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

Friday 23 August 2019

23/08: Not sure about this one

We're going away in a few days time.   I've been away from the drawing board for a long time and lost confidence as a result, so I thought it would be a good idea to start a picture that I could finish when I'm back home.  Having something halfway done helps overcome that 'can't be bothered' to start something new mood.

I had a photo in mind ... a picture I took on Safari in Kenya in 2018 - but it isn't working out well.

I do have a love/hate relationship with pastelmat paper.   Some paper colours seem to work wonderfully with pastels and with coloured pencil.    This picture is on white pastelmat and I recall having problems with white on previous occasions.   The surface seems to be different and colours don't blend well (pastels and coloured pencils).

I'm working in coloured pencils for this one. 

Anyway,   I drafted this out yesterday and spent maybe an hour outlining the zebras and starting on the 'fuzzy' background. Today I spent around 4 hours on it.    David doesn't like it and I'm really not sure.   All pictures go through that 'ugly' stage, but this just isn't working out for me (or David).

I think in future I will draw subjects without backgrounds ... this may be the last time you see this picture ..

Tuesday 20 August 2019

20/08: I made the deadline! 2 wildlife images for Canterbury Art Society Exhibition

Well ... I did it! 

2 pictures finished and framed ready for the Canterbury Society of Art's Exhibition this weekend.   Deadline for entries is today and I finished framing them this morning ... real seat of pants stuff!

Historically I've submitted portraits (mostly people but some cats/dogs) and have sold several.  This is a fairly small show in a Village Hall held annualy during the August Bank Holiday weekend.  Its been a lucky one for me - this is the first year I've submitted wildlife pictures so we'll see how they fare - fingers crossed!

The Leopard is now framed - he was actually drawn to a size to fit a mount/frame I'm reusing (cutting down on my costs so I can reflect that in the selling price).

Its very difficult to photograph glazed pictures - I seem to have caught my own reflection in the bottom left corner even though I found a darkish area in my 'studio' and angled the picture away from the light/windows.

Its working title is 'sleeping off lunch'

The young lion is also framed now - reusing a mount/frame.   The frame is actually a green/bronze colour and the inner mount is sage green (looks grey in the photo).  Again, sorry about the reflections on the glass

A couple of the progress photos on this lion.

More detail/colour added to face and fur generally.

Eyelashes and whiskers added.   This was taken in better light and is fairly true to life in terms of colour.      He was one of several young males we saw at Porini Rhino Camp in Kenya in June.    I'm not good with thinking up titles so this has the boring name 'Concentration'

Saturday 17 August 2019

17/08: Another Wildlife Pic

I thought I'd attempt to get another picture ready for the Bank Holiday exhibition - deadline is Tuesday and we're out all day tomorrow with friends for lunch and then visiting my Mum.

So no pressure then ....

I'm not sure about this one yet - Monday will be make or break decision time when I can add more detail.   There are lots more little markings to show on the face and tweaking of the colours generally - then eyelashes and whiskers which always make such a difference..

For now this is the result of a couple of hours work on Thursday and much of today (off and on).

Pastels on grey Clairefontaine Pastelmat and the size is around 13" x 10" to fit a mount/frame I have in stock (I'm reusing some old frames to save space and money)!

Thursday 15 August 2019

15/08: Leopard finished(?)

This sleeping leopard is one that David and I photographed in Kenya 2 months ago.   We have several photos from different angles but the leopard stayed firmly asleep throughout.     It was high up in a tree and there were lots of branches/twigs leaves in the background - many of which were casting shadows/areas of bright light on the leopard.

I decided to omit most of the greenery and so I also had to take out lots of the shadows  but I'm reasonably happy with the outcome as I really don't like adding backgrounds ..

I'm calling this finished - I'll frame it over the weekend and it'll be ready for exhibition at the end of the month.

and with a mount laid loosely on top to ensure it will still fit the frame I've selected

Wednesday 14 August 2019

14/08: Now for something completely different

My local art Society (Canterbury) will hold a mini exhibition over the August Bank Holiday weekend - just 4 days at a Village Hall.     I've been successful with sales in previous years so I thought I'd enter a few pictures.

As its not permitted to enter works which have been exhibited with the Society before (and I can't remember which ones I've submitted over the years) I thought I'd better produce some new stuff.

Having been on Safari in Kenya for 2 years running I have lots of wildlife photos.   I asked David to choose a subject and he's given me a real challenge.   I'd have preferred a 'head & shoulders' lion or cheetah but he selected a photo of the leopard we saw sleeping in a tree.    It has a full belly so not sure if its pregnant or is sleeping off a big meal.

I'm not comfortable with backgrounds but I'm having a bash - the plan is to draw the forked branch and a few twigs but probably not much foliage/leaf.

I made myself work on the tree branch yesterday as its not something I enjoy doing.  It will need tweaking but I decided to move onto the leopard today.  All those spots  are very fiddly.   Sadly its a very wet and dismal day today and the light is poor so I've had to stop work at 4pm as I'm struggling to see.     The photo colours are a bit 'out' because of the poor light - it isn't as 'pink' as this photo appears.

Pastel and coloured pencil on light grey Clairefontaine Pastelmat paper.   Size approx 12" x 16" to fit a frame I have available at home.

Aaargh .... just looked at the ref photo and this photo together and can see I've gone a bit wrong with the markings - the larger ones should be more 'rosette' shaped  ... will rectify that tomorrow (and at least its not a commission so nobody will be complaining)!

Sunday 11 August 2019

11/11: Boxer/Cross Update

We had a surprise visit from my lovely 'baby' brother yesterday to introduce us to his new lady friend so I didn't get any artwork done till today.

I've stopped now and will leave it to one side for a couple of days before deciding what needs tweaking before I can add whiskers etc.

The main reference photo is small (and pixelates out when enlarged) so I'm working from a few photos for this one as the coat colour varies a bit depending on whether the dog is indoors or outdoors.

Thursday 8 August 2019


Yeeay ... just got an email from the owner of the Chocolate Lab who says 'Another Masterpiece, its excellent thank you'

So I'm very chuffed about that and the portrait will be wending its way to my client shortly.

I made a start on the Boxer/Cross dog yesterday and here's the first WIP

I'm working with pastels on light grey Clairefontaine Pastelmat card

I did a bit more work today but not as much as I'd intended. 

We've had scores of feathered visitors to our garden today, on the feeders and in the various water containers I put out for them.   I spent far too long watching/photographing them instead of working.

When I did pick up the pastels I found myself 'flitting' around the drawing which is usually a sign that I should stop as I'm getting bored and not concentrating.     So this is where I finished ...

He's beginning to take shape and once I've got a decent base down I can add more detail and refine it.

Wednesday 7 August 2019

Back at the drawing Board - at last

With the tragic and unexpected loss of our Son-in-Law last Autumn we've been needed for help with grandchild minding during the school holidays as Daughter is working 4 days per week in London.

We've also had a few days break visiting Yorkshire where I took my entry to the UKCPS Annual International Exhibition (along with pictures from other artists in the South of England who couldn't make the trip to hand their own pictures in).

The Exhibition runs until 5 September so if anybody is in the area of Richmond, N. Yorkshire its well worth a visit and the 'The Station' is a really nice venue with lovely tea shops and artisan foods on offer.

Anyway, I've not had much time for art or for Blogging but ....  back to the dogs I've been working on.

The owner of the Golden Retriever asked me to change the ear from how it appeared in the photo (folded back) and to 'flatten' it out a bit ... not easy to do but I did my best to oblige.   This was the final version which was approved and despatched.

The owner of the chocolate lab asked me to make the dogs eyes a little more 'amber' as the ref. photos had been taken indoors and made the eyes look 'greener'.     I'm awaiting feedback but hopefully this one will be wending its way shortly.   The owner told me he is extremely busy with work at the moment so I'm not too worried about the delay in getting his feedback.

Once I know the eyes are OK I'll add the final whiskers and call it finished.   I have muted the background colour down a tad.

and I have one more dog to work on now.   Again, not the best ref. photos but this REALLY is the last time I'll work from poor pictures.    I think the problem is that a lot of the photos are being taken on mobile phones and downsized on FB/Instagram so when I try to zoom in to see more detail the pictures just pixelate out ...

I'm about to start on a Boxer/cross type ... will update in a day or two.