Tuesday 29 June 2010


My drawing flow has been temporarily disrupted by more computer problems sent from the gods to test my sanity .... again.  Windows Vista has decreed that it no longer wishes to function on my PC and has decided to go AWOL.  Unfortunately, I have not kept my data back-up routine up to date and so have had to send the offending article off for a data recovery operation which may, or may not be successful.  I'm trying to stay positive even though I'm very, very pee'd off about it, not so much about the possible data and program loss but about the fact that it happened in the first place. 

I'm always very careful on my computer and have good anti-virus protection and yet, I'm told, this sort of thing can happen out of the blue. Windows files, apparently, can just get corrupted and permanently jam up the whole system....just like that.  In the blink of an eye all the precious stuff you have painstakingly installed and uploaded over some considerable time, and not sufficiently backed up, can be gone.  Be warned folks, Be warned!

Anyway, I'm using an old laptop at the moment so I can continue using email and the Internet....and the printer/scanner too.  I also have many of my photos and drawings on other devices so it's not so bad.  Worse things can happen, can't they?  I still have my pencils and paper.... now they can't disappear into the great unknown, can they?  I Will Survive!


Friday 25 June 2010

Rose Interior, finished, and Wimbledon

I tinkered some more with this and it's about finished.  It was tricky doing some of the petals convincingly...... they are positioned at different angles, of course, and so the light is hitting them in all sorts of strange ways.  This is a photo of the drawing, rather than a scan, and doesn't really show up the nuances of colour in there very well.

I've concluded that although I like the Supracolor pencils, some of them are a bit scratchy on the Stonehenge.  Prismacolor pencils, being softer, work much better on it, I think.  I'm not too keen on white paper although I've seen wondrous work done on it by others with far more patience than me!

On another note, I'm eating these........

and watching this....on TV......

........at the moment.  Well not exactly this match, it was Gasquet and Fish on Court No. 1  at Wimbledon two years ago but you get my drift!  I took this photo when I went to Wimbledon two years ago.  I know.... our seats were pretty far back - lucky I had my binoculars with me at the time! 

I love watching the tennis and I enter for the ballot each year to try and get tickets at Wimbledon - it's the cheapest way to get them.  The other ways to get in are that  a) you are, or know, royalty (er... nope);   b) you have connections through a tennis club (er... nope);  c) you have corporate, group affiliations (er... nope); d) you are willing to camp out all night and queue for hours at the gate the next day (er... definitely a no-no!).

It's great to go see the tennis at Wimbledon, there's a really nice atmosphere.  It's well-organized, very civilised, and very.....well.... English, I suppose.  Here's another pic.....

On another note, normally I really don't care for football.  However..........Come on England!!


Sunday 20 June 2010

Rose Interior. WIP 2

Here's a quick update on this modest little drawing.  I've spent about 8 hours on this so far, even though it is quite small.  There are lots of intricate shapes in those petals - I have yet to work on the lower left hand side.  I normally scan in my drawings as I seem to get a better image that way.  This one scanned really badly, however - I think, because it's a bright picture and also my scanner is pretty basic.  So with this drawing, I've taken photos which, to my surprise, have produced better, more accurate, images of it.

Normally, I would cover the whole image with a first layer of colours and then move in to refine the detail, adjust tones and intensify colours.  Can't help it, I'm an orderly sort of person!  On this one, though, I have deviated from that a bit and played with the yellows and greens to try and get that intensity of colour in the central area.  So the next step is to render those bottom petals, review the whole image and move into the final touches.  There is no doubt that working on white paper is more laborious and exacting than working on my usual tinted papers.  Still good fun to do though!

Thursday 17 June 2010

Rose Interior. WIP 1

5" x 7" Caran d'Ache Supracolor pencils on Stonehenge paper.

I know, I was going to do something on Black Stonehenge paper.  Well, I did start a drawing on that paper but a disastrous choice of pencil colours meant that it had to be abandoned and it's just too cruddy to show!  I did actually like working on that paper, it's very soft and I could get nice strong colours..... just not the right colours!  I'll try it again soon.

In the meantime, here's a little number I've just started.  I took lots of photos last week of some roses which were in glorious bloom in my daughter's garden.  It was a sunny, slightly cloudy, day and the light was perfect for taking pictures.  I dithered for ages trying to decide on a good crop for this drawing and I settled on this one.  I think the closer you get into a flower the wider the range of hues you can see.

I'm using the Supracolor again because the yellows in this range are really nice.  I'm using about 8 different yellows on this plus Khaki Green which is a very light green.  I'm also using Light Purple and Aubergine.  These colours, I think, would be fine on a darker paper but because this paper is White I need some shades even lighter than this so I've brought into play some trusty Prismacolors - Pale Sage, Lilac, Lavender and Greyed Lavender - too.  

This first draft looks a bit rough and ready even though it's taken about 3 hours to get it looking like this!  One reason for taking so long is that I can't be as cavalier with the pencil strokes on White paper, it's not very forgiving and it shows every mark.  Another reason is that I like to get the shapes just right ( just call me anal!).  Once the shapes are 'right' then I can concentrate on the colours and tones.  Hope that makes sense!  A way to go yet.

Thursday 10 June 2010

Viola Close-up Final

I'm calling this done now.  I've added a little colour here and there and changed a small detail on the background (spot the difference?) just to aid the composition.  No, I'm not telling you what I did!  It's pretty accurate in terms of colours and contrast although those colour transitions are much less obvious in real life.  They're smoother I think and some of the subtlety is not coming through on screen (honest!).

All in all I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.  I could take it further and add more strokes to make it look more polished but I like to see the support showing through - it looks more lively somehow.  I enjoyed working on the card, the pencils glided on quite smoothly - even better when they are really sharp.  I'm planning on doing a drawing on Black Stonehenge paper next - I've never used that support and I've heard it can be a bit of a challenge.  Gotta try it then haven't I?!

Here's a pic of my Official Keeper of the Pencils, Bobby.

He loves the Blues, as you can see!  At least he doesn't make off with my Blu Tack blob like Barley does.  Yes, he's still doing it, despite repeated reprimands from me.  I've tried to outwit him by hiding it where I think he won't spot it - hehe, who am I kidding?!

Tuesday 8 June 2010

Viola Close-up WIP 2

I worked about 4 hours more on this today and it's almost finished, I just need to do a little tweaking here and there.  I was afraid that maybe the green card would dominate too much but I think it's okay.  I won't list all the pencils I used - too numerous! - but there are 8 greens, including turquoise green, indigo, periwinkle blue, aubergine, orange, 3 yellows, cream and white from the Supracolor range.  I also used Prismacolor Lilac and, to get that background really dark, I used Lyra Rembrandt Night Green which is the darkest green I've found in any of the brands I have.

Lots of people tend to shy away from using coloured pencils on dark papers, mainly because it seems really hard to get good, strong, bright colour down.  I rather like working on dark paper now so I thought I'd put down a few of the things I've learned - someone might find them useful.  

My tips for working on dark paper

  1. Firstly, I choose a shade of paper according to the subject I want to draw and the effect I want to achieve.  Usually, this shade will act as the base colour for the picture thus cutting down the amount of time I'd have to spend laying down pencil colours.  The paper colour I use is integral to the picture I'm doing, so I choose carefully.  Sometimes I get it wrong but it usually works out well.
  2. To keep my colours vibrant, I'll lay down different colours side by side rather than layering one on top of another.  I've found that heavy layering tends to dull down the colours and make them muddy.  By 'side by side' I mean a few fine strokes of one colour and then, alongside, a few of another colour with minimal overlap.
  3. Occasionally......just occasionally......when I want to achieve a really dark shade, I'll mix 2 (maybe even 3!) colours together.  On the Viola, for example, I layered Aubergine, Indigo and Night Green to achieve those inky patches on the background.   
  4. I'm very sparing with the White pencil when it comes to the brighter areas.  I use creams for 'white' areas and add White pencil only on the very brightest parts of my subject.  I've found that doing this makes highlights stand out much more.
These are just a few ideas, I'm sure there are many more out there.  Feel free to let me know!

Sunday 6 June 2010

New Drawing.......at last! Viola Close-up WIP 1

Viola close-up.  5" x 7".  Caran d'Ache Supracolor pencils (mainly) on smooth green card

It's been a while since I posted any art....... just couldn't get into creative mode..... but I've dusted off some pencils and just started this little flower.  I have a big tub of Violas in my garden, all of the pale violet/cream variety, bursting into bloom - they smell and look gorgeous!  I started a bigger picture of Violas and foliage but it wasn't going well so I cropped it down to this close-up of a single flower which I will now focus on.

I'm having a break from my usual paper, Colourfix, and I'm using some smooth card for a change.  I bought a stash of this card in assorted colours from an Art Fair last year without any real idea of what I intended to do with it!  I think I have some sort of paper fetish (Lol).  I like the feel and smell of it and have to buy it, especially if it's different from anything I've seen before (Hmmm, does that sound alarming?!).  Anyway, the card is made by the Paper Company and is surprisingly nice to work on, although it's quite thin and doesn't take many layers of pencil.

I'm using Caran d'Ache Supracolor pencils which are water-soluble, though I'm using them dry because I don't like what happens when you add water!  These pencils are really nice - great range of colours.  They are harder than other brands like Coloursoft and Prismacolor but because of that they keep a lovely sharp point and I find they lay down really smoothly on this card.

I chose a strong green colour for this drawing because it gives me a head start for the dark background, adds a touch of drama and I just prefer to work light over dark.  This strategy works well with sanded papers but sometimes backfires on smoother papers when you can't get the lighter colours to 'sing'.  Anyway, on this one I'm trying to lay the colours down side by side so they don't 'muddy up'.  I'm aiming to bring out the subtlety of the lovely pastel shades in this flower......a way to go yet.......it could well go 'belly up'!


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