Inktober 2018

Once again I decided to challenge myself and try out Inktober 2018 to see if I could improve my inking ability. 

I have always admired ink drawings more than other kinds of drawing because of the boldness and confidence immediately indicated by committing line to paper and using two values to define any given subject. A particular favorite inking artist is Italian artist Dino Battaglia, who worked primarily in the 1940's-1970's illustrating comics and graphic novels. I love his use of texture and negative shapes, and his compositions are pretty incredible, too.

You can find more of his work online, but there doesn't seem to be a lot, unfortunately. Someone needs to put a book together!

With Battaglia's work in mind, I started out inktober trying to figure out where and how I could include texture. It was not at all easy. Not only did I have to draw the composition, but then had to figure out some sort of value pattern where I could commit a texture as a third value. I found texture in general worked best with a small bit of reindeer moss or gauze and a somewhat dry stamp pad. The texture didn't come across as clearly if the ink was too wet. 

My materials were mainly: Platinum Carbon ink, an inking pad and reindeer moss for textures, sometimes gauze, Dip pens and small brushes. I used some pro-white occasionally to clean up extra lines I didn't want. I inked everything on Strathmore bristol board 4 ply plate surface. I also used masking film.

I also experimented with a dark background, white paint and a roller with white paint to get additional texture. I had to mask out the area, which was really time consuming.

I really like that dark background texture a lot - will probably find ways to use it for other pieces in the future. I may also redesign this piece since I think it's too top heavy and not as clear as I would like it.

However, as inktober progressed, I decided that perhaps it would be better to get a feel for how dip pens worked and how I could indicate value with cross hatching and line work. I ended up using texture as an accent rather than feature.

In the piece below, I primed the paper with a thin wash of acrylic titanium buff, a technique I've used for a long time in my sketchbooks, usually if I want to paint on top of the sketchbook paper. It makes a nice gessoed surface that accepts watermedia. Also, it turns out, makes a great surface for inking.

Another artist I really love is Arthur Rackham. He did a lovely series of illustrations all in silhouette, which I've always admired. I wanted to try at least one silhouette. I toned the paper with a light grey wash of acrylic, let dry, then a few touches of textures, and then painted the forms with a brush. The hardest part I think is the clear design. I'd love to try a whole series of these.

And this one has the same general idea, but with some modeling in the silhouette. 

Towards the end of inktober I was inking and re-inking at least 2-3 times. I think it's good practice to re-ink pieces because it gives you a chance to not only warm up, but also loosen up and see if you can push the subject further. Each time I re-inked a piece I did not regret it. I'd post my original inks for these here, but I cringe every time I look at them, sorry. :)

I think I inked this one over 3 times...finding reference of a pelvis bone was really tough. I also was unsure about the composition, so I tried out a few ideas before finalizing this one.

For the very last piece, I switched from using a dip pen to rapidiograph pens. What a relief! I had more control over the thickness of the lines, which I generally wanted fairly small. I also started working larger, which I think helped a great deal in getting the kind of detail I wanted. 

The drawing alone took a full day to complete and edit at a larger size.

 Inking took about a day to complete, with a few extra hours the next day to make some final edits and additions. 

I put a warm filter on the drawing for the final shot. Is that cheating? I don't know. I like it better, though. Toned paper always has a nice feel to it that I like.

NOTE: You may be wondering about why all these fairies are messing around with old bones in the forest. There is an answer, but I am not finished telling the story. I like the idea a lot and will continue adding to it over the next couple of months in between painting work. 


In all, I ended up creating nine pieces, which falls far short of the intended 31 days of ink drawings. However, the intent is to improve, and I feel like I worked pretty hard during the month. I experimented with ideas and compositions as well as story telling, acting, and overall value design. While I wasn't able to finish the mini story I am telling in these pieces, I am still left feeling like I made a journey that has left me in a better place than where I was last inktober. 

If you've read this far, thank you! 

Follow me on twitter and instagram for more updates: @paintkatt



Plein Air Gouache/Catalina Island

This month I've lived in San Francisco for exactly 18 years! I can hardly believe it's been that long, longer than any other place I've lived. In all that time, I had never visited Catalina Island, 17 miles off the shore of Long Beach, just south of Los Angeles. 

The view from our hotel, especially at sunset, was gorgeous! 

I normally sketch in either pastels or oil, but I didn't want to carry around an easel or heavy materials. Gouache is so easy to pack, light to carry in a backpack, and easy to clean up on site. 

I also started a new sketchbook made of kraft paper. The paper has a nice base tone that I like for gouache, but I don't care for how much it absorbs the pigment. I end up using more paint than I normally would and I never really got clean color in the sky areas. I will continue to fill up this sketchbook, though. I will likely gesso a few pages with a base of casein or acrylic for future sketches. 

Little ticket booth for "submarine" rides out in the bay. I'd love to try it, but we were there to sketch this trip.

The view from the main beach in Avalon. Just a quick sketch before we watched the Kentucky Derby!

The staff told us that on Mondays and Tuesdays cruise ships arrive. There was an uptick in visitors, but even then it wasn't too crowded. 

On our final day, we sat and ate breakfast on the second floor of our hotel, the Vista del Ray. After breakfast, we sat and sketched for awhile. This was our view. I was working pretty quickly on this one, trying to get all the little details recorded.

I hope to come back and do more exploring of the island. It's rather large and apparently there are hiking trails and another small town on the other side. 

Thanks for looking!


Happy Holidays, Winter Solstice, and Merry Christmas!

Winter solstice is here but maybe, somehow, a real life Rudolph is out there lighting the way. 

Merry Christmas to everyone! Thank you for reading my blog and commenting! 

Let's all make 2018 a year to remember. 


Reliquaries/ Initial Concepts for dimensional pieces

I've been working on a large series of what will be dimensional pieces using a variety of materials, oil paint, gold and silver leaf, clay and ribbon. They will, hopefully, have some depth by lifting cut pieces off the base. I am a little nervous about cutting the pieces, but I'm going to give it a shot anyway.

Here are are a few concepts which I adapted from a few of my inktober pieces, the concepts pertaining to traditional memento mori.


THIS series, "Seasons" is going to be much more complicated. Here are a few concepts I'm playing with. The scalloped edges may change when I finally paint and assemble the pieces. Good to have a plan, though.

Please stay tuned for more! 


Inktober 2017

I'm not really an inking artist, so I thought this year I might try learning. The biggest challenge so far has been getting used to the materials. I've been experimenting with different papers, inks, pens and brushes. 

Also, I wanted to focus on one subject, memento mori. I've lately been looking a lot at medieval art and especially love reliquaries. So beautiful and creepy! 

I usually started with a sketchbook drawing which I then retraced using a lightbox onto new paper (usually using a colerase pencil - my favorite)

I filled in the dark areas with sepia acrylic ink for this one.

But I wanted to see what I could do with the materials, so after I painted the acrylic ink above, I brushed on a thin layer of tan acrylic on top to seal it. I like the way it makes it look more weathered and imperfect. After the acrylic wash was dry, I used pro-white and black gouache to model some tones. 

Not sure I liked the way I drew the drapery on the ghost, BUT I did enjoy this technique a lot.

For this one I was mainly interested in a white shape against a black background. I spattered on some prowhite after it was dry to get a speckled effect in the background. 

Thanks for taking a peek at my inks! Hopefully by next year I'll have learned a few more techniques. I plan to keep trying out various ways to ink throughout 2018. (and continue on a few of my other projects...coming soon!)


Star Wars "Forces of Destiny" Animated Shorts

I recently painted several key backgrounds for the animated series
Star Wars "Forces of Destiny". The shorts were produced by Lucasfilm and directed and animated at Ghostbot. I thought I would share a few of the backgrounds I was lucky to paint! 

The rest of the bg's are on my art station site:  here

The shorts are available on Disney.com and also youtube


Updated Website and Portfolio

I spent the last week updating my portfolio and website. It was a tough job because previously I had a slide show and I wanted something more simple, like a scrolling page. I use squarespace templates for my website, but I found that trying out a new template was no easy task! The site used to make it easy to test out new templates by filling in your existing samples into the new template, but with the updates now that is impossible. You basically need to redesign your site in order to see what a new template would look like. Oi! I finally decided to reconfigure my existing site to reflect the ideas I had about my portfolio presentation. 

Regarding portfolio content, after working for a long time, portfolio editing can be really difficult. I've accumulated so many pieces of art, have so many projects going, and I like to sketch and paint all the time, work that is not connected to professional endeavors. In addition to that, I have been freelancing for about a year now, which means I have been working on several short term projects for various companies. So how to update my portfolio? 

I think a good solution is to create a general overview leading a website front page. I think of the rest of the headings as "deep cuts", more in depth. There are a lot of ways to represent various interests, like galleries of character work, environments, and storyboards, but in the end I decided to try out categories based on projects. I'll try it out for a while. Hopefully it is easy to navigate.


Thanks for looking!