#AutismAcceptance/#AutismAppreciation Doodles ‘n’ Scribbles, no. 28: under the sea

Just a pretty picture, really. As usual, parts of it frustrate me – the octopus’s head is far too disproportionately small, for one thing. But it’s still quite pretty.

One of my earlier doodles, inspired by how much my children have at various times loved Octonauts, Finding Nemo, A Turtle’s Tale, and various other under-the-sea adventures.

Sometimes it’s simply nice to draw things that make my two little beasts smile.


[Image description: A brightly coloured underwater scene, drawn in fineliner pen. To the left of the image is a large yellow speckled octopus, floating above some deep red coral. Small fish of various colours swim through the middle of the image, close to a large, wavy-finned pink fish blowing bubbles. A large yellow-and-dark-blue fish hide within the seaweed to the right of the picture. The sea bed is covered in pale sand strewn with rocks, pebbles, a shell and a starfish, and a hermit crab marches along.]

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#AutismAcceptance/#AutismAppreciation doodles ‘n’ scribbles, no. 25: Weird Sisters

A full-colour fineliner pen drawing of three green-skinned witches, around a large, ornate and rustic cauldron placed on a bonfire. One witch stirs a potion in the cauldron; another holds a spell book and is about to drop a frog into the mixture. The witch in the middle holds her hands up as if casting a spell. Numerous creatures are running away from the scene, and a cat hides behind the spell-book witch. A broomstick is just in view to the left of the image, and in the background are hills, woodland, bats and a full moon.

A full-colour fineliner pen drawing of three green-skinned witches, around a large, ornate and rustic cauldron placed on a bonfire. One witch stirs a potion in the cauldron; another holds a spell book and is about to drop a frog into the mixture. The witch in the middle holds her hands up as if casting a spell. Numerous creatures are running away from the scene, and a cat hides behind the spell-book witch. A broomstick is just in view to the left of the image, and in the background are hills, woodland, bats and a full moon.

Another one from my little Moleskine book. Yet more horror/spooky connections, plus a nod to the literary.

Fineliner drawing of an ornate, rather rustic cauldron, placed on a bonfire. This is part of the witches drawing. It’s drawn on the page of a small plain-paged Moleskine journal.I refer to a lot of these fineliner pen drawings as “doodles” because other than having a vague idea on my head about what I’m going to draw, I don’t really plan them, or sketch anything out beforehand. And I usually begin by drawing one area of the picture in detail, and “completing” this, before I move to the next. This started with a cauldron, and progressed from there.

I much prefer working in detail over a period of time to dashing things off quickly, but as per a couple of recent digital paintings and some of the more cartoon-based work, I’m having a go at doing things quickly as a way of honing certain skills. Painting and drawing quickly is still somewhat outside of my comfort zone.

Early stages of a full-colour fineliner drawing of witches around a cauldron. The cauldron on the bonfire is complete, and there are two partially-completed witches either side of the picture. The faulty foreshortenening/positioning of left arm of the witch holding the frog annoys me intensely. But never mind.

[Main image description: A full-colour fineliner pen drawing of three green-skinned witches, around a large, ornate and rustic cauldron placed on a bonfire. One witch stirs a potion in the cauldron; another holds a spell book and is about to drop a frog into the mixture. The witch in the middle holds her hands up as if casting a spell. Numerous creatures are running away from the scene, and a cat hides behind the spell-book witch. A broomstick is just in view to the left of the image, and in the background are hills, woodland, bats and a full moon.

Second and third images depict the same picture in earlier stages of development – firstly the cauldron, then with the addition of two of the witches.]

#AutismAcceptance/#AutismAppreciation doodles ‘n’ scribbles, no. 18: Robots

Portrait orientation fineliner pen drawing of 28 brightly coloured robots of various sizes, shapes and types, with a range of facial expressions and poses. This is not a ‘scene’ but a series of individual images - the only background is the page on which they have been drawn.

You’d think, wouldn’t you, by now, that the stereotype of autistic people as emotionless, empathy-devoid, monotonous-voiced beings with no inner life might have been chucked out of the window forever. But it still seems to persist, even as we work to change the narrative.

I am fully human. My brain is simply a different machine from that of a neurotypical person.

I do quite like robots, though.


[Image description: Portrait orientation fineliner pen drawing of 28 brightly coloured robots of various sizes, shapes and types, with a range of facial expressions and poses. This is not a ‘scene’ but a series of individual images – the only background is the page on which they have been drawn.]

#AutismAcceptance/#AutismAppreciation doodles ‘n’ scribbles, no 17: the cabin in the woods

Coloured drawing in landscape orientation, using fine liner and marker pens, of a stylised log cabin, in a clearing, surrounded by trees. In the background is a multicoloured sky, evoking a sunset. The ground is littered with leaf debris, twigs and stones.

This one plays on my interests in horror (the haunted cabin in the woods is a common trope), spooky stuff, nature, and getting away from civilisation.

Like the ‘Edge of the Woods’ image, I have mixed feelings about the finished picture. I wasn’t always consistent in my choice of media (sometimes fineliner, sometimes felt tip, sometimes alcohol-based marker), so the blocks of colour are a bit uneven in places. And the composition of the picture for me is, well, somewhat boring. Also, I decided to crop it as there was too much floor in the finished product (I still have the paper version, if I ever change my mind).

But I like the colours, at least, and I did remember to scan in the line drawing before adding the rest of the block colour, as can be seen from the comparison, below – again, before I coloured it all in, I was a bit inconsistent with which pen I used, so the varying thicknesses of the lines tend to irk me. My kind of brain doesn’t always pay full attention to the right details (like which pen I pick up).

I’m still learning. Always learning.

Composite of two images side by side. To the right, a coloured drawing in landscape orientation, using fine liner and marker pens, of a stylised log cabin, in a clearing, surrounded by trees. In the background is a multicoloured sky, evoking a sunset. The ground is littered with leaf debris, twigs and stones. To the left, an earlier line drawing stage of the same picture.


[First image description: Coloured drawing in landscape orientation, using fine liner and marker pens, of a stylised log cabin, in a clearing, surrounded by trees. In the background is a multicoloured sky, evoking a sunset. The ground is littered with leaf debris, twigs and stones.

[Second image description: as above, but also featuring the original line drawing alongside the finished picture]

#AutismAcceptance/#AutismAppreciation Doodles ‘n’ scribbles, no. 15: Butterflies

Full-Colour pen drawing, in landscape orientation, of fifteen butterflies, with imaginary rather than actual species’ colours and wing markings. They are arranged in three rows of five, and there is no background other than the page which they have been drawn.

This was one of the first “doodles” I drew in my recent return to drawing, sketched out and filled in on a Pendolino train to Glasgow for a conference as a way of drawing my focus away from the busyness all around me.

I was compelled to use highly contrasting colours for each of these butterflies – there was something therapeutic and meditative about taking almost a “colouring book” approach to their execution, at the beginning of the period of heightened anxiety I’m still in today.

As is often the case, they’re inspired by reality, but not realist.


[Image description: Full-Colour pen drawing, in landscape orientation, of fifteen butterflies, with imaginary rather than actual species’ colours and wing markings. They are arranged in three rows of five, and there is no background other than the page which they have been drawn.]