Friday, 29 August 2008

Virtual Sketch Date - August

Here are my contributions to the August Virtual Sketch Date. From the reference photo I first used graphite pencil on a smooth Daler Rowney paper. I'd decided early on I wanted to use the indenting technique for the veins in the leaves. I drew the image freehand on to tracing paper, including the veins, then transferred it to the paper. I really enjoyed doing this one...

I enjoyed it so much I had to have another go. This time I used acrylics on Arches watercolour paper. I've never really used acrylics much before and treated them pretty much as I would watercolours, I think I mostly got away with it. The colour is a bit wrong I think but still cabbagy enough...

Really looking forward to seeing what the others have done with this. Many thanks to Sherrie Roberts for the original reference photo.

Burnby Hall Gardens

Earlier this week we took my old Mum to Burnby Hall Gardens, near Pocklington in Yorkshire (UK). Typically English Summer day - grey and windy - but the gardens were beautiful, and very wheelchair friendly so big thumbs up for that. I took some photographs, thinking they might make ref pics for future drawings...

Thursday, 28 August 2008


16cm x 16cm
Coloured Pencil on Paper

Actually this is "Braeburn Mk2" because I messed up the first version. I'd been reading about blending with solvents so decided to dive right in, the only solvent I have being some white spirit left over from decorating, I figured it would be near enough to turpentine, they all clean your brushes right? Needless to say it was horrible and smelly so I quickly abandoned that idea, for now anyway. When I've got the proper stuff I'll have another go, I've seen some great results. I've read about 'Zest-It' so I'll be on the lookout for that...

Saturday, 23 August 2008

I Did It With Mirrors

'I Did It With Mirrors'
17cm x 24cm
Pastel Pencils & Coloured Pencil on Paper
This seemed like a really good idea when I thought of it. Two eggs in plain egg cups on two mirrors. Turned out to be a bit of a mindbender, plus the fact I'd decided to try out a new medium - I've never used pastel pencils (or any other pastels for that matter) before this. Having said that I enjoyed doing it and I think bits of it work really well. I like the way the eggs came out, it's almost an airbrushed effect and I like bits of the background too. A bit disappointed with the egg cups, they are in fact white ceramic but look like stainless steel here. I think it's because I lost my nerve and opted for coloured pencil instead of sticking to pastel pencil... There's a softness about the pastel effect I like and I'll certainly be coming back to it.
Also decided to have a go at the August Virtual Sketch Date (link on the right) which should keep me busy for a while this week...

Sunday, 17 August 2008


I don't use my sketchbooks nearly as much as I should. Today I just wanted to try doing something a bit 'looser' than I normally would, less controlled and done quickly. This was done with a HB carbon pencil in about 5 to 10 minutes. I'm unfamiliar with carbon pencils so that helped force me into a looser style.

All the drawings I do are from life. I have yet to use reference photographs but I'm sure I will, I just haven't got around to it yet. I've read some artists get a bit sniffy about using ref photos which seems a bit unnecessary and a bit elitist, as if the drawing doesn't count as much because it's not drawn from life. I have no idea where that came from, it just occured to me...

Jar on Blue

'Jar on Blue'
12cm x 19.5cm
Coloured Pencil on Paper
Real life has been getting in the way a bit this week so I've not done as much drawing as I'd wanted to. Having a day job is a pain in the rear but a necessary evil, it just means I don't always feel like drawing when I get home.
Anyway, managed to get this sort of done, I still don't know if my 'finished' is properly finished. Yes, I could fiddle around with this for a few more hours but I don't think it will really make any difference. I'm almost okay with this one, I still see parts I'm not happy with (the ellipse on the jar is screaming at me), but there are other parts I like, small details on the jar and bits of the shading of the blue cloth aren't bad. I think it's a micro step forward...
Also I tried some new pencils on this one, Derwent Coloursoft pencils. I think I'm going to like these. I've also purchased some Faber Castell Polychromos pencils which I've yet to try (thank god for credit cards!). This was done on Daler Rowney Heavy Weight paper 135lbs, very smooth surface. Might try a rougher surfaced paper next time. Obviously I'm still in a very experimental stage, I don't really know what works for me yet, but I kind of like that...

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Mortar & Pestle

'Mortar & Pestle'

21cm x 27cm

Water soluble Graphite Pencil on Paper

Enjoyed working with these new pencils, used on the body of the mortar and pestle as a kind of underpainting then I worked in graphite over the top. Shadows on the white cloth I used a stump to blend with. I think this technique has a lot of potential for me.

I've also joined the 'Starving Artists' site - there should be a link on the right... The same stuff that's on here basically but it might attract more readers...

Saturday, 9 August 2008


24cm x 17cm
Watercolour and Coloured Pencil on Paper
Tried something a bit different for this one. I used a very loose watercolour underpainting on the onions, I think its helped with the density of the colour.
I'm still doing a lot of experimenting with different techniques and products. I'm using Derwent Artist coloured pencils at the moment but I'm still not sure how much I like them, they feel a bit hard and scratchy sometimes. What I'm after is a soft coloured pencil. I've also just bought some Derwent Pastel Pencils so I'll be trying them out fairly soon, and some water soluble graphite sketching pencils. Used them yesterday and will post the results later...

Tuesday, 5 August 2008


18cm x 25cm
Coloured pencil on Paper
This is another piece just completed. Well, I say completed but now I look at the scan I see how crude the drawing really is, it doesn't come across that way in real life - or maybe it does and I can't see it.
I'm finding at the moment my drawings are "almost there", I think the basic drawing is okay but the execution is letting them down. But then I suppose that comes with practice. I learn a bit more with each drawing which I know is a good thing. In this one I like that there is more colour, particularly with a background colour and I need to develop that a lot more. The background is really rough and I now wish I'd taken more time over it.
It's definitely a steep learning curve, which is something this blog is (and will be) good for. I hope in months (years?) to be able to look back and see that I've progressed...

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Blue Glass

'Blue Glass'
21cm x 17cm
Coloured Pencil on Cartridge Paper

This is my 'Blue Glass' piece, as finished as I can make it. I'm still not sure I'm entirely satisfied with it, I know where I made my mistakes. That's a good thing. Having said all that there are some things I do like about it, I think the shapes of the bottles themselves are good and the glass appears solid yet transparent.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Blue Glass

I started a coloured pencil drawing last night, two small blue glass bottles. After a bit more than an hour into it I started to have doubts - it's not working. For a couple of minutes I was very close to abandoning it, but then I didn't. Not sure why. Maybe I'll still be able to salvage it, I think there are parts that could work well...but will I still focus on the bit I'm not really happy with?

I've also been thinking about the subjects we choose to draw or paint. I've looked at many, many artists websites (probably too many, when I should have been drawing), and there are some fantastic people working out there - clever, talented, inspirational artists. There seem to be a recurring number of "must do" subjects - like coloured peppers, marbles, glass bottles (!) to name but a few. I'm finding myself drawn (sorry) to still life subjects/objects so there probably wont be any surprise when a red, green or yellow pepper pops up here.

Back to the glass bottles then...