A super long post about making a children’s book

Hello! Happy saturday everybody! I’m having my first day off in what feels like forever, and it’s well needed. I have a lot of things I’d like to do with my free day, like rebuilding my working space, finish sewing a dress I started on two years ago, fix my boots, repair the fence… I probably won’t be doing any of those things though. My only plan is to take a really long walk with the dog (she truly deserves a day of attention), finally drink that beer that’s been waiting for me in the fridge for months, and to write this blog post. So here we go.


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Process of the Mushroom-village

Just like it took me longer than it should to realize that I could use my current interest for mushrooms to make art, so did it take a while for me to start combining the mushrooms with my love for tiny houses.
I don’t know what took me so long. Mushroom houses are already a big thing, and I’ve drawn some before I got interested in the fungi-species. Oh well, at least it hit me eventually.
Here’s the steps I took to make my latest mushroom-painting.

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Little Christmas-painting

Merry Christmas, or happy whatever other holiday you’re engaged in!

I’m no fan of holiday-celebrations myself. It’s not that I have anything against christmas, it just happens to be filled with things that makes me nervous, so I usually try to avoid it all.
I was planning on spending the day alone, but agreed to come with my boyfriend to his mom’s house. Luckily, their idea of a good christmas celebration looks a lot like mine.  They spent the whole day playing computer games and watching series, and I was listening to music and painting this:

Say what you want about Christmas, but the theme sure makes for some idyllic motives.

It almost beats that one year when the whole celebration was eating clementines and watching die hard.

Hope everyone else also got to spend the weekend the way they wanted to.

Process of the rooftop-painting, and learning so many new things.

As the title suggests, this is about the process I went through with a painting.
My regular procedure is more or less to get an idea, sketch it down on a watercolor paper, and start painting.  This leaves me with a lot of ugly paintings and unfinished ideas.
And yes, it is stupid of me to not realize this until now: I should start putting a bit more work into my work.
As you might know, I am self taught, and reason to why I’m stupid number two is: Even the self taught learn from somewhere, but not me. I’ve been painting and painting, for my whole life, but I haven’t actually taught myself anything. I never understood that there’s a difference between practice and conscious learning. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I found out that there’s such a thing as youtube tutorials. Really. The thought never hit me that the internet can provide useful information….

iIt seems my actual learning has barely started yet. I’m quite disappointed in myself for not figuring this out years ago.
Anyways, one of the first things I learned was how much work other artists put into their paintings. Sketches, thumbnails, color tests….. It almost seems like most of the work is done before the actual painting is even started.
Obviously, I have got to try that.

So, here is an idea that I had a while ago, and I thought about the motive for a while. I’ve been struggling with architecture for a long time, but put a lot of practice into it, and my first thought was just to try out my newfound house-drawing-skills. Then it just happened to get a sad superhero and people in windows.

I started out by doing a little test. This piece is about 7 x 7 cm, and is practically what the whole thing would’ve looked like if I had followed my regular procedure.

I liked the houses in this one, but not the placing of them. I wanted more windows facing the viewer, so I made a little sketch, based on a house I drew a while ago.
Still not satisfied with this one, so I made another, that started out as a combination of the two, but turned out completely different.scan0158
Now, this one turned out pretty good. There were a worse pencil version of it at first that I didn’t document, but it’s basically the same, just with a lot of ink on it, and better details.
I took this sketch and traced it onto a watercolor paper.

I didn’t document the step by step process of the actual painting. But I did take one photo, just after I put the first layer of watercolor down.
A few things I did with this one that I almost never do (because of stupid) was making color tests during the process, and taping my paper down.  Also, it’s the first time I’ve tried stretching the paper. Something I didn’t know about until two weeks ago, but really wish I had. In case you’re as unaware as I was, you do it so that the paper won’t buckle when you put water on it, and it makes everything amazingly easy.
I didn’t think of having the smoke from the chimneys until right here. I started painting the sky from the top, and with half the page white, I realized that it’s the perfect way to make the little superhero show better.

And, well, after this it was just layer upon layer, until I thought it was finished. It turned out like this:
I am very happy I took all those extra steps, because it really is one of the best paintings I’ve made. Funny thing is, that it’s far from my favourite painting I ever made. I actually don’t like it that much at all, but only because of the motive. It is still clear that this one is of much higher quality than anything I’ve done before. And I know it’s not just me, because I’ve never received so much positive response for a painting as I have with this one.

Again, I really wish I had started doing this a long time ago. But better late than never.
I am so excited about next year, when I’ve learned even more and look back at this one and think it’s crap. Just like I do with the stuff I made a year ago today.

Now I’m off to keep learning something new.


Breakout of the creative block.

Hello everyone! How are you?
I feel fantastic myself, because since my last post about my “creative block” (I guess that’s a good name for that?) I’ve found a way to break out of it!
It was so simple, it’s ridiculous.
I just went into town, found an art supplies shop, and got myself some new paints and brushes. Immediately my fingers started itching, and I rushed back home to try them out.

I wanted to try something new, so I started working on some characters. I’m quite tired of the way my characters look, and I want to make them softer, and more personal.
I love these noses, but have been scared to use them. Mostly because the authors I’ve worked with wants their characters as cute as possible, which means big eyes, big heads, small mouths and noses. I find that pretty boring.
I’m a bit more confident now, so I’ll start working on these again, and I guess I’ll just have to use them for my own projects.

Ok, so this one got a little messed up. It was just too many experiments squeezed onto one tiny paper. That’s what happens when you get too excited.

I had no idea it would have such a huge effect. Only two cakes of watercolor and a set of detail-brushes has kept me in a great mood for days.
Of course I have bought art supplies before, but never like this.
For me, just like most people, money has almost always been the main cause for worry in my life. I won’t go deeper into the state of my economy than letting you know that I’ve been living in a caravan for six years and my wardrobe is entirely made up of clothes that are either found or received as gifts. I wouldn’t buy anything that isn’t absolutely necessary, and of course the same goes for art supplies. In case you didn’t know, those are usually pretty expensive, so whenever I’ve had to buy some new papers or something, I’ve been afraid to use them. My expensive watercolor papers and quality paints are reserved for commissions and masterpieces ONLY. So buying new art supplies has always been more of a burden to me than anything else.

However, since I got that park-job, I’m making a lot more money. Now, I have an economic freedom I’ve never experienced before. Suddenly, the rent is not a constant worry, and I can buy food because of want instead of need. What a luxury!
I’m still hesitant about buying things that I don’t need, even though I can. But this time, I gave myself an excuse: it’s my birthday! I haven’t celebrated that for years, and I don’t get any gifts from myself or anyone else. So it’s really a poor excuse. But without it, I wouldn’t have let myself buy those paints and brushes, and I’m so glad I did.

Next time I come across the block, I probably won’t have an excuse to spend unnecessary money, so I’ll have to figure out some other way to deal with it.
For now I’m just really glad to be back on track, with my awesome brushes.


Practice and practice and nothing is working out.

Hello my dear imaginary friends. It’s been a long while since I wrote you guys. I haven’t really had anything to write about.
I want these posts to have some sort of meaning. If it’s to document my own progress, voice an opinion or share some information doesn’t really matter, as long as there’s some sort of meaningful content. But right now I don’t really have anything like that. So I guess this post is all about the lack of those things. And I hope that expressing it will help me get past it.
I’ve been feeling very stuck lately. My motivation is down and the inspiration is failing me as well. This is nothing new. Both inspiration and motivation are things that come and go, and honestly, the lack of them are more usual. Mostly you just have to force it.
Painting is not like bicycling, and you have to keep that stuff alive. And the way to do that is going back to that canvas and make something. Every. Single. Day. No matter how much it sucks. It is essential for improvement, and for discipline.
But yeah. It really sucks. When you are frustrated with your work and it seems like you’re going nowhere, forcing a painting can be depressing.  But you still just have to get through it. And don’t forget that it won’t always be like this.

So here’s how I’ve tried getting out of my rut.

One way that can sometimes spark some motivation in me is to explore my colors. I don’t do color tests nearly as much as I should, but when I do, it’s not unusual that I find some fantastic color that I feel like I need to make something more with.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work this time. I actually hate these:tests
The least awful, however, is the yellow and purple. These tests looks pretty bad, but it’s usually a color combination that I like, so I tried making something out of it:

Some form of abstract landscape? Still, this had no effect, except for a little more frustration.
Maybe making a color chart will help?  Even if it doesn’t, it’s always a good idea to get to know your colors better.chart
Nope. No effect here either.

Ok, let go of the color stuff. Lets try and practice something more concrete. I still need to work on houses and environments, so let’s do that. I lack the imagination to come up with something myself, so I just google and pinterest for a while to find something to depict.

Some very lovely houses somewhere in eastern Europe that I made look pretty terrible. Man, was this a bad painting day.

Let’s do a few more:
Ok, so these aren’t completely terrible. I’m actually pretty happy with the right and left one.
And here is when something starts to happen. Even if I didn’t come up with the motives myself, as soon as I manage to paint something that I think looks good, the urge to paint more starts to grow. And finally, I got motivated enough to make something out of imagination:
scan0113It’s just a tiny (8 x 8 cm) study of color and composition, and while I’m not particularly happy with the result, it’s so much better than nothing at all.

I’m still not completely back on track, but I’m getting there.

This deep dip in motivation didn’t come out of nowhere. It’s not coincidental that my lust for creating goes down together with my mood. I’ve been down in other areas too. The old depression has paid me a visit again(that happens sometimes), my workspace is far from ideal, my schedule has been messed with by things I’m unable to control, and I’m pretty stressed out in general. But again, it’s so important to keep the painting going. It’s hard, because painting is emotional work, and it can feel impossible to get into that state of mind that is needed to create the things you want. But it’s easier to get out of it if you try.
Gosh, I wish I was one of those people that can channel their bad moods into great art. I guess it’s something one can learn, but I’m not there yet. For me, I just need to force it for a while and remember that things always get better. Then worse. And then better again.

Keep on painting (or doing that kind of creative stuff that you do) y’all!

A little PS.
While I’m not updating the blog a lot, because of the intention to have some meaningful content here, I do upload a lot of my daily work on other places. For example, I recently became so modern that I got an instagram-account! I try to update that at least a few times a week, so if you’re more interested in seeing the paintings than reading about them, that’s the place you want to go.  https://www.instagram.com/emblagranqvist/