Tag Archives: gouache

Step by step: Soldier & Lady making a snowman

2 Dec

I will be mailing my parents their Christmas presents this year. And since my mum had such a blast last year with my drawing of the Mackintosh’s Quality Street characters Soldier and Lady, I painted her a Christmas card with them in the snow making a snowman.

Finished version of the “Soldier & Lady making a snowman” postcard painted with gouache

This is one of their design from the 1960s, I think. From the side of a tin box.

Step by step

Pencil sketch. The background being grey, I chose a toned paper so that I would only have to add colours and white on top of it. It’s from a Toned Blue Mixed Media vellum surface pad from Strathmore. The blue tone really passes well for a grey, luckily, as it’s the only toned paper I have. 4 in. X 6 in. (10.2 x 15.2 cm), 184 lb. (300 g/m2)

I have only a few tubes of good gouache paint and a few tubes of watercolorlur too to draw from in order to mix the colours. I knew the painting colours would not be faithful to the original, in particular the Lady’s dress which was pink and fuchsia. I started with the red. I mixed burnt sienna gouache with titanium white opaque watercolor but ended it with a pinkish orange. I then added Indian red watercolour and was satisfied and painted the Soldier’s jacket, omitting the parts that were going to be a different colour. Then I painted the dress. I added white and a little bit of Prussian blue to the red mix. The resulting colour was plum, and this was fine. I added more of the red mix and some brown I had from a previous painting and used that for the darker parts of the dress. Then I used titanium white watercolour to paint the snow, leaving untouched the areas of the footprints and shadows.

I needed a few shades of grey for shadows on the snowman, under the dress, and on the soldier’s leg behind the snowman. for the faces I applied white and brown. Then I used some ivory black to decorate the dress’ fur, paint the hat, boots, Soldier’s hair, the snowman’s stick and eyes, and the shadow against the tree trunk. The Lady’s scarf was supposed to be blue and dark green, but with a dark plum dress I thought leaf green was going to be better.

Snowflakes! I used a white Posca pen to add dots that I immediately tapped with my finger to spread the ink unevenly. Then I added yellow ochre to my green and finished the Soldier’s hat, the top of his boots, the decorations on his shoulders and the handle of his sword.

I wasn’t happy with their faces so I attempted to make them better only to fail. In retrospect, the faces were fine as they were!

I fiddled some more with their faces and as soon as I had managed to make them look a bit less weird, I stopped. I made them look happier in the process, so it’s all good. I added a touch of white for the teeth, which aren’t visible in the original, but since their faces were so dark, I thought it would be a good alteration.

I didn’t want to write on the painting in case my mum wants to frame it. So I folded a white sheet from my cheap watercolour paper block, cut a couple slots and inserted the painted. I will write inside and will mail everything tomorrow!

All of my Drawvember 2020 drawings

1 Dec

Last year I did six series of 5 drawings on a given theme or technique and I really liked it, but this year I compiled a list of prompts, and chose any medium or technique I liked:

  • Dragon
  • Robot
  • Fur
  • Cherub
  • Carnival
  • Prey
  • Pyramid
  • Crane
  • Diving
  • Pounce
  • Buccaneer
  • Altitude
  • Shipwreck
  • Zebra
  • Drums
  • Cougar
  • Boat
  • Planet
  • Sullen
  • Jellyfish
  • Monkey
  • Angel
  • Vanquish
  • Depth
  • Villain
  • Lipstick
  • Cliff
  • Pure
  • Elf
  • Tower

All my drawings in one place


I loved it! I discovered in the process that I don’t really like coloured pencils, but that I absolutely love gouache painting!

I think I have improved over the years. Notably, for “sullen” I redid a drawing of “Woman Sitting on Edge of Veranda” by Utamaro Kitagawa. Four years apart, and this time the lines were crisper and there was simply more details.

Drawvember 2020 days 21-25

25 Nov

Day 21: “Monkey”

My friend Amy shared with me a collage she created in Photoshop in her wonderful Wallpaper series, featuring a monkey silhouette. I found it beautiful and set out to reproduce it. I used exclusively gouache paint, from the few Holbein Artists tubes that I received in one of the Sketchboxes. I mixed Prussian blue, leaf green and titanium white to get the green background, darkened with more blue for the flower stems, titanium white for the flowers, and burnt sienna for the flowers centre, the tree and the monkey silhouette.

Day 22: “Angel”

This is a bronze sculpture of an life-size angel guarding the grave of Francis Haserot at Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio in the USA. Sculptor Herman Matzen created it in 1924. Known as the Haserot Angel, the sculpture is in fact called “The Angel of Death Victorious”. Most striking are the black tears which pour out of his eyes and drain down his neck, which appeared over time as an effect of aging bronze. Definitely not the common angel! At first I was afraid by the pictures of it, then I was fascinated. I chose to paint it using black Sumi ink, with a flat brush. The bristles are unfortunately worn out and the lines aren’t so sharp and thin anymore.

Day 23: “Vanquish”

I chose the prompts somewhat arbitrarily and I had no idea how to illustrate today’s prompt, so I am very glad Aston Martin created a model called Vanquish — did they name it this way to encourage James Bond to use it? It’s a beautiful car. I never drew a car before, let alone painted one! Gouache paint is clearly becoming a favourite medium! I used Prussian blue and green leaf with a cheap medium soft flat brush with synthetic bristles that I once got at a Flying Tiger Copenhagen shop, and a bit of titanium white watercolor in tube for the highlights.

Day 24: “Depth”

Perhaps I chose “depth” as a counterpart for the earlier prompt “altitude”? I struggled a bit for inspiration. Since I am not very good with perspectives, I thought it would be challenging to draw a rooftopping point of view (it was). I used for the first time a black Copic Drawing Pen that I received in a Sketchbox. The ink doesn’t flow very well. That’s why I haven’t used it before. I don’t know if it’s on purpose. The ink turns to some dark sepia as it dries, it’s interesting. Another interesting aspect is that the line is thick when the nib is used the right way, but it is extra thin when used upside down. I don’t really like this drawing but I don’t detest it either.

Day 25: “Villain”

Black grey and blue ink and gouache painting of the joker holding the Batman playing card in front of his face. I got so carried away layering grey ink mixed with blue gouache that I misplaced the eye! Oh well, I still like it very much. It’s very bold compared to much of the stuff I usually draw. I learned that the grey ink in the Brush Writer from Kuretake does not mix too well with the Holbein Artists gouache. And the black ink from the Pentel Brushpen does weird things with the grey ink when that brushpen is too wet.

Step by step: Toothless gulping fish

20 Nov

I made a habit these last few years to hand make my son’s birthday cards. This year I did something new: asking HIM what theme he wanted me to explore. Toothless, from the movies “How to train your dragon”. Ok! I love this character: he’s in fact a cat. With scales and wings.

I started with a pencil outline on toned thick paper, the size of a postcard.

Then I mixed my Holbein Artists gouache paint: Prussian blue and ivory black and added titanium white (just a teeny bit), which I laid on the paper. I made sure to be as precise as I could

I mixed further my blue mix: more blue and black for the areas of the dragon that were in the shadow, and more white for the parts of the dragon that were illuminated.

Then I used leaf green mixed with with to paint the grass underneath and his eyes.

Here, I had a very precise idea of what I wanted to achieve and it turned out I just could not! I wanted rays of golden light falling in the background. I mixed some yellow watercolor paint (I don’t have yellow gouache) and white. And there was no way I was able to get the yellow to play well with the blue background. I had thought that once the background was dry the new layer was never going to be change by it: big mistake.

So I ignored the yellow rays mess, mixed a bit of black and white and painted the dark parts of the rocks. Then added more white to the mix and painted the light areas of the rocks. I used some of those mixed on the ears. I added details using black for the pupils, white to accentuate the illuminated areas.

At this point, I had wasted both time and yellow paint :) None of the strokes would produce the gradient I wanted because either the moisture of the paint turned the layers to green, or the new layer was unblended and it was going to look bad.

So, I returned to my early mix of blue, black and white and covered as much of the yellow rays as I could. It gave some texture to the background. I painted the bit of the fish that sticks out of the dragon’s mouth.

Final result with lettering done with a white Posca pen. I hope he likes it! His birthday is next Monday.

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