• SVS OG

    Hi, @Lee-White Thanks for working with all of us on Slowvember. I appreciate the explanation but still have some confusion on the R&D part. I am starting to work through the questions but wondered about the "theme." For example, for the three (of several that I like) that I chose for this assignment -- Arthur Howard, Helen Oxenbury, Andrea Zuill -- how does one determine the common theme? Is it the how the artist shows expressions? Or maybe their use of humor? Or how they show the individual characters be they human or animal? And what if they diverge in their styles -- somewhat real, somewhat abstract? They seem to use soft lighting. I like the watercolor feel of their work. Does that mean I should try work for individual expressions and use watercolor with soft lighting for my piece?
    Thanks for any guidance,

  • @xin-li I have 2 main references for choosing watercolors for a palette, which is just the first step when starting to paint, but might be useful nonetheless.

    I like Jeanne Dobie’s use of transparent watercolors to avoid mud when mixing. She has very good examples of combinations to make your own saturated variety of blacks and interesting complementary grays she calls “mouse greys”. (I have never used a tube black watercolor, because making your own is much more interesting). She has updated her palette to address criticisms of her use of fugitive colors like Rose Madder Genuine (

    I like Bruce MacAvoy’s guide to watercolor pigments to find transparent pigments and learn equivalent colors by number if I like a particular brand. For example, a nice transparent yellow by Daniel Smith that is more lightfast than aureolin yellow (PY53) is PY150. If you like Schminke, look for “translucent yellow” or Winsor & Newton’s “transparent yellow” or “Daniel Smith’s “nickel azo yellow”, all the same PY150 pigment.

    Have fun 😊I am sure your watercolor efforts will be just as wonderful as your inkings!

  • @Coley Sorry about your friend. I hope things get better. If you haven't gotten a chance to watch it yet, he says to take the 1st week to take a break, just think about things, & do research. So you're already following the steps. 😉

  • Maybe it's a bit late, but I'll join in. Just squeezing the days a bit, then it'll fit this month 😉 It's so great having people there who work on similar things and actually not to walk alone all the way ❤ Don't have an idea yet, but I have some hours tomorrow morning to get into it.

  • @Miriam thank you 🙂

  • @Inge-Permentier , You don't sound like an idiot at all! Talking things out & asking for advice often helps us figure out our own thoughts. It's really tough trying to figure out what to do. Especially when you add the pressure of wanting to make a living on it.

    You said that you want to develop artistic skills, and you want to build a portfolio. I think it was in one of Jake's videos that he shared a quote--something like: "The obstacle is the answer." Not having a portfolio is an obstacle, so the answer is creating one. You only get better at something by doing it. As you work on each new piece for your portfolio, your skills will increase.

    If you subscribe to SVS, try watching Lee's class, "How To Discover Your Style". (If you haven't already.)

    Maybe go back to the Slowvember questions, and try to answer them without thinking about what you want to do for this specific project--just answer them as if a friend asked you in a conversation.

    For example, a major theme that is important to me in my life is peace (within myself--world peace would be great & all, but we have to start with ourselves). This is true of the outlook I try to have in general, and I find that I resonate with peaceful images, and calm colors.

    What is something that drives you in life? What types of images, entertainment, activities, people, colors, lifestyle, philosophy, etc. are you drawn to? What type of person are you? What makes you happy? What kinds of emotions are important to you? What makes you feel that way? What is it you like about comics and the kind of art you want to create? What motivates you to make something? Try to open yourself up to exploration without obligation. Just jot down a bunch of words, and maybe something will surface. Either way, introspection is beneficial.

    I hope this helps!

  • @Miriam Thank you for your advice 😃 It really helps 😛
    I will try to answer those questions as you explained.
    And i will definitely take the course on SVS! I really want this to work out because it is what i love to do 😃

  • @BichonBistro thank you so much for the references. Hmmm, I have to read up a bit more, I can barely follow your reference about "transparent watercolors". I have a box of Sennelier watercolor (12 colors) for years. I use it occassionally. They are suppose to be artist grade color.
    Vesper Stamper has a video tutorial on SVSlearn, which she explains how to use 5 color to paint everyting in watercolor. I thought I might give a try since it is not a very big invenstment.

  • @Inge-Permentier I know the questionaire can be a bit hard to follow in the begining. Take your time. Watching Lee's "How to Discover your style" will help a lot with answering the questionaire.
    If your focus is to getting better at drawing in general, I recommend going through the SVSlearn's curriculum. The classes are organized in the way that you can follow from begining level to advanced.

    I personally got a lot out when I got a chance to go through classes together with other fellow SVSlearn artists here in the forum. Often people will post on the forum about the class they are working on, and post homework here in the forum for feedback and accountability. You can always join in other artists here to do the same class, or start a class thread on your own, and let other people join you.

  • @xin-li that sounds like a really great plan! I had been struggling to get things going on this myself but you've gone and made it much easier for me! I think I will follow the same steps that you described and plan on using watercolor also. As a watercolor newbie, can you suggest which SVS course might be the best one to start with? Also I must say that your Inktober submissions are wonderful! You've kept them so bright and lively even without using color. I'd also recommend that you have a look at James Yang's course on Portfolios. A good thing to keep in mind when creating new personal project pieces is how it would compliment your portfolio.

  • @Eoin-Cassidy thanks. I will definitely take a look of James Yang's course. I am newbie with watercolor also. I found 3 watercolor classes on SVS and watched them all earlier this year, and they are very inspiring. I think all of them are beginner friendly, especially the last one by Vesper Stamper. Lee's loosening up in watercolor was the course made me really inspired to work with watercolor. Enjoy.

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @Inge-Permentier Hi Inge, You are not an idiot at all! This seemingly simple assignment of creating one piece that you care about is actually very difficult! The problem is we have been led down the road of constant "quick" assignments and small projects. Like I said in the video, it's easy to spend a day on some art challenge like Murmay or something because it doesn't ask much of you as an artist.

    Don't get me wrong, I love those challenges too, but at some point we have to slow down and ask ourselves "What do I really want to make". Some people may not have ever really considered that simple question before. So if you feel confused, it probably means we are asking questions that you need to figure out, but haven't yet. What should you be working on? Only you can answer that. You may not be perfect at drawing (none of us are!), but it's time to dive in and try to make something that you like that starts to build a portfolio.

    So what happens if the end result isn't great? Well, that's ok too! Just do another one. Like I say in the Loosening up in Watercolor video: "The worst case scenario is that I messed up a perfectly good piece of watercolor paper". No one was hurt in my painting except for my ego! haha! So just paint another one and move on! That is how great work is made. It's a series of errors that all lead to getting good. Without the errors, there is nothing to judge yourself against. So dive in and figure out what kind of work you want to be creating and then go for it. : )

    Good luck!

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @Maureen All the things you noticed are great! Those can definitely be something to pay attention to. When I say "theme" I was more so referring to what they are painting. What kind of subject matter is inspiration using?

    Now, one thing to know is that there may not be a common theme that is obvious. That is ok too. But it's important to at least look for it. I'm trying to get you guys to look at your inspiration from different angels. Subject matter, character design, media, format, etc. We need to figure out why we are attracted to certain work. That way we can integrate that one thing into our work without taking everything from the artists we are looking at. Some artists I just love their line work, but don't really like the finished art per se. Mobius would be an example of this. I am not a huge fan of his finished art. I've never been too much of a sci-fi guy. But I LOVE his line work on some pieces (but not all). I love Lizbeth zwergers backgrounds and monocromatic work, but not her color work.

    I try to analyze each artist I like and see what it is that really pulls me in. So any of the things you noticed on your inspiration could be what draws you to that work. Or maybe it's something else? You need to look hard and see what it is. : )

  • SVS OG

    Thank you, @Lee-White OK, now I think I get it. I liked looking at the artists you referenced so I could "see" what you are talking about. I appreciate the many approaches to communicating something -- being told about, being shown, trying something and getting critiqued, etc. -- and your willingness to go further to help us learn. Back to my research ...

  • @xin-li said in SLOWVEMBER IS HERE!!:

    @BichonBistro thank you so much for the references. Hmmm, I have to read up a bit more, I can barely follow your reference about "transparent watercolors". I have a box of Sennelier watercolor (12 colors) for years. I use it occassionally. They are suppose to be artist grade color.
    Vesper Stamper has a video tutorial on SVSlearn, which she explains how to use 5 color to paint everyting in watercolor. I thought I might give a try since it is not a very big

    I think you will find that the 5 colors Vesper Stamper uses are transparent colors, or at least semi-transparent, which is why the limited palette works so well to create colors that are not muddy. I forget the brand she used, but you can google the brand and color name and will get links to descriptions of the color’s transparency, how lightfast it is and the color number. The color number will show you if you already have the sennelier brand of the yellow she uses, for example.

    When I googled “sennelier watercolor yellow”, I got a link that looks like it will tell you which colors in your sennelier box are transparent, semi-opaque and opaque (she uses a square box to identify transparent, a black square for opaque and a black/white square for semi-opaque). Here is the link:
    You will see that Sennelier’s Lemon Yellow(PY3) is transparent, Primary Yellow(PY74) is semi-transparent and Cadmium Lemon Yellow(PY35) is opaque.

    It might turn out that you already have the colors used in Vesper Stamper’s video if you check your Sennelier color numbers against the brand and color names she uses 😊

  • "the best you can do right now" I'm sold!... I am taking part in this challenge.

  • @BichonBistro wow. The info of transparent color is big for me. Thank you so much to take the time explaining this. I will definitely look closely on what I have before purchasing more art supplies.

  • SVS OG

    Just a side comment in support of @Lee-White Slowvember concept: After Slowvember of 2017, I started using Lee's process in a number of illustrations I was doing with animal characters and for each one I would spend the first week just reading about the animal's habitat and behavior, doing anatomical studies from skeletons, and even building clay and wire models before I even began to think about compositions. Most of what I did never ended up in the final painting but I learned a lot about animal anatomy etc. during that research phase that came into play in later paintings that I did. I tend to be a slow painter anyway so I have always appreciated Slowvember!

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @xin-li you always want to use a transparent yellow if possible. Especially when mixing dark tones. If you use an opaque yellow, it will lighten the mix when you are neutralizing a dark violet color. I use Quinacridone gold which is a a wonderful warm transparent yellow. Or indian yellow if that isn't around.

  • @Lee-White @xin-li Quinacridone Gold is a good example of how pigments with the same name can vary considerably across brands. Daniel Smith (and Winsor-Newton) had a single transparent pigment Quinacridone Gold (P049) until it was discontinued. I still have a tube and it’s my favorite for warm, transparent yellows and mixing warm greens.
    Daniel Smith replaced it with a combination of a transparent orange (Quinacridone Orange, PO48) and transparent yellow (Nickel Azo Yellow, PY150), which I haven’t tried, but you will see watercolor artists complaining that they don’t like it as much as the original.

    Winsor-Newton adds 2 transparent pigments to the Nickel Azo Yellow to make their current Quinacridone Gold, both in the red-violet family (Quinacridone Maroon, PR206 and Quinacridone Violet, PV19). I would guess that this brand is going to look duller with the addition of colors that border on being a complement to yellow.

    Schminke’s adds a rust-color (Red Iron Oxide, PR101) that can be less transparent to the Nickel Azo Yellow.

    Sennelier’s Quinacridone Gold is a cross between Winsor-Newton’s and Schminke’s, adding to the Nickel Azo Yellow the rust (Red Iron Oxide, PR101) and a red-violet (PR206, Quinacridone Violet).

    You will find the pigment numbers in very small print on the side of tube watercolors (not sure if pan watercolors include that information). It can be very helpful to reference these numbers in getting to know the characteristics of your watercolors rather than doing so through trial and error. Not just transparency, but whether or not it’s a staining pigment, lightfastness, how granular it is, etc. This knowledge is practical: for example, if you think you want to lift color from an area, don’t use a staining pigment, but if you want to mix a rich intense black, use staining colors like Perylene Maroon (PR179) and Phthalo Green (PG7).

    Knowing the formulations can also save you money when you find out that Daniel Smith’s “Opera Pink” that’s calling you is PR122, the same number of the Winsor-Newton tube of Quinacridone Magenta already in your collection of red watercolors 🙄

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