Thursday, 5 March 2020

My constant refrain seems to be 'I haven't had time to make any new artwork' and this still rings true.

I'm missing deadlines for entry to both local and International shows but I think that's going to be a problem for the foreseeable future with Grand-parenting duties and also all the travelling we're doing now (whilst we're fit enough to get travel insurance).

I ordered some drafting film online.   I haven't used it for ages and fancied having a go at a new piece in readiness for the UKCPS members show (deadline for entries is end of this month but we're away from next week).    The film took one week longer than scheduled to arrive and I now haven't got time to do anything with it.

However, the main UKCPS exhibition (Open International one) has a deadline of 19 June for entries so maybe I'll actually have something ready by then.   For the first year (in my memory) there is a theme for entries to this exhibition.   Its being staged at the Nature in Art Gallery and work must be inspired by nature so the UKCPS theme is 'Drawn to Nature'.

I have folders full of photos I've taken during the 2 safari holidays we've had recently so have spent hours trawling through these looking for inspiration.

Whilst waiting for the delivery of drafting film I had a go at one of the young lions I photographed, using up an odd scrap of Pastelmat paper.   I've kind of fallen out of love with this paper for coloured pencils as I feel it absorbs the pencils and dulls the colours a bit (but I love it for pastel work).

This is the result of a couple of days's work ... the weather has been abysmal and the photo was taken in poor light but its around 90% finished (some tweaking to be done and whiskers to be added.   I don't think it will make it past a jury but at least I've sat down and actually drawn something!

I'm not sure yet if I'll crop it down to fit a square mount/frame of leave it as a landscape orientation.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

23/02: 3 Months Later! Progress on the CP Portrait.

I'm embarrassed at the huge gap between posts.   My last post was just before we set off for India on what was probably the most exciting of all our trips to that wonderful country.   It took a lot of planning as we were travelling independently and had very specific festivals and locations to visit/experience.   It all went according to plan and we had a brilliant time.

Since then we've had Christmas and New Year and then we went to our holiday home in the Canaries for 5 weeks so I've had no time for art.

We got back to the UK last weekend and had to 'hit the road running' as we were on grand-daughter minding duties during half term. 

I finally got round to doing more work on the CP portrait I started last year.    Its been a bumpy road.  I've never spent this long on a picture before and I think its really that I know the lady well and I don't think the photograph her husband selected is terribly flattering ... but its the one he likes, taken at their wedding a few years ago.  

This is a crop of the ref. photo

The first work-in-progress photo (and sadly all photos have been in poor light during the gloomy winter days).

Done on white paper (not grey/green as the photo suggests)

WIP (2)

WIP (3)  

Because the poor light is distorting the colours, its difficult to see but I wasn't able to make the beads on the hair band/fascinator stand out.   Really, at this stage I realised I should have omitted the hair ornament or started the drawing on a darker coloured paper.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing!

WIP (4) Hubby (David) was adamant I shouldn't start the portrait again.   He said my problem is that I'm not totally happy with the ref. and redoing the portrait won't help that.    I think he's right.   Its a nice clear ref. but I personally think this lovely lady looks prettier with her hair worn down.  But its not my choice.

So .... with nothing to lose I decided to darken the background - such a slow process when using coloured pencil.    I'm actually using watercolour pencil (dry) and had toyed with the idea of adding water afterward to darken/strengthen the background but I chickened out in case the colour 'bled' into the skin tone section where I wouldn't be able to remove it.

WIP (5)

I was still unhappy with it so decided to add another layer of colour to the background and this time I used Polychromos - I think I prefer the darker colour and it more closely reflects the background colour of the ref. photo.     

As a result of darkening the background I had to strengthen the skintone colours as well.

For the moment I'm calling this (almost) finished.  

I can see things to be tweaked but I know I could keep on and on adjusting bits so I've put it into a mount and frame and tucked it away in a corner.   It will travel out to Fuerteventura with me in a couple of weeks time - I'm sure I'll have made further changes to it by then.

Apologies for the bit of glare from the glass 

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