Going all gouache with Mirna Stubbs

We asked one of our talented Hallmark illustrators, Mirna Stubbs, about her process, her inspiration and her favorite things to draw. Take a peek at her amazing sketchbook!

MIRNA SKETCHBOOK | thinkmakeshareblog.com

How do you get in the zone?

Getting in “the zone” is one of the most satisfying, relaxing feelings ever. You can’t always count on it, and it doesn’t happen every day, but there are certainly a number of things that an artist can do to get there. Once you find yourself in it, it’s a real treat. Personally, I really enjoy “watching” (it’s more like listening) to a movie or a TV show while I work. I enjoy storytelling, and it occupies my mind just enough to let go of some of my own more constraining thoughts. It’s kind of like when someone tells you to meditate, but you can’t turn off the everyday thoughts. Listening to someone else’s thoughts frees up my own. Once that’s accomplished, I really feel like my intuition takes over and I create more surprising illustrations than when I concentrate solely on what marks my hand is making each moment. I tend to create more freely and loosely. I experiment with less hesitation and let my emotions guide me through the page.

MIRNA SKETCHBOOK 2 | thinkmakeshareblog.com

What’s your favorite medium and why?

I absolutely love painting with gouache! The versatility of this medium is really incredible. It can paint as loosely as watercolor and as opaquely as acrylic paint. The finished painting isn’t as glossy as acrylic, because it doesn’t have all the plastic in it. It has a very sophisticated matte finish, which not only looks nicer on an original, but makes it easy for scanning and photographing.

Pencil is my other favorite. Who doesn’t like pencil?? Unlike markers and pens, I really like how forgiving a pencil can be. Not because you can erase it, but because it glides much easier across the paper and buffers out some of the hand jitters. It’s not as stark as a marker and leaves much gentler contours with a warmer texture.

MIRNA SKETCHBOOK 3 | thinkmakeshareblog.com

What do you like to draw?

When I draw from my head with no assignment in mind, I try to focus on simple shapes first. If I start with organic shapes, I tend to turn them into flowers, faces, insects, etc. If I start with a more geometric approach, I often end up drawing architectural subject matters like buildings and cars. Other times, I focus less on shapes and just start drawing some decorative lines that either turn into something more or simply stay abstract. Those type of doodles can be a very good way to enter “the zone.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to experiment with gouache! Check out one of my favorite Mirna illustrations as a Hallmark ecard.


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