My first colour painting of my favourite subject – cricket and my first women’s cricket drawing for quite a while.
This piece has been spinning around in my head for a while so its so good to see it in reality in front of me. The inspiration for the piece came from watching video footage of England women’s Katherine Brunt diving to make it safely behind the line. Making figure sketches from the video and scrolling through reference photos of diving saves I finally came up with a shape that I wanted. I have wanted for a while to do an abstract piece of cricket art. This piece isn’t fully abstract but it’s getting there. The reasoning behind it is that working on commissions for both cricket figure drawings and portraits the predominant motive is always to get a good likeness. It’s something that I constantly battle with. When someone sits for a portrait then often they are still and expressionless so a likeness is easier to measure and work on. When they are in full movement and full of expression then they don’t always look like the person they are. In these cases the likeness comes from the body and the body language. Too often the clients struggle with that concept, expecting the face to look just like a portrait. It’s a continuous frustration with me as the artist. By working in abstract we move away from the ‘likeness battle’ and onto a much more personal interpretation.
The desire to produce a piece of abstract cricket art has been there for a few months but not a clue how to go about it. Flicking through an artist magazine I came across an American artist called Michele Poirier Mozzone who went on a similar abstract journey as myself. Wanting to work in abstract she spent 6 months trying to produce unfulfilling pieces that weren’t quite what she wanted. One day she took pictures of her daughter swimming from underwater up to the sunlight. The resulting photograph produced beautiful abstract colours slicing through the water with the safe realism of an actual figure to work with. It was perfect for her and set her on a new journey.
Reading her discoveries a clog clicked in my brain and I knew exactly what I wanted. I contacted Michele to check out some technical points and the drawing ‘Just in!’ became a reality.
Following Michele’s advice I produced a light oil paint wash which would show through subtlety the following pastel layers. It took a little longer to dry than I planned, the figure was painted a bit heavier and would not accept the first layers of pastel until a bit more drying time was taken.
My pastels and working area. For this drawing I was keen to use my new box of Unison pastels. Unfortunately I had purchased the pet portrait box so there was quite a few colours I wanted that weren’t there – looks like I’ll need to get another box 🙂 I also use Conte soft pastels, hard pastels and pastel pencils. All pastels are great but the reason that I use Conte is that the soft, hard and pencil all match so you can use exactly the same colour in all forms.
Some progress drawings.
I hope you like this drawing and its journey, prints are available click here to go to my shop and feel free to leave a comment….or check out more of my cricket art on my website
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.