Tuesday 29 November 2011

Pretty Flamingo WIP 1

7" x 5" Coloured Pencil on 'Elephant' Colourfix paper

This drawing is based on an original photo by Michael Klinkermallie posted on the Paint My Photo website


N.B.  Sorry folks, I hadn't realised that the photos I've linked to on some of my previous drawings cannot be seen by people who haven't signed up to the Paint My Photo website.  I'd really like viewers to see the photos I'm drawing from so I'll do it like this now!  I'll also revise those previous posts so you can see those photos too.

Back to topic.  Well, I'm still faffing around with still life set-ups so that is on the 'back burner' for now.  So .... hmmm, here is something completely different!  I was struck by the elegance of this bird, the way it's just standing there, and the feathery detail that the photographer managed to capture ... kudos to him.  Apparently, flamingos tend to stand on one leg whilst sleeping ~ hence the pose you see here.  As you can see in my drawing, I've taken out the other bird from the image and, of course, I'll not be drawing the other bird's reflection.  I am also simplifying the water but will be putting in some of those nice ripples around the bird's leg.

I'm using Caran d'Ache Supracolor pencils, with the addition of Greyed Lavender and Pink Rose Prismacolor pencils.  I'm also using a Lyra Rembrandt White pencil on the very lightest bits because it has a very fine, hard and reliable, point ... and because I have no Supracolour Whites left!  I'm not smoothing out any colour, just using a small soft brush carefully and also some Blu Tack judiciously here and there.

This beginning stage is always the slowest and most exacting because to get the initial shapes and tones in correctly is key, I think, to the success of the finished drawing.  Those feathers are a challenge!  I'll finish putting in the background, roughly, and then start refining it all.  

Friday 25 November 2011

Still Life Musings

These past few days I've been pondering on what I'll be drawing next.  If you're a reader of this blog before I had my rather long break, or my 'sabbatical' as I like to call it (sounds better!), you may remember a rather traumatic post about my pc crashing out last year.  I didn't have sufficient data back-up and ultimately lost almost all of my own photo references which were to form the basis of future drawings. 

I'm in the process of re-building my reference bank, taking new photos of all and sundry, but especially playing around with new still-life set ups.  It's been a little frustrating because I'm very pernickety, the lighting has to be 'right', the subject matter has to be 'right', the set up, and so on.  Setting up still-lifes of your own takes a lot of time, skill and imagination if they are to be the basis for successful artwork, I think. 

Many still-life artists, those who work from their own set-ups, will share their painting process on their blogs but not many of them describe how they came to choose their initial set-up, their thought processes about what objects to include and so on.  I think that the setting-up process itself is as important, time-consuming and skillful, as the production of the artwork created from it.  I know there are certain artistic conventions when it comes to colour, composition, positioning of objects which are understood by those 'in the know', trained professionals and the like.  I'd just like to see personal set-up choices being described more often, I think they deserve a mention.

So what prompted me to raise this?  Whilst browsing around art blogs, I came across some still-life artwork which really made me sit up and drool!  Some readers may already be familiar with Abbey Ryan's work, especially in the US, but she's new to me!  She paints directly from life, usually quite small pieces and pretty quickly too.  What I love about her work is its simplicity, bold realism and ..... well everything really! Obviously personal taste comes into this and it's not everybody's cup of tea but, for me, she has a very modern take on what is essentially traditional, classic still-life painting.  Truly beautiful work.  There are videos of Abbey on her site painting 'live' but I'd love to know more about how she sets up her 'objects', decides on composition, lighting and so on.  Aren't I demanding?  And cheeky!  As if the artwork's not enough, hehe.  Maybe I'll ask her.

Here are a couple of kitty pics to keep you going until I endeavour to begin another piece of artwork of my own ...

Here's Minnie daring to sit in Bobby's box!  She sat like that staring at me spookily for a good ten minutes.  Very unnerving.  There was no way she was going to fit into that box lying down like Bobby, now was she?

And here she is again, in her favourite place this time ...


Friday 18 November 2011

Forget-me-nots nearly finished

Flippin' heck I've gone all painterly!  Well some would say I've been that way for quite some time ... might as well go the whole hog and start oil painting.  On second thoughts, maybe not, I like pencil points, a clean environment and control over my medium too much!

So here is where I'm at with this.  I continued with the background very loosely with the same pencils as before.  I dithered about how much to define those buds at the bottom.  If they are too well defined they could end up being a bit of a distraction from the main flower focus.  The jury's still out on that.  I've kept the pencils sharp and used them very lightly, just mixing the different hues on the paper.  I keep layering to a minimum and don't like to obliterate the paper ... that would feel like I was working against the paper rather than with it, if you see what I mean.

So yes, it looks more like a painting than a drawing.  I'm quite pleased with it as it is but I'll put it away now for a while then possibly tweak it some more if it needs it.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Forget-me-nots WIP 2

I've done a fair bit more work on this and it's starting to take shape.  That first WIP scan was a bit too dark.  I must remember to scan and upload in the daylight so that the drawing is accurately represented.  It makes a difference when you compare the screen image to the drawing you see in front of you - duh.  This scan is pretty accurate in all respects.

Not being that familiar with these flowers, I did some research ~ I wanted to check out the shapes and colours for different parts of the flowers from the images available on the net.  I like to represent flowers as correctly as I can and I'm happy now with what I'm doing here.  I also discovered more about these little gems.  The name for them seems to have originated from the old French phrase "ne m'oubliez pas" (don't forget me) and "forget-me-nots" was first used in English for these flowers around 1532.  In Germany the word is "vergissmichnicht" ~ wonderful! Try saying that without your teeth in! (English speakers that is, hehe).  I've been practising saying that word all morning, I love it.  Anyway, in Germany in the old days, it was said that wearers of this flower would not be forgotten by their lovers ... so romantic.  And ... in the USA, the forget-me-not is the State flower of Alaska.  So there you go, it's good to learn something new.

Back to topic then, I've started the background using some of the blues I've used in the flowers plus Dark Green, Emerald Green and Prussian Blue.  I was going to cross-hatch the colours, as I did with the Wild Poppy drawing, but decided to draw rough blocks of colour with muted edges instead.  The important thing here is that the main flowers do not 'fight' with the background for attention.  I could have drawn a simpler muted dark background and let the flowers pop out from that.  However, I want to show these flowers within the context that they usually grow, that is, alongside others the same ... or at least give a hint of that.  As I continue putting in the background, I will see more clearly how to make the central flowers stand forward from that background.  I'm loving the Caran d'Ache and Polychromos pencils on this paper.  To be continued ...

Sunday 13 November 2011

Forget-me-nots WIP 1

8" x 8"  Caran d'Ache and Faber Castell Pencils on Deep Ultra Colourfix paper

Thank you to Ognjen Karabegovic for use of his original photo. 

I started this just yesterday, having cropped and re-orientated the image.  The original photo stands as a piece of art in its own right, I think, but I wanted to focus in on a small cluster of these flowers and see what I could do with it ... couldn't resist!

So, here's my offering at the very start of the drawing.  Yes, it's dark, isn't it?  It will emerge much brighter as I progress, well that's the plan anyway!  I've not used this paper colour before, bit of a gamble, but I think it will serve as a good base for the colours in the image and, of course, it will also provide the drama I like so much.

I'm using the Caran d'Ache Supracolor again, they work so well on this paper and sharpen to a lovely fine point.  The blues are good but they are all quite cool (greenish) so I'm also using some Faber Castell Polychromos warmer blues, notably Ultramarine, Light Ultramarine and Helioblue-Reddish.  I tried out some Prismacolor blues but the first one I used, Powder Blue, promptly broke ... and kept breaking until I blitzed it in the microwave oven for 20 seconds!  Well, you know, I shouldn't have to do this to a pencil to get it to perform, should I?  I don't have this problem with ANY of the other pencil brands I use.  So please, please, Prismacolor makers, before you produce any more fab colours for your range, can you sort out the breakage problem first!  It's no good having a million whizzy colours and high lightfast rankings if the pencils keep breaking!  I know I'm not the only one to have noticed this.

Ok, whinge over.  I'm off to get back to my Forget-me-nots ...  Think I'll have dinner first, I'm hungry!

Added later ... Just discovered that forget-me-nots are a symbol of remembrance.  How fitting then for today is Remembrance Sunday ... Lest We Forget.

Friday 4 November 2011

Little Boy Portrait Finished

Well he's definitely finished now after much tweaking, mainly on the clothing.  I didn't cover the whole paper down to the bottm, partly because I wanted his face to be the principal focus and partly because ... well, I'm just too lazy!  Trying to get an accurate scan of it, after adjusting for colour and contrast, drove me nuts.  I took it out in the garden to photograph it but that wasn't much better.  I kept seeing greens on the computer image that aren't in the finished drawing.  Eventually I arrived at this image of it.  It's close, but you have to imagine it without those really dark brown shadows to the left and bottom!

This portrait has been a roller coaster ride but I'm glad I saw it through to the end.  Although I am not 'over the moon' about it, it taught me to keep going even through the early ugly stages.  I have a tendency to give up on a drawing when I don't see it looking promising almost immediately.  Of course, some pictures really do turn out cruddy and you wish you hadn't spent so much time on them, but others turn out well and you're glad you did!  I am pleased I stuck with this one because even though there are many bits that could be better, aren't there always!, I feel like I'm moving forwards with my portraits ... and that can't be bad.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Little Boy Portrait WIP 3 Getting there!

Well I think I've gone through 'the burn' on this one (lol) and it's finally starting to work.  Lots of pencil tickling, blending, adjusting, tut-tutting and adjusting again ~ you know how it is!  I couldn't understand why his right eye didn't look right, then I realised it needed an upper lid .. hmm.  I added some Dark Umber (Prismacolor) to the left background and kind of merged that area with his hair on that side.  I see the image here has that scan shadow down the left again, it only shows up like that when I upload it here ~ really annoying.

I'm using the Caran D'Ache Supracolor dry and blending with cotton buds.  Pale browns, Yellow Ochres, Pinks, Apricot, Reddish Orange, Cream and White.  I'm also using FC Polychromos Light and Medium Flesh, Sky Blue, Raw Umber and some Prismas, including Greyed Lavender, Artichoke and Bronze.  The lighter Caran d'Ache colours are much less waxy, as I suspected, and are working well on this paper.

I'm finding this drawing much more exacting to do than previous ones, probably because of the subtle colour changes and details that just have to be 'right' on a portrait.  It can so easily go horribly wrong!  Not much more to do now.  I'll work on his clothing next, especially on that left hand side, but it will be loosely rendered, and then final adjustments ... 


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