I have a "thing" for octopuses, or octopi...apples and oranges. I don't know why I love them, I don't have any fantastic stories, they are just crazy amazing creatures. The Seattle Aquarium does house a rather large pacific octopus that I have had the pleasure of photographing many times. After an art swap I made some "cute" little octopus themed pieces, but it was time to get out my big Canson mixed media pad and get to work on a real Octopus.
I had a vague idea of where I wanted to start, but always have trouble keeping the art on the page, especially this large creature.
I sketched a quick outline or what the body and legs might look like. I knew I had to account for 8 legs. No one wants to look at a 3 legged squiggle octopus..as in "where did his legs go?" I used gelatos on the background in blue and green tones just to give it the feel of water. I knew the attention to detail was to be put into the creature himself. Following the entire gelato smearing exercise, I concocted a light orange color which I dabbed all of the octopus in a random fashion. I was liking the texture it create because they are wrinkly and bumpy so I went with it. Some areas darker than the others, different tint and hues or oranges and brown. Shadowing in all the right places. I had a really dried out brush that kept all the bristles in a circular stippled pattern. I dabbed it a few times and those became my hi lights. I wasn't sure where to go next so I let him sit.
He needed more bumps and texture...I grabbed a red/orange derwent intense watercolor pencil and drew loose red curves all over to give more depth to his textured skin. This octopus is really coming to life. I refused to pick up a black pen for outlining this project. I have realized that it takes away from the realism and adds a cartoony feel..That which I am not trying to achieve. Next I needed the tentacles to have suction cups so those were a new to me part to learn but I loved him so much more!
Here is my finished piece.
These are my two favorite suctions cups of the whole piece.