidden layer of both his personality and outfit.

The line art for this had been sitting in a folder for months, but I finally finished it.  And also discovered that my watercolor penmanship is sloppy.  🙂

Another pastel paper painting, this time blue paper with indigo watercolor and white gouache.  The scene is one I’ve had in my mind for a long time, though I don’t know where it came from.  Maybe I’ll work it into a story someday, like C. S. Lewis did with his image of a faun walking through a snowy wood.

Creative chaos, and a preview of another work-in-progress.  🙂

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Picture Wednesday

Temporarily changing these posts to Wednesday; not sure it will stay that way, but the middle of the week seems like a good time to show what I’ve already accomplished and to prompt me to continue drawing through the rest of the week.

The first piece of artwork is brought to you by New Year’s Day itself.  The name of the piece is *drumroll*–“Mankind’s Greatest Achievement: Seedless Strawberries.”

Also known as “My attempt to make it seem like leaving seeds off the strawberries was a thought-out choice, not an aspect I simply forgot to add.”  And I’m just kidding about those titles.  The title of the drawing is actually “Strawberry sketch”.  Because titles pour from ‘neath my typing fingers with the eloquence of the ages.

Along with sarcasm.  🙂

 

I’m proud of this painting because I sketched the line art and painted the scenery entirely from memory.  I wanted to capture the fresh, green color of tree leaves against grey clouds.  And on the paper, the trees are a cool green, and the clouds are a warm grey, but for some reason, the digital screen scrambled the colors.  Oh, well.

 

Now this was a mixed media experiment.  I used Sepia watercolor and white gouache on toned pastel paper.  To my surprise and delight, the pastel paper held the paint quite well, well enough to handle several washes before the paper started peeling.  Also to my surprise, though the paper wrinkled when wet, it dried completely flat.  (What looks like buckled paper in the scan is actually how the paint pooled and dried.)  This may become my new favorite technique–it has the look of my graphite/toned paper drawings, but the fluid smoothness of watercolor.  And Enkie says this painting looks rather like one of those old-time sepia photographs.

 

Now that autumn is over, it makes sense to paint an autumn picture, right?  Actually, I stumbled across the line art for this in one of my sketchbooks; I had scribbled this landscape months ago and then forgotten about it.  It’s a pleasant surprise to find good artwork while spring cleaning your supplies.

 

Originally did this in colored pencil; finally rendered it in watercolor.  And once again, the watercolor version is my favorite.  Maybe I’d better figure out what subjects or landscapes I prefer in colored pencil…

I used a technique called “glazing,” which is painting over one color with another.  In this case, glazing pink over yellow and then indigo over pink created more vibrant bands of color than using pre-mixed colors of orange and blue-violet.  I’d used the glazing technique before, but not for a whole painting, and not with such brilliant results.  *adds technique to art knowledge arsenal*

 

Another free hand, New Mexican landscape, and a painting that I like much better than my last attempt.

That’s all for now!

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Picture Saturday: Year-End Art Meme!

First off, a schedule change: I might move my Picture Saturday posts to another day of the week, as I often have a lot of time to draw on Saturday and Sunday.  It makes no sense to post before I have the most time to draw, but I haven’t yet decided which day to show the week’s artwork.

On a totally different note, I went through my folder and sketchbooks the other day and found a shamefully large number of unfinished sketches.  So I’m going to make an effort to finish those before taking on too many new drawings.

And leaving “too many” unspecified creates a handy loophole to exploit.  🙂

Until I get the old stuff finished, all I have to show this week are two paintings.  The first is a freehand…

…meaning, remember, that there’s no line art.  I adapted the landscape from a photograph on my “West, Pioneer!” Pinterest board, and I think the painting turned out pretty well.

The other painting is this…

…one that I rendered in colored pencil, but thought would also look good in watercolor.  And I like the watercolor version better than the pencil version.  Not bad for my first time painting a Mexican character!

But since that’s not much art, I decided to create a year-end art meme.  Feel free to fill it out yourself if you want, but I officially tag Julia, Bella, and Treskie!

Rules:

1.) Insert a picture of your artwork (or quote, if you’re a creative writer) from this year to answer each question.  If, however, you don’t have a picture or scan, or don’t have one of good quality, you can describe the piece.

2.) Drawings and paintings aren’t the only artwork to showcase–you can include pictures of sculptures, jewelry, sewing, knitting, set design, dance, quotes from your writing, anything that requires creative energy.

3.) Tag someone else!

First piece of artwork/writing/performance done in 2016

A colored pencil sketch of the yellow and green rings from The Magician’s Nephew.  I like the way the lighting on the green ring turned out.

Last piece of artwork/writing/performance done in 2016

This one.

Unless I sketch something else right before midnight.

A new medium/style/technique you tried this year

White pencil on toned paper!  I love this mixed media combination because it creates easy shadows and highlights, and it’s easy to sketch on because the colored paper hides accidental dark marks better than white paper would.

For those of you just joining us, those characters are Sydney Carton and little Lucie from A Tale of Two Cities.

A pose you’d never drawn before (or just something in your creative field you’ve never done before)

Actually, I drew several new poses this year:

This is Charles Darnay from A Tale of Two Cities.  I drew a lot of TTC fanart this year.

I discovered with this picture that colored pencil also works on toned paper.

The piece of artwork that others liked the most

Probably this one of Micheal Maguire that I drew for Gingersnap.

Your personal favorite piece from 2016! (Explain why!)

This one, hands down.  It’s my personal favorite because, come on, it’s cute!  (Can I say that even though I drew it?)  Also because I managed to draw a baby that actually looks like a smiling baby and not some weird, more-horrifiying-than-cute humanoid face.  And thirdly, because I drew two of my characters in a pose I’d never tried before, and it turned out “surprisingly okay,” in the words of Sherlock.  🙂

3 things to improve in your artwork in 2017

1.)  Well, I want to improve my colored pencil technique.  It often ends up sketchy when I wanted it smooth, and I often can’t get smoothly blended colors or really dark shadows.  Maybe I need to learn better control?  I dunno.

2.)  Learn sketch more quickly.  The jury’s still out on whether I can but just get caught up in drawing/perfecting details, or whether I truly need to learn this.

3.)  Further polish my watercolor technique.  Specifically, learn to layer color better and to paint a little more loosely without refining details into oblivion.

I’m a perfectionist, in case you couldn’t tell.

Other things to improve: more complex poses, more varied facial expressions on fanart and my character drawings, more figures in one drawing, and more complicated backgrounds.

3 new things to try in 2017 (such as styles, mediums, poses, backgrounds, character to draw, contests to enter)

1.)  More fluid and watery watercolor technique (without obsessing over depicting perfect details).

2.)  Draw and refine my characters’ appearances, facial expressions, and activities.

3.)  Drawing and painting bokah (out-of-focus backgrounds) with an in-focus foreground object.

What do you enjoy most about creating?

The moment when the messy sketch begins to look like the image or character I want!  And of course, the finished product!

 

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Picture Saturday: Watercolor Walk-Through

After last week’s doomed tutorial (and the subsequent quiet fuming), I rallied, sallied forth armed with paintbrushes and camera, and conquered both paper and blog post!  The scene I chose to paint is a portion of New Mexico landscape, referenced from several photographs.

As a bonus, I also put my messed-up painting to good use…

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…by tracing over it for fresh line art and by testing the strength and consistency of my paint on the back.

To create new line art, I taped a sheet of tracing paper over the painting and drew the outlines of the trees, mountains, river, &etc. with red pen.

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Once the ink dried, I taped the tracing paper to my light box and fitted a new sheet of watercolor paper over the line art.  Then I turned the light box on…

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See how clearly the red ink shows up?  Other colors, even black, don’t show up as brilliantly under the paper and over the light, in my experience.  So I stick to red pen.  Being a writer and editor, I have a bunch of those lying around.

I drew on the watercolor paper with a 2H pencil, following the red lines.  You can’t see the pencil lines, though, because of the strong back light.  Neither can you see my left hand fumbling to hold the camera at an angle that picked up the red color, the tip of the pencil, and my hand.  🙂

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I finished penciling the line art onto the watercolor paper and taped the page to my painting board.

The tape in question is designed specifically for art: it fastens paper down, but peels off without tearing the paper.  Unless you yank the strip as though you have a tape-removing deadline.  Do not ask me how I know this.

My painting board is actually the back of a 9×12 picture frame that called it quits and fell off the wall.  The glass shattered, and the empty frame was rendered useless.  But the back board was a perfect firm, but moveable, surface–one that can be propped upright on an easel or moved off the table right before dinner.  Because people insist on eating in my studio.  Most annoying.

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My supplies from left to right: Josefina book, reference photos, watercolor paper, tubes of paint, water jar, palette (cheap plastic thing from Hobby Lobby), and brushes (not-so-cheap things from Hobby Lobby). On the subject of where I got my supplies: the water jar is an empty pickle jar that I commandeered once it was emptied and rinsed out.  The watercolor paints also came from Hobby Lobby, but the box is an sturdy plastic candy box that turned out to be the perfect size for my tubes of paint.

And the Josefina book came in the mail.  I included the book in my supplies because (a) it has another reference photo in the back; (b) it gives me something to read while the paint dries, and (c) I’m still fangirling over the series.

The cast of colors for this project: Cerulean, Permanent Red Light, Burnt Sienna, Azo Yellow Light, Yellow Ochre, Sap Green, Hooker’s Green Dark, Cobalt Blue, Prussian Blue, and Burnt Umber.

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The first part of the landscape I painted was the sky.  I wet the sky area with my 1-inch wash brush and brushed on a layer of pale Cerulean.  Painting over wet or moist paper is called “wet-into-wet” technique, and it creates light, transparent layers of color.  The water also helps paint spread across the paper, but the downside is that if your water seeps into an area you wanted left white–the paint drifts there too!  Not fun.

In fact, Cerulean color drifted across the top of the mountains–as you can see in the picture–but it actually works for this particular landscape because the mountains need to be hazy and somewhat blended with the sky.

While this layer of paint dried, I mixed up the other colors.

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See how bright and saturated (heavily pigmented) these colors are?  If I use them straight from the tube, every part of the painting will be overly bright and have little to no contrast.  Also, the colors of trees, ground, mountains, and so on are usually earthy or dusky, and not inherently bright.  Fortunately, de-saturating in watercolor is easy.  I mixed some green in the red paint and some red in the green paint…

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…and there we are!  Any color can be de-saturated by mixing in some of its complimentary color.

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While still waiting for the sky to dry, I painted the ground with a mix of red, yellow, cobalt blue, and a little Burnt Sienna.  I painted the trees with the same color as the ground (save for the foreground trees) because I want that  earthy tone to tint the green of the trees.  Watercolor is transparent, and the colors of one layer often tint the one above, unless the paint is very dark or very saturated.

After snapping this picture, I realized that the ground was too dark.  Whoops. But contrary to what you may have heard about watercolor, you can lift off paint if you work quickly and have the right tools.  The colors won’t come off completely, but they will lighten.  So I moistened the ground area with my wash brush and gently blotted/wiped the surface with a paper towel to remove paint.  (Scrubbing the area would destroy the paper and its ability to hold pigment.)  On smaller surfaces, I “erase” color by wiping the unwanted paint with a damp brush and blotting with a paper towel until the color is lighter so as to be mostly unnoticeable.

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Argh, sorry the picture turned out so fuzzy.  Anyway, once the sky was dry, I wet the top part, washed a second layer of Cerulean across it, and blended the color downwards to create a nice gradient.

Also, see the lumps in the paper?  One of many reasons to wait until the paint dries completely to add the next layer (unless you’re working wet-in-wet); otherwise, paint will run off the lumps and puddle in the valleys, creating an uneven layer of color.  And the artist will overturn the table.  And possibly chuck it and her art supplies out the window as well.

But when the page is completely dry, it will lie flat and prevent all the aforementioned problems.

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After the sky was (again) completely dry, I painted the mountains with Cobalt Blue.  And you can really see where the Cerulean bled into the wrong area.  However, it will all be part of the mountain haze and shadows.  Watercolor will develop your plan B skills in a hurry.  🙂

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While the mountains dried, I painted the foreground trees with a mix of Sap Green, Permanent Red Light (to de-saturate) and Yellow Ochre.  These trees came out a too light, more yellow green than the dusky light green I wanted, so I later added a layer of darker green with more Yellow Ochre mixed in.

And I painted the background trees with Hooker’s Green Deep de-saturated with Permanent Red Light.

After this shot, though, I quit taking so many step-by-step pictures.  For one thing, I started painting smaller areas, paint dried more quickly, and I added the next layers more quickly.  For another, I simultaneously drafted this post, wrote another, and rendered the painting.  Step-by-step shots would have been too much to coordinate.

So in a series of steps that I did not document…

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…I rendered the mountains, using Prussian Blue mixed with Cobalt Blue.  I really just shaded the slopes and enhanced lines or blotches where the paint didn’t end up completely smooth.

For the ground, I used Burnt Sienna straight to shade the folds in the land and to paint the reddish earth of the river bank.  I also painted the middle of the river pale Cerulean to suggest reflection of the sky.  Then I added darker layers of green to the background trees.  As each part of the landscape dried (completely!), I painted darker colors until I was happy with the hues.  Then I mixed Prussian Blue and Permanent Red Light into the green paint and rendered the trees–really just with shadows to give them form, since we’re seeing the landscape from a distance.  I also painted reflections in the river with the light, watery versions of the tree colors.

I have no idea why my shots came out crooked.  They looked normal on the camera viewfinder.

Several hours and layers of paint later…

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I will definitely paint more landscapes like this in the future!

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Picture Saturday–Watercolors & Phanart!

Did you know I paint with watercolors?  This started back in 2011 after a couple of dear elderly friends passed away.  The widows would be alone that Christmas, and so I decided to send them Christmas cards.  And I decided to paint the frontispieces myself, because I wanted the cards to be handmade.  Those first paintings were disproportionate and messy, but the recipients liked the cards nonetheless.  🙂

I’ve kept the tradition of sending those Christmas cards, and overtime, I’ve read tutorials and practiced and learned how to use watercolors better.

All that said, I hadn’t painted much this year–it takes time, and I was either busy or tired.  But early this week, I got out all those supplies, and cranked out three paintings in two days.  New artist record for me!  And it was good to paint again.

56-winter-sunset

Because I hadn’t painted in a while, I warmed up with this freehand (i.e. little or no line art) of a winter landscape.  I particularly like the way the colors in the sky turned out.

 

57-delicate-flower

This one is a re-paint of a subject I did earlier this year.  In my first attempt, the background was chalky and caked up, which ruins the quality of watercolor.  This version turned out better, although the colors did cake up a little here and there.  You probably can’t tell, though, unless you’re a watercolor artist yourself.  Or a perfectionist.  🙂

 

58-summer-tomatoes

And then I painted this, referenced from a photograph I took of Granddad’s tomatoes.

Watercolor paintings are not all I did this week…

59-swimming-girl

A girl in the water–I used a photo I found on Pinterest as reference.  I wanted to capture the hazy, little-to-no contrast of the dress under the water, and the texture of the wet hair.

 

60-christine-and-raoul-fluff

Christine and Raoul fluff!  I think the phandom needs more Christine/Raoul fanart (though some artists do create it), and definitely needs more fluff fanart.  I mean, they’re in love, aren’t they?  And they need some lighthearted moments after all they went through.

Speaking of what they went through…

61-after-final-lair

…they had to have suffered post-traumatic stress of some kind.  Possibly flashbacks, possibly nightmares, perhaps difficulty trusting anyone (besides each other), and maybe fear of losing each other.  I could see Raoul becoming somewhat over-protective as a result.  Anyway, in this picture, they’ve been married for a few months, and Christine had a nightmare.  So Raoul is comforting her.

As a side note, I drew this in maybe 2 1/2 hours, which is lightening-fast for me.  Also, I had a lot of fun drawing Raoul’s messy hair.  🙂

I am definitely drawing more Christine/Raoul fluff next week!

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