Tuesday, 9 February 2010


Before starting work on the spaniels (pastels) I decided I would complete this portrait in coloured pencil and then clear the decks ready for the 'dirty' stuff
I don't often accept commissions for 'human subjects' in coloured pencil, unless the reference photos are really clear. Skin and hair colouring can vary so much from photo to photo, particularly if I have to combine subjects from more than one reference picture, that it would be a nightmare. I prefer to 'play safe' and use graphite... but this is one of the exceptions. Elliot's Mum emailed two very clear photos which I was happy to use as references for this portrait.

With coloured pencil artwork I like to use Fabriano Artistico 5 paper as the support but Elliott's hair is so light I felt it wouldn't show up well on a white background and I started by colouring the background. I added some basic detail and then, as usual, drew in the eyes to add some personality.

His complexion is very light and in the references I can see lots of blue, pink and mauve shades. I've built the layers up gradually using VERY sharp pencils then polishing each layer and blotting with Blu Tack so that the pencils sort of stain the paper rather than building up a waxy sheen.

I have now added as many colours as needed and its time to blend the skin colours using a white pencil. The background shadow is also too intense and needs toning down

At this stage I called a halt to the drawing


Here it is photographed with the mount I have selected as I believe it complements Elliott's hair colour. Of course, the client may not agree with my choice and select a different colour/style when she has the picture framed :o)

I find it very hard to get good photographs of my work whilst we are having such gloomy weather - but my scanner can only cope with A4 sized pictures and most of my work is larger than this. Anyway, I'm very pleased to say that the portrait has been approved and so it will be despatched via Royal Mail Special Delivery tomorrow.


geraldine.boley@googlemail.com said...

Beautiful work Sue, how long does a portrait like this normally take to do?

sue said...

Thanks Geraldine :o)

This portrait took longer than anticipated as I put a background in. I started it earlier than anticipated, a few weeks back, then put it to one side to complete other commissions. I didn't keep an accurate check but believe it took about 30 hours - 'human' subjects always take me longer than the four legged ones though :o)

Dors said...

Gosh I don't know how I missed this one. Great job Sue.
Gorgeous little boy.

Anonymous said...

Lovely portrait Sue, very soft and gentle. I was wondering what you used for the background colour,looks soft enough to be pastel,but not sure ?

sue said...

Thanks Dors and Vic.

The background is coloured pencil 'shavings' I rubbed the pencil lead against a metal strainer to get the pencil dust/shavings and applied them to the paper with cotton wool - you can add colour layer by layer without getting a waxy build up

"JeanneG" said...

This is very good.