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Pictures as shower presents: Mixed media turtles for a baby

Updated on August 2, 2014

Turtles for the baby


Originality in a gift

There are so many things you can give as a gift for a shower, yet things seem to be given in doubles and sometimes triple. A baby shower allows the parent to get things for the baby. They get diapers and bathroom supplies and just about everything they need and then they get it again. Yes, they need these things, but aren’t you secretly wanted to be the one who has the original present that no one else has given? You want to be remembered as the one who gave that person that cool (Fill in the blank). I know it, you know it.

I like to be personal with my gifts. I get things that mean something, or will mean something. As an artist I kind of have a certain one up on some people. I like to find out what someone likes as an animal or a favorite event or atmosphere. I then make a picture for them. I have done sci-fi scenes where the whole fantasy world is crashing the wedding. I have made a picture of an elephant cradling a lamb because my friend is a big fan of elephants and she was planning on doing a baby lamb theme for her daughter.

I think of turtles

Recently I found out my cousin is having a baby, so out with my art supplies and into brain storm mode. I had recently sent her a message asking her what type of animal or creature she liked. I had already had a vague idea and my design was already working away in my head.

She responded that she liked turtles and wanted to know why? I just told her I had some sinister plot and she would have to wait and see. I got out my paper and decided on medium and size of the piece. I figured that if it is going into a kid’s room a smaller size would suffice. I decided on an 8x8 in a 12x12 frame. The medium I would use would be a mixed media of ink and watercolor pencil.

Art is a process

Draw some shapes to get a feel of the negative space and then start drawing your scene.
Draw some shapes to get a feel of the negative space and then start drawing your scene. | Source
Once you get the placement down ink it in so they don't go anywhere.
Once you get the placement down ink it in so they don't go anywhere. | Source
Get some scenery down for the subjects.
Get some scenery down for the subjects. | Source

Creating a good picture is a process

I like to tape up around the picture with artist or painters tape to both frame in my work and allow the finished product to have a crisp edge. You do not have to do this I am just a bit of a perfectionist. I then use a light pencil to draw a bit of shape where the picture will be set up. I will do three baby turtles, one for each member of the new family. So I lightly drew three circles in the size I wanted the turtles and placement, so I could get an idea of how the layout of the page looked with them there. I have been known to move my shaped around for an hour before I like where they are. Negative space is very important.

Once I have my layout I draw my scene. I sometimes use various degrees of pencils, but other times I just enjoy a good mechanical pencil. This was the case of the mechanical. I drew in the turtles and erased their heads constantly as I considered how I wanted them. I wanted character in the drawing. I wanted the future owners of this picture to feel like these turtles were a family. I positioned the turtles so they felt they were traveling together. I made their heads so that one seemed to be plowing onward attention forward, at the ready to change position, while the others followed comfortably and looked around with one of them looking slightly at the third as a sort of reassurance. You can tell they are heading somewhere, maybe an adventure with their new lives?

This sounds a bit too dramatized for the piece you may think. Where is this entire story? Well as an artist you cannot have a piece without a foundation and an indicator of perpetual motion. The viewer might not see the whole story, but they will feel the emotion I put into the piece and it will be more personal for them, thus becoming a great gift.

Since I decided to do a mixed media I tend to start off by inking in what I just drew in pencil. I like how ink looks with a lot of other Medias. Pencil is nice too but has a tendency to disappear. I ink in the main subjects and maybe a couple of other items that need a good sharp contrast. I then get my next media, which in this case are watercolor pencils. I stipple a few different colors into the landscape surrounding the turtles. A tan, a gray, and a brown were used for the surrounding sand. (Stipple is the use of creating dots to form texture or even a subject.). I used the darker colors in the areas where the water from the body of water splashed the shore and a little in the areas where the turtles scrapped up the soft dirt in their travels.

I used stipple method because when I brush the artwork with a brush I dipped in water the areas that did not get blended together have a grainy sandy look because of the dots. I use the brush to both blend the colors with water and to blend the strokes in the direction I want. If you brush in the wrong direction you can ruin the texture and detail you have prepped your piece for.

Once the piece is blended and finished I remove the tape and initial the piece in a spot that it blends in with the picture. I will then frame and gift it, knowing that they will enjoy their gift because it is from the heart and soul.


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