I’ve been able to get back to the experimental illustration I started a little over a week ago. There were several points I was paying attention to:

  1. Do I enjoy this work? (Answer: yes)
  2. Am I capable of doing this work? (Answer: yes)
  3. How do my art materials work together in this instance? (This was made with Ecoline transparent watercolors, on Fabriano Mixed Media paper…I want to try hot-pressed Watercolor paper next, and there’s nothing stopping me)
  4. What does this look like when scanned and uploaded? (See below right)
  5. Is it feasible to work a comic on paper as versus making it born-digital? (Answer: probably, but it might be more stressful than it has to be)
A female person with very short hair holds her left arm with her right hand. She appears to be skating in an ice rink.
At the ice rink (check the knee skew)

Right now I’m fairly fatigued. I’m writing this out because unless I push myself, I’ll probably miss out on recording my immediate experiences. I’ve probably already waited too long to catch all of them.

Working with all of the materials I had to engage, was actually a nice thing. I did learn some things directly. One: adding color to lineart is going to be messy. It’s to my advantage not to overwork areas in an attempt to “fix” something which may become a serendipitous point of interest in the final image. Two: Layering colors, to an extent, can draw attention away from the mess. Three: the Ecolines look massively better when they’re mixed with each other! Four: I understand now why one of my teachers tried to encourage me to be messy (as versus perfectionist). There is no perfection in this. Only difference.

And, of course, the more you try to correct a perceived mistake, the worse it may get. That would especially seem to be so, where it comes to watercolors — though I’d actually go a step further like someone here, and call Ecolines, “inks,” not, “watercolors.” The reason for this is that they’re dye-based, whereas most quality tube (i.e. not liquid) watercolors are pigment-based.

(I probably shouldn’t get into Lake pigments…which are essentially precipitated insoluble dyes which act as pigments [but may fade], if I’m correct. But that essentially moves beyond the difference between solution [dyes] and mixture [paints], to more obviously Chemistry-centric thought that I have a hard time engaging after a couple of decades out of Chemistry class.)

Dyes are great for illustration, where you don’t want to obscure your underlying linework; not-so-great for longevity, where you want, in a sense, to time-proof your work. Illustration media aren’t necessarily meant to last over centuries or millennia in the same way Fine Art media are. We should be happy that the original Astro Boy illustration boards even still exist…

I have read that watercolor itself has only been considered seriously as a Fine Art medium, with the introduction of permanent, lightfast pigments. But that kind of begins to lead me down the road to discuss the use of commercial pigments as artist’s materials (e.g. the whole thing about Quinacridone Gold [PO49])…which I don’t have either the experience or education to talk about.

Then there’s the obvious caveat that a very large number of old oil paintings really don’t convey the same experience as they did when they were new, due to the darkening of varnish and the use of fugitive colors. The term fugitive colors is applied to colorants which change in nature, over time — by UV exposure, exposure to air, exposure to microbes, etc.

I’m not certain when the whole, “colored pencil drawings aren’t real art because they fade,” argument came into being, or, “watercolors aren’t real art because they fade,” similarly. It’s just extremely hypocritical when you have a bunch of brownish oil paintings in museums. I mean, seriously. No one knew they weren’t supposed to be like that, until they tried to clean them. I suppose one can cite naivete…

Then there’s the whole gender issue at the Bauhaus (women could paint in watercolor but were discouraged from oils), which seems ridiculous to me, but I would have been supremely anachronistic in that time period, anyway.

So you have dye-based colorants — which may change in character over time (though this isn’t an issue if they’re immediately scanned into an archival digital format like .TIFF: I went cheaper at a 1200 dpi .JPEG [much simplified for the Web]) — and pigment-based colorants, which are more permanent as a rule, but not necessarily totally permanent. Pigments are small particles, dyes are not: it’s harder to bleach a particle or oxidize a particle, for example.

When one is working digitally, however — that’s a totally different ball game; and it is worth it to ask whether, when something is intended to be seen digitally, is it worth it just to create it first in a digital environment?

I’m pretty sure that falls down to personal preference…there are aspects of working digitally that just do not compare to working by hand, on paper or canvas, instead of a tablet. The softness or snap of a brush, or the blossoming qualities of certain watercolor paints on certain papers (and not other papers)…I would not expect to be mirrored exactly in a digital environment.

This is precisely because it varies so much in a real-world environment, and there are so many issues at play (such as the dampness and absorbency of the paper, the amount of water in [and characteristics of] the brush, the quality of touch, the quality of paint, etc.: I have four different Prussian Blues which perform four different ways on the same paper, despite using the same pigment [yes, I was nitpicky]).

That’s not to even get into the differences in lead constitution between different brands of graphite pencil…(Derwents, as a class, are the most crumbly graphite pencils I own, for example…it’s kind of annoying.)

But that’s edging beyond my level of knowledge. I did take a number of classes in Digital Art, but I’m still not experienced enough to really know what I’m talking about. In five years, I might have better insight.

What I can say is that I don’t think digital art will ever fully replace the experience of making traditional art; but there are definite advantages to digital art. The ability to delete what you didn’t want to do: but did anyway, is one of them.

Most of the work on the above scan — inking and coloring (by hand, obviously, from my errors) — was done on the 22nd. I’m much better (much more practiced) at monochrome drawing, than with colors; the thing is, I’m very into color. Much more so than one might be able to tell, from looking at this blog. I think that a fascination with color is an advantage from the start: especially, looking at how difficult it can be to use color effectively.

I am not a professional Illustrator at this point; but given my current employment options, combined with my personal constitution, it’s attractive as a vocation. That’s if I can get my skills up to a professional level, which will not come without my believing in myself enough to devote time and presence of mind, among other resources, to practice.

I am coming to the point of acknowledging that my imagination is probably one of my more extreme strengths…which can be a double-edged sword. I’ve mentioned before, some of what can go along with that — especially given the fact that I deal with mental configurations which include both a tendency to catastrophize, and a vulnerability to false beliefs (which…you know, those two things could be the same).

This is the major reason that I veered away from Creative Writing after my Undergraduate degree was over. To a lesser extent, I got into Visual Arts when I realized how challenging it would be to have control over a world of my own making, when my mind had not been reined in.

There does seem to be something to the analogy of trying to ride a wild horse, when it comes to mental health…

…I say, never having ridden a horse. Not even once, neigh?

(Now I’m unconsciously getting into polyglot humor. I’m sorry.)

There’s a lot that changes in twenty years, including one’s self-knowledge, and ability to notice when one starts spiraling in a direction one does not want to spiral down. I’m sure it’s noticeable from the backlog of posts, here, that I can start to go off on a tangent and then, by surprise, maybe the post’s primary content ends up being that tangent. I’m not entirely sure why it happens…I’ve just been told to keep writing.


3 responses to “Ecolines”

  1. I understand how you feel.

    There’s this one YouTuber I saw that draws digitally to make the drawing as clean as possible, traces it, and inks it down.

    As well, I wouldn’t worry about dyes and fugitive colors like you said. You can make prints and sell a limited amount of your fugitive color set.

    As well, the pictures you did is really nice and I love your Cel Shading, it gives it a lot of depth—especially to the clothes and face.

    I go off on tangents often when I’m talking about anything and if I’m writing a school paper I have to go back and edit it.😣

    Digital art definitely isn’t the same as traditional art, both of them are different experiences—at least for me. Funnily, I feel like I have more control and charge with watercolors than I do with digital art. I feel like I can bs traditional art and people just find it quirky and cute, but on digital, since it’s “easier” more experimental styles that I like don’t really get appreciated in spaces that I’m in and end up being considered mistakes or not as fascinating because it’s digital. I really like vibrating and clashing colors and watching some colors layer and pop out more than others (you can see an example with the digital works on Soli or Ane Noje or one could be on Hihi, I don’t know.) and it definitely seems like a subjective thing because I see it, but nobody else sees it or real appreciates what I’m doing digitally and since this AI bull crap is going down, I don’t really like doing digital art much anymore because it makes me depressed knowing that a bunch of people are scared of AI and hyperreality that they want to “see the real thing” so they don’t feel lied to or duped. It’s kinda stressful and I know I shouldn’t let people frustrate me or motivate me, but sometimes people’s words make me stressed and jaded and when I tried to ask my one family member, she thought it was a valid concern and seemed like it was rational and fine to talk about a robot takeover and fearmongering about AI.😠

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Feets! 🙂

      Don’t worry at all about needing to go back and edit. In reality, most things that are published (like in articles and books) are not first drafts. (They may not even be sixth drafts.) The only reason I can churn out as much writing as I do is that I’m practicing all the time.

      For that matter, I wouldn’t hold myself to the standards of anyone on social media…the recordings cut out a lot of the process (if not, at times, virtually all of it). I do wonder how often the people who record themselves, have to edit out errors, or restart because they didn’t do something “perfectly”…

      None of this, really, is perfect. Or, the vast majority isn’t, and you may run across one or two pieces that you’re really proud of (out of 100 or so), in hindsight…but the majority of work is not producing masterpieces, you know? Then there’s the question of what “perfection” actually *is*, and where that idea comes from, and if it’s even possible to achieve — which is where AIs come in, as you mentioned.

      More to the point, it’s where nature comes in; nature provides the implicit mathematical basis upon which computers are (explicitly) built. People, however, are complex.

      Unless trained, the human touch is going to be mathematically inaccurate, due to that complexity. AIs may be more mathematically accurate than people, but there is the question of whether it’s the product, or the process, or the effect, one is invested in.

      Much of the time, people won’t pay attention to what you’re paying attention to, unless you point it out for them: most people don’t have an Art education. Most people probably don’t even know *what’s included in* an Art education…

      Liked by 1 person

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