Friday 28 May 2010

28/05: TIGGER - WIP (cont.d)

We've had a 'bitty' couple of days - loss of internet connection (again) and catching up with things at home/in the garden after our few days away ...... so I decided not to work on the current commission till Monday and to carry on with Tigger at odd times between the 'boring household stuff'.

So here's a photo I took this afternoon.  I have done a little more work since it was taken - smoothing out the body fur colours and trying to darken the background a little but haven't photographed the latest stage - the background is kind of trial and error so I hope I don't screw the whole picture up by 'playing'.   I've stuck with the black backing paper for now but don't have a sheet large enough to support the piece of drafting film at the moment - hence the paler edges you see in this photo.  

We have a busy day tomorrow - visiting our respective Mums, my horse and Richard in hospital so I won't be updating this for a while.    Hope you all have a good weekend and the weather stays kind to us all.

Tuesday 18 May 2010


My next commission can't be shown here for a while as it is a surprise gift.   I'm awaiting approval of the 'mock-up' so in the meantime thought I'd dust off the drafting film and tackle one of the 'big cats' I photographed a couple of years ago at the Wildlife Heritage Trust in Kent .   

Drafting film is a sort of plasticized, semi opaque film more familiar to architects and draftsmen than artists until recently.    It doesn't have any 'tooth' so doesn't take many layers of pencil and that adds to the artistic challenge - and speeds up the drawing process.   Because it is semi opaque (with a grey tinge) the film needs to be laid over a coloured background sheet.  One major advantage is that you can draw on both sides of the film to give a 3D effect and emphasize highlights etc.

With this tiger, I decided to use a black backing sheet.   Part way through, whilst showing hubby a progress report, I just slipped a white sheet of paper behind the drawing and he thought that made the colours 'ping' more.   I'm reserving judgement.   

I will be away for a few days now so no blog posts for a week, but I'm looking forward to getting back to this one and seeing how it develops.

OK .... first WIP.   This is a photo and there is quite a lot of reflection off of the film but, as you can see, I started with the eyes as usual.  I'm drawing on the film with a sheet of black paper behind it.  So white pencil strokes show up quite bright and the orange/red/yellow shades mute down a lot

A bit more progress - lots of tiny pencil strokes for the hair.  Still drawing on film with black backing paper.

My idea for this picture was that the tiger would be emerging from quite a dark background - hence the choice of black backing sheet which will facilitate this.   My original ref photo shows the tiger in bright green grass (and I didn't fancy tackling that as a background).  With a black backing sheet the white pencil shows up clearly and the black recedes

Then I slipped the white paper behind the film and doubts are creeping in.   These photos probably don't show the colours at their best but certainly the orange/red/yellow look much more striking.   With the white backing sheet the white pencil disappears and the other colours dominate ... jury's out for now!!

Monday 17 May 2010


At the request of my clients, I deepened/darkened the colours in Bouncer's coat and the portrait has been approved so - just a light spray of fixative and its ready to go. (not the best of photos - I've chopped the edges off a little but was trying to get some close-up detail)

Friday 14 May 2010


Both David and I got struck down with a sickness bug over the last few days ... so no hospital visiting and we've both  been feeling very 'ho - hum' and tired.   I know better than to work on commissions or other important jobs when feeling like that, so instead I 'played' with coloured pencils on a piece of Colourfix which I know a blogging/artist friend likes very much.   To be fair, Janet did suggest working on darker colours with cps and I should have heeded her advice.

I took several pictures of young alpacas at the Kent Show last year and thought two of these could be arranged to look as though they are having a chat - probably about hairstyles as they'd both been recently 'shorn' for presentation at the show.

I'm reasonably pleased with the dark alpaca but I just couldn't get the light colours to work and have now ended up with a bit of a muddy surface - I could remove the colour with solvent I guess but I rather think this is destined for the bin - but it was an interesting experiment.

Anyway, we're both feeling 100% better today,  so its back to the portrait of Bouncer this afternoon - I'm really looking forward to that.

Tuesday 11 May 2010


Here are some more progress pictures - the photos were taken at different times/light conditions today so colour may vary slightly.  

I probably won't do any more to this portrait tomorrow as we will be visiting Richard and that eats up most of the day for us.   But it will be back to the drawing board on Thursday

Monday 10 May 2010


I started work this afternoon on a portrait of Bouncer and as this isn't intended as a surprise gift I have permission to show some work in progress photos along the way.   

As followers of my blog will know, I used to be reluctant to show early stages as portraits always have to go through an 'ugly stage' before the final tweaking/colour adjustments etc., which make all the difference to the final portrait.   

Unfortunately, Bouncer is no longer with us and there are no 'head & shoulder' reference photos available but I have been provided with several full body photos showing her beautiful colouring and we have agreed on the pose this portrait will be based upon.

Here I have sketched the outline and main features/fur direction etc., using white pastel pencil and I have drawn the eyes in so Bouncer's portrait begins to have a little personality.

A little more work:

I'm really just blocking in colours/shadows/highlights at this stage and the portrait will change constantly along the way.   I did do a little more work after this but the light was poor and the photos weren't good so I'll show more updates tomorrow.

Sunday 9 May 2010


We've been so caught up in dealing with the aftermath of Richard's accident that we totally overlooked the fact it is our Wedding Anniversary today.  David and I are both 'second time round' and met 12 years ago - both vowing 'never again' but .... we eventually tied the knot and its the best thing we ever did.   We had a 'Kentish Wedding' in Knowle Country House a Victorian mansion where to a certain extent we could select our own words/music and that was followed by a meal for family and friends.       Unfortunately David got the giggles halfway through the vows and that set me off - we were laughing so much  I'm really not sure if we invalidated the marriage - We walked down the 'aisle' to Buddy Holly True Love Ways and left to the Beatles singing All You Need is Love .... unfortunately the master of ceremonies left the CD running and the next track was CRAZY by Patsy Cline so I think the scene was well and truly set then!    The next evening we'd hired a hall and threw a party/disco for family and extended friends/work colleagues .. so we really dragged it out for a few days.

Doesn't seem like 8 years ago ... but here's a couple of piccies

Back to posting artwork tomorrow!

Friday 7 May 2010


We stayed up watching TV till 4.30am this morning following the election results but then had to admit defeat and retire to bed.  Consequently haven't felt like doing very much today.   

We had a walk  round Whitstable today to get some fresh air and this afternoon I've been listening to 'HotFMCanary' radio station on my computer.  That's the local radio station in Corralejo/Fuerteventura where we have a holiday home.  We should be there at the moment but cancelled the flights when Richard (stepson) had his motorbike accident on 18th April.  The owners and DJs at HotFMCanary have dedicated this afternoon to helping us raise funds for the Air Ambulance who airlifted Richard to the Royal London Hospital from the crash scene.   We know full well that many people in the Canaries have been struggling for the last 18 months or so - the recession has led to a reduction in tourism and many bars/restaurants have been forced to close - so all donations are doubly appreciated.  I believe the fundraising will continue during the weekend also.  David and I are really proud that the site he set up to keep Richard's friends informed of  progress has now received more than 60 entries on his guestpage and raised in excess of £1,000 in donations for Air Ambulance - and with more to come it seems.

Whilst listening to their antics on the radio (lots of challenges for the DJs to sing live on air /accept dares etc) I've been working my way through lots of old photo files on the computer and deleting/tidying the folders up.    I came across some pictures taken a couple of years ago and thought I'd post this one.   

This is the 'Old Neptune' pub (probably one of the most photographed pubs in Kent)  it sits on the beach and is perfectly silhouetted against the spectacular sunsets.    I believe the pub was built in the 1850s and damaged lots of times in storms/floods then finally in 1897 the old wooden building was completely washed away in another great storm.

The ‘Old Neptune’ was rebuilt, using timber reclaimed from the original structure and several other cottages that had also been destroyed.  The building has warped and twisted over the years owing to its old wooden foundations, however the timber structure seems to accommodate this movement as can be seen in the window frames and sloping floor.

I called a halt to the Meerkat picture and put it out of sight for a while.  I added some brighter colours to compensate for the dulling I've noticed - I'm glad I had the time to experiment with cps on sanded paper but it isn't a combination I think I'll use often.    I have so many photos of Meerkats now I'm sure you'll be seeing more in the future :o)    Next up will be a Golden Retriever (I believe), a pony and a German Shepherd (all in pastels I think).  For myself, I'd like to fit in some wildlife art .... but watch this space.
Meerkat :

Wednesday 5 May 2010

05/05: MEERKAT (CONT..D)

We've been out and about a lot today, shopping and doing chores and I wanted to have a look at a new Gallery which has opened in Whitstable - they have been appealing for local artists to exhibit there and the rents are quite reasonable (and just 5% commission to be taken in aid of a local charity).  At the moment I don't have the 40 pictures it will need to fill the walls - but I may have a word with some other local artists to see if they'd like to share costs/wall space ..... something to think about anyway.

I did another couple of hours on the Meerkat but found myself getting bored and rushing it - which is a bad mistake with coloured pencils - especially on sanded paper as the pencils need to be sharpened after about half a dozen strokes ....... not sure this is very cost effective as the paper really does eat the pencils and, it might just be my imagination but the colours seem to dull very quickly on the paper.

I did read on another forum recently that some papers need to be 'rested' when using coloured pencils, to allow the paper to absorb the waxy pigment - maybe that is what I'm encountering here (??)  Anyway, as somebody famous used to say 'I've started, so I'll finish' but I'm a bit disappointed in this one.

Tomorrow we are visiting Richard in hospital.    He had the op yesterday to wire/fix the broken facial bones so we wanted to wait an extra day to give him time to recover.  Fingers crossed we'll see more progress.  

05/05: MEERKAT

This little cutie kept us enthralled recently and I must have come away with more than 80 photos (not taken at the Kalahari desert - but at Port Lympne park in Kent)

Its a bit of an experiment for me and may end up in the bin.   This is my second trial with coloured pencils on Fisher 400 paper which is quite heavily sanded.  I love the paper when used with pastels but not so enthusiastic about coloured pencils.   Many coloured pencil artists prefer working on sanded surfaces so I'm persevering and trying various brands of pencils from Derwent Coloursoft which are very creamy/waxy, Prismacolors (also quite soft), and some Blick (own brand) pencils which are a bit harder.  Unfortunately I don't have many Polychromos in my collection but I think they work better as they are oil based rather than wax based ..... they are on my wishlist

Early stages:

Can you tell what it is yet??   (oh, btw the background is watercolour pencil brushed with a damp paintbrush)

Monday 3 May 2010


I should have left well alone ..... but I guess we've all been there.  I decided to brighten up some of the highlights in Rocky's coat by using soft pastels.  Disaster!!! It just looked flat and heavy on top of the finer pastel pencil work.    Took me about 3 hours to even it all out by brushing it, 'fixing' it and reapplying pastel pencil (all this with hubby saying 'I told you so' in the background) :o)

This really is the finished article now.    

So ... Not a very productive day, although I did take a trip to a local garden centre to buy a few shrubs for the garden (too cold and wet to actually plant them this afternoon though).

We have friends joining us tonight to take part in a Quiz at a local pub - hope I can kick the grey cells into action before then :o)

Sunday 2 May 2010


Thanks to everyone who has sent get well wishes to Richard, via emails or entries on his webpage Guestbook   Richard is still in a coma, two weeks after the accident but he has briefly opened his eyes, squeezed our hands etc., in response to our voices so things are moving in the right direction, albeit painfully slowly.  We have been warned it may be weeks or months before he 'wakes up' properly.   We currently visit the hospital every 2nd or 3rd day and in between times are trying to carry on as normally as possible.

The weather has been absolutely appalling in Kent today, with torrential rain and strong gusty wind all day.   Work in the garden is totally impossible so the poor blackbirds are having to leap around on the long grass looking for worms and generally 'rootling' as they love to do.   I can barely see their heads above the grass :o)

It has been very gloomy in my 'studio' but I've got a lot done on the picture for my farrier.  Rocky, his companion of 10 years sadly died recently and I was asked to draw him.   I'm not sure what breed/cross Rocky was but I think part Patterdale Terrier - I know he was a very hairy little chap so quite a challenge.    I started work on him a couple of days ago and really wanted to finish him today, but I suspect I will need to do more tweaking when I see the picture in good light.

I did take a few WIP photos - the colours may change slightly due to photos being taken at different times of day/lighting conditions.   The support is Sennelier Pastel Card and this 'dark blue' colour has a green tinge to it in 'real life'

I've sketched the outline in and tried to show the direction of hair  - a major task with this coat!    As usual I draw the eyes in first.

I can see lots of different colours in Rocky's coat, hence the 'underpainting' with lilac, various shades of ochre and pinks - these will tone down considerably once the detailed hair is drawn on top

At this stage I realised I'd made the underlying coat colour too 'yellow' - thats what happens when I draw in the evenings with overhead electric lights - and forget to turn the daylight lamps on to rectify the colour balance!