As my artist's statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance. -- Calvin and Hobbes

Friday, June 19, 2009

Graphic Designers, step away from the Mac and start sketching!

"Peach Crate"
I painted this 6x9" canvas board for an ad background. The ad is for one of my Etsy Teams.
We are having a Summer sale next week called "Peachy Deals", fresh from the Georgia Etsy Street Team!

We hope you'll visit Etsy June 21-28th for the Peachy Deals Summer Sale, with great deals in all things handmade, including bath and body, fiber arts, fine art, home decor, jewelry, handbags and so much more! Search for the GaEtsyTeam or come back to this blog and click on the links! My store is Smelly Rhino Studio, naturally.

I've been reading a lot lately about graphic designers and how they would benefit by taking a step back from their graphic drawing tools and spending more time with a pencil and paper or paintbrush instead. Once you come up with your background, then you can layer your Type and other graphics on top, making for a groovy, very "now" ad! The graphics were performed by my partner in crime on this project, graphic designer Maria Allen, who also has two great Etsy shops, Kartu Graphics (for great custom graphics and cards), and Maria Luna, which offers jewelry and fine art photography.

I hear from many of my graphic designer friends that they don't really paint or draw much other than using their talents with an electronic stylus and a mouse, so I guess pairing with a painter for projects is a good thing for fellow artists!

Just as we art bloggers talk about regularly, you gotta use it, and use it every day, and if you're not accustomed to sketching or painting on a regular basis, then I challenge you to get a sketch pad and just draw something every day. Maybe while you're on the couch at night (one of my favorite places to draw). Draw everything in front of you. Use pencil, colored pencil, ink, conte crayon, kids crayons, watercolor, whatever! The more you do it, the easier it gets. Your design skills will improve too. And don't be shy, this painting isn't even done!

Leave your Mac for a while and just sketch something. Millions of dollars are being made by stick figures and doodles, so what do you have to lose?

If you really wanna play, buy a pack of cheap canvas board and start painting. It's fun to start with a grungy background. It's in and it is a nice backdrop to layer your graphics on later.

Here's some easy directions for glazing the antique color shown above:
Tools: acrylic paint (titanium white, yellow ochre), glazing medium or water, any brush will do, but the wider the better.

Prepare your board by mixing some white with yellow ochre (about 10%) for an antique white look. The more ochre you add, the dirtier and more golden your board will look. Cover your board using a large brush.

Once dry, you can glaze. Mix straight Yellow Ochre with glazing medium. If you don't have that, then moisten with water just so it runs if tipped but not watery. I use a liquid creme additive for glazing. Liquitex also makes a glazing medium product.

Apply with a brush covering the canvas, then wipe off as desired while the paint is still wet with a terry towel or cheesecloth.
Glaze begins to set up in a few minutes, so make sure you wipe with the direction you have in mind! Wipe in circles for a general dinge! For a foggy framed look, wipe off leaving less in the center, where your image will be. You can always reapply later, but you can't take away! Also, you can wipe off lightly and then wait until it's really starting to dry, then wipe it off with a heavy hand to create a very dry brushed look, leaving color stuck in the weave. (Beware, you it's easy to wait too long!)

Don't reapply glaze on top of a drying coat of glaze because your second layer will chemically 'open' the first, and actually begin to remove that layer, which can be frustrating! So, let it set up a bit before adding more dirt!
Once you're done glazing, keep in mind that glazing medium remains tacky for 4-24 hours, so a hairdryer might be needed if you're in a hurry!

Now go doodle!


  1. LOVE this peachy painting you made for our ad -- thank you so much for your hard work! It is the perfect tone for a summer Georgia art sale. :)

  2. I like this graphic design - I always relate to the criticism Norman Rockwell would sometimes get, "He is just an illustrator." And I would think the abstract painters that were in favor at the time were "just" graphic designers. Both skills are difficult to do well.

  3. Thanks, Bill!
    I agree with you; art and artistic talent come in many forms. Norman Rockwell still ranks near the top of my all time favorite artitsts and one of my greatest influences, and he was definitely a fine artist. Most illustrators are fine artists, though. I'm glad you like the piece.


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