Tuesday 31 March 2015

31/03: DEJA VU

Well, I hope I learned a few lessons from my last drawing .... today I started again on the girl in the red hat but decided to use white pastelmat paper instead of Derwent watercolour paper.   

Pastelmat has a slightly 'fluffy' surface (cork I think)  which is wonderful for pastel work and I have done several coloured pencils works on this surface, particularly when I wanted to use a coloured support.

But ... instead of my usual Gung Ho style of diving straight into the drawing and flitting around doing bits here and there I decided to test some colours on the pastelmat and blend a few to check the results .... so many subtle layers involved in skin tones ...   I started on her face this time as that was the bit that went horribly wrong before (after I sprayed it with fixative and the colours ran) I must remember not to mix watercolour pencils with wax based pencils as the wc ones react to the moisture in the fixative!!

some of my 'research' page  

and progress today on the second version:

I'm happier that I've got a smoother finish to her skin and this won't look the same as the previous attempt as I'm changing the braids around and drawing different colour flowers on the fan etc .... I can't draw exactly the same image twice 

Monday 30 March 2015


I struggled on with the coloured pencil picture of the girl with the red hat and fan because I didn't want to waste the hours spent on it ... but I think I knew it was beyond redemption really.

I got it finished to the degree that it looks OK from a distance but its overworked and really doesn't stand up to close inspection.  I think that, unlike pastel work which you expect to view from a reasonable distance, coloured pencil work tends to be more detailed and gets scrutinised more closely.

I asked David for his opinion and he just said 'you've got to do it again - it isn't up to your usual standard is it?' and I had to agree .... so this is what I finished with

and now I have to decide whether to try again with this paper and ensure I use the 'right' side or perhaps go back to using Pastelmat paper and see how that works out ... a decision for tomorrow methinks!

I never like to re-do a picture/subject but recently a lovely e-friend/artist sent me a very interesting article about artists dealing with perceived failure or self-doubt and these are just a couple of lines I've borrowed from the article :

 ONLY when you fail do you get the chance to try again and again (and again) until you earn the success you’re striving for.

The key to staying positive and joyful even in the midst of failure is by being intentional about what your goals are, and moving PAST the failure.
Instead of saying: “I don’t know if I will ever get this right,” try phrasing like this: “I really look forward to seeing what this is going to look like when I work the kinks out.”
See the difference? One is filled with doubt while the other is certain of success, even when you’re not quite there yet.

What a great way of looking at things .... all I have to do now is make attempt 2 better than attempt 1 as I really like the subject (even though I've deviated from the ref. quite a bit here).

Sunday 29 March 2015


Sorry, had a very busy weekend so haven't been doing much drawing or Blogging

Part of the reason I've abandoned the Sax on The Beach drawing for the moment is that I'm struggling with the texture of the Derwent watercolour paper.

Its the same paper I used for my coloured pencil portraits of the tramp and Alfonso .. but I think for the last couple of drawings I've been using the reverse side of the paper which has more 'tooth' which is good when building up colour layers in coloured pencil, but it has a very distinctive texture which isn't helpful when trying to put smooth layers down on skin textures etc.   The smooth side of the paper takes fewer layers but gives a nicer finish

Anyway, the girl's face/skintone just wasn't going right and the texture made her skin look mottley so I decided to give it a good spray of fixative and then work more subtle colours into it .. but the fixative just ran down the page and carried some of the colour with it. 

I'm pretty certain I can sort it out (as I really don't want to start over on this one)   but its a big learning curve and I'm actually quite happy that I can afford to experiment like this without worrying too much about adhering to the likeness in the photo (as with commission work).  I've moved away from the ref photo inasmuch as I've changed the fan colours and moved some of her braids which were obscuring her eyes etc - nice to be able to please myself in this respect.

This is a photo I took this afternoon when I just laid the frame/mount/glass over the drawing to see how it might look if I ever get it all finished ....  so there is a bit of 'glare' off the glass ..... with the colour-runs I think this looks a little like a watercolour painting so I'm quite pleased with the effect even though I will be changing it over the next couple of days

It is a very tight crop and I do have the option of having a new, slightly narrower mount/mat cut which will allow a little more space around the drawing .... but for the moment I just plan to carry on and see what happens.

Thursday 26 March 2015

26/03: 50 Shades of Red??

Actually I was thinking 'What's Black & White & Red all Over' .... very old joke ... but probably not at all PC so I apologise

I know I said I'd do more work on  'Sax on the Beach' but still couldn't get motivated today.    Yesterday I found a wonderful bright red square picture frame (with white mount) which had a big scratch mark spoiling it.   I bought it for the grand sum of £3 and repaired the scratch with acrylic paint - Perfick!

So I decided to crop one of the subjects on my 'shortlist' to fit the square mount/frame and this is how far I got with her today.     Obviously, there's a lot of work to be done, but you can tell when I'm enjoying a subject as the portraits just seem to flow ..... she is another member of the 'hair braider family group' and I photographed her earlier this year when she was dressing up and posing with her siblings in a side street of the old town.

I've changed the colour of her hat and fan slightly from the ref. photos and moved some of the braids which were hiding her eyes - artistic license!   I'm conscious that reds aren't as light stable as other colours so am using mostly Royal Talens Van Gogh pencils which got the 'thumbs up' from Kathryn Tyrrell regarding their lightfastness and they are very user-friendly

Coloured pencil on Derwent watercolour paper - first colour layers

Wednesday 25 March 2015


I haven't done any artwork for a few days - mainly because I started a drawing that isn't 'grabbing me' and I've lost a bit of impulsion.

Sticking with my theme of 'Fuerteventura characters' photographed during recent visits, I have lots of photos of this guy who plays Saxophone as part of a small group of musicians who busk near the tapas bars at the town beach in Corralejo.

I'd kind of settled on a portrait photo but my mini survey recently showed that more people preferred the ¾ pic which shows rather a lot of that instrument which has far too many buttons and knobs for my liking.

So I made a start but it has been standing on a top near my desk for days just challenging me to pick up the pencils again and have another bash ...

Now I've posted it I'll have to carry on .... so this is just to give me the kick up the backside I need.     

I'm off to do my voluntary day at Pilgrims Hospice now but will get back to work on this tomorrow and post an update then

Monday 16 March 2015


When is a painting/drawing finished?   

I guess we've all overworked our paintings/drawings in the past and regretted it but the urge to 'fiddle' and 'tweak' can be overwhelming at times.

I've got to the stage with the Fisherman portrait where I'm rushing it so am going to call it a day now and put it to one side.   

My last three coloured pencil drawings are also 'out of sight' temporarily to stop me fiddling.   They probably are finished but I plan to re-visit them in a couple of weeks and make any adjustments then, after looking at them again with fresh eyes.

I wanted to put in the blue background colours as he was photographed against a building with blue door/window frames and I thought it added a bit of interest ... but getting the depth of colour is very time consuming and I reckon I've spent nearly as long on these two stripes of blue as I spent on his face!   I could probably have speeded up the process by using pastel (assuming the Derwent paper accepts pastel) but I'm trying to make my portraits pure coloured pencil so they can be entered into the pure CP category in UKCPS exhibitions.

I have lots of ref. photos of 'characters' photographed during recent trips to our home on Fuerteventura (Canary Islands) and just couldn't make up my mind which ones to work on ... so I sent a selection of them via email to friends/family and asked them to vote for their 1, 2 & 3 favourites.

They've all replied now so the decision has been taken out of my hands and I'm happy to crack on with the 3 that got the most 'votes' - watch this space LOL

Friday 13 March 2015


Is anybody here old enough to remember the Peter Cook/Dudley Moore sketch about

 "Tap, tap, tap at the bloody window pane. I looked out, you know who it was? Bloody Greta Garbo!"

Well, I'm being targetted by a very large black crow at the moment who thinks its funny to keep tapping on the patio doors with its beak around 10am every morning.      We live in a quiet location so the tapping is very intrusive and a bit spooky .... Despite being such huge birds they are very timid and I've not managed to sneak up and photograph this one at work yet ... but I will!

Anyway, here's the Fisherman at Stage III, Lots more layers and colour in his face, sweater and background so he's looking more like himself now.  I do need to tone down the wrinkles a bit - looks like I've built a brick wall on his forehead at the moment.    

We've got a busy couple of days so no more work will be done on him till next week.

Have a great weekend everybody

Thursday 12 March 2015


I got a little bit more work done on this coloured pencil portrait today.   I added more colour layers to the hat and put in some basic skin tones.

Tomorrow I hope to get stuck into those wonderful wrinkles LOL

Tuesday 10 March 2015


I've fallen behind with Blog Posts again but have been busy sorting out entries for exhibitions.   Being able to submit initial entries online is helpful but inevitably the photos/scans have to be downsized and that takes a while to sort out.   Then there are sales prices to be calculated (to take account of Gallery commission fees).   Normally I don't mount/frame pictures unless I know they've been accepted for hanging so when asked to declare sizes of finished/framed artwork there's a degree of 'artistic license' included and lots of guesstimating!  But I've now finalised entries for the next two exhibitions so can concentrate on other things.

We had a lovely Dinner with friends on Sunday.   They've just returned from an exotic holiday/tour around S.E Asia and presented me with two beautiful bowls fashioned from polished coconut shells.   The insides are lacquered and beautifully decorated ... sometimes the simplest objects can be so pretty can't they?

Last month in Corralejo I bought a couple of painted roof tiles (tejas) to hang on the patio walls in our holiday home - they're basic terracotta Spanish curved roof tiles - beautifully simple/rustic.     Then I got to thinking that they'd probably be popular here in Whitstable but they'd have to be painted with beach huts and seagulls rather than windmills and goats.   A builder friend gave me some tiles to practice on so I bought them home in hand-luggage (!) and now just need hubby to shorten them a little and drill holes for the hanging rope then I'll have a go ... perhaps .... so many things on my 'to do' list and so little free time it seems.

These are the ones I bought (painted in 2002 according to the signature).   They look a bit strange here as they're laying on the ground rather than hanging on the wall.

Alfonso (AKA Peter Pan) is finished ... or at least I decided I didn't want to work on him any more.   I emailed this photo to Domenica who owns the Bistro/Bar where I first met Alfonso.   She will see Alfonso tomorrow and show him the drawing and let me know what he thinks!!   Domenica loves the picture so I hope he will too.

and today I started work on the portrait of a fisherman  we see regularly in Corralejo - usually around a Spanish tapas bar near the Old Town harbour where there seems to be a never-ending card game going on with lots of shouting and excitement.    I've never seen this guy smiling but I think he just has one of 'those' naturally forbidding expressions and I'm sure he's a real sweetie actually - the most important thing is he has a strong, lived in face with plenty of character (and wrinkles of course).

I've made an early start on the textured hat and jumper ... not the best way to work but I've mislaid my indenting tool which I needed to indent short white whiskers in his moustache/beard so I had to start working in other places.   Eventually I decided to used the end of a large paper-clip to indent but I now think the indentations are too fine.  I've put a light layer of colour over part of the indented areas and they're not showing up as well as hoped.   I think I'll have to lift the colour off his face and do some heavier indenting as lots of his whiskers are very white.   With coloured pencil its difficult to add white over darker colours so its important to sort this out before I start putting more colour on

This is stage one (what I always call the 'ugly stage') ... things can only get better

Saturday 7 March 2015


Peter Pan has quite a grand name in reality ... its Alfonso!
I didn't meet Alfonso during our recent mini visit to Fuerteventura so had to ask his friend Domenica ..

We got home Thursday evening then yesterday we visited the Mums, did some shopping and collected my computer from PC World where it had been for much needed TLC.    The computer was returned with factory settings so David has spent hours reinstalling all the programmes I use - very time-consuming but (touch wood) the computer does seem to be much happier now.   Its such a relief to have my old machine back as I hate David's laptop

I did a bit more work on Alfonso today - adding more detail to his jacket and tweaking skin/hair colour a little.     Tomorrow should see him finished I think.

I heard today that 'Hair Braider's Daughter' made it past the jury so she will be on display at the UKCPS Open International Exhibition in London in May this year.    My other entries didn't make it but that's quite a relief as I need to submit 4 pictures for a local exhibition in Whitstable in March and was getting a little worried about completing the entries in time ... now I have some ready-made pictures in reserve to fill in any gaps.

This means that I will now have had pictures accepted into 8 annual Int'l Exhibitions so I'm on my way to UKCPS Gold Membership.    Acceptance of works into exhibitions over 5 years gave me Silver Membership and now I need to reach the level of 10 acceptances.   I've been a member of the UKCPS for 9 years but only entered the annual exhibition 8 times so I'm very pleased to have scraped through again this year.

Standards are definitely getting higher and for the last couple of years the UKCPS have allowed mixed media entries (so long as the works contain at least 51% coloured pencil) which I think has made it more attractive to some artists.

I think its going to be a great exhibition so will post details of the venue etc nearer the time and hope some of you may be able to visit