I have been painting a lot of Reindeer lately with the intent of putting them on watercolor paper Christmas cards. About halfway through my 2nd attempt, I realized I don’t really know what a Reindeer looks like or anything about them at all really. All I know is the classic movie Rudolph and Rudolph is not exactly a documentary. I started researching and realized what I was drawing looked more like the whitetail bucks we have here in upstate New York than reindeer.
Reindeer are less delicate in their appearance than whitetails. The reindeer also have far more impressive horns. But, don’t tell my father the whitetail enthusiast, I said that! 😉 I don’t think a whitetail could pull a sleigh or hold a rider like nomadic reindeer riders of Outer Mongolia. Their color varies more than I thought as well. All though I feel I did not accurately reflect their coloring. They can have a very light value and that is hard to render on watercolor paper.
Reindeer and caribou are the same species Rangifer tarandus. This is one of those moments I wish I had paid more attention in college. I did take biology but did not retain much after the final exam. The difference is that the Caribou of North America have never been domesticated while the Reindeer of Eurasia are. I list some references below if you are curious. While researching Reindeer I stumbled across the blog of Cairngorm Reindeer in Scottland. I highly recommend reading the blog lots of interesting information and lovely photos of the animals themselves. The most recent post about the first snow is very endearing and the photos are beautiful.
Reindeer Christmas card cover.
Reindeer Christmas Card
Cairngorm Reindeer’s site has a really nice Christmas section showing their deer in red harnesses which inspired me to create cards with deer with red harnesses and bells. Who doesn’t smile at the sight or sound of Christmas bells? I wanted red sparkly harnesses so this lead to the purchases of yet another set of brush markers I bought Spectrum Noir Glitter Brush Pen Winter Warmers set. I may have a brush pen problem at this point. I will do a write-up about them later this week.
Here are a few more of the cards I made last weekend.
Christmas Card Mother and Baby Reindeer
Reindeer baby and Mother
PS: Since posting this blog entry I have gotten a couple of messages asking if I was selling my Christmas cards. It was not really my intent to sell these. I really just painted them for my family. However, I didn’t really want to tell people no, because I was very flattered to be asked. Therefore I have posted these to my Rebubble (a print on demand company) profile. I have also enabled prints on my Deviant Art profile they have cards under “Art Gifts”. I really can’t speak to their quality as I have never ordered from them but it is an option if you are interested.
This is a top five list of free art instruction resources according to well me. While I am no art expert I am a novice and as such, I have spent a great deal of time searching for free art instruction. You like me may lack the time and money for formal instruction. But, there is plenty in the wide world that will only cost you your time.
My art journal this week has focused on the lotus as a metaphor for pain and suffering followed by regeneration and happiness. This is one of the many lessons we can learn by observing the natural world.
“NO MUD, NO LOTUS Both suffering and happiness are of an organic nature, which means they are both transitory; they are always changing. The flower, when it wilts, becomes the compost. … Happiness is also organic and impermanent by nature. It can become suffering and suffering can become happiness again.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
No Mud, No Lotus The Art of Transforming Suffering is a book authored by a Vietnamese Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh. I was attracted to this title because long ago I accepted the idea that growth only comes when we are on the edges of or well past our comfort zone. As a young student from a rural homogeneous hometown, I found the adapting to a diverse college in an urban setting to be difficult. I did consider going home, but luckily I stuck it out and as a result, my world grew. I gained an education and a perspective with lifelong benefits. Changing ourselves can be an uncomfortable process wether, it is adapting to a new place, learning an instrument, practicing math, or developing an athletic ability. If we persist through the discomfort and temporary failures we often find we are better off on the other side. By facing the temporary discomfort rather than avoiding it we strengthen ourselves.
No Mud, No Lotus‘ premise take this idea father by applying it to tragedy and hardship. All humans must face difficulty and loss in our lives. I am lucky in that my share has been mild and I live the comfortable lifestyle of a middle-class westerner. But, we can all learn from what we find difficult, stressful, even tragic. The analogy of the lotus can teach us how. The lotus rises from the muddy bottom of dark pools. Much of its existence is spent in darkness but it will eventually rise out of the mud to bloom. Eventually, the flower will wilt and return to the mud. Such is life a cycle of happiness and sorrow. But, if we face and embrace the pain we are better able to appreciate what is good in life. Additionally, we learn compassion from our pain. That we may have empathy and offer support to others in their moments of darkness. We can offer a path for those lost in the mud of life.
I am planning to participate in Inktober this fall as I am hoping to improve my drawing and inking skills. I just wanted to share a bit about Inktober and why it is a good idea to participate.
What is Inktober?
The Inktober initiative was started by Artist Jake Parker in 2009 to help him develop “positive drawing habits”. The idea is to pledge to do a daily ink drawing for the 31 days of October. Inktober participates share their work via social media like DeviantArt, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with the tags #inktober and #inktober2017. The best part of Inktober is viewing other participants work by searching with the above tags. One can gather a lot of inspiration and exposure to new techniques by viewing the art of other artists.
Not everyone chooses the daily challenge some people will participate via every other day or weekly. How much you choose to participate is up to you. If you need ideas you can find a prompt list on the website http://inktober.com/ or the Facebook page.
As I mentioned in a previous post art is persistence. We improve with practice. Inktober Is a great way to challenge yourself and develop a regular art practice. I consider my technical drawing and inking skills to be fairly weak. But, I know if I put in the time I can improve. Learning, a new skill has multiple benefits as it is a workout for our brains. Learning new skills can improve our cognitive abilities and keep our minds sharp as we age.
Inking Tools for Travel
A Simple Sketch and Inking Kit
Crows and Sparrows in Flight
I have started to keep an Inking and Sketching pack that I can easily take with me. The pack is a small wet bag so if I should break an inky tool it won’t leak all over the contents of the larger bag I put it in. This pack is handy because I can take advantage of my Lunch break, waiting time at the doctor, or a trip to the playground to practice. It contains some of my favorite inking tools.
In my kit, I have a 3.5x5in Crescent sketchbook which is great for sketching in ink as the pages are bleed through resistant so you can use both sides of the paper. I also have a Pentel pocket refillable brush ink pen. This is a pen that ends in a brush so it gives you a lot of variability in line width. But, it does take time to master it. I recommend practicing varying line widths with it a bit before taking on a project. A little sketchbook practice is a get way to get competent with this tool. I keep a Micropen for details or days I can not hold my hand steady enough for the brush pen. I have a Uni-ball white gel pen for highlights and correcting. Lastly, I pack a Tom-Bow dual sided brush pen for details and lettering.
I have some non-ink tools in my “Inky” kit as it contains an HB pencil, sharpener, and eraser for sketching out compositions before inking. I also have a tiny Art Snacks sketchbook that I will put pencil thumbnail sketches in.
I consider this to be a fairly complete kit that is lightweight and very small. I hope to follow up with a post about the inking tools I keep in my home art supplies.