I’ve always been following a gifted handful of artists from across the country and to a greater part, the world. These are artists who either inspired me to draw/create more often, styles I fell in a deep and intrinsic love with, or felt that their art managed to move me. The latter of those isn’t rare with me, I just tend to look at art through more than just emotion.
More often than not, skill is the determiner for my respect of an artist. There is one name that I could say made me realize the fine skill in chaos and control in art happened to be an artist who was my age. It is also rare to say that this is an artist who would be considered a peer or contemporary. Let alone somebody of my generation. And she has a hell of a name behind her thus far.
Her art really made me realize so much about art. She luckily films a lot of her artwork and the process behind her chaos. How she takes a base drawing and crisp white paper, then adds color with such grace and skill, and just lets it happen. It is incredible to just watch the paints flow and coalesce.
What makes her work stunning is how well she combines her ability to manipulate her use of color and abstraction with her near perfect realism. If you are an artist and need an source for inspiration please watch her videos.
I started watching her videos a few years ago. At that time I had no idea or clue about how exactly she achieved seemingly perfect realism.
I refer to her style as realism or near absolute realism. The detail and shapes of the faces and figures is a close direct representation of what I can only imagine are real people. However, as far as her use of colour to define shapes and forms is relatively abstract. That is more or less abstracted colour theory instead of using direct realism on the colour. Her art is hard to sink into a single category. I am just going to refer to her as I previously stated. Direct realism in figures and form, whereas her colour is abstract realism.
Anyways, when I first found her videos I didn’t have internet really. I didn’t have the ability to watch her videos in a quality that revealed that she used line art. In fact, for a while I assumed it was all done directly from her mind. Once I was able to see her videos in higher quality, that was when I noticed the line art. I was also completely overwhelmed by the movement of the paints and how well they flowed together.
When it comes to colour, it is beautiful to watch them flow. She does speed up the footage and doesn’t show or write down what the actual time passed is, therefore you are left to assume she cuts out quite a bit of the drytime. Seeing how much she uses very wet acrylics, watercolours, and gouches (watercolours that aren’t transparent,) there has to be a considerable amount of dry time that is cut from the videos. The state of wetness with watercolours especially is crucial.
What is used to create art the way she does is incredibly important. There are a lot of differences in watercolours of different grades. Keep in mind, she hasn’t posted all of the information on what she uses, a fair amount of this is speculation as well as some of my suggestions.
Paper is the most important thing when it comes to watercolours and the style of art that she creates. I know she uses full archival quality paper (100% cotton, internally sized.) I happen to believe she uses either Fabriano individual sheets, however considering the workablity of the paper and her mounting methods, I think it is actually Arches Watercolour paper. I remember reading once that it is Arches and she uses at least 140 lb/300 gsm paper. She sometimes uses the 300 lb/610 gsm paper that is quite heavy and stiff. She also says that she does not stretch the paper, nor does she tape them down to mount them. Also, I think she uses some form of Text Wove board going by the linen lines in the images, however it is something I just noticed on her larger pieces.
I believe she mentioned once that she uses either Holbein or Winsor Newton for her paints. She also have quite a few different varnishes that she uses to make her drip art. I personally recommend using M. Graham Watercolours. They contain trace amounts of honey that happen to draw humidity from the air and rarely set entirely. It extends your work time and if you use a heavy amount, they will bleed and pull into fresh paint depending on how you use them.
Her brushes however, I believe she uses Escoda. Going by the blue handles and the design I would have to imagine they are Escoda Optimo. They are made in Barcelona, Spain and utilize kolinsky squirrel hair. It is considered to be the best material for watercolour brushes. Escoda also makes fine brushes for acrylic. Personally, I recommend picking up a couple of nice Escoda synthetic brushes which stand up nicely to abuse and are easier on the wallet. Maybe every time you find yourself in the art store, pick up a new brush. The full Escoda brushes are pricey, however I recommend buying them based on what you might use most.
Agnes Cecile does have a couple of special tools that she uses. In the video, its easy to notice towards the end she does have a couple of special materials. She has a couple of pens of note. The white is a gel pen of all things. It is a Uniball sigma white. However, in one video she was in a pinch and went with a Starbrite white gel pen. I personally recommend the Krink K-66 or the Molotow fine tips. Those are graffii markers, however they use high opacity acrylics that are very robust. Also, they are easier to find than her choice of pen. Which can be found over at JetPen.com. The black pens I have yet to identify, I think they are may be a TomBow product. However, I’m not too sure. I recommend utilizing either Coptics (which are fine, I don’t love them though,) or Sakura. Sakura’s are fantastic for precision and detail. Also, they are robust enough to stand up to constant use.
She also has some colour pencils, watercolour pencils, pastels, and other materials. None of which I have identified however they more or less enhance the blending more often than not in a minor way.
All of the products I mentioned can be found over at dickblick.com. If you want to pick up a kit to try making art like hers, it should cost less than $100 if you have nothing. And here is what I recommend:
- M. Graham watercolours starter set (6 base colours: red, blue, yellow, green, black, white opaque)
- TomBow base pack of pencils (2h through 6b)
- Arches Watercolour Paper (5pk at 16 x 20 inches at 140 lb)
- Escoda Prado #8
- Escoda Optimo #2/0
Before you scroll down and check out her stuff, I have a couple of last notes. Her art is incredible and I recommend looking at supporting her either via Society6 where she has a fantastic amount of her art up. Her originals would be a fantastic buy, I want one of hers myself. They tend to start around $300 before taxes and import fees. Also, if you work somewhere where your boss may not like you looking at nipples (which is stupid,) some of her art is NSFW, so keep that in mind. I am not posting any of that here, yet I recommend finding her stuff online.
Here are links to all of her stuff.
And have a pleasant day