Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mom's Birthday Hearts

I've been working on this project for a couple of weeks now, trying to get everything just right.

This was drawn on Strathmore medium weight drawing paper, finished piece is 4.5" x 6.5" to fit in a mat for a 5x7. The hearts are drawn with a black calligraphy marker, with the overlap shape in a warm gray pitt brush pen. The background is a grey copic marker, and if there's a name for that specific fill pattern, I don't know it. (If it's not, and someone wants me to draw up instructions, post so in the comments. :) )

The heart fills are drawn in micron pigma blue, both the 01 and 005, then the whole thing is shaded with 2b, HB, and H graphite. I went with harder leads for the shading on this one because I wanted the hearts to remain cool and bright. I even ended up going back over the graphite tapping it lightly with a kneaded eraser to get the shading the right level for this piece.

This didn't end up quite as I expected it to when I started out. The original vision I had for this was for warm, 'glowing' hearts over a black background, hence the choice of the natural white paper instead of bristol board. However, once I drew the hearts in and was deciding on patterns, my husband came up and asked what I planned to do. When I told him, he said "You're going to lose the hearts if you do it that way. Do some larger tests before you fill in that full piece."

He doesn't speak up often on my projects, but when he does, he's usually right. So, I went to my smaller drawing pad and did some full and partial page samples.

First, using just black and what I originally intended for the backgrounds...

He was right. The hearts, even with shading, didn't pop like I wanted them to. And though I liked the background pieces, they were too bold for this particular design. I even tried coloring in the hearts with a couple of prismacolors in order to give them a radiant glow. It didn't quite work as I wanted.

So, I said what if I used a different color for the background? This time, I tried my two preferences for the background pattern, and went with sepia and grey.

Closer, much closer, but it still didn't have the life that I wanted. Again, even with the colored pencil and some quick shading.

Getting tired of filling in the backgrounds, I said what if I used the black background, but sepia for the fill? Or airier fills in the black, letting the colored pencil let them shine. I also started testing smaller... these are less than two inches on a side...

Still no go. Not bad for themselves, but not what I was after.

Getting frustrated now that I had a bunch of nice images, but none that were what I wanted, I tried the sepia background again but with a lot of other choices for the fills... the whole sepia portion takes up 3 inches on the page with the last two samples.

I liked a couple of those choices, but nothing felt quite right. Both the grey and the brown on the sepia background would have made nice products, but they just weren't what I was after. Though the grey on the sepia did come close.

So, I decided to try switching the colors around. What if I didn't stick with the warm colors as I originally intended? After all, mom and I both love the blues in general. And by now, I'd decided that any of the fills I had tried for the background were too distracting. Plus, I was tired of drawing the same pattern over and over to test. So, I just scribbled a bit...

That actually had the pop I wanted, and I even ended up liking the background texture. But it still wasn't the warm.

So out of curiosity, I tried a little two inch square on bristol board, to see what it would be like if I hadn't put it on the natural white in the first place...

Cute, but not as close to what I wanted as the blue was. So I set it aside for a few days.

Came back to it and decided to give the colors over black and a brown over sepia one more go, but this time with what I had decided would be the background fill.

Again, not bad, but the one I kept coming back to was the blues. It may not have had the glowing warmth I originally wanted, but it was soothing to look at, gave a more delicate feel (something mom and I both like), and fit her colors better.

So, that's what I finally ended up going with, and I'm happy with the results. I hope she is, too.

Happy Birthday, mom. :)


  1. Very nice. I love seeing all of the sketches and the final result. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Beautiful. And thanks for sharing your design process.