Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Oil painting, close-up of hair. 10in x 12 in on Primed board.

 It didn't occur to me when I began this painting that people wouldn't be able to tell what it is. But no one can..! Which doesn't matter at all, I did it to practice using the paint, and am very happy with the result.

It started life as a drawing on tracing paper...

A tonal layer to help me not get lost.. (didn't work, I got lost regularly) 

 The second layer, blocking in colour in more detail. 

At this point (above) I had to stop and work on the portrait commissions. A break of about 3 weeks, but it was at a good point to leave it. When we leave anything, even if only overnight, it's important for it to be at a stage where we can pick it up easily, without feeling too daunted. 

Lots of fiddling and layering. 

There now. Can you tell what it is? 
If not, we'll let sleeping dogs lie, for I'm not telling!

Next up, Water Colour workshop, intensive portfolio course, childrens drawing and painting workshop.  For details email

Monday, 22 July 2013

Portrait number three with a LOT of leaves...Step by step

Materials - Bristol Board, a Melamine drawing board, A Daylight bulb in a desk lamp, Caran d'Ache Luminance, Caran d'Ache Prismalo 1 and a mixture of Derwent pencils. 

Step 1 - a detailed line drawing, so that all my colour work runs continuously. This is not the last word in process, it's just the way I like to work. I prefer to make all the tonal decisions from the offset then spend the rest of the time on colour. 

Everything needs more than one colour. With dark tones in fabric (ie large areas at a time), I like to do a full all-over layer and then lay the next colours down on top. With smaller areas, I prefer doing all layers as I go along, to stop it becoming tedious through repeated revisiting. There's a BIG difference between a Labour of Love, and Laborious. So with the leaves, I did a complete leaf at a time, with skin, I work up tiny areas about an inch square. 

Hair... I always do hair last because... I don't like doing it!

My desk space gets more and more cramped as things progress. I always cover finished areas with a piece of paper to help keep the work clean. Particulalry important when there are large dark areas, which create fine dust which can stain the lighter colours. 

If you have any questions, do ask!

Up coming workshops - children's drawing, portrait weekend, water colour weekend. Email for details

Monday, 8 July 2013

Portrait number two..!

Moving from one portrait commission directly into the next means I'm working more quickly. However, there is no 'formula' to these things, and each one is as unique to do as the face being portrayed. I'm putting in long hours, with the next portrait well on the way too.

The first drawing was as preparation, done a couple of months ago.

I am now working on the third consecutive portrait, which has a LOT of background, which is very time consuming.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Baby, Baby - Step by step portrait colour pencil

Recipe: How to make a portrait. 
Ingredients: A model. 
One A3 sized sheet of Bristol Paper (smooth)
F pencil (if the art shop tells you there is no such thing as an F pencil, leave immediately, for you know more than they do...) 
Colour pencils ( Caran d'Ache Luminous, Caran d'Ache Prismalo 1, and some Derwent Artist)
Putty Rubber, Sharpener, kitchen roll (to keep the page clean) 
Lamp with daylight bulb - on all the time, day and night, directed right onto the paper. 
Melamine Drawing Board (perfectly smooth) 
A dog, or at least a bicycle, for fresh air when the eyes start swapping sockets
BBC iPlayer to catch up on Rick Stein in India, mmmm. 
A kilo of Stamina and two cups of elbow grease. 

Instructions: Stir all the ingredients together and bake in a warm oven for a week. (If only!) 

.... Draw the subject in F pencil carefully and lightly so that you can rub the lines out as you add colour. Add colour LOCALLY, so that each small area is fully completed before you move on to the next. Some people draw a layer over everything first then continually go around and around the whole image until it is done. Personally, I find that way of working soul destroying and rather like pushing a wheelbarrow up hill. Drawing should never destroy the soul, and working up small areas to completion means you can see your progress as you go along. 

It starts off looking like an Ordnance Survey map, not at all flattering. So although the client wanted to see what I was doing, I couldn't show her until I was quite a long way into it. It just looks too weird.. 

Small, gentle (but not 'fluffy') strokes, with everything having at least two colours. 

Large, plain areas are the most difficult in colour pencil, and while I often say I don't like drawing hair, a very large hairless forehead is far harder..!!!! Even my son looked at this forehead and sighed, oh MUM, what are you going to draw there, it's... EMPTY?! I know son, I know.. 

Once everything is 'covered', then hours are spent relayering to get the balance right. 
I forgot to photograph it totally finished - in this pic I haven't done the teeth, but you get the idea. This took about 35 hours. Portraiture, more than any other subject, is an intense process, with added pressure of pleasing the client - we can never truly see a person as others see them. So once it's done, time to get OUT and get the fresh air. I have two more portraits on the drawing board, I'll show you when they're done.

Upcoming workshops - oil painting for all levels, portrait drawing, intensive portfolio course and childrens art days.
Email for info