I picked up this bullrush on a dog walk. I’d had my eye on them for a while and when the seasons were just about to turn I picked it. The ground it was in can be quite marshy when the rains come. I let it dry out in my studio for a few weeks until it was ready to draw from.
I loved the tall elegance of these plants and have tried to retain its height by doing a narrow drawing. It is 17 x 10″ on white Arches heavy watercolour smooth paper. I tried various ways to display it but settled on taping it to a board. Shining a light on it created interesting shadow shapes.
Here’s a little slideshow of the progress….
The fluffy poker like seed head was a challenge, I started out trying to drawing every little variation but this was not going to work so in the end with alot of squinting to spot the various tones I resorted to many layers of crosshatched graphite.
The finished piece can be seen on my website shop here… or clicking on the framed image below…
I am delighted to have a piece accepted into this prestigous exhibition which takes place at the Menier Gallery on the Southbank, London.
This was my third attempt to draw this knot of sycamore seeds that I picked up from a walk across the golf course. First I tried them with oils (too detailed for oils) then watercolours (struggled with the colour mixing) and then reverted to my favourite – graphite. The pencils did not let me down, they allowed me to create all the fine details and translucent effect…..
Draw 17 is a wonderful exhibition, I was extremely lucky to have my work hang besides such talented artists.
My drawing of catkins has gone really well. It took me about 4 mornings of an hour – 2 hours sketching each day. Every time I sat back down to draw it seemed darker and I kept having to go over some previous completed areas. By the third day I realised that the catkins themselves were darkening as they were drying out – 🙂
These are the catkins that I plucked whilst walking Charlie, I thought that in January / February there would be nothing worth sketching, I’d already done holly and pine cones but no, I was wrong, there is plenty.
A progress drawing, this is drawn on Daler Rowney Bristol Board, it is a great surface for these small studies, it holds the graphite well and has a bright white look which then frames well….
The finished piece sitting in its white rustic frame. The piece is 6 x 6″ and is framed to 8 x 8″. If you would like to view it in my shop click here or on the image below…
It has taken me a long time to complete this drawing. As soon as I stopped fiddling around with the setting up I knew I had made a catastrophic misjudgement of the time it would take me. Looking at all the intricate folds of the cones and the texture, shading and lines it did not fit into my ideal of daily sketching the world around me.
However, it was a busy period for me and made sense to have a still life on the go that would not wilt or change colour as it sat there. And indeed they sat proudly next to my desk easel for quite a few weeks.
I am not even sure why I decided to draw two together. In hindsight one on its own would have been a much better option. I liked the bottom of one and the full side of the other with its little lean inward so that was set.
A couple of shots of my set up and the materials I used. I have two easels on the go in my studio, this desk easel which sits quietly in the corner and is used for my still life daily sketches and a larger studio easel that I sit at with a high chair (or stand) that I use for my larger pieces. I like my pencils very long and sharp as I draw with my hand on the side as if painting. It is the first time I have used Strathmore Bristol Board, the pad is a little too large really for these daily sketches but yes, its a good surface and held the graphite well allowing some blending. It was fairly easy to keep clean.
And some progress shots as I go along.
I made a short video of sketching one small part …
The finished piece is available to buy from my website shop – you can visit it here
This idea for this drawing came from a commission request. The client, drawn at the front of the piece requested the drawing as his ‘father figure’ – to whom he always referred to him (I still don’t know his name) had recently died. He also would have celebrated his 70th birthday some time during the portrait’s execution.
The photo presented lots of questions. The main subject was at the back of the photo, the setting and background were not particularly interesting or added anything to the image and it is a typical selfie photo where the subjects are looking straight into the camera, not really showing any expression or emotion and are frozen for the pose. I wanted to show the bond between these two and so my main focus and the thing that showed that bond most strongly was the arm around the shoulders. I decided to therefore allow that to come forward out of the drawing towards the viewer.
These are some of the materials I used for this portrait. A combination of charcoal and graphite. I also had a couple of new deliveries during the process so I included them too. One was Grumbacher charcoal which I’m looking forward to using more in the future. It seems very similar to Nitram to be honest but the hard sticks seem a little more useful than the Nitram hard which can be very scratchy. The other thing I tried out was some carbon pencils. The combination of charcoal and graphite in these pencils seem to help work over the some areas that had either been heavily charcoaled or graphite.
Some early progress shots. I used Bristol board for the background but won’t be using it again for a combination of the two materials. It’s wonderful for graphite but the charcoal struggled with the smoothness. I had to work it in really hard to get it to make any significant effect. Laying down the shadows and initially working out where to go with the charcoal and where to go with the graphite.
Here are a few more shots of the progress.
Successes for the drawing were that I achieved a looseness with the drawing that I wanted as well as keeping it tight and fine around the facial features. In the past the charcoal has prevented me from working on fine details in a portrait, this is something that the graphite allows me to do. The two materials work well together with some restrictions that are also probably dependent on the surface.
Failures for the drawing is that the pose was restricting, I shall in future be looking for more expression and I worked the eyes of the younger man in graphite far too heavily which has given it some shine.
This week has all been about working through this very technical drawing. In the nick of time I figured out that you can work graphite with charcoal to help with those fine details on the very small faces. This is a drawing from an old black and white photo that has been commissioned by a customer in Texas, USA. The family will be reuniting again this year and he wanted it complete to share with them.
Here is a slides show of progress shots…
Here is the completed drawing, winding its way to Texas
Back to my botanical studies from life. This time snowberries, a lovely gentle bunch of berries found in most hedgerows in winter.
Finally I have some cricket mugs that I really love. Initially going for two of my most popular drawings – That Taylor Catch and Swept Away if they prove successful I will introduce more of my designs. Check out my collection on my website shop here or click on the image to follow the link.
During the last few weeks I have been working on commissions, attending art fairs and working on my new mini 8 x 8″ pencils studies from life.
Here is a collection of my recent work…..
This is Lowra, she has been drawn in graphite pencil, various grades from 9B to 6H. Lots of blending to give her the softness. You can click on the image or click here to find out more information about Lowra.
These small studies formed the beginnings of a new series ‘ Daily Sketches’. They are all sized 8 x 8″ and come framed for £55. They are completed in graphite pencil on Arches Watercolour paper. They have proved popular with two of them selling fairly quickly. By doing these small detailed sketches each morning it gives me an opportunity to keep my artist’s eye finely tuned before moving on to my larger commissioned piece for the rest of the day. You can discover more about my daily sketches by visiting the page on my website here
Finally here is a collection of my commissions completed for Christmas…
The New Year has brought a wave of commissions, mostly for cricket and some pet portraits….Exciting times