About a year ago, near my house there was a streetlight that had a bad connection or a short or something, and it would blink on and off at intervals like Christmas lights. Maybe it wanted to be a Christmas tree. I don’t know. But I do know that ever since I noticed it, I’ve wanted to write and illustrate a children’s story about it. I have no clue what I could write about a dysfunctional streetlight that could be of any interest to children, but I have so many pictures of it dancing through my head.
The pieces I drew last night and the night before are some of those images. The watercolor version (from Saturday) is entirely in black paint, a challenging, but fun experiment. It didn’t turn out quite how I wanted – at one point there was a house behind the light, but it pretty much disappeared.
For the most part, I don’t like how this one turned out. The area around the light isn’t dark enough, the sky is blotchy, both my house and my tree all but vanished, and the dark patch under the hedge is all… well… wrong. And the cat looks a bit like a frog. I do like how the wooden light pole turned out, but that’s about it.
In spite of all it’s problems, I did have fun painting this piece, and I learned a few things about technique that I’ll be able to apply in the future. I also discovered that large flat brushes are super fun to use.
Since the watercolor piece didn’t quite capture what I had in mind, yesterday I drew the piece in graphite. This second piece turned out much more as I envisioned, and I am very happy with the results. My streetlight is much too short (as is the one in the painting), but I’ll survive.
(I must admit, it’s been great working in gray scale over the past two days. Everything else I’ve drawn over the past month and a half has been in color.)
I started the graphite piece with my HB 0.7mm mechanical pencil, using a homemade blending stump to smooth out the lines. I used a B6 pencil to fill in the darker areas, and went back with a moldable eraser to add highlights and light beams. I sprayed the finished picture with a matte fixative, which, it turns out, may have been the best art investment I’ve ever made.
Fun fact: the only two places on the paper that were never covered by graphite are the light bulb and the cat’s back.
Below I’ve added close-ups of some of the details.
(I’m sorry some of the photos are blurry. I’m not a good photographer.)