Friday, 23 October 2015

Portrait Drawing, graphite pencil

I have just finishsed work on the preparatory drawing for a portrait commission.

I don't always do such a finished 'rough' - it often depends who the client is, how well they know my work, and what their requirements are. I do enjoy this stage - it's a great way to get to know the pattern of the faces and sort out balance of tones etc, in order to create a good portrait (as opposed to a copy of a photograph, which is an entirely different thing altogether).

Finished rough with client-led alterations

Also, in this instance, the photographic reference was from a couple of years ago (as provided by the client) and this means the little girl's face has changed shape as she has grown. So it is necessary to use more recent photographs as further poeints of reference to ensure the portrait is a satisfactory mix of truth as it was when the photo was taken, combined with the truth of how the child is seen now. 

I like to start with the eyes, choosing one eye to be dominant over the other.

Once most of the first face was blocked in I moved to the second face. Children's faces are difficult as they are so much smoother with more subtle variations in tone across the flesh. 

At this stage, above, I showed the drawing to the client, as a sneek preview to ensure things were looking familiar to him. He was delighted and asked only that I take some of the fulness away from the jaw on the child - you will notice this if you look at the final drawing at the top of this page. I also softened the tones a lot on bothe faces and finished the background loosely. 
The size is 32cm x 35 cm. I will show you the colour version when it is done. 
Now I'm off to the post office to send the original for approval - fingers crossed! 

Next up: Two day landscape water colour workshop 
In November - Portrait Drawing workshop and Oils weekend. For info email 

The Big Draw - 
As part of the Big Draw 2015, I am holding a Children's Drawing session at The Harland and Wolff Drawing Offices in Belfast's Titanic Quarter on Saturday 30th October. The event is free. For bookings and info or call 028 9073 0490. 
More information here

Friday, 9 October 2015

Heaven is a place in Holywood..

.well, it was until I bought all the gourds in town, and now Heaven is in my house!

On display at the shop... I want them all!
Although I am not overly attracted to Orange things, in autumn it's an eye-catcher that can't be ignored - jolly, warm and hopeful, with the colour of fire. I love autumn, it's abundance of colour-contrasts, berries and seeds, a last gift before nature takes a rest. 

colour contrasts: orange leaves,  blue sky

As well as the leaves slowly changing colour, gourds begin to appear in the shops in the run up to Hallowe'en. With their twists, stripes and warts, they are like nature's joke - they aren't edible, purely for decorative entertainment.  
Abundance of warty temptations.. Be careful to check for mould as you want them to last as long as possible. 

They make the most brilliant subject for drawing and painting, and aren't offended if you add extra bumps and lumps. 

Safely at home 

Colour pencil drawing in my Moleskine Sketchbook
Warts and all

Drawing these is all about surface pattern. Great fun. 

Upcoming workshops in Oils, Water colour, portrait drawing and Colour Pencil. For info email