Three Unattached Drawings

Sometimes I put aside whatever project I am “supposed” to be working on and do a drawing just because. I’ve got quite a few of those, but I’ve picked out just three to share. Stylistically these are very different. That tends to happen when I am doing art just because. I don’t feel like I have to follow my usual forms. Style aside though, I am showing these together because they have a lot in common.

All three originated as ideas of mood and style. All three are based on found reference that I collected to help realize the idea I had already formed. This is common with my just because drawings—you don’t have time to shoot your own reference when you are changing plans in the spur of the moment. All three also feature a moody woman—it’s not the only thing I draw, but it is a good fall-back for a simple composition and plentiful reference.

I think I’ll arrange these chronologically:

The first one I call Afrodite. Bad pun? Well, I doubt that I am the first one to think of it. The concept was simple, I wanted to do a woman with a natural hair style and sort of stern face. I wanted her to be relatively thin for contrast with the big hair.

Charcoal drawing of woman with afro by Jameson Gardner Art

So then I needed reference. I had a good idea of what I wanted the image to look like, but unless you are Frank Frazetta the easiest way to discover how much your imagination can fall short in the details is by trying to draw straight from your head. That doesn’t mean you should be a slave to your reference, and it especially doesn’t mean that you want your work to be just a copy of some photo you found on Pinterest.
For this, I searched and searched until I found a face that matched what I had imagined pretty well. Then I composited that with an image that matched the style of hair I wanted. As I drew, I translated the reference back into my original concept, but with the details and proportions that are harder to make up.

I went for toned paper to fill in all the mid-tones in the flesh, and so that she could fade into the background without any transition in value.

The second image started with a desire to do an illustration of Vin from Brandon Sanderson‘s Mistborn novels. I wanted a soft loosey-charcoal sort of feel. Obviously my first impulse was to show her mid-allomantic leap with hair and cloak streaming. But, after searching extensively and finally settling on some reference I thought would work for her face. I decided just to focus there and see if the style I was imagining would work out rather than getting all involved in a big illustration. I drew this one in charcoal on white paper and then scanned it and added values and a little (very little) color digitally.

Mistborn's Vin charcoal drawing by Jameson Gardner Art

Is she still Vin as just a face? Maybe so.

Lastly, this girl who feels misunderstood by everyone—even her crow. I used the same reference gathering and compositing method as with the first. The head, body, dress and crow were all from separate images. As happens every fairly often with me, I was a little inspired by Arthur Rackham. Unlike the previous two I did save some process shots of this one.

Pencil sketch of girl with crow by Jameson Gardner

Here is the pencil sketch based on my composited reference and with my own imagined background. I then proceeded to ink.

Ink drawing of girl with crow by Jameson Gardner

The drawing was on 100# bristol which was great for the ink, though I went ahead and left a lot of the pencil intact. I mounted the drawing to a board, created some texture with matte medium and painted it with thinned acrylic gauche. The nonabsorbent surface made for a little different painting experience, but it meant I could lift paint from areas like the clouds. It also meant that since I paint in alot of thin layers, if I wasn’t careful, I would lift paint from areas that I wanted to stay put.

Illustration of girl and her crow by Jameson Gardner Art


Hope you enjoy these three. I am sure to be making more like them.




Watercolor Girl in Dress

watercolored ink drawing of girl in medieval/ renaissance dress.

Yes, “Watercolor Girl in Dress” is a pretty lame title. But, it describes what I’m talking about.
I just finished this ink/watercolor project. This image was born from a combination of my love for the work of Arthur Rackham, which makes me want to do watercolored pen/ink, and the fact that my sister owns a cool medieval/renaissancey dress.
I started by shooting reference photos of my sister in the dress. We just tried different poses and I decided which to use later.

I would include the photos here, but I haven’t asked her permission to show them—they look a lot like the drawing, only more photographic.

Work in progress shot of drawing girl in medieval/renaissance dress

Using the photos for reference, and having found a hairdo on pinterest that I liked, I made a pencil drawing on watercolor paper (Arches).

Work in progress shot of drawing girl in medieval/renaissance dress

I inked the drawing with a Pentel brush pen (I like the thin black pocket version best). I used to use a nib pen for stuff like this, but you can get really great lines and variety with these pens without having to dip or clean.

Work in progress shot of watercolor girl in medieval/renaissance dress

For the next stage I use watercolor techniques, but with acrylic gouache. The result is very watercoloresque but once it’s dry, the acrylic polymer sets and it won’t run if you rewet it. As you can see, I forgot to stretch my paper before I started painting. It buckled quite a bit and I had to soak and dry to flatten it when I was done painting.

Work in progress shot of watercolor girl in medieval/renaissance dress almost finished.

finished ink and watercolor drawing painting of girl in medieval/renaissance dress.

Once finished painting I photographed it because my scanner is tiny, and overlaid a some handmade textures using photoshop.

I suppose I could just paint my textures right on the paper, but I like to be able to play around with the layers until I find how they work best. I also like to preserve the original the way it is.

Hope you enjoy. I’ll be selling prints on Etsy.

The Firebird


This is my take on the Firebird. Of course, when most people say “the Firebird”, they mean Stravinsky’s ballet. If they don’t mean Stravinksy’s ballet, they probably mean “I have heard of the Firebird but I don’t really know what it is or how its story goes.”

The funny thing is, there really isn’t just one story of the firebird and the ballet for which Stravinsky wrote music, draws elements from various tales, but faithfully follows none. In short, the firebird is more of a recurring character in various Russian folk-tales. In fact the firebird usually seems to take an “and the” sort of role.  My illustration could be entitled: “Princess Vasilisa and the Firebird”.

On this image I went straight from my sketch/drawing to digital, but I tried to color it in a way that would feel like it is still made of something, like you wouldn’t be surprised if it was on a sheet of traditional vellum.

I was hoping to channel a little bit of Arthur Rackham, I don’t know successful I was at that, but I hope you like it.