28 December 2014

New Art - Tea Ducks

For Christmas this year, two of my friends and I agreed to do an arts/crafts gift exchange.  For my part, I decided to create a triptych painting that highlights the biggest thing that brought us together throughout 2014: The Rubber Ducky Tea Society.  Every few months this year, we three met up for tea and always brought and used our tea ducks (a cute loose leaf tea infuser shaped like a rubber ducky which floats in your cup as your tea steeps).  These tea parties were fun and laid-back and brought the three of us together like nothing else ever did before.  This blog will show you how I went about commemorating those feelings and memories in paint.


I decided to make my triptych on watercolor postcards.  I even considered mailing the painted postcards directly instead of wrapping them like a normal gift but the risk of damage in transit is virtually 100% through the USPS (especially during the holidays; one Christmas card I received this year looked like the envelope had been filleted.  I was surprised it even made it to me, since my address was almost illegible) so I quickly decided against that idea.
 
Art Supplies Prepared for Drawing
Step one: watercolor postcards, mechanical pencil, and erasers.
Rubber Ducky Painting, Ducks Painted, Paints Pictured
Step two: watercolor paint.  The cards are taped together on the back.

The holidays this year were insanely busy for me, so I didn't have time to do any sketching before starting this project.  My composition was purely instinctual.  I started with one duck and added another and another until the pages were filled.  As I worked, I made sure that some ducks overlapped into the next postcard, so it would be clear that all three pieces were meant to fit together.  Once the pages started to fill out, I also decided to ensure there were two ducks per card.  The tiny duck in the middle right of the full piece is the last one I drew.
 
Rubber Ducky Painting, Ducks Painted
Rubber Ducky Painting, Ducks and Background Painted

Recently my watercolors have felt more satisfying when I paint more roughly (as opposed to precisely and smoothly) and then add ink for definition.  So my strokes on these cards are big and blotchy and very organic (especially in areas like the background where I used wet-on-wet techniques).  The paintings don't look anything like complete even when the painting part is technically done.  What brings it all together is the ink.
 
Rubber Ducky Painting, Watercolor Complete
Watercolor totally done.  Now for inking!
Rubber Ducky Painting, Detailing Complete
After using several pens and a watercolor marker, the triptych is complete!

I have to thank ArtSnacks again for the awesome tools I used to finish up this project.  I used the Twin Tip pen set that came in my 2014 Studio Collection (the scroll tip is just the coolest!) to outline the ducks, the metallic brush pen they sent in the November 2014 box to emphasize the bubbles, and the watercolor marker that arrived in the September 2014 box to add interest to the background.  The only non-ArtSnacks pen I used on this piece is my trusty, go-to Sakura Gelly Roll gel pen in white.  After finishing these paintings, all that remained was to decide which card would go to whom.
 

When these cards are all together, they seem equally great.  But when viewed individually, they don't necessarily look as good as one another.  I asked my beau to look at them and tell me which two looked the best alone.  His opinion matched mine: the top card was the weakest (mostly due to composition) so I kept that one for myself.  Of the three, I actually like the background on this one best.
 

The middle card I had already hoped would turn out strong because I wanted to give it to the friend I've known the longest, Krystal.  She was the one who really brought our trio together; if not for her, I don't think we would all have become mutual friends.  The middle card is a symbol of her position as the connecting bridge between us.  Out of all the cards, I think this one is the cutest (it has both the largest and the smallest ducks!).
 

The bottom card is actually my overall favorite of the bunch.  The background looks pretty good because I was finally figuring out what I wanted to do (some of this painting process was quite experimental) and the composition is definitely the strongest of all three.  Plus, it looks like the ducks are swimming!  I gave this one to the newer of my two friends, Katrina. 

I love doing art gifts for Christmas but, because I had so much to do this holiday season, I thought I wouldn't be able to do any at all this year.  I'm really glad The Rubber Ducky Tea Society decided to have an artsy gift exchange.  It allowed me to create some art for people I care about without adding a huge burden to my already heavy holiday to-do list.  More fun, less stress! 

Did any of you create or receive art/craft gifts this year?  What do you think of homemade presents like these?  Is there something you wish you'd receive from an artistic friend or something crafty you want to try out next time a gift-giving occasion comes up?

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