1000 Heads: the book

1000 heads, my illustration book

Inspiring books for the creative type


29.6.05

Summer laziness

The next weeks we will be taking it easy. No digital work, no bits and commands.

We will devote our time to the real stuff: real paper, creamy paint and sharpened pencils, and whatnot.

After the summer parenthesis, clearly refreshed I hope, there will be new articles and stuff in Typephases Design and Acuarela.

Posting images in Blogger

Did you notice the picture icon in Blogger had changed? Now you see this one in your posting template:



Here’s why. Now you can post pictures within the Blogger environment. This simplifies things a lot, making it unnecessary to link to external image files or other workarounds. Excellent news.

Now I only ask one more addition to Blogger to make it P-E-R-F-E-C-T (in my opinion, of course): please add a categories option and this will be the easiest to use, most powerful bloggins system for mere mortals.

28.6.05

Lazy days ahead

I know Acuarela has just debuted... who would insist on having a holiday now? But the summer weeks will be lazy, quiet, switched off from computers... and at the same time active: active with real stuff: paper, watercolors, inks, pencils... the arsenal is ready and I plan to create quite a few drawings and prepare sketches and ideas for new bigger paintings (acrylic and mixed media on canvas) I will be painting later this year.

There will be few posts in the summertime; a few comments, some new findings. Later, on september, I plan to add lots of new stuff.

24.6.05

Illustration friday: heroes

See more of my illustration here at my Flickr project page

A contribution to this week’s theme at Illustration Friday, this image comes from my dingbat Absurdies 3.

22.6.05

Sharing some colorful sketches

eyeglasses sketch
I have started posting some really colorful sketches to my Flickr space. I will share some of my original watercolors, drawings and other original creations. If you click any of these miniatures you will be carried to a page where different sizes are available, together with dozens of other of my (very diverse) originals.

I usually start very disciplined when I want to draw something new, with one single technique, say with pencil, color markers or watercolor, but very soon the mischief begins and I start mixing everything that’s within reach.
a view - landscape with vivid colors - fauve style
As it is often the case with many artists I know, I frequently prefer the sketches to more finished works, because they retain more freshness, energy and spontaneity. And there is something more special with sketching things when you travel. If you carry a sketchbook with you, you realize there’s something almost magic about drawing or painting scenes, places things and people. You remember best the place, its feel, even its smell and other sensations, with your sketch than with photos. It must have something to do with the interiorisation of the scene: you make it something that’s yours while you observe and draw the picture.
alleyway and stairs

21.6.05

Milton Glaser, redesigned

Milton Glaser’s website has been recently redesigned. I think it’s almost unnecessary to talk about who is Milton Glaser. Anyway: the section called “Milton” will let you know more about the man and his work— this part is a big improvement over the old site, with essays, interviews and a biography (you choose: short, medium or unendurable length). His essays are always interesting; he shares his wisdom and insight in Dark & Light, Ambiguity & truth, 10 things I've learned and Legends Award speech.
You will also find the short film directed by Hillman Curtis, previously featured in the Adobe website.

There are a number of his works on display, including some of his illustrations, and a minisite devoted to his posters. Glaser has always tried new techniques —and somehow has managed to make them all his own. He is one of the few illustrators that really have several signature styles.

His watercolors, in particular, have always been delightful to me, for his mastery of wet techniques, something really difficult to control. He has a number of illustrations that take advantage either of absorbent papers (japanese style), or wet paper to create subtle shadows, color transitions and other amazing details that I devour whenever I browse one of his books or watch one of his posters.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to study his originals in detail, in a magnificent retrospective that visited Barcelona and Palma, and the watercolours were really enjoyable. If you aren’t able to see some original works, you can always get a copy of his classic, Graphic Design (Overlook Press), or the more recent Art is Work.

The real secret of watercolor

example of Jean Michel Folon WatercolorI hope the title of this post isn’t misleading. Let me explain. I remember one phrase in an interview with Jean Michel Folon I read a long time ago. He said more or less that “it took me eighteen years to learn the secret of watercolor. You must use lots of water and little color.” This may seem a very simple statement, even a boutade, but there is a deep truth and a really clever explanation of what watercolor is all about and why it keeps fascinating us.

One thing that Folon’s watercolors make me think about is the themes of the artist. One of the main differences between design-commercial art and other forms of art is the question about the theme. An artist often needs some kind of excuse to begin painting or drawing. And sometimes it seems like everything has been said already—it makes you wonder if a particular subject is really worth painting it. Watercolors, in particular, are regarded by some as a bit passé technique, something more appropriate for landscape sketches or illustration, but a bit apart from modernity and post-modernity. However, artists like Paul Klee demonstrated there are no barriers other than your mind’s in the choice of theme and technique. You can explore the endless resources of the dreams, your imagination and wit to create new images: abstract, figurative or somewhere in between. And any technique may serve this purpose perfectly.

In the case of Paul Klee, just open any book about his work and simply enjoy the flow of dreams and imagination, transferred into paper with watercolor. He was always searching something, always constructing his own visual vocabulary in a never ending exploration of his inner self. Jean Michel Folon has been creating a world of his own, as well, for several decades now. He has used watercolors to great effect, always with subtlety and delicious colors. Folon has created many memorable posters and illustrations. Well, let’s see some of Folon’s works.

Whenever I run out of “excuses” to paint yet another watercolor, I try to think about creators like Folon or Klee—just to remember there are so many reasons, so many themes.

20.6.05

Bill Sienkiewicz

I think Bill Sienkiewicz is one of the most interesting comic artists and illustrators today. Most of his work can be easily found in bookshops or online stores, and it is a worthy addition to any collection, not only of comics, but also for people interested in general illustration and creativity.

Sienkiewicz is a very special artist in many respects. While most comic artists or illustrators use one or a very limited number of painting and drawing techniques, he happily mixes every conceivable media in a single page —even in a single frame: pencil, inks, charcoal, crayons, acrylic, photocopies and collage, watercolours, gouache, textures... Watercolour is often avoided by many comics artists, but in Sienkiewicz’s case, it plays a crucial role in his art.
Sienkiewicz is an excellent watercolourist, using colour in a daring and unrestrained way.

I especially recommend the following volumes:

  • Daredevil: Love & War (story by Frank Miller).
  • Elektra: Assassin (story by Frank Miller). See an online exhibition.
  • Stray Toasters, a very personal work where he both wrote the story and did the illustration.
  • Moby Dick, a comic adaptation from the Melville classic.
  • Santa: My life and times (illustrated almost completely in watercolours.)
  • Hendrix: Voodoo Child (illustrated biography)
At first his style was heavily influenced by Neal Adams, but slowly he developed his unique mélange of influences, which include of course Adams, but also psychedelic imagery, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt,Alphonse Muncha and other early XX century artists, and a myriad of other influences (especially Bob Peak (thanks, Brian, for the remark), which he has blended to create his own and very personal visual language.

Apart from the Elektra exhibition, you can also visit Bill’s site. But the best you can do is go and buy the full list I’ve written before.

Variations from A day in the cliffs



One of my favourite methods of painting consists of taking a single motif and exploring different colour treatments, textures and other transformations. This is an example. Some more will follow at my Flickr page.

17.6.05

Daily Pic 37: orangen Kopf


A quick trial of natural media painting on the computer, in the expressionist style. Something I definitely will be doing more (with Painter, the program bundled with my Wacom tablet—although I’ve made this straight with the mouse.)

Marina’s Terraces by Nils Burwitz

In my opinion (and many other people’s), one of the best watercolour series ever produced is Marina’s Terraces by Nils Burwitz.

This ongoing series of hundreds of big watercolours (51 x 73 cm.) is based on the shapes of a particular landscape of terraces near Valldemossa, Mallorca, the village where Burwitz has lived ever since he came to Mallorca in the mid seventies, after a long time living in South Africa.

Each drawing integrates pencil writings, typically on the right and bottom sides, and always surprising colour treatments in the main area of the rest of the image. Intended as letters to his wife Marina, each drawing in this series seamlessly combines those texts in german, english, afrikaans, catalan or spanish (he is a polyglot) with the image. He comments about his private life and events, and other happenings in the world that surrounds him —ranging from local to universal issues.

He started the series in 1977, and he is still creating new “letters”, with no signs of tiring, always being amazingly creative, fresh and fascinating. These watercolours have never been for sale, and probably never will, but the artists has had them exhibited in several galleries and museums, and there is a limited edition of a selection of the drawings, edited in offset prints.

Technically, most of these terraces are pure watercolours, which take advantage of transparency, wet fusions and paper whiteness. Others have a mixed media treatment, with wax crayons, inks, décollage... The paper is actually a drawing board with watercolour paper surface, and he draws the pencil lines of the landscape with a template he made with a board of the same size, where he cut out the shapes of the defining forms of the terraces.

Nils Burwitz (b. 1941) is an extraordinarily gifted artist who has created in oil painting, sculpture, engravings and other print techniques, installations, many drawing media and even stained glass projects for churches and other buildings.

Burwitz has a small webpage, but there is only a fraction of his wondrous talent showing up there. If you ever have the opportunity to visit an exhibition by Nils Burwitz, don’t miss it, especially his painted work and of course his Marina’s Terraces.

ImageBase (San Francisco fine art museums)

The Imagebase of the Fine art museums of San Francisco stores a huge collection (over 82,000 images), which include many watercolors. The images are zoomable, so you can study even the wash details of the pictures.

Apart from searching for watercolors, this archive is certainly worth bookmarking; there you will find many outsdanding artists. For example, Richard Diebenkorn, an artist whose color and drawing capabilities I have always admired, is very well represented, with more than 404 works.

16.6.05

Handprint (or everything you ever wanted to know...)

Handprint is one of the key links in the internet about the watercolour subject. Detailed, intrincate, almost obsessive, the coverage of the site doesn’t leave any loose ends about watercolours. Everything you can possibly think of is treated in depth: pigments, brands, papers, techniques, colour vision, palettes... it seems an ongoing project, continuously growing in complexity and scope.

The author, Bruce MacEvoy, recognizes, in his own words, that “The amount of information here is overwhelming. Where should I begin?” in his FAQ, a good starting point before exploring this vast resource.

Watercolours in Singapore

The Singapore Watercolour Society has a nicely designed page, with paint splashes and all, and features the remarkable works of some talented and very professional watercolourists, like Chan Chang How (see the painting below).

Some of the watercolours exhibited here show a mix of western and eastern sensibilities towards landscape and painting technique.

Visit the online exhibitions to see some of the nice works of the members of this association.

example by Chan Chang How

Principles of Design article

A new article by Joshua David McClurg-Genevese in Digital Web Magazine discusses The Principles of Design. Recommended reading! It includes a handy selection of additional resources and references, too.

15.6.05

Acuarela

Acuarela (i.e. watercolour, or watercolor if you prefer it) is a new blog with insights, discoveries, tips and websurfing about watercolor and other manual illustration, drawing and painting techniques.



This image belongs to one of the commented works in one of the posts in Acuarela, about Nils Burwitz.

John Lovett

John Lovett is a gifted watercolourist who shares his wisdom and advice in his website, devoted to watercolour lessons. A variety of articles detail the basics of tools, materials and techniques.

The gallery is particulary interesting, showing his great confidence with colour. His sketchbooks are worth a look —certainly inspiring and attractive. Although his works are lively and rich in colour, his palette seems to be rather limited. See the following picture, which shows his usual, limited selection (he also uses, less frequently White Gouache, Cobalt Blue, Indigo and Rose Madder):



Lovett is the author of Watercolor for the Fun of It, an instruction book (Paperback: 137 pages; Publisher: North Light Books (June 1, 2002); ISBN: 1581801920) available from 12.25$ in Amazon and other bookshops.

Charles Reid

Charles Reid is undoubtedly one of the best american watercolourists of the last decades. Charles Reid has long been considered a master of the medium of watercolor, and has written numerous books on the subject. His paintings are fresh and spontaneous, displaying his profound understanding of light and color and expert drawing ability. The viewer is immediately drawn into his rich compositions. His figures are beautifully rendered, in a simple, direct and natural, gestural manner that reveals his interest in painting the light as much as the person. (Taken from the text in the Stremmel Gallery page)


Some of his works can be seen in the Stremmel Gallery and Munson Gallery and Artist Colony online exhibitions. Enjoy them.

Charles Reid watecolor

His books Painting What You Want to See, The Natural Way to Paint: Rendering the Figure in Watercolor Simply and Beautifully, and Charles Reid’s Watercolor Secrets are strongly recommended both for novices and expert watercolorists alike.

John Singer Sargent Archive

example of watercolour by Sargent

​​​​The technique I actually enjoy the most isn’t digital at all; give
me a brush and a watercolour kit, some fine paper and I will be the
happiest person. I am compiling some interesting links about
watercolours on the net, and here is one that deserves special
attention.

The John Singer Sargent Virtual Gallery
is a comprehensive archive detailing the life and work of this
outstanding artist. I note this link because it contains a great
selection of his watercolours, his most enduring and fascinating work, imho.
Sargent produced many hundreds in this medium, from quick travel notes
to more elaborate studies. Painted mostly outdoors, they include images
of gardens, architectural fragments, exotic figure studies, boats,
fruit, and foliage. Travelling extensively in Europe and the Near East,
he documented the landscapes and characters he found in these journeys.

Of course, you might be interested in other areas of John Singer Sargent’s
œuvre, and the website exhibits his oil portraits (including many
famous people of his time, like Henry James) , charcoal drawings and
other techniques as well.

A related link: the Sargent at Harvard
website provides a searchable database of images and texts about the
artist. You may try, for example, to perform a “watercolor” (american
spelling seems mandatory here) query as it is suggested in the search
page.

Acuarela!

I’ve found there is a number of blogs here at blogger with names such as acuarela, aquarela, aquarell, watercolour... However, they either have nothing to do with the technique or remain idle.

My own blog will contain discoveries, insights and tips about the fascinating, deceptively simple technique of watercolour (plus other related water-based techniques as well, and even other drawing and painting issues.)

First decision: spell watercolour in the british or american way? Being neither english nor american, I think I could use both.

The first thing I will do is posting a series of links to other entries in my main blog which deal with manual illustration techniques and watercolour. Real soon.

14.6.05

Amusing Type Drawings

I’m not sure if I have commented on this some time before, but I’ve indulged a few moments drawing with the mouse and fonts at Typedrawing, a cool online application where you select a text , a grey colour and simply draw with the mouse.

Check out the gallery: it’s full of imaginative illustrations. My own entries are in today’s (june, 14), name: Joan; at the moment I have posted four doodles: this, this one, this other one and also this, but due to the addictive nature of this game I will probably be uploading more.

(my memory of this website has been refreshed by a post in Typographica.)

13.6.05

John Singer Sargent Virtual Gallery

example of watercolour by Sargent
The technique I actually enjoy the most isn’t digital at all; give me a brush and a watercolour kit, some fine paper and I will be the happiest person. I am compiling some interesting links about watercolours on the net, and here is one that deserves special attention.

The John Singer Sargent Virtual Gallery is a comprehensive archive detailing the life and work of this outstanding artist. I note this link because it contains a great selection of his watercolours, his most enduring and fascinating work, imho. Sargent produced many hundreds in this medium, from quick travel notes to more elaborate studies. Painted mostly outdoors, they include images of gardens, architectural fragments, exotic figure studies, boats, fruit, and foliage. Travelling extensively in Europe and the Near East, he documented the landscapes and characters he found in these journeys.

Of course, you might be interested in other areas of John Singer Sargent’s œuvre, and the website exhibits his oil portraits (including many famous people of his time, like Henry James) , charcoal drawings and other techniques as well.

A related link: the Sargent at Harvard website provides a searchable database of images and texts about the artist. You may try, for example, to perform a “watercolor” (american spelling seems mandatory here) query as it is suggested in the search page.

10.6.05

Illustration Friday: Sweating walrus with umbrella

See more of my illustration here at my Flickr project page

Just submitted this illustration to Illustration Friday. This week’s theme is “summer”. Indeed, this is getting awfully hot.

The equilibrium of life





The concept of this illustration was the delicate balance in which our live moves along. Used by a blood donation charity for a campaign.

What I like of this particular image is the simple, triangle-based structure of the composition in which one figure leads the eye to another, and the gestual immediacy of the strokes (see more at my Flickr page.)

9.6.05

Simply amazing

Color Fields Colr Pickr is a wonderful experiment with Flickr pictures by Jim Bumgardner. Choose a color in the colour wheel provided, and there you go: now you can choose a variety of images corresponding to that particular hue, taken from the Flickr group, Color Fields.



The same project includes options to select pictures in other Flickr groups, such as Color Fields, Flowers, Crayon Box, Squared Circle, Graffiti, Flickr Central, Doors and Windows, Macro, Textures, Urban Decay, Catchy Colors, Stock Repository, JPG Magazine.

8.6.05

Overview of Windows Outliners

Lately I’m gathering quite a bit of information and resources about getting organized, and Getting Things Done stuff (not exactly that I’m getting any better organized than before, but I digress).



If you are searching for a good tool to use in Windows, here’s a detailed Overview of Outliners and related programs.

The Invented Studios Sketchpad


The warehouse studio
Originally uploaded by DailyPic.
Some time ago, for no special reason, a filled a whole sketchpad with “studios” invented in the most different conditions.

From this series: Mr. M. Oving studio; he’s always planning a move, so his studio is filled with packages, parcels, boxes and other flotsam and jetsam.

More examples will be added to this Flickr page in the following weeks.

7.6.05

Some fresh additions

Miles Davis watercolour sketch
You will find a few new entries in my Flickr corner & deli.

6.6.05

A Comic Art Effect

I’ve seen different techniques to obtain a kind of printed comic effect, but the one at MacMerc.com: called (surprise:) Comic Art Effect is really cool and worth trying. The page we link to provides a detailed step-by-step tutorial and examples.



Even better, they provide a handy dandy action, so you just have to save it and replay it whenever you want to create some snappy comic-like illustration from a boring photograph.

4.6.05

opensourceCMS.com: try out different CMS systems

opensourceCMS is a comprehensive directory of CMS solutions where you can try the different solutions before you install.

The list of commentend and installed systems include Portals, Blogs, E-Commerce, Groupware, Forums, E-learning, Image Galleries, Wikis, Lite systems (i.e. no database required), and Miscellaneous.

For each of the systems commented, there is a basic description of its features, the link to the project site, and —this is the coolest part— an installed version for you to try; they provide the username and password needed.

You will also find a good collection of articles and explanations, making this website a truly encyclopaedia of content management systems in a hands-on manner.

3.6.05

A comic gallery script

Designmeme (Stuart Robertson) has written a php script called Comic Gallery 1.1 —especially designed for webcomics. In his page you will find a downloadable file, together with a detailed tutorial on how to use the script, and several articles about comics.

Rotating background images with css

Here’s a clever way to change the background image of a webpage at random, using the background image property in CSS and a touch of PHP. This solution, comented in SonSpring Design is based in the Automatic Rotator script developed by Automatic Labs (this rotating image system was published in A List Apart, as well.)

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