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Smithereens, Post No. 3: Process

Posted on by Rebecca Green


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Smithereens: [smith -uh-reenz] Plural Noun. 1. Small pieces, bits.
Smithereens are tiny pieces, fragments of a larger thing. In this series of blog posts, I share small slivers of my process, thoughts on materials, and insights into the larger world of illustration. 

Art is a process - making anything is a process. Living is a process! We often see what comes at the end of this process: the shiny beautifully wrapped effortless painting, the gorgeous illustrations in a book, the magazine cover we can't stop staring at. It's a wonderful thing to be propelled by these pieces of art, but it can definitely hinder us too. Like many of you, I love seeing behind the scenes. What decisions were made, and how they affect the outcome are more fascinating than the end product.
I've been making art long enough that I've recognized my process pattern (though I'm still learning!). I know it takes me dozens of attempts to finally land on the one. And that sometimes that one isn't the one at all, and I end up ruining it, and seeking a new contender for the final piece. 
Lately, I've been doing preliminary work on the IPad, and it saves SO much time. I have thoughts about my digital vs traditional work and that'll come in another Smithereen post, but for now, it's a super easy way for me to visually explain process. Today I'll be sharing the process for Storytime Dreaming, a mural I painted at Parnassus Books last year. Though I started sketching ideas loosely on paper, I did the bulk of the planning in Procreate (with the default pencil brushes). Below you can see the evolution of the animals, and how I placed them in the final design. 

As you can see, I tried many different animals, views and options before settling on those that made their way to the final. 

Once the design was approved, I created the illustration in colored pencils (with digital edits) for a poster that the bookstore could print and sell. This made the color planning for the mural easy! 

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Then came the actual painting! I projected the mural onto the wall via a projector and did the lines in white paint (that I knew would be covered up). I used a high quality wall paint and mixed in acrylics where I needed some differences in color. 

What I want to highlight here, is not necessarily the project per se, but the process it took to get to the final. There are always so many drawings and attempts that don't get shared, and often when I go back to share my process, I'm even surprised at how many times I had to circle around the piece before I ended up settling on the final. It's never a straight line, but a zig-zaggy mess of exploration. If you'd like to see more posts about process, check out The Great Cape Breton Escape  or The Unicorn In The Barn .
Also, this post has made me realize how little of the process I actually share with you. My goal is to be better at sharing the whole process and not just the sketches I like!

What do you notice about your own process? Do you usually go with your first attempt? Do you have to draw something a hundred times before it's good enough?

Cheers and Happy Processing! 

PS! I was under the weather on Friday, so I'm getting this post out to you a little late! Hope everyone's weekend was great!