Tuesday, 29 October 2019

29/10: Another CP portrait

We've had our two grand-daughters staying here during half term school holidays so that's been full on and given me no time for art or blogging.

We're off to India on Thursday evening so I've been busy going over our itinerary and fine-tuning it - noting lots of places to visit/things to see - time and weather conditions permitting.

We travel totally independently booking our own flights and hotels so its hard work putting together the itinerary ensuring we're in specific places on specific days/dates so as to maximise our experience.

We usually travel to India early in the year - Jan to March but are breaking with tradition in order to experience some ceremonies that occur in November (The camel/horse fair at Pushkar - near Jaipur, and Dev Dewali at the River Ganges at Varanasi).   We're staying in the North of India this trip and not tagging on a South Indian tour.

Anyway, as always, I intend to keep a blog doing daily posts about our experiences so if anybody is interested the link is: 


Whilst we are away my younger brother will stay at our house and decorate the hall/stairs and landing so we've had to take down window blinds, wall-hangings, mirrors etc., and clear out all the hallway sideboards/cupboards so he can shift furniture on his own.    Its been a busy period.

In the meantime I started another coloured pencil portrait of the co-owner of a bar in Corralejo, Fuerteventura (our second home).  

I decided to go back to basics and work on Fabriano Artistico white watercolour paper for this one and use dry watercolour pencils with very sharp points to just keep adding loads of very light layers - I think I'm up to about 20 layers of varying colours to get the skin tones right .     When I first started drawing human portraits in coloured pencils I followed the tutorials of an American artist.  Sadly I can't remember his name and I can't find recent work by him on a Google search.   He used cross-hatching initially with very delicate strokes to stain the papers.   Pencils had to be ultra sharp and after every couple of layers he lifted some colour gently with Blu Tack or putty and then smoothed the pencil with a tissue and kept repeating these steps.   I think he expected to use 50 or more layers of colour building up very slowly.   It is very time consuming though.

The original ref photo is taken against a dark background and she has quite a tan/glow.   Halfway through this I really regretted my choice of paper - my last cp piece done on tinted mountboard went so quickly as the paper colour greatly reduced the numbers of pencil layers I needed.     

I also didn't think through the fact that this lady is wearing a headress/fascinator with pale coloured flowerbuds and creamy/white pearls so a darker background would have shown them off better.     Having got this far, I'll persevere and see how it ends up - then I'll probably dash out and buy some mountboard and do another version in a fraction of the time!

Anyway.    These are the first 2 progress pictures - I won't have time to do any more work on it till we're back from India so its being added to the list of ever-growing 'not yet finished' pictures in my studio.

The photos are poor as the light was bad when I took them - the paper is white but looks dingy/grey in these.     I'll try to take the next photos in proper daylight.

First WIP

and the 2nd WIP after a couple of hours working on it this afternoon

Thursday, 10 October 2019

10/10: JUST A QUICKIE - Coloured Pencils on Mount Board

We flew home from Fuerteventura on Tuesday so spent yesterday feeling cold and miserable (as you do after a fabulous trip)

Anyway, I saw a lovely drawing on one of the FB artist pages done on 'toned' paper.    So I thought about buying some to try but talked myself out of it again as I can't really justify buying more paper till I've run down existing stocks.

I know I have lots of Pastelmat in greys and white but the current batch of paper seems to be quite scratchy and I'm not enjoying using coloured pencils on it so much.

Then I found an offcut of mountboard ... I've never used it to draw on before so this was an experiment and I found it lovely to work on.    Its slightly larger than A4 so a bit smaller than most of the works I do but this went so quickly.    I started yesterday, late afternoon, and finished this afternoon although I will probably need to do a few little tweaks at some stage.

I used an assortment of pencils, Derwent Coloursoft and Artists, Prismacolors, Polychromos and Van Goghs to see how they worked on this surface and I was pleased with them all.    So next time I'm near a shop that sells it I'll be buying a large sheet of mountbooard to cut down and use - cheaper than buying pads of new paper which I may or may not get on with.

This is the end result of my experiment (as yet it has no title).   It was photographed in gloomy conditions so the colour isn't quite true - if I do start tweaking it I'll photograph it again.

Monday, 26 August 2019

26/08: Zebras

I persevered a bit longer with this one although I really am struggling with the surface of this White Pastelmat - its much more 'grainy' than the other colours for some reason and doesn't take pencil very well.

I've resorted to using creamier pencils (Derwent Coloursoft and Prismacolors) to overcome the problems so I will now give it a spray of fixative to prevent the dreaded wax bloom which can occur when using the more waxy pencils.

This is definitely the stopping point now till we're back from our travels ... then I'll look at it with fresh eyes and see if I want to finish it

Friday, 23 August 2019

23/08: Not sure about this one

We're going away in a few days time.   I've been away from the drawing board for a long time and lost confidence as a result, so I thought it would be a good idea to start a picture that I could finish when I'm back home.  Having something halfway done helps overcome that 'can't be bothered' to start something new mood.

I had a photo in mind ... a picture I took on Safari in Kenya in 2018 - but it isn't working out well.

I do have a love/hate relationship with pastelmat paper.   Some paper colours seem to work wonderfully with pastels and with coloured pencil.    This picture is on white pastelmat and I recall having problems with white on previous occasions.   The surface seems to be different and colours don't blend well (pastels and coloured pencils).

I'm working in coloured pencils for this one. 

Anyway,   I drafted this out yesterday and spent maybe an hour outlining the zebras and starting on the 'fuzzy' background. Today I spent around 4 hours on it.    David doesn't like it and I'm really not sure.   All pictures go through that 'ugly' stage, but this just isn't working out for me (or David).

I think in future I will draw subjects without backgrounds ... this may be the last time you see this picture ..

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

20/08: I made the deadline! 2 wildlife images for Canterbury Art Society Exhibition

Well ... I did it! 

2 pictures finished and framed ready for the Canterbury Society of Art's Exhibition this weekend.   Deadline for entries is today and I finished framing them this morning ... real seat of pants stuff!

Historically I've submitted portraits (mostly people but some cats/dogs) and have sold several.  This is a fairly small show in a Village Hall held annualy during the August Bank Holiday weekend.  Its been a lucky one for me - this is the first year I've submitted wildlife pictures so we'll see how they fare - fingers crossed!

The Leopard is now framed - he was actually drawn to a size to fit a mount/frame I'm reusing (cutting down on my costs so I can reflect that in the selling price).

Its very difficult to photograph glazed pictures - I seem to have caught my own reflection in the bottom left corner even though I found a darkish area in my 'studio' and angled the picture away from the light/windows.

Its working title is 'sleeping off lunch'

The young lion is also framed now - reusing a mount/frame.   The frame is actually a green/bronze colour and the inner mount is sage green (looks grey in the photo).  Again, sorry about the reflections on the glass

A couple of the progress photos on this lion.

More detail/colour added to face and fur generally.

Eyelashes and whiskers added.   This was taken in better light and is fairly true to life in terms of colour.      He was one of several young males we saw at Porini Rhino Camp in Kenya in June.    I'm not good with thinking up titles so this has the boring name 'Concentration'