Bunny studies in pencil and watercolor

I was excited to find a few gems at the local library Friday night, and I’m itching to dig into them more. One book I found is Creating Nature in Watercolor: an Artist’s Guide by Cathy Johnson. I own a couple of her books already and am drawn in by her relaxed watercolor style.

When a friend came over for our occasional Art Day, I struggled with what to work on because there are so many things I want to try out. As a way to force myself to just start somewhere, I opened to the page titled “Mammals of the Grasslands” because of the sweet drawings of rabbits. They looked manageable to work on in a casual way without complete concentration, so I could chat as much as I wanted but still make some progress with the studies.

For the sketches, I used a Stabilo Graphite All Pencil and loosely went over them with a wet brush to soften the lines and add some shadow. I love how Cathy can capture the form and gesture of the rabbits with just a few confident strokes, and tried to imitate that with my sketches.

I used the watercolor versions to practice controlling the washes and glazes. The first one didn’t go so well (the lower left bunny). Part of the problem was that I’m using a Strathmore 500 Mixed Media Journal, where it looks like Cathy used watercolor paper. This journal is great but since the surface is similar to hot press paper I’m having a hard time with washes. It’s like the paint is sucked dry the moment after it’s brushed on. I might be able to get better results if I really loaded up the brush with lots of pigment and water and loosened up.

But on the second bunny (the lower right) I changed my approach. Instead of trying to a variegated wash I focused on flat wash and glazing on dry layers. This worked much better, and I took my time brushing in the fur details. The cast shadow gave me a lot of trouble, and the colors aren’t as rich and golden as I wanted. I did a little practice on those after doing the studies, and will need to continue working on them.

Daily Art 09-23-17 color and brushmark practice for bunny studies in Strathmore 500 Mixed Media Journal

I’d love to do more studies from this book! I’m also excited to explore Beatrix Potter’s Art : Paintings and Drawings. She’s not an illustrator that was on my radar, but after seeing her name mentioned recently I wanted to check her out. Her detailed style has a lot of charm and tranquility that has me fascinated.

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