It was just a short while ago I was writing about how I wasn’t interested in doing any more of my “Painted Lady” faux comic book cover series. I was bored of the process. That happens. Except that I recently finished a couple of ink drawings in that very series. How did that happen? I changed the process. And it was completely inadvertent.

It all started with some really small thumbnail drawings. I normally don’t do those for my “Painted Lady” drawings because those are all photo referenced. But I was working on something completely different and drawing small figures in pencil on two by three inch pieces of paper. I was even using a mechanical pencil that I don’t often use. Normally I draw with either a regular 4B wooden drawing pencil or a 2B .7mm mechanical pencil. Since I was working really small I pulled out my 2B .5mm mechanical pencil. That’s a small width of lead for me but since I was drawing tiny this time it was just the right size. Plus most of the time I do my thumbnails in ink so I was off my normal trail but I was enjoying the way the thumbnails were coming out. I didn’t actually use those thumbnails for anything though.

The little figure pencil drawings set up my next round of thumbnail drawings. Thumbnail drawings are idea generators. So sometimes if I’m on a roll I just keep going with them. I don’t worry about what I’m going to do with them or worry about finishing anything since I want to keep the ideas flowing. So I pulled out a 9×12 inch piece of Bristol board and made a bunch of small 1.5×2.5 inch boxes on it. I wanted to work out some small half figures for some of the 5×7 inch marker drawings I was working on. I got about a dozen compositions done, looked at them, and still had no idea what I wanted to do with them. They seemed okay to be made into small marker drawings but that didn’t excite me. They had no theme or reason for being. I put them aside and worked on other things.

It was a while later that I looked at them again. I still couldn’t see any small marker drawings in them but I began to envision them with marks on their bodies. That got things going in the “Painted Ladies” direction. These little thumbnails were figures from my imagination rather than drawn from life or from photos. That was a change from how I had done all the other “Painted Ladies.”

I picked one of the small thumbnail drawings and dropped it into my “Painted Lady” template that has the logo and trade dress in it. Not that I printed out this version with the logo but I needed to see if the thumbnail drawing fit the composition. Being that it wasn’t made for this composition some adjustments were necessary. I had to shift the head a little, move most of the figure to the right, and add a little more arm on the left. Nothing too complicated and when I finished I printed the figure in blue line much larger on a 9×12 inch piece of Bristol board.

It was freeing that I got out of my usual habit and made things slightly differently. The basic figure drawing was more cartoony with bigger heads and eyes on the characters than my photo referenced stuff but the real difference was in the marks. Since I had less body structure to work with compared to a photo referenced body I made different patterns of marks than I did in the other “Painted Ladies.” Things presented themselves that hadn’t before. I’m not sure that anyone else would notice but I did. It took just as long to complete as any of my other ones though. It takes a lot of time and concentration to draw and ink all those marks.

I got one more slightly different thing out of that second set of thumbnails too. A new “Dreams of Things” cover. I was also pretty tired of doing those ones. I had been making a lot of them lately. Thirty two of them. That’s twice as many as I made of “Painted Lady” covers but there is more variety in the “Dreams of Things” covers so it’s not so surprising that they’ve held my interest for longer than the Painted Ladies. But still the Dreams had run their course and I hadn’t done one in a few weeks.

It was a thumbnail figure that caught my eye. A long time ago I painted a dreamy little 5×7 inch gouache painting that had a landscape inside a figure. You basic mixing up the background with the foreground thing. I saw that again here. Ended up drawing the figure, transferring it to an 11×17 inch piece of Bristol boar, and then inking and coloring it with markers. The same as I did with all my other “Dreams of Things” covers except there was very little improvisation with this one. I saw it all in the thumbnail. That’s fairly rare for me. The only thing I didn’t have down was the exact nature of the landscape on the shirt. I ended up with something I rarely do. Clouds were on one side of the picture and the moon was on the other. Usually I have the clouds go all the way across the picture. Why did I do it this way? I’m not even sure. I think I just wanted a change. I look at it now and it looks so weird. Either the clouds are running away from the moon or chasing it. I have no idea which but it makes me wonder. I think wondering is good so I’m okay with it.

When it comes to trying to get art done I’m a big believer in habit. It makes it easier to get things done if you do them the same way time after time. But sometimes Habit can tie me up. That’s when breaking habits and new approaches are the things that can save me.