My Spiritual Turtle

Finally made it to the last lesson of Tracy Verdugo’s Story Painting classes! This painting was completed a few weeks ago already but I have been so busy, and meanwhile other paintings took precedent with Easter-themes etcetera that I didn’t get around to write about it till now. In this lesson, we choose our “spirit animal”. We first jot down how we are feeling at the moment and based on that find an animal that symbolizes our thoughts. Most people would have guessed I’d choose a cat but remember, it’s about choosing something that symbolizes our thoughts, not our favorite animal!

My Spiritual Animal

At the time, I was feeling a bit stressed with organizing the new house and wanting to slow down a bit. I need to be more patient with the developments. All I want to do too is just relax and let the world go by, patiently taking one step at a time. And what animal comes to mind? A turtle is what popped up! What’s also worth mentioning is that in Asian culture, a turtle is a symbol of longevity and wisdom. I love that it represents longevity because in these difficult times, i.e., Covid, this is appropriate. Besides, I have never drawn a turtle before. I love the challenge. So turtle it is then!

Pencil Sketch

Once I decided on the turtle, I began google searching images of turtles and gathering some cute images here and there. One that impressed me was that of a small turtle taking a bite off of a strawberry! So that I thought would be the central subject. Then I came across another photo of a bale of baby turtles, otherwise called hatchlings. That I definitely wanted to incorporate as well! And thus I began sketching away with my graphite pencil, firstly practicing on a sketchbook before drawing on my large A3-size watercolour paper. Kawaii turtle munching on her strawberry while her two babies watch, surrounded by so much foliage. Oh and I had to add a little crown on our turtle too just for fun!

Painting with Ink

Once done, we start painting with acrylic ink using one color. That’s right, just one! Payne’s Grey was used here, and the whole point was to play around with light and dark using that one color. The more diluted with water, the lighter the color, and of course the less then the darker. Another variety to play around with was the thickness of the strokes using different brushes. Can you see what I’ve done here? I also added more to the picture. More foliage and additional hatchlings!

Finishing Touches

Once I was happy with the ink painting, it was time to add tiny details with a white gel pen! That is typical in much of Tracy’s work. And what a great idea it is! That way, you can refine the painting a bit more and reinstate some white spaces. It also adds some cuteness to the otherwise monotonous objects. And so I tapped in some dots on the leaves and drew in some lines here and there on the leaves. And now!

I ought to do more paintings like using just one color. This was quite fun, using only Payne’s Grey. It’s a great way to be more in tune with the concept of light and dark, a bit similar to doing graphite pencil sketches but using paint and water instead. Drawing something different this time, a turtle in this case, was also a great idea as now I can confidently add that in my “animals I can draw” list. Moreover, I enjoyed Tracy’s classes. The whole Story Painting class certainly opened my horizons more, and I would definitely recommend it. Who knows, maybe one day, I might even repeat it!

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