Hello all! Thank you for visiting my website. I am going to be using this blog to go more in depth about my creative process, as well as go over the tools and materials I used.
Let's start with this painting titled Decay (Deer). It measures 7" x 19" and is on Arches 300 lb rough press watercolor paper that I purchased on a roll from my local art store. The deer and plants are done primarily in watercolor and gouache. After I completed the deer and foliage, I outlined everything with india ink, first with pens for the tighter areas, then with a flat brush and waterproof ink for the rest of the background. I used the gouache to add some finishing touches to the background, and my favorite white ink pen to add highlights in small areas such as on the moss and leaves.
As far as composition and planning goes, I really wanted to work with the long scrap of paper I had left from a previous project, which explains the atypical dimensions. I decided on a deer because its body filled the space really nicely for what I wanted to do. Most of my initial sketches are extremely loose and not necessarily anatomically correct. Aside from painting, the longest part of the process for me is the anatomical research. I cross referenced numerous images of deer (and even some moose) to get the body positioned as accurately as I could. In the end, however, I always take artistic liberties when necessary.
When painting moss and foliage like this, watercolor is ideal for me because it puddles and pools more than other mediums, creating the look of shadows and lush foliage. I also prefer doing black backgrounds in india ink because it's so thin, fast drying, and extremely saturated. Also, since I use it alongside india ink pens, there's no obvious gloss or texture difference in the finished piece.
That's pretty much it! I painted this the night before a big portfolio review, so that's roughly 8 hours between the initial sketch and completion. If you have any questions about tips and materials, or for inquiries about purchasing this piece, please feel free to comment or email me!
Sarah Bustillo is an illustrator from Los Angeles, CA. Her work delves into themes of femininity, death, and rebirth. She graduated from California State University Northridge in 2018 with a degree in Illustration and Anthropology.