A very, very happy Saturday to everyone. The weekend is here! I am working today, but work could not be more fun! Draw what you love and you will always love drawing. And as ever l am sooo excited about my new piece. Excited because l love the photo, excited because l love the chimp and excited because l have lots of new challenges here. I have never drawn a hand, not ever! I have never drawn skin.....and the chimp is not even beautiful smooth skin, he is full of wrinkles, and l have never drawn chimp style fur. I think l need to do a page on drawing fur, people always ask how to draw it. The thing with fur is that there are so many different types of fur, long fur, medium fur, short fur, wiry fur, fluffy fur, velvety fur, curly fur, spiky fur, soft fur, rough fur, sleek fur, messy fur......... and they all require different things. Often one animal will have several different types of fur and recreating the textures is always a challenge and always fun.
Three pictures today, and each picture is a full day's work. I loved this little chimp's eyes so l knew they were going to take a while. In the first shot you can see that they are mostly complete. Or near enough that l am happy to work around them, although l almost always work on the eyes of a piece every single day that l am drawing.
l was thinking about this the other day. In nearly all of my pieces it is the eyes that make me want to draw them. There has to be some emotion or feeling in them that l want to capture. And unless l find myself being constantly pulled back to look at the eyes in a finished piece, l do not feel that it is complete. Yet what is it we see? When we look at a person or an animal we see feelings in the eyes.....love, fear, empathy, anger.....yet the eyes do not change physically, so what are we seeing? And how do you draw that so that you feel emotion coming from the page? I don't know the answer to that, l just know that l have to keep drawing until l feel a feeling looking back at me! That probably makes no sense to anyone in the world but me! Anyway, l drew till l began to get that feeling and that is what you see below.
Then l began to work on the hand. Two challenges here. My first time ever at making skin color and of course, my first time ever drawing a hand. Quite a wrinkly hand at that. I ended up with an interesting selection of colors. I did use the Polychromos light flesh color, but l used grey and violet and sepia and yellow and brown and a whole host of colors and as for the hand, l just took my time and copied what l saw.
I knew things would look a bit better when there was more contrast around them, so l really wanted to get some fur on the arm (and l wanted to try drawing the fur). If you look closely at the bottom of the arm you an see how l did this fur. Yes, every individual hair is drawn separately. I began with a light violet grey, then a darker violet grey, then soft brown, then dark grey, then black, then dark brown, then black again. It took a while! But l think it actually worked quite well. And to finish my day l began working the skin around the eyes. It is mapped out here, but not finished.
I have to tell you that l am having so much fun drawing this. I have always loved monkeys of all kinds and drawing one is so exciting. I love a challenge and this piece is definitely challenging me. I would just like to close by thanking everyone for following me and my journey with coloured pencils, l really hope l can encourage anyone out there who would like to draw to pick up the pencils and give it a go. Have a fantastic weekend and happy drawing!
A very, very happy weekend to everyone. It has been a wonderful week, summer has arrived a little too early, it was 94f (30c + for UK readers) whilst we were working in the yard on Wednesday, and it certainly makes the work harder, not to mention l swell all over which is not attractive! But it is the perfect excuse to whip up more ice cream! Raspberry this time. Far too much ice cream making and eating goes on here, but at those temperatures it is a necessity surely? That and frozen grapes. Wow! Those things are good. As long as you don't freeze them for longer than a few days. Little mini grape sorbets. Amazing!
One of the great things about my art room is that it is cooler than the rest of the house, so even more reasons to stay in there. I haven't wanted to come out this week. Working on the lovely Ralph has just been so much fun. I am so sad to be finished. When you have spent so much time drawing an animal you really start to feel that you know them. And Ralph is such a special character. If you have an Instagram account check him out @ralphcockerspaniel. You just have to love him.
l had a surprising challenge with this drawing because l hadn't noticed that his head is at a very slight angle in the photo. It goes back to the thing l have said before about your eyes accepting what you see in a photo, but not necessarily in a drawing. His nose is actually pretty crooked in the photo, but your eyes don't see it that way. When l drew him, it looked wrong and l had to straighten it out a bit. That slight angle challenged me throughout the whole piece. When to straighten things up or not. More experience is helping in this area, and memories of the chick with the giant foot came flooding back. I am learning that at times you just have to make it look right to your eyes, even if it is not one hundred percent accurate to the photo. I have kept everything at a slight angle and l hope that he still looks like Ralph.
I have done the first few layers of the background in the shot below. It is nice to be in the zen like background state after concentrating so hard on the details of the face and ears! Plus, l wanted to see where l needed to go with the hair once the contrast was in.
You can see l have roughly drawn the shapes of the body fur and yes, my drawing is always very rough. I tend to freehand everything as l work it, just mapping out where things are going. Prints of this beautiful boy are available now in my shop or you can check out my other artwork, l will put links to both below. I have a new project underway which l am excited to show you in my next post, in the meantime have the most wonderful weekend, enjoy every minute of it and happy drawing!
A very happy and amazingly beautiful Sunday to you. The sun is shining here (no surprise since it is California!), l feel totally chilled and am thoroughly enjoying a lazy start to this glorious Sunday. I have watched the Blue Jays in the bird bath, the hummingbirds at the feeder and the finches squabbling over the seed feeder. We are now making sourdough loaves and bagels to bake in the cob oven later, after the ridiculously good stone baked pizza, and there will be more piecing together of our back yard flagstone jigsaw puzzle. So, a day filled with so many good things l cannot help but feel happy.
And l am so very happy to be drawing Ralph. I still bounce out of bed at 4am thinking 'Wow! I get to draw Ralph today!' . I can't really explain it, but some animals just draw me in. I love all animals, birds and bugs, but some just pull you and Ralph has that and all l can think of as l draw is that l want Ralph to bounce off the page. His eyes are so full of the excitement of life. I watched the lovely video of his first walk on Instagram the other day and that joy and excitement at the simple pleasures in life just jumps out at me. We can learn a lot, l think, from watching animals, and dogs teach us that there is joy to be found in everything. The things that make life happy are not the exotic holiday, the bigger house or the new job, the things that make life happy are the little things that surround us every day if we care to look. And seeing Ralph bouncing with delight on his first walk reminds me to always enjoy every moment.
l began working on his beautiful ears in the first picture. The curls are a challenge, like drawing hair. You have to work out which piece goes on top and work your way down through the layers. I am starting lighter than l will end up because it is far easier to work light to dark with colored pencil.
l do jump about a bit as l work, for many reasons, it is often to do with balancing colours, and l wanted to add the nose so that some of the darkest part was done to contrast the rest with. I have added the nose as it is in the photo here. The problem l have here is that it looks crooked. It is crooked in the photo. I have scrutinised this photo and the nose sooooo many times. Using a ruler and measuring, zooming n and out, standing back from a distance. It is back to the old problem, what we accept in a photo, we sometimes question in a drawing, and l can't help it but to me every time l look at his nose like this, I think, 'why is his nose crooked?'. His head is at a very slight tilt, but the nose is at an angle. After much deliberation and photo gazing, I think his nose looks so crooked because of the darker grey fur around it and l decide that l need to straighten it and make it more obvious that it is fur, not a crooked nose, but at the same time it has to still look like Ralph.
So, as you can see in the photo below l have straightened the nose and made it clear that there is darker fur there. I have begun work under the nose and the whole of one ear is more or less complete. Nothing is ever finished until the picture is finished. I go back over and over, constantly adjusting bits.
I am really looking forward to doing more work on this fabulous character. But for today l am going to enjoy the sunshine and all the other little things that make life good. I hope you find lots of little pleasures to bring you happiness today and of course, happy drawing to you!
Hello everyone and a very happy Wednesday to you. I am all in a muddle as the working week has changed. My weekends are now Sunday to Tuesday and my working week begins today! We had a fabulous weekend laying flagstone, baking pizza in our cob oven, foraging for mushrooms (boletes/porcini and morels) in the mountains and l whipped up a double batch of candy cap ice cream only this time l made pecan brittle to put through it. Well, with temperatures now regularly well into the eighties it is definitely ice cream weather! Not that you should ever need an excuse for candy cap ice cream!
And l am of course far too excited about my latest project! Ralph the Cocker Spaniel. To say that l fell in love with Ralph after one look is an understatement. This little boy oozes character from every pore. His eyes just tug at your heart strings and his face makes me laugh, smile and go, 'Awwwww,' all at the same time. He has the most crazy piece of hair that does its own thing and that expression on his face..... I love this little dog. Or actually quite a big dog! I just can't wait to get back to my art room and try to capture that personality on paper. And for me Ralph is a challenge, because l feel so much personality coming through and l would feel l had let myself down if l didn't catch it. (If you want to see why l fell in love with him, check out his Instagram page ralphthecockerspaniel. If you don't go gooey eyed you are a very hard person indeed!).
So l spent a whole day on the eyes you see below, and they are not finished and l am not happy with them at this point, but l believe that they will get there. I think l start to see Ralph looking back at me. That matters to me. It matters that the face that looks back from the page is Ralph, not any old Cocker Spaniel.
You will see in the picture below that l have added a bit of hair and ear and more color around the eye. This is mainly so that l have a gauge between the light and dark colors. I am keeping the blonde highlights very white for now, because everyone who works with colored pencil knows that you can never get bright white again once you have put another color there. I feel it is too white and stark at the minute, but it is very easy to darken it later. It would be impossible to get it this white later if l darkened it, then changed my mind. There has been more eye work, but they are not finished yet. The fur/hair on his ears is really quite fun to do. Quite a challenge, as you need to work out each clump and work out which clump is the top clump and work your way down through the layers. A bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle.
Anyway, when l have done my Pilates and morning walk, l get to work on the gorgeous Ralph for the whole day and l can't tell you how satisfying it is as l start to feel life looking back at me. I never tire of it and feel so very lucky to be able to spend so much time doing this. I hope that you always find as much joy in the projects that you are doing....... Happy drawing to you!
Hello. Happy Saturday to the world. I had a lie in this morning, until 6am! Yes, that really is a lie in. I am taking a break from drawng today. I have been drawing for too long this week and am in too much pain. So l am chilling out with a cup of coffee and will have a lazy weekend doing the flagstone in the yard, baking pizza in our cob oven and going mushroom hunting, for morels, which is really fun. It is like looking for a pine cone in a field of pine cones! But when you spot one you feel so good. And l might just make a double batch of Candy Cap ice cream too, now l think about it, it doesn't sound like a lazy weekend! But it feels like it, so that's ok!
Now l told you that after l took the photos in my last post it all went horribly wrong. I had planned on a soft, blurry green background, and l added the first layers of green and l liked it - always a relief! Then l went to add some darker green areas. Well as soon as l put them n the paper, l hated them. And l mean hated them. The green was just wrong and all l could see when l looked at the drawng were green splodges. Screaming at me. My remedy was the worst thing l could have done. Add some more of the hated green to see if l could even it out!! Don't ever do that! At this point l looked at my seven whole days of work and it was ruined. It was horrible. I was considering if it would be possible to paint over the whole background with Inktense and then either use pencil on top or paint the background with the Inktense.
This is when l told myself to take a deep breath, not to panick and to think clearly! I didn't like the dark green l had used, so the first thing to do would be to try and remove as much of it as possible. Not easy with colored pencil. So l took the sticky tape and began using it with a pencil over all the areas that had the horrid green on them. To my surprise l was able to lift a lot more of the color than l thought l would. But l was left with a vibrant green stain.
So the next logical thing was, if it cannot be removed, change it. So l took my trusty Magic Palette at this point (if you don't know what one of these is, see my page on mixing color, l will add the link at the bottom of this post). I was not feeling like relying on my own judgement at this point! So l looked for the closest shade to my vibrant green on the Magic Palette and looked across the line for the sort of green shade that l wanted, and saw that l needed to add Raw Umber, or l could have got a similar shade with Paynes Grey. So l took a Raw Umber pencil and worked it over all the horrid green, blended with OMS and hey presto! horrid, vibrant green vanished. I knew then that l could make it ok again.
The shot you see below is at the end of the day after remedying the problem. I worked more n the background again the next day, but l was happy to leave it here as l knew it would be all right.
There are a couple of lessons to be learned here. The first l think, is that if it starts to go wrong, don't just plough on regardless, but STOP. Take your time to think about what you need to do. The solution may be obvious once you have given it some thought.
The second lesson is one l have learned many times before ..... just keep working, layer over layer until it looks good. Don't give up.
l did end up pretty happy with the background. It did what l wanted it to do. And the finished picture is now available in my shop as prints, bags and phone cases.
That is all from me this gorgeous Saturday morning, l hope that you all have a wonderful weekend. Happy drawing!
Helloooo! And a very happy Tuesday to you. It won't surprise you one bit to know that l am incredibly excited about this new piece! When am l not? I love each and every animal that l draw and this cub has so much character. He may be very young but he has clearly lived a bit! He has a part of his ear missing and a big scar down his nose. I would just love to know what happened to him.
I have to tell you though that he is taking an unusually long time. I think the two shots that l am showing you are days four and six. I have certainly missed some out.
In the photo below l have begun working on his paws and the rock that he is lying on. It is really interesting working with all the subtle shades of grey and taupe and l have thrown in some soft violet and blue too. Because l just can't resist it! I am not sure why but l always see colours that aren't really there, at least that is what my pixel picker app tells me (which is a fabulous app if you don't already have it). I love the app and it can be quite surprising sometimes when colors are not quite what you thought that they were, but if l see it, it goes in regardless!
The day after taking this shot, l had a disaster with this picture that nearly left me in tears. I began working the background and it was so horrible l was debating the possibility of painting over it and then trying to work pencil on top. But l will tell you all about that in my next post.......things do not always go as we plan them and we can either stick with it and try to work it out, or give up, like life really, we often learn far more when we stick with things and try to find a solution.
So have a fabulous week all you lovely arty people, and don't be too quick to give up on a project. Happy drawing to you all!
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