Monday, March 31, 2014

Magic: The Art Therapy

It's raining Beebles!

When times are tough, it's good to have an outlet. As it so happens, times have been pretty tough recently (hence the temporary blog hiatus) so I know this firsthand. Still, I didn't realize the truth of it until one of my relatives asked me what my outlet was. After a moment's thought, I realized I had indeed developed a renewed passion since the troubles began: arts and crafts. 

Along with teaching myself to crochet and dabbling in doilies (blogs to come!), my first defense was in the form of art. In the manner of true art therapy, I took to drawing, sketching and coloring like I hadn't done in weeks. 

Blub blub, blub blub.

One of my favorite pastimes has always been creating art from scratch, usually featuring fictional characters of my own design. However, sometimes even thinking of what to doodle can be taxing. Since this was the case for me, I used some of my brother's Magic the Gathering cards to, in essence, make my own coloring book.

Creepy, but cool!

Thanks to both of my nerdy brothers, I admit that I know how to play Magic The Gathering, and have even on occasion won. One of my favorite parts of the game though, is admiring the art on the cards. My favorites are usually colorful (Phantasmal Mount), adorable (Basking Rootwalla) or both (Segovian Leviathan), but I can also appreciate the alienesque, especially when comically named (ahem, Lhurgoyf).

Photosynthesis in lizard form!

While delving into drawing and coloring once again, I realized I had far more experience in the first and far less in the latter. I made my first few attempts with Prismacolor markers, and then decided to go even further out on a limb and break out the colored pencils, a medium I hadn't used in years.

A Smaugling?

Luckily, I have quite a stash of high quality colored pencils, and had just recently perused an art book at a book store that taught me a nifty new technique. As most artsy people probably know, one can use complimentary hues instead of simply black or gray to add depth as well as shadow to your subject. In the case of the Pygmy Pyrosaur seen above, that meant using purple to shade his yellow hide. For a first attempt, it didn't turn out half bad!

Beebly bobbly boo!

My next endeavor was an adorable card my brother picked out just for me - a beeble! The specific model of choice was the bouncing variety. As always, I penciled my initial sketch first.

Leave it to beebles!

Once I got his pose just right, I darkened my pencil outline to get that coloring book effect. While I didn't do that for the wee dragonling, I thought it would do this cartoony creature well.

Orange you glad I'm so cute?

Next up, let the coloring begin! Some of the beeble breeds, such as the Bouncing Beeble, were pinkish in hue, but my choice of orange pencil was really setting the stage for the slate blue Bubbling Beeble I had in mind.

Beebles bobble but they don't fall down!
In this mid-coloring shot, you can see what a difference that extra depth of color can make (though in this state, the beeble looks rather like a half shaven potato mouse...).

Hooray for beebles!

At this point, my beeble had a complete foundation of orange shadows and a slate blue topcoat. Believe it or not, the coloring above was done with entirely just these two pencils.

Bouncing, bubbling beebles for all!
For a final touch of contrast, I bust out a darker blue pencil for the shadows, and would have brightened the highlights too had I not left my pencil sharpener at home. Needless to say, the success of these Magical trial runs will make sure this new technique is a consistent part of my coloring repertoire from now on. 

Trite though it may seem, I agree more than ever with the old adage that every cloud comes with a silver lining. I would amend it however, to say that some clouds are lined in gold. Thank you so much to all the wonderful family, friends and neighbors who have brought sunshine into our cloudy day, and let us bask like rootwallas through the storm! <3