What’s the Pinterest Challenge? The idea is to take action on something you’ve pinned on Pinterest. Since many people go about happily pinning and later find themselves with more inspiration projects than they could ever do, this is a nice push towards trying some of those Pinterest ideas.
It’s hosted by these lovely bloggers:
- Sherry from Young House Love
- Katie from Bower Power
- Sarah from Ugly Duckling House
- Carmel from Our Fifth House
I decided to do this as a kind of double challenge for myself. See, I’ve had a Pinterest account for a while. I go there, look around a little, but never pin anything. So I thought this would be a good reason to get in on the Pinterest party, and actually pin stuff!
Now most people chose nice reasonable projects like a fall pumpkin recipe or a simple craft for the challenge. But not me, I ended up making the whole thing unnecessarily complicated…
Long story short. I did a piece of DIY wall art, and this is what I ended up with:
I’m not very happy with how it turned out. But I decided to share anyway, because it may help someone else to learn from my mistakes…or maybe just provide a laugh at the ridiculousness of what I ended up doing.
**UPDATE: I kept working on this drawing, here is the final version.**
Here’s the “long story.”
DIY Wall Art
I wanted to do a wall art project because I’ve recently developed a picture frame hoarding problem.
I’ve mentioned before, that there are all kind of second-hand goodies left in the streets here in Seville. Interestingly, there have been lots of frames around lately. Who knows why? But I found several well constructed ones, with the glass still in place, some even had mats. Here they are:
I’ve also got plenty of empty wall space, so the missing art was the only thing holding me back.
I started randomly pinning art ideas that I liked, but decided quickly to do some type of drawing. I found Lucinda Rogers and especially loved her technique with line work.
Nice, huh? I’ve always liked architectural landscape drawings and these remind me of retro marker drawings.
I love that her lines look loose and not too constructed. The technique is similar to the way we learned to draw product designs in college. Although I never quite got it right (yes, that’s foreshadowing). I was thinking that I’d resurrect some old drawing skills I haven’t used in about 10 years, to make a pencil sketch of the construction, and then I’d draw over it in pen ink.
I wanted to try a cityscape, and chose Prague. Last summer we had a wonderful trip there for our summer vacation, but came home without any good photos (why does that always seem to happen with the best trips?) So I thought this drawing could be a nice vacation reminder.
Looking around on Pinterest some more, I found this painting:
I liked the composition; it’s clearly Prague, but is more unique than some other more common views. And I’m not sure why, but I really liked the idea of the tram in my drawing.
OK, so then I did a few quick sketches.
Since the small sketches were easy, so I went ahead with my plan. I picked up a 40 cent piece of matte poster board, and got to drawing.
I’d forgotten how much harder it is for me to draw larger sizes. It took me a while to get the perspective figured out. But once I did, I sketched in the details. I tried to keep the pencil as light as I could while still adding the detail needed. The hope was to erase the pencil lines after drawing over them in pen.
Here’s a photo of what I had at this point.
It’s probably hard to see, but I went a little crazy with the details. Like I said, it’s been years since I’ve drawn anything like this and I felt better having over-detailed pencil drawing as a base. I was pretty pleased with it at this point. But here’s where the story starts getting crazy.
I wanted to color the drawing with watercolor paints. Now I knew it was a bad idea to use watercolors on non-watercolor paper, but I did a big test swatch and it worked beautifully.
So I went ahead splashing watercolors all over my drawing, and it was a total disaster. I’m not sure if it was because the paper surface had been roughed up with the pencil and erasures, or maybe it was just my painting technique. Either way, it was awful.
Check out this mess:
The paper is still wet, but you get the idea. Big muddy yuck.
I had an idea though, the bathtub. In it went:
After about 30 minutes, and a gentle brushing with a paintbrush, a good bit of the paint came out. At this point a less stubborn person would have scrapped the project. But I decided to see how it looked dry before throwing it out.
Once it dried out, there were just faint stains from the paint and I could make out about half of the original pencil lines. I hated the thought of losing my pencil drawing completely. So instead of re-sketching on fresh paper (which would have been a smarter option), I tried inking over the over the original sketch. Here’s what it looked like at this point, with a little pen added.
And this might be the most ridiculous part of all, look at these spiral marks:
Any guess as to what those might be?
It’s the embossing pattern from the paper towels that I used to blot the paper with! Crazy. It seems that the paper towels damaged the paper and it absorbed more paint at those points. That is totally new to me, I didn’t even know it was possible.
So, have you learned from my mistake yet? If you want to play with watercolors, use watercolor paper, period.
I should have trashed it, the paper wasn’t in good enough condition to produce a quality drawing. But I reasoned with myself again; this time because I wanted drawing practice and thought I so should at least go through the step of adding pen. So on I continued with the pen outlines.
Remember that my goal was to have loose, flowing lines. That didn’t even come close to happening. Aside from it being difficult for me under normal circumstances, at this point my poor 40 cent poster board was basically missing its top layer of paper. The pen ink bled like crazy and I didn’t have much control of the lines. So I just stuck to inking over the pencil drawing almost directly, it was easier than try into be more interpretative with the lines.
Here’s what it looked like after inking:
All things considered, it wasn’t too bad after this step. Some lines were thicker that I’d wanted because of trying to correct the bleeding. But, I would have left it at this stage and called it done, if it weren’t for the leftover color from the watercolors. The tram looked like melted orange sherbet. And the paper towel impressions need no further explanation, they looked awful.
So I got out my colored pencils. At first, I was only trying to add a few highlights and shadows hoping that they could blend/camouflage the watercolor tint and paper towel marks. No such luck. Since the paper had been so roughed up, the pencils looked bad – like cheap crayons. The strokes were rough and the colors didn’t blend. With the paper texture it was impossible to fully saturate it with color; you can see this from all the little white flecks that are still in the drawing.
It quickly became a game of, “Maybe if I just put a little more color here it will help.” But it didn’t. And before I knew it, the whole page had been colored in, and I was left with my “final” image.
I say “final” because if I think of anything else that I can add to this poor abused piece of paper to help it look better, I’ll probably do it.
Here’s a little detail shot of the front of the tram:
I actually enjoyed the practice of sketching; it makes me want to draw more. And to really practice properly this time – unlike in college when I’d just do the minimum needed for class.
I don’t think it’s going to end up in our living room, which was the original aim. But I’ll look at it again later when I’m more objective (once I’ve forgotten about the bathtub and paper towel marks) and decide then.
So hopefully my tale of “how not to draw” helps someone avoid poster board in their bathtub. The moral of this story is: get the appropriate art supplies for the medium you’re using. I’m all for creative use of supplies, but sometimes it just isn’t worth the gamble.
**In case you missed the note above, I did update this drawing. See it here.**