My Visual Diary: turning my photos into art


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As a kid, I drew regularly with graphite pencils - wild animals, mostly, from photos in books and magazines. Over the years, the urge to draw remained, but the motivation to start has mostly eluded me. From time to time I'd get bad GAS, and buy some more pencils, and draw a few things - gum leaves were the usual theme the past few years - but after a short while I'd stop feeling motivated.

A couple of months ago, in an effort to get enthusiastic enough about drawing to do it, I bought a set of black Sakura Pigma Micron fineliner pens. Since then, I've been drawing regularly from my own photos, which I've been getting printed so as to have a reference collection to choose from.

I'll share my journey here, partly in hopes that it'll help keep me motivated!

Here's my first shareworthy effort: the Cape Nelson Lighthouse, near Portland, Victoria, Australia. My reference photo (printed in my 2017 photo book) was taken in 2017 with my beloved Fujifilm X30 compact; soon after our visit we leaned that the semaphore flags were no longer being flown from the lighthouse.

The drawing was done in one session with the 0.2mm Pigma pen, which I knew would become a favourite. I hadn't planned to add colour, but the sky beckoned, and before I knew it my Derwent Inktense coloured pencils (languishing, barely used) had joined the party. I prefer the uncoloured drawing, but as this was a test run of the pens, at least I got to see they really are permanent under water brush!

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My next drawing was from a phone photo taken while strolling the main street of a tiny Victorian village. I used Pigma Micron pens, Derwent watercolour and Inktense pencils. Progess photos are also attached.

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The pen in the Sakura Pigma Micron set which least appealed to me was the brush pen, so I did something I don't usually, and embraced it, doing an entire A6 sketch with it!

The photo is of Clarendon Estate in Tasmania, taken with Panasonic GX9 and 14-140mm mkII lens, if I recall correctly.

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Uninspired by my own photos that day, I turned to a book of Ibiza for a simple architectural study, this time using coloured inks in a couple of Platinum Preppy fountain pens. I've been into fountain pens for years, but never considered them for drawing before. I've since become quite addicted, as you'll soon see!

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The prettier pen is a limited edition Platinum Preppy Wa, loaded with Platinum Forest Black, a modern ink gall type; the clear Preppy is loaded with Noodler's Lermontov, used for the sky and water. Both items have 0.3mm nibs, which I found a bit broad for the tiny drawing paper.

You'll probably have noticed that these drawings all have a border to contain them, something I've been doing only this year.
Oh my gosh, thank you all for the wonderful comments and support, I'm a bit overwhelmed!

I've been on long service leave since the start of March (ending this week), so had plenty of time and head space to focus on art. Despite that, on our 3 week road trip I only drew this chicken from a magazine! I had planned to try sketching scenes, but oh well.

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A couple of weeks ago I made this simple A5 sketch book from an old acrylic painting pad not in use. The pages were removed, folded into signatures and bound with fine hat elastic, then assembled into the recycled backing card from the pad for a no-frills cover. The whole thing was slipped into my bespoke, handcrafted and carved leather notebook cover (made years ago by my talented dad). The result isn't pretty, but it didn't cost a penny!

Reference photo was possibly taken in Terang, southwest Victoria.

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Later that day, I was feeling like I needed a mid grey for shading, so I grabbed my refillable Platinum brush pen and decade-old bottle of Noodlers Lexington Gray ink, diluted it 50:50 with water, and filled the barrel of the brush pen. BOOM BOOM! Perfect shading in a swipe, especially on this heavier weight paper.

Reference photo taken somewhere near Mt Noorat, southwest Victoria.

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I love the idea of turning photos into art! It's like capturing moments in time and giving them a new life through creativity. I've dabbled in it myself, transforming ordinary snapshots into something truly extraordinary. There's just something magical about the process, isn't there? It's like unlocking hidden stories and emotions within each image and turning them into visual poetry.
Welcome to the forum! I hope you'll start your own thread to share how you turn your photos into a new art form 😊
Not every attempt is a winner, of course. My sister gave me her old watercolour paint palette, so after I did a quick sketch of Murtoa Flour Mill from The Wimmera book, I used it to add a bit of life.

I'll be honest, painting is NOT my thing: I don't like mess, or even the idea of mess, so playing with something messily wet is not my idea of a good time. (Compared with playing with fountain pens and inks, which can actually be just as messy! 🤷) But I've been watching lots of sketch artist do it, so figured I could give it a go.

Something I have to learn to let go of is my fear that my drawing efforts won't be perfect (this one is certainly not), but that they'll bring me closer to an output I'll be proud of in time. It's one of the reasons I've clung to photography as my main artform.

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My husband's son (10) saw my drawings on his last visit, and decided to do some drawing after dinner, so we sat at the kitchen table and worked on our separate projects. It was a really special time, and I look forward to more drawing sessions with him.

I worked on this piece from a wacky photo I took from the road near the Grampians (Fujifilm X30). The next day I decided to have a crack at drawing the clouds, and colouring the sky with a light blue ink, Noodler's Lermontov. I'm not entirely happy with them, but the process was really fun 😊

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