Hello and a very happy, very windy Wednesday to you all. I am supposed to be out walking, but l am feeling a bit under the weather and the thought of fighting the gale blowing outside is not at all appealing. It is far nicer to sit with a cup of coffee and tell you all about my latest project in this blog post.
l have wanted to draw a Snow Leopard for a while now, but haven't sourced quite the right photo until this one. I have been using lots of bright colors and I have had quite a craving to use the beautiful, subtle greys that this big cat requires. I love wildlife art and l know that l don't have a single big cat on my website (some of you may remember my last unhappy attempt at a leopard!), l am determined to prove to myself that l can do it.
l have gone for a grey Stonehenge paper here (no idea what shade, as l ordered every color to try, but they came with no labels to identify them). The grey is a perfect undertone for the fur. No white flecks to worry about! And l am using mainly Caran D'Ache Supracolor pencils for this as they have the most gorgeous pale bluey greys.
l am trying a different way of drawing the fur this time, drawing in nearly all of the fur in a very pale shade first of all, then going back and darkening it. It is almost embossing it. I was not happy with the last leopards fur so l had to try a different method. I have used this method in the past and at the minute l am quite happy with the way it is turning out.
I absolutely love the soft grey eyes on this gorgeous leopard. He is taking me an extraordinarily long time to work, but l am really loving doing it. The thing l have found, is to break it down into small sections. A small piece each day that l aim to complete. (Or nearly, I always go back over and over 'finished' areas). This stops a large piece of work like this from feeling overwhelming.
I can see that the dark fur is sitting much more happily amongst the pale fur using this method. I will do a tips page on drawing fur very shortly as it is something people have been asking about. And like most things, there are several ways of achieving similar results.
l am off to try and get a bit more accomplished today so that l have something to show you in my next blog post!
Do let me know if you have any questions, or topics you would like me to discuss. Have the happiest of Wednesday's and most of all have lots of fun drawing!
A very happy and wonderfully rainy Friday to you. I had the most exhilarating walk in the rain. We had rain!! I love rain. We hardly have any here, and a walk in the rain was so much fun. My five miles flew past and l returned home soaking wet, my hair dripping and my feet squelching. Oh but it smelled so good! And it felt so good. And now l am struggling to sit still and write this post, because l have started a new piece of art and l am so excited l can't think about anything else! I am very easily amused! And that is the thing about loving what you draw, the excitement just bubbles over
But l have to sit still for a while.....it's difficult....because l want to show you a true then and now shot. The picture above is the beautiful Maa Maa now complete, the picture below was almost exactly one year ago to the day. About a month after l first started drawing with colored pencils. To be completely fair the reference photo was terrible. I never did like the huge pupils....but had neither the sense nor skill to change them. What I am really aware of is the difference in what I now notice when l draw. Which I know is something that I keep talking about, but l can tell you in all honesty that l am no better at using a pencil now than I was then. The difference between then and now is in what l see. I see more colors. I see more shapes. I see more texture. I see more contrast.
Seeing all those things results in a vast difference in the time spent, the little cat below took about a day and a half to complete. Maa Maa took six days, with at least a whole day spent on just her eyes - this thought is slightly worrying, because in a couple of years time l might be down to one piece of art a year! I know that I am definitely not getting quicker. Of course, the more you draw the better you understand the shapes you seem the way fur goes, all the little things that make a difference.
For me, seeing the difference in the two pieces is really encouraging and it gives me confidence that if l keep practising l will get better. That is really an exciting thought, because there is no end to how much better you can get. And l hope anyone who reads this, who wants to draw finds it encouraging too. Because it is just a skill, honed through practise. Which means that anyone can do it if they really want to.
l do hope you enjoyed seeing the difference that a year makes. That is all l can bring myself to write today because l just can't sit still anymore. My new piece is calling me! I am longing to share it with you too, but it will have to wait until next week. I hope you all have an amazing weekend and as much fun drawing as I do! Haaaaappy drawing!
Oooh! Almost forgot...,you can buy prints of Maa Maa now in my shop, link below! Got drawing on the brain!
A very happy, and far too hot (yes, already,) Tuesday morning to you all. I have had a fantastic weekend working on the back yard project, lugging sand and flagstone around and really enjoying watching all our hard work start to take shape. Although the heat is already making working much harder. So hard in fact that yesterday l was forced to make ice cream! Delicious candy cap ice cream, made with the candy cap mushrooms we pick in the autumn. And before you all go, 'Yuk!! Mushroom ice cream!', let me tell those of you that don't know, that candy caps are the most amazing mushroom. They taste of maple syrup. Only unlike maple syrup, when you add them to recipes you actually get real maple flavour! They are so incredibly good. Candy caps hardly grow anywhere in the world and these most sought after ones only grow along the California coast line and into Oregan, so we are very lucky to be able to get them. And I can say now that candy cap ice cream tastes heavenly.
It always feels great after working hard outside to be back to the colored pencils. The progress on Maa Maa is slow. Slower even than l thought it would be. I keep going back over areas l have worked. I always do, but l seem to be doing t so much more with this piece. I think it is because all of her coloring is quite soft and l would rather go back and warm it up. I want to see what it looks like when the nose and white chin fur are in before making changes l can't undo.
I wanted to say a little thank you here as well to a couple of people who have been very kind to me on Instagram. I am still new to that place, and it is a world of its own. I know that a lot of you who read my blog find me through Instagram, so l just wanted to say that if you have a chance do check out the Instagram pages of gem.whelbourn and hazelvickers_artist, both are great artists, but better than that, lovely people. You will find lots of wonderful animal art on both of their pages. I have really appreciated the encouraging comments from so many of you on Instagram, because l truly found it very scary sharing my art with the world! I hope that anyone who feels that way finds the courage to overcome that fear. It is really not so bad.
l am hoping to complete Maa Maa this week. She is the loveliest cat and l want her!
Have a wonderful week and have lots and lots of fun drawing.
Happy Friday world! I have been drawing like crazy this week, but seem to get slower and slower in my progress! I am guessing that this s because the more that l draw, the more detail l see in each new photo, and once l see it, l can't leave it out can l?
l was thinking this week about the way l choose a photo to draw. There are soooo many beautiful photos out there, what makes me want to draw one in particular? Obviously a nice clear photo and a good shot are essential, but l actually realised that l know it is a picture that l want to draw when l have an emotional and physical reaction to it. The first thing is the intake of breath when l see the picture, then my heart pounds and my stomach clenches. Something in the picture moves me. That can be one of two things. Sometimes like the heron in my last project there is something unusual or intriguing about the pose that l just find exciting, but often it is the expression in the eyes. I want to see an expression, a feeling in that animal or bird that l can try to capture and bring to life. And Maa Maa has that look in her eyes.
It actually took me a whole day to draw her eyes and l am sure that l will be doing more work on them before l finish. The difficulty l had here was the soft, pastel green of her eyes. It is hard to build up the many, many layers that l like to use and still keep the color soft. I really struggled in fact. I put in some fur just roughly around them because l know that l get a better idea of whether they are looking right or not once there is something to set them off.
The bit of fur completed on day two is again not complete. I have to be careful as her coloring is very soft and it is much easier to go back at the end and make it more vibrant, than to try and tone it down if l take it too far.
l will be off now for another full day of drawing on this gorgeous cat. I have fallen in love with her and wish like anything l could put her n my knee and sit and snuggle her for a while! But it is feeling like that about what you are drawing that motivates you. (Oh! And l do have a cat picture that l did about a year ago that l can show you a true comparison of a year's progress, which l will do when l am done).
l hope you all have a little time in your weekend to draw what you love. Have a fantastic weekend, and happy drawing!
Hello world! Hello my blog reading friends. Hello to all you Google surfers who have accidentally stumbled across me. A very happy Tuesday to you all.
Well, l told you in my last post that l had an idea for the background, as ever l have been questioning myself as to whether it will work. And l know you could try this out in Photoshop - which l don't have, or some similar app, which l do have. But l just can't get the hang of it. So l thought I should just go for it and try it out. I found a beautiful reference photo to use for the sunrise on Pixabay, and off l went.
Incredibly what you see in the picture below took me a whole day. I know it will need more layers, but it has done what l wanted it to do. I can see that it does work. I really love the colors of the sky against the bird.
My other debate with this picture was whether to add anything else, like a branch or fence or chimney pot. In the end l decided not to, because l really like the feeling of isolation that l get from seeing just the bird and the sky. And l did not want to distract from the beautiful angle of the head and the tousled feathers by drawing the eye away from them too much.
Anyway, l think the sky will work because l felt excited about this piece once l added it. That is always how l judge both photos and my work. I could not draw from a photo that did not make me feel impelled to draw it. Well, l could, but you would know that l did not love the photo from the finished results. If you love what you draw there is no desire to rush or to get finished. You just enjoy each part of the process.
As l write this post the heron is actually finished, and l begin my new project today. The beautiful Maa Maa, absolutely stunning kitty belonging to the lovely catsandcompany on Instagram. The heron is available to buy in my shop now, or you can visit my website for lots more colored pencil art and tips. Both links below.
I hope that you are all having lots of fun with your projects. Always remember that art should be fun. Love what you do. Enjoy it. Happy drawing!
Hello and a very happy Friday to all my artist friends and whoever else has stumbled upon this page whilst surfing Google. I am excited as I always am when starting a new project and a little scared too that it will all go horribly wrong. Why should that bother me? I don't really understand. It is only a piece of paper after all! But I always start each new project wondering if it will work out as something that I will love or not. This time I have two concerns. Although this is a big piece (15x10 inches) I am having to work small because so much of the bird is on the paper and I find it really difficult to work so small. My other concern is that I have an idea of what I want for the background but I won't know if it works or not until I try it. And there is a lot of work already gone into this bird to go to waste if the background ruins it. So that is niggling away in my mind.
I often find that a lot of things go through my mind as I work. I mentioned in my last post that I had been thinking about comparisons - comparisons and popularity and generally how we feel about our own work. I know I have said often about the dangers of comparing ourselves to others. So easy to do. So easy to feel that our work is not as good as someone else's work. And now we have the fickle world of social media to deal with. It is so easy to start to feel that how good or not your work is depends upon how many likes it has or how many followers you get. And I really wanted to say to anyone who feels that way, that it really means nothing. I know when I browse through artwork in various places that something not that fabulous might have thousands of likes and some simply stunning work is more or less passed over. One thing I have learned in life is that if you build your self esteem on comparisons with others or by how much other people like you or what you do, you are going to be very miserable. Learning to value yourself and your own work is what matters. Draw the things you love. If you really love what you create it will show in your work. If others like it, that is nice, but ultimately it doesn't matter. For me the reward is seeing my own progress and creating something that I love. And I like to see the work of others in that way too. We are all together on a journey, so why not encourage each other to be the best we can be - whatever our own best is and wherever we are on that journey.
So above are my first two days of work, and my eyes have really struggled trying to pick up and draw the small detail. I love the unusual angle the reference photo for this bird was taken at and I hope I can capture that properly. I will be trying out my background before going any further with the bird. I want to be certain that it will work! But I love the reference photo (used with the kind permission of fellow Instagramer peatonford) and loving what you do is what it is all about.
Have the most fantastic weekend, and do remember that the only thing that really matters is that you love what you do. Happy drawing!
Good morning. Happy Tuesday. I am late because I have been taking comparison photos and wondering whether to show you the results or not! I am not sure that there is much to see. I was hoping to see more progress. The picture on the left of the screen was completed eight months ago (I thought it was longer than that, but there was a date on the picture) and as I have said was the first picture that I was really happy with. The first picture was worked on mat (or mount) board and is actually waaaay smaller than the second picture, which is worked on Stonehenge. I use oms to blend now, I didn't when I drew the first picture. So to some extent the comparison is not really a true one!
Both pictures are straight from the camera, no editing other than cropping. What I can see is that there is more vibrancy to the newer picture. The lavender buds are fluffier and softer in the newer picture and I think too that the bee is fuzzier and softer. I was also able to correct a thing that had niggled me about this picture ever since I finished it. That goes back to something I have talked about a lot - knowing when - and when not - to copy a photo exactly. I copied it exactly in the first picture. And the bees leg on the left of the first picture is partly hidden by a lavender flower. Every time I look at that picture my focus falls on that leg and my head asks, 'what is that?' ..... And I KNOW what it is. It looks wrong and it looks weird. I left it out of the second picture, and even though it SHOULD be there I think that your brain readily believes it to be hidden behind the flowers and it no longer takes your focus from where you want it to be. I have also left out a strange line on the right side of the bee, for a similar reason. I have no idea what it is. It is in the reference photo, but it makes no real sense.
There are certainly many more layers of color in the newer picture. Working on paper with a tooth instead of smooth board allows for that.
So my conclusion is, that, yes, I like the second picture better. Have I made much progress? I am not sure. Although eight months is not a huge time to judge over.
Do feel free to give me your opinion. Prints and all kinds of lovely things are available to buy in my shop, the link is below. I am not sure I will be doing anymore comparison pictures, but I do want to talk about comparisons and I think I will save that for my next blog. In the meantime, I have a new project underway which I am really excited about. I am working from a beautiful reference photo that a lovely Instagram user peatonford has kindly allowed me to use. I hope you all have fun and exciting art projects on the go. Happy drawing everyone!
It's Friday! Woo hoo! Happy 4am in the morning! The weekend fast approaches and more laying flagstone for lucky me! (Actually I really do enjoy it, it is like a giant jigsaw puzzle).
The bee should be finished today. I have learned one thing, it is never as much fun drawing the same picture again! It is much harder to feel the same motivation, so I don't think I will be repeating the experiment!
I have had something on my mind about drawing all week and I thought it was time I wrote about it (I touched on it a bit in the 'I can't draw' page), but it has really become clear in my mind these past few days, that drawing is really far more about what you see than how skilful you are with a pencil. And that the fastest way to improve your art is to improve the way that you see things. I know that this sounds like stating the obvious, but you can only draw what you can see (or what you have seen - real or imaginary - and can recall to your mind). You can only add the funny little whirl of fur to the side of a cats nose, if you have seen it, you can only add the little iridescent spots of color to a dog's nose, if you have seen it, you can only draw the subtle curves of a feather if you have seen them. The more we look, the more we see. The more we see, the more we can put into our drawing to bring it alive. Really looking at things from different angles and different perspectives teaches us a lot. Changing the distance we are viewing at, changes the way we see things. For example, I have noticed that I like using my iPad to work from because I can expand and shrink my reference photo. When it is expanded, I can see far more colors and more detail, but if I shrink it down then the highlights and shadows become much clearer and I often realise that I need to increase the contrast drastically. The great thing about this, is that we can practise this at any time, whatever we are doing. Just take the time to really look.
So after that, how has my bee been going? Well, it still looks a bit scribbly after the third day but not as bad as on day 2. Although it helps having started on the flowers a little.
And on day 4 I have added more of the flower heads and a bit of contrast is coming, which is helping. Plus I decided to make the background colors a bit more vibrant than it really is. Simply because I like the colors! I think it is starting to improve. You can see that I flit about a lot, going back over areas I have already begun.
I have begun to feel quite excited about this piece, so it must be getting better. Perhaps one day I will get used to the bad stage each piece seems to go through! That is it from me for today. I just want to encourage everyone to get out their pencils and draw, because we can all do it. Enjoy your weekend wherever you are and happy drawing to you all!