It has been a wild and weird week...and it is only Wednesday! However, the weekend is in my sights so all things considered, life is looking up.
I've been experimenting in my sketchbook with new-to-me ways to shade and detail my illustrations. For a long time, I've felt that a strong black ink outline sucks the liveliness out of my creatures and critters. That thick primary line seems to work well with drawings from life but for cartooning, I wanted to have a softer, more realistic look. Then Doodlers Anonymous introduced me to illustrator Maria Tiurina and a lightbulb went off in my own head with the brilliance of her inspiration. For some reason, it had never occurred to me to use watercolors over graphite. I guess maybe I thought it would smear. After some experimentation though, I discovered that I could give my characters shading and detail without flattening the drawing. I need to practice a whole lot more but even these first experiments make me feel as if my illustrations are entering a new stage.
It is important to know when to shut out the inner critic but it is also good to know when to listen. It is also good to realize that sometimes we don't know when we are staying safe inside our usual toolboxes. I had started out illustration with one particular style of working and while my ability has improved drastically with all the focused practice I've done, I had forgotten that I needed unfocused play as well. It is a bit of a paradox because I do include a lot of playtime in my art practice but for some reason, I had overlooked this important component when it came to my efforts at becoming an illustrator. Lesson learned.