‘Follow the Keeper’ or the day I grew up.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram or Facebook may have noticed that I have been trying to improve my landscape/ scenes drawing skills.

I had come to realise that I’d finally found my style (yay!) with regards to drawing/ painting animals and characters, but I wanted more. I wanted to set them into scenes and imagine what they were up to.

Also, for quite a few months now I’ve had in mind to create a story with creatures who look after the Forest. That’s where the Keepers comes from. This one is a wombaroux who’s come straight out of my head. He looks after the wanderers and the lost ones who need guidance in the Forest. There’s no story yet, just ideas of illustrations. I have decided to let the illustrations guide me to the story. It is there somewhere.

This painting combines lots of newly learnt techniques, or long forgotten ones:

• Image composition: it’s been so difficult previously. I didn’t know where to put the trees, how to do the grass, how the bottom of the trees should be so that they didn’t look like they had been cut and stuck into place, sigh…I had tried for many weeks but with this picture it looks like something clicked and all of a sudden I knew how to do it!

• I hadn’t used gouache since early last year and I’m glad I did again as it helps so much to get vivid colours. In this illustration I have sometimes used a layer of gouache over a layer of watercolour and the result was more than convincing! Gouache is also a wonderful medium to add texture and shadows/ lights.

• I used colouring pencils over gouache and watercolour to add extra details. I had seen two artists do this but had never tried it myself. It makes such a difference and adds a lot of texture to the picture. I used pencils to add extra lights or shadows, to add more strands of grass as the gouache was sometimes not opaque enough and to add details on plants/ fungus.

• Limited colour palette: I decided that doing this would help keep everything harmonious. Choosing the main colour wasn’t difficult as I seem to be attracted to blue a lot at the moment. From there I chose colour tones which were close to blue: greens with a tinge of blue, browns which are close to purple, even the wombaroux’s fur colour was chosen carefully: I knew it would be red, and I went for a rusty red rather than a bright orangy one.

• Light source: this is a big deal for me. Previously I could work out where shadows were with a light source such as the sun. But I had never dared imagining painting a lantern which was set in the dark and work out how it would glow and how it would affect the objects/ people surrounding it. I know this is not perfect in this illustration, but considering that this was my first attempt and that last night I wanted to turn the light off to see the lantern glowing properly I think I’ve done really well!

Prints and greeting cards are now available in my Etsy shop, just follow the link!

I will leave you with the picture and some close ups. You can find a list of the materials I used towards the end. Don’t hesitate to ask me in the comment if you have any questions. I’m by no means an expert but I’m happy if I can help a bit.

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Materials used:

• Arches 300gsm watercolour paper
• Winsor and Newton professional watercolour
• Reeves gouache
• White ink
• Derwent colouring pencils

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2 thoughts on “‘Follow the Keeper’ or the day I grew up.”

  1. Very interesting, particularly how you layered the mediums; I’ve never tried mixing mediums in painting. I also felt I could appreciate the lantern’s glow in the dark! 😀

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    1. Oh I’m glad it’s not just me! 😛 The gouache over watercolour was kind of ahappy accident last week. Do you remember the ticklish fox painting? I’d started with one layer of watercolour but I thought it wasn’t bright enough. But when I added a layer of gouache it made such a difference!

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