How I came to this illustration about the australian fires and human interactions with nature.

Usually I draw only „beautiful“ things like pets, wild life animals, portraits, landscapes and flowers. But at the moment there are so many news especcially about the climate crises. So as I am a studied geographer I feel like doing illustrations, to tell a story.

I think most of us feel the same: small and helpless when we hear about the news. Every day people are dying, have to leave their homes and already half a million animals are dying in the flames. For me its even more emotional than other katastrophes because of the koalas, they act with their baby face like a symbol for the innocence of animals. And also the lonely, brave fireman is a symbol for all of us.

Even we take all take part in climate change due to our consumption and lifestyle, we are just a small, minor part in a huge system. Helping, working together or improving our consumption even though is important. This is my way to deal with this topic. I don’t eat meat since 2013, I buy second hand or fair trade and organic since 2017. Plus we don’t use the plane anymore for holidays. The northern coast of germany is beautiful enough for us. this way and doing illustrations I feel less helpless somehow.

The drawing and painting process- what a challange

This illustration was a lot challanging for me. I am a pro in drawing with colored pencils, this is a technique I had my focus on for years. But suddenly I got bored, I got bored of the same materials again and again and I got really tired of just drawing a photorealistic drawing with a simple photorefence. I wanted to learn how to illustrate and how to draw and paint in other medias as well!

Materials I have used
I used water color and guache of Schmincke, Prismacolor colored pencils on Strathmore mixed media paper.

My photoreference

So first of all, I found out that doing a collage in photoshop is a must or me, as I am struggling a bit with sketching, because I am getting to much into details all the time or I simply have no ideas coming up while I am starring at a white piece of paper. Photos I find most of the time on pixabay which are free to use.

Pixaby, google maps 😅 my imagination

Working in mixed media: water color, guache and colored pencil

Secondly I challenged myself to change the materials or to combine my loved colored pencils with other mediums. I tried this and that, especcially for underpainting and backgrounds, like pastels and water color for example but also acrylics.

Acrylics do not work for me at all, since they are shining a bit and colored pencil doesn´t stick on top of it really well. Water color is a mess for me, because I am still a beginner and I am struggling a lot with those water edges. Pastels do work great for backgrounds, but not that good for underpaintings because the pigments are moving around a lot. And than I found out about guache.

Guache is the solution at the moment. It can be painted on top of light water color layers for example. You can work from dark to light since most of the colors are opaque. You can even paint with loads and loads of color. And you can blend it so nice, that it feels a bit like working in pastels.

You have to learn how to use different kind of brushes which is still challenging for me. But that doesn´t matter so much. The colored pencil sticks on top of the guache underpainting really well and so you are doing a quite abstract underpainting anyway.

I absolutely love this technique because its saves time, because the underpainting is mich faster that way. And I find that the drawings look a bit looser, a bit more abstract. When it comed to drawing fur, it looks a bit more soft as well, as I said, a bit like pastel.