Tuesday 27 July 2010

Marbles Portrait

"Five Marbles".  11" x 14.5", Derwent Coloursoft Pencils on Sennelier La Carte Pastel Card (Dark Grey).

Well here's the completed picture I did for the Derwent Pencils Company.  It is a larger piece than I normally do but, strangely, it didn't really take a great deal longer to do than a smaller piece.  The detailing is the same whatever the size, in fact, I think it's easier because it's not so fiddly and you've got the freedom to do bold, broad strokes.  I had wondered how on earth pencil artists do their large pieces, much bigger than this, without going totally bonkers!  Now, I'm thinking working big is maybe not so onerous as it seems.

One might think that the logical surface to draw marbles on would be smooth white paper.  However, I chose to use a dark grey 'La Carte' pastel card for two main reasons.  Firstly, coverage is quicker and the Coloursoft seemed to lay down very softly and smoothly.  Secondly, it's harder to work precisely or get bogged down in detail on this rougher paper - you are kind of forced to work more loosely which, I think, yields a less 'photographic'-looking result.  I used the pencils dry, with no solvents, and used cotton buds and a hardish bristle brush in circular strokes to smooth out the pigment on the marbles. 

I'm really not into slavishly copying my photos.  I'm not that good a photographer that I get brilliant photos worthy of exact copying anyway!  Nor am I keen on jiggery pokery with photo software, I'd rather be drawing.  What I do is choose a photo and then interpret it in my own way, exaggerate colours, leave extraneous bits out, bring out the colours in shadows and so on.  Whilst this drawing could be regarded as photorealistic, especially as you see it on the screen here, it is most definitely a drawing in actuality. 

I took many, many photos of marbles in different lighting, positioning and group combinations before I came up with a composition I thought would make a good drawn image.  Derwent wanted a portrait format, rather than landscape, of 'close-up' marbles, which was more of a challenge, I think.

Hmm, all in all, I'm quite pleased with this one.  It looks especially good when viewed from a distance, something which is hard to achieve with a smaller drawing, I think.

Ooh, I nearly forgot to say, I had the thumbs up from Derwent today (Phew!) so the drawing is now winging its way up north to them.

Sunday 18 July 2010

Some light relief from PC madness

I finally got my PC back, hmmm.  The data they managed to recover was negligible but at least it still works.  I spent most of Friday and all day yesterday reinstalling programs and uploading stuff.  As I was doing this, Windows insisted on trying to install updates - two years' worth of them.  I tried to delay them but I lost the battle in the end and gave in to the bossy reminders.  89 updates later (yes, 89!) I'm left wondering what the point of these updates is anyway, given that they didn't prevent Windows going AWOL in the first place!  I think I'll get a MAC next time around.

When I wasn't spitting feathers at the computer screen I actually did some tidying up in my office.  The stacks of books and art materials were becoming a health hazard and badly needed organizing and storing sensibly.  The trouble is that I begin well and then get sidetracked by something I come across during the clearout - I think this is called task avoidance!  On this occasion it was a book I've had for about 15 years and which always makes me laugh.  It's a compilation of a series of books written in the 1950s by Geoffrey Willans and illustrated, brilliantly, by Ronald Searle.

It's all about a schoolboy called Molesworth who writes a diary about life at 'Skool'.  His quirky spelling and witty prose describing his experiences of swots, snekes, swankpots, gurls, wizard wheezes, weeds, dirty rotters, parents and (how to avoid) lessons is soo funny! (At least, to me anyway). 

I've always been a fan of books about schooldays, especially funny ones like this.  Here's an excerpt...

And here's another....

Caption: "Special attention is paid to health and all boys are under the supervision of a qualified matron who has at her disposal the full resources of the sick room."

And here's my favourite.....

Caption: "Look at me coo er gosh posh eh?  You wouldn't hav thort a pair of bloomers would make all that difference. "

(All images and excerpts copyright G. Willan and R. Searle)

Hehe!  Ah well, bak to the tidying up!  Sigh.

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Busy, busy and....."More Tea Vicar?"

Crumbs, how time flies when you're busy!  Life and family issues have taken precedence over artwork over the last few days but today has been marbles day - taking pics, cropping pics, playing with potential compositions for a drawing.  There are so many choices to make before pencils finally make contact with paper and the drawing gets under way.  Marbles have been drawn by many coloured pencil artists so it's a challenge to try and do something different.  Good fun though!  The only thing that's certain so far is that I'll be using Derwent Coloursoft pencils and this drawing will be around A3 size - big for me!

As a bit of light relief, I thought I'd post some pics of a little Birthday treat I had last week.  My sister gave me a gift of 'tea for two' at a local Manor house so I took my long-suffering friend, Maggie, with me.  Here's where we went, Flitwick Manor......

Now I'm not really into stately homes, even little ones like this.  The people who live in them generally own far too much of this country's precious land and have more money than they know what to do with ~ just my beliefs.  However, my sister knows I love my tea and I really appreciated her gift.  So, as the saying goes ~ "More tea vicar?"!.....

As you can see, we were given more cakes than any bod should reasonably expect to eat at one sitting ~ but we didn't complain!  There is a gap on the bottom platter where there had been two huge scones, these had already been eaten by the time the photo was taken, hehe.  I know this may be hard to believe, and we are both quite slim (maybe not for much longer!) but we polished off every cake you see here ...... oh and also the cucumber and smoked salmon sandwiches which preceded them!   Absolutely delicious!  Just to rub it in, here we are savouring the moment .....

What was really nice was the fact that we had English Breakfast leaf tea - not bags, proper tea in a china teapot!  I always drink leaf tea in a pot at home but you rarely get it elsewhere these days, which I think is a crime. 

And here's a pic of a magnificent cedar tree in the gardens.  Apparently, that big branch on the ground broke off under the weight of snow that fell earlier this year during the arctic winter we had.

And finally, here's a pic of a birthday card sent to me by a friend (I'll get her back!).  I hasten to add that I deplore ageism in all its forms......however, I'm afraid I had to lighten up when I got this!  Methinks if you're going to go to exercise class, best not to wear a dress........jogging pants, or slacks might be a better option?!

Copyright M.I.L.K.  Moments of Intimacy, Laughter and Kinship

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Wild Poppy Final and some news!

Here's a better image of the drawing, I took a photo of it which gives a more accurate image than that grainy scan I uploaded yesterday.  The greens still aren't quite true but hey ho it's the best I can do.  It bugs me when the image isn't right.

On another note, I've been asked to draw some marbles with Coloursoft Pencils by the Derwent Pencil Company.  How cool is that?!  It's a subject I love to draw so I'm really looking forward to it.  I won't upload the picture until it's finished as I don't think it would be appropriate to do it as a work-in-progress.  Well, I'd better go and dust off that big box of lovely marbles I have stashed away and get cracking on a composition!

On yet another note, if anyone has emailed me at the address in the sidebar on the right here, I apologise for not replying - I cannot access that account at the moment due to my pc problems.  If you wish to email me any time, for the moment, it would be better to do so at this address instead ~
janet.pantry (at) btinternet.com.  Many thanks.

Tuesday 6 July 2010

Wild Poppy WIP 2

Another three hours work done on this today and it's just about finished.  Of course, when it's uploaded to the computer screen I start to see lots of flaws in it and little niggly bits I want to change!  I did the background with Greens from the Caran d'Ache Supracolor range - Light Green, Emerald Green, Dark Green and also Night Green (Lyra Rembrandt) which is the darkest green I have. 

The background was done very roughly and randomly with cross-hatching.  I find that if I do it too carefully it ends up looking overdone.  On my laptop screen (not ideal) the greens are not as 'true' as they are in real life but I can't correct them without the photo software which is on my PC.  Lordy knows what this drawing will look like on other screens!  Ah well, I'll have a look at it tomorrow and do some tweaking if necessary, then I'll take a pic of it in the daylight and see if I can get a better scan of it.  Having said all that, I'm quite happy with this one, all in all.

Friday 2 July 2010

Wild Poppy and Ice Cold in Alex

Approx. 7" x 7"  Coloured Pencil on Aubergine Colourfix sanded paper.  Work in Progress.

My friend, Maggie and I took advantage of the gloriously hot weather we've been having lately and went for a walk in the lovely countryside we have around our way.  Needless to say, we did get lost despite being armed with a carefully planned route and a decent map.  We were trekking happily down the side of a field admiring the wild flora when Maggie turned and ventured to suggest that the row of trees on our left wasn't supposed to be on our left, according to the map she was holding, but on our right.  I said, in a moment of logical clarity (I get those sometimes!), that perhaps we should retrace our steps, find a path along the other side of the trees and follow that.  We then decided that whichever side of the trees we walked we would end up in the same place (!) so we decided to continue along the original path.

Maggie the Map Reader

So there we were, tripping happily down the path, admiring the views, merrily quipping that we were glad to be well away from the noisy drone of traffic and other humans.  The mood changed pretty rapidly, however, when we were ....how shall I put this?... overcome by a pungent and extremely unpleasant smell.  We had arrived at a large sewerage works, surrounded on all sides by a high fence, with no further pathway around, or away from, the area.  Just more fields and an almighty stench. 

Our only option was to go back up the steep, long path in the direction we came from across more fields....and some woodland.....and yet more fields in a pathetic attempt to get back onto the circular walk we were supposed to be doing.  The map was next to useless by now because it gave us no indication as to where we actually were since nothing we saw matched anything illustrated on the map (Lol).  What you need in these circumstances is a brain which can cope with spatial awareness and tell you, at least roughly, in which direction to head for in order to get you back to where you started from.  Either that or a compass!  We had neither of these handy things.

All we could do was to head towards the distant sound of traffic which would take us back to civilisation.  How ironic that the very sound we had initially wanted to get away from suddenly became very welcome and comforting!  By the time we got back to my little car sitting in the village pub car park, we were hot, tuckered out, blistered and very thirsty.  It was a bit like that old film called "Ice Cold In Alex" with John Mills and Sylvia Sims....you know the one?  Only not quite so hot and exotic, just li'l ol' England.  Oh and yes, we did go into the pub and have a very long, cold drink!

This wild poppy, the drawing shown way back up top here, is from a photo I took on our walk.  It was one of a few growing wild in a field.  Poppies look so fragile with their papery petals blowing in the breeze.  I want to try and capture the feel of that.  I'm using a mixture of pencil brands here, chosen purely on colour - pale lavendars and lilacs, aubergine, pale greens, yellow and whites.  I want to add some greens as a background, if I'm brave enough!

NB.  My PC is still in dock being repaired, she said optimistically.  And this laptop I'm using would try the patience of a saint!  


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