Our Land Our Strength

Hello Everyone!
I’m happy to announce, that with this piece, all of the provinces and territories are complete! The final illustration of the series will be of Canada as a whole and its symbols so stay tuned for that next month. I can’t believe we’ve reached the end of 2017 already. I had hoped to finish all 14 pieces by the end of 2017 but unfortunately, that just wasn’t going to happen. I’m still very proud of what I did accomplish though and am looking forward to wrapping up the series and sharing what’s next with all of you.

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

The title of the piece is the official motto of Nunavut, translated from ᓄᓇᕗᑦ ᓴᙱᓂᕗᑦ or “Nunavut sanginivut” in Inuktitut syllabary.
Animal – Canadian Inuit Dog
This pure breed of dog is one of the oldest in the world and has made its home in the Arctic for over 4000 years. As a companion, hunter and working animal, the Canadian Inuit Dog has been essential to the survival of the Inuit people for generations. 
Bird – Rock Ptarmigan
While other birds migrate south in the fall, the Rock Ptarmigan stays true to its roots and lives in the Arctic all year round. Its feet are feathered down to its toes to help keep them warm and to act as snowshoes so that they don’t sink into the snow. They are often featured amongst the art and folklore of the indigenous peoples and are also hunted for food. 
Flower – Purple Saxifrage
Boasting as one of the first plants to flower in the Arctic Spring, the purple saxifrage was adopted in 2000 unanimously by the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut. Growing in clusters, the plant provides a beautiful color contrast to the stark whiteness of the snow.
Other –  Inuksuk and Aurora Borealis
Featured prominently on the flag of Nunavut the inuksuk is a human-made stone landmark that was commonly used as a marker by the indigenous peoples of the Arctic. They are built using stone upon stone and may have been used for purposes such as navigation, reference points and indicating hunting and fishing areas.
Also known as the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis can be seen quite well in the skies of Northern Canada. Their appearance feels almost synonymous with the Arctic and I felt it was important to include them in this piece.

“Our Land Our Strength” 14×11 in Colored Pencil, Inktense and PITT Pens on Hot Press Watercolor Paper 2017.
All images copyright Barb Sotiropoulos. All Rights Reserved.

From the beginning, I knew this was going to be different from the others. While I avoided snowy landscapes and night skies in the other illustrations in the series, it felt wrong not representing them here. The symbols in this piece are such indications of the strength and endurance of all living things in the Arctic, that not showing them in that setting would just be plain inaccurate.

I’ve really gotten into layering my colors the way I would with painting in these illustrated pieces. For the purple saxifrage, I started with a quite purple PITT Pen base and went over them with a brighter magenta colored pencil. I wanted to create a very specific colour and also have some subtle nuances of the darker purple coming through.
I think I used some of the most colors of all the series in this single piece and also the most layering. I wanted to build up the night sky slowly because going to heavy-handed would be hard to reverse afterward.
The final layer of the flowers involved the highlights which I used a Derwent drawing Chinese White pencil for and a darker crimson red for shadowing. Multiple layers were used on the dog as well to create the depth and softness of the fur.
The sky was the most challenging part of this piece and was an excellent lesson on how to approach rendering that type of effect. It’s perhaps the part I’m least happy with, but it has motivated me to try another piece with it to get it right. Thanks to some digital help I think I was able to correct the issues I was having.

Because I was doing multiple layers using the Albrecht Dürer watercolor pencils and then finally Polychromos, I used a Molotow acrylic paint pen to add the stars and spherical whisp back in. There is no color present in the whisp because I wanted it to have a star-like effect and with the sky already being sort of busy color wise, I didn’t think color would work very well.

That’s it for the process on this one! The last piece of the series representing Canada as a whole will be next month!

Do have a favorite in this series? Share with me in the comments!

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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