Je Me Souviens

Hey Everyone,
There’s something to be said for not over thinking things and just going with your gut. This month’s Canada 150 illustration had the quickest turnaround time thus far. To make things more complex, the province of Quebec doesn’t have as many official symbols as the other provinces. I knew this piece would have to be simple, but still be as engaging and fit in with the others in the series. I happy to say that despite what felt like the odds being stacked against me, this turned out to be one of my favorites in the series.

If this is the first post you are seeing in this series, you can read more about it on my previous posts here. Now on to the symbols represented and a few process shots.

The title of the piece is French for I remember, which is the official motto of Quebec. With the previous pieces, I had been translating the mottos into English from Latin. For this piece, I thought it would be appropriate to keep it in French, which is the second official language of Canada and the language spoken by the majority of people residing in Quebec.  
Bird – Snowy Owl
Quebec’s inclusion of the snowy owl as a provincial symbol occurred in 1987 as a show of support for the protection of wildlife. This owl, unlike some of its cousins, is not exclusively nocturnal and hunts in both the day and evening. 
Flower – Blue Flag Iris
This flower which is indigenous to the province can be found on over half of the territory in Quebec. It took its place as the provincial symbol in 1999 when it replaced the white garden lily.
Tree – Yellow Birch
The yellow birch is found abundantly throughout the province and has a long history in the furniture industry. It’s admired for its beauty as well as its functionality.
Unofficial – Maple Leaf
The maple leaf appears on the provincial coat of arms, but I have chosen to include it to represent the maple syrup industry in Quebec and the abundance of the tree throughout the province.

“Je Me Souviens” 11×14 in Colored Pencil, Ink and PITT Pens on Hotpress Watercolor Paper 2017.
All images copyright Barb Sotiropoulos. All Rights Reserved.
This illustration is 6 of 14 in the Canada 150 series.

I’m going to be totally honest… I didn’t do any sketches for this drawing. It was basically straight to the Photoshop mockup once I chose an owl photo from Wildlife Reference Photos. At this point, I have a bit of a formula for composition and layouts of this series and there was no time to waste if I was going to finish it before the end of the month.
Color wise, despite it being what looks like a limited palette I still used over 68 colors. I always find working on white animals so interesting, mostly because they are rarely ever truly white. Most of the base colors were Faber-Castell PITT Pens with Polychromos colored pencils over top. I love this combination of mixed media because of Faber-Castell’s color matching system. It’s absolutely seamless pairing these 2 products together. The PITT Pens are also waterproof and the pigment works great over top of the hot press watercolor paper. Since I also like to use the Albrecht Dürer watercolor pencils in the same illustrations, this is a must.

The body of the snowy owl was accomplished with mainly colored pencil aside for the inked lines and black/brown spots on the feathers. Since the feathers have a soft feel and subtle gradations, this is best achieved with a dry, pencil blended method. In areas where I wanted to bring back some of the brighter whites, I used a 1mm Molotow Acrylic Paint Marker.

I hope this series has been bringing all of you as much joy as it has been me. This particular piece was actually giving me some Harry Potter / Hedwig vibes, 🙂 even so that was not the inspiration whatsoever.

The next illustration will mark the half-way point in the series!  To everyone seeing this from my home country, Happy Canada 150! I hope you’re out there appreciating this beautiful country of ours!

Follow me on Instagram or Facebook to see sneak peaks of the work in progress!

Prints available in my Society6 shop!





Barb Sotiropoulos

Barb Sotiropoulos

I’m a Canadian artist and designer specializing in coloured pencil and mixed media. When I’m not creating art, I love helping other artists by sharing tips and tricks that have helped me. You can find me on all of my social channels @barbsotiart or check out my past Q&A articles for COLORED PENCIL Magazine or my co-hosting appearances on the Sharpened Artist Colored Pencil Podcast.

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Hey, I'm Barb!

I’m a Canadian artist and designer specializing in coloured pencil and mixed media. When I’m not creating art, I love helping other artists by sharing tips and tricks that have helped me. You can find me on all of my social channels @barbsotiart or check out my past Q&A articles for COLORED PENCIL Magazine or my co-hosting appearances on the Sharpened Artist Colored Pencil Podcast.

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