Monday, 22 June 2015


I haven't had much time, or inclination, to draw recently as Mum-in-Law passed away last Sunday so David & I have been busy dealing with all the formalities and the funeral planning. 

I have got another graphite portrait of an RAF Officer on the waiting list but in the meantime, this is something that I've been playing with for a while.

I bought an unusual picture frame secondhand and it needs a drawing with a dark or black setting so it was a toss-up between drawing a bay horse on black paper or this lovely lady on dark grey pastelmat.      My first attempt at getting her skintones right failed horribly and she ended up in the bin.   This is going a little better but still needs more work.  

I photographed this lady and a group of friends during the Burning of the Sardine ceremony on Fuerteventura.   To mark the end of Lent a giant papier mache 'Sardine' is paraded through town followed by 'widows' and mourners dressed in black.   The Parade ends up on the Town beach where a priest gives his blessing and then the 'sardine' is set alight - all followed by beautiful fireworks and music.     

Coloured pencil on Dark Grey Pastelmat:

This is where I've got to so far.   She was holding a bouquet of artificial flowers/feathers in my ref photo.    It was a complicated arrangement so I'm kind of making this up as I go

The photos aren't wonderful as my camera has emphasized the whites/highlights but I'll worry about getting a better shot when she's finished.

and a couple of progress photos along the way

This shows the blues mauves and reds I used to get a deep black background.  Plain black pencil would just look very flat, much better to build up with lots of colours to give it some life.       For her skintones I had to use lots of white pencil under the more usual skintone colours and exaggerate the highlights ... I find the white gradually 'soaks' into Pastelmat so just left it to do its own thing for a couple of days.    I'm using mostly watercolour and Polychromos pencils (oil based rather than wax based) to avoid getting a waxy build up which would need to be fixed to avoid wax-bloom.   I think spraying fixative would muddy the skintones and destroy all the many layers I've used so far.


  1. I don't know what I was expecting when you told me about this but the actual painting is way more and way different than I thought. She's really beautiful and I hope you'll show us after she's framed so we can see the unusual frame too.

  2. So very sorry about your mum-in-law. My sympathies to David and you.

    I think this picture is coming along very well and she is beautiful. I hope you won't feel you have to bin this version. Especially after all the work. She looks really alive as if she would walk off the paper at any moment and talk to you.

  3. sorry about your mom in law :(

    really interesting composition on the portrait with the hat breaking the box. I know a few girls that would love skin that looked like that :p

  4. Thanks ladies

    I cropped the original ref photo, then turned the background black. I'm not very good with photo manipulation but have got a basic programme that I've used a few times before to do an 'out of frame' effect and that's what I did here - just to add a bit of interest and make part of her hat sit outside the frame. Just hope this works with the picture frame .. if not, its back to the original idea of a horse.

  5. You bin this and I will be extremely upset. It's a lovely picture.

  6. I am so sorry to hear about your mother-in-law, Sue. My sympathy to you and David.

    Your lovely lady is coming along beautifully! I look forward to seeing her in that special frame.


  7. Thanks Jo and Kathryn. I don't often 'bin' works once they've got through the first 'ugly' stages but I do lose interest and have a few half finished drawings scattered around which I'll get back to in due course. I'll persevere with this one for a little longer.

  8. My condolences and sympathies to David and all of your family, Sue.

    This piece is looking gorgeous!


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