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In August I'm teaching a nature journaling class called Gifts from the Sea (you can read about that and register HERE). So to get ready I'm exploring the lovely world of shells.
Obviously, some shells are very complex shapes with spirals and spikes, twists and ridges. Others seem deceptively simple, i say deceptively because even a clam shell presents it;s own challenges when sketching.
I'm working with that same calligraphy marker I mentioned yesterday, the 2.0 Yasutomo Calligraphy Marker, and watercolors, including Daler-Rowney Pro-white something I almost always have on my palette, to boost the opacity of the paint if I need it.
When faced with unfamiliar, complicated subjects I always like to sketch using a continuous line drawing and sometimes even just a contour drawing, that is drawing the entire outline of the shape without lifting my pen from the paper. The continuous line drawing technique is similar in that you don't lift your pen (or at least you try very hard no to !) and you can move in and out and around the subject as you sketch it instead of just staying with the outline. Before you add color these type of sketches often look like sculptures made of wire, which is a good way to think of them as your sketching. Think about your pen line as it it were a piece of flexible wire that you are bending and twisting into the shape of the shell.
I do this because it makes me look very, very closely at my subject and feel with my eyes the shape of the thing, I get to understand its structure its proportions, its patterns and rhythms. the last two are particularly true of the shells.
A nice rich shadow underneath the shells makes them "pop" from the page and looks really great on the creamy colored paper.
A bit of writing and an undulating line for a border, restated with some watercolor pulls the whole page together.