Here is a cute mixed media painting I made following Tracy Verdugo’s tutorial called “Stories of a She-Tribe”. Based on a personal story, she created a beautiful piece featuring five “tribal” figures of women. I, on the other hand, wanted to customize it to my style and make it more little girl like and cute. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out as I had expected so I ended up taking a little detour and recreating some cute little animals instead!
Kawaii Haiku Poem
In her tutorials, Tracy writes a poem on the paper using a needle and acrylic ink in Antelope Brown and Payne’s Grey. I thought it would be cute to write a Haiku Poem, a Japanese three-verse poem based on syllables of 5-7-5.
My kawaii life
Filled with cute bunnies and bears
And little kitties
Before the ink completely dries, we smear the the writing with a big flat brush dipped in water.
Once the ink is dry, we add some collages of patterned paper napkins. Unfortunately I don’t have any bright pretty ones lying around so decided to improvise by making my own collage material with deli paper! I quickly doodled patterns on pieces of deli paper using permanent inks like Copic markers and stamps using Ranger’s Archive Ink. Deli paper provides some transparency like paper napkins do and are even less inclined to rip. I even designed enough for future use too!
Everything was going smoothly till I realized something wasn’t right. I just couldn’t figure out how to make figures out of what I created so far. Even turning the paper around and upside down didn’t help. Then I realized what the problem was. The poem I had written in the beginning was too short whereas Tracy’s was nearly ten lines long and occupied the page more. The haiku was too brief and hence left a lot of space on the paper. Furthermore I didn’t spread and disperse the ink as wide as I should’ve. Mine came out all bitty and in blocks of colour hence there is too much white space as seen in the above photo.
Finding a Solution
I then decided to add more layers and colours on top to see what would happen. Maybe I’ll discover something hidden! Random bunnies, bears and kitties were then scribbled on using acrylic inks in bright colours. I also incorporated some stamps and stenciling and dotting stuff with gouache. Now let’s see if we can find something!
I took a photograph of what I had achieved so far. That way, I can objectively observe what further can be added and more importantly, discover what is hidden behind the melange of writing, collages and doodles. And of course! Why not change the course and make it about animals rather than people? Nobody is telling us she-tribes must be people only! And after all, the underlying Haiku is about kitties, bunnies and bears, right? The photograph was then duplicated once I figured out what I’d draw. Then with my stylus on my tablet, I outlined to experiment my ideas, and the more I worked on it, the more I discovered some amazing stuff. I then made then I simulated version of negative space by digitally painting the background in pink to see if this colour was suitable. And it was!
Pretty in Pink
I carefully drew in my creatures with dark pink aquarelle pencil by following closely what I had digitally drawn on the photograph. The background was firstly filled with white acrylic ink then with pink but it came out too thin and transparent to my liking. Then I combined white gesso with some light pink paint. All went smoothly and well, and I was very happy with the outcome. I added the eyes and finer details with gel pens and acrylic markers. It was the next morning, though, that I realised I had accidentally painted over one of the poor bunny’s arms! Oh well. My boyfriend and I joked that the bunny decided to put her right arm behind her back! Nevertheless here is the finished result:
Although the painting didn’t turn out as expected as per Tracy’s tutorial, I had a lot of fun recreating and improvising. I shared this on the relevant FB group and not only did I get a lot of praises, but a number of viewers, also artists like myself, reiterated there is no correct way to create art. In fact, artwork should be seen as a way to grow and develop oneself through creativity. And that is so true! In any case, I’d like to repeat this exercise one day soon and see if I can do it differently…