Canada 150 – Splendour Without Diminishment

Hey Everyone!

Another drawing completed in my series! I must admit these are taking a fair amount of time to create, but I want to make sure I am doing a great job when honouring the provinces and their official symbols. I’m really happy with how this one turned out and my passion and motivation to continue and push myself with this series is growing. If this is the first post you are seeing on this series, you can read more about it on my previous post here. Now without further delay, let’s dive into the symbols represented and some process shots!

“Splendour Without Diminishment” 11×14 in Colored Pencil, Ink, PITT Pens and Watercolor Pencils on Hotpress Watercolor Paper 2017. All images copyright Barb Sotiropoulos. All Rights Reserved.

“Splendour Without Diminishment” 11×14 in Colored Pencil, Ink, PITT Pens and Watercolor Pencils on Hotpress Watercolor Paper 2017.
All images copyright Barb Sotiropoulos. All Rights Reserved.

The title of the piece is a translation of the Latin Splendor sine occasu, which is the official motto of British Columbia. 
Animal – Spirt Bear or Kermode Bear
This bear was adopted as the official provincial animal in 2006. Sometimes mistaken as an albino black bear, it actually gains its white fur colouring due to a genetic trait. The spirit bear is most densely found in the central and northern coast of the province.
Bird – Stellar’s Jay
Designated the official bird in 1987 through a provincial vote, the Stellar’s jay can be found throughout the province. If it looks familiar, that’s because it’s closely related to the blue jay.
Flower – Pacific Dogwood
This beautiful floral emblem of the province was designated in 1956. The Pacific Dogwood is a large tree that boasts many of these flowers in the spring, followed by clusters of berries in the fall. The tree is protected by law and cannot be cut down.
Tree – Western Red Cedar
The official tree title since 1988, the western red cedar holds significance not only in the province’s industrial industry but also within the cultural mythology and traditions of the west coast native tribes.
Fish – Pacific Salmon (Sockeye featured in illustration)
With the Pacific Ocean on the entire western side of the province, this fish easily makes British Columbia its native home. The fish has been part of the Species at Risk Act in Canada and conservation efforts are being made to help the species’ population stabilise.

I’ve included a strong water element within my drawing as well to reference the fact that this is a coastal province.

If nothing else, by the end of this project I will definitely know a lot more about my country and the wildlife and plants living in it. This drawing required a lot more photo reference research than my last one. Ideally, I try to use a singular reference for each animal I draw. In this case, due to lack of finding royalty free references in the positions I wanted, I had to source multiple references to shape the drawing the way I had envisioned.
barbsotiart_17_feb-can-150-blog-post-content-photo-1Despite how simple and nondescript these thumbnail sketches look they really do give me an idea of the direction I want to go with the composition and what I think will just look weird.

barbsotiart_17_feb-can-150-blog-post-content-photo-2Refining the drawing in my sketchbook helps give me a greater sense of composition and any mistakes can be redrawn or erased completely at this stage. Once I’m happy with that I transfer the drawing to the hot press watercolour paper using a waterproof Pigma Micron 005 ink pen. Using a waterproof ink pen is key here since I like to use watercolour washes as part of the underpainting of the drawing. Sadly, I’ve made the mistake before much to my horror and tears. The fine point of the pen also allows me more control to add in small ink lines and thicken others in the areas I choose.

barbsotiart_17_feb-can-150-blog-post-content-photo-3The next few stages I start the slow process of layering in the colour. This is sometimes the most exciting and also terrifying part of a drawing. In one sense I can see it start to come in life in front of me, and in another way, I feel like one wrong move could send it in a direction of no return. I really really REALLY hate starting a drawing over, so this stage is critical for me.

barbsotiart_17_feb-can-150-blog-post-content-photo-4In this phase of the drawing, I started to realise there were areas that seemed imbalanced. *screams on the inside* Normally I don’t make changes to the drawing itself this late in the game, but I also like to sleep at night, and these are the kinds of things that make me toss and turn if I don’t fix them. I felt that the right side of the drawing was feeling off so I solved that by extending the floating circle elements through to the right side. Though not pictured here, in the final drawing you can see I also added some extra branches to the bottom part of the tree on the right.  In the line drawing stage, I usually try to look at my drawing upside down to catch things like this beforehand, (which clearly I didn’t do this time). Lucky for me there was a work around even at the almost completed stage.

One of my favourite things about this piece was the colour scheme. I used over 65 colours and in the variations that were available in colored pencil, PITT pen and watercolour pencil. I really loved these colours together and foresee some other projects in the future within this colour scheme. 😉

Now it’s time to take a short breath and start the next one! I hope you enjoyed seeing a little bit into my process on this piece. Next month’s illustration in the series is Manitoba. Follow me on Instagram or Facebook to see sneak peaks of the work in progress!

Prints available in my Society6 shop!

2 thoughts on “Canada 150 – Splendour Without Diminishment

  1. painterwrite says:

    This is terrific…especially as I love Stellar’s jays. Being in the Pacific Northwest myself, these critters and plants are all common here too (except we have black bears). Your work style is mind-boggling to me. I have to start in one corner and work my way down and across. Trying to tackle the image as a whole would scare me!

    • BarbSotiArt says:

      Thanks Tammie! 😊 It’s funny I always think that working on one small corner out would drive me crazy. A lot of artists work that way but I’m way too impatient to do it that way. I sometimes feel like my attention span is short which is why I tend to work somewhat quickly and in layers. It’s like I need to see it going somewhere within a certain
      amount of time I guess. I suppose I shouldn’t have picked a slow medium like colored pencil haha!

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