Wednesday, 30 March 2011


When I came across the photograph of this big cat, I felt I just had to have a go at drawing it. Thoughout the process I've been thinking of this fine animal as a Cheetah, but I've been looking at other images on the net and am fairly sure this is a Leopard.

I know some of friends will tell me I shouldn't mention my mistakes but my blog, web site and art forum are aimed at beginners who may well find themselves in the same situation one day, so for them here are two things I could have dealt with better.

Firstly, I was working from a colour photo so I converted it to greyscale to help me get the tones correct. A leopards markings involve a brownish-goldy colour and black spots. By converting to grey, I lost the goldy colouring completely. Had I referred back to the colour version from time to time I would have noticed this. The second mistake was leaving the white whiskers until last. I completely forgot all about them and by the time I got to them they would have been difficult to do, so I opted for black whiskers.

I also used hard pencils for the first time. My normal selection is HB, 2B, 4B, 6B and 8B. For this drawing I  used 5H, 2H, HB and 6B. Fewer pencils but a broader range. I had expected the hard pencils to not produce a very black line but was pleasantly surprised.

Different pencils and two serious mistakes ... am I disappointed? No ... I am three more step along this wonderful journey of discovery.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Another portrait

Flushed with the success of my first portrait, and floating in the clouds on the back of the encouraging comments from my blogger friends, I've had a go at another one. John Wayne was my film hero back in my younger days, many lifetimes ago. I know he played many parts during his career but I always think of him as a cowboy.

While I have no intention of giving up on watercolours, I have to recognise how differently I feel when working with pencil. When painting I know I struggle. I find it difficult to make the paint do what I want it to do and although I've produced one or two passable pieces, they have been hard work and I've felt I've stumbled my way through each one. Pencil, on the other hand, feels comfortable to work with and I feel in control at all times. I feel I am at the limits of what I can do with watercolour, but I feel I am only just beginning to understand pencil and can take it a lot further.

What next? I've a long list of subjects I'm just itching to draw, so watch this space.

Friday, 4 March 2011

My first portrait

Captain Jack Sparrow
(Graphite on smooth Bristol Board)
I've been feeling reasonably pleased with my pencil work of late so decided it was time to step outside my comfort zone and attempt my first ever portrait. I confess to cheating slightly as I deliberately chose a subject that would be easily recogniseable even if I messed up some of the facial features. Captain JackSparrow was a good choice in that respect, but I won't be sorry of I never see another dreadlock as long as I live.

I used a full range of pencils, HB to 8B, on smooth surface Bristol Board (115lbs), as well as a kneadable putty eraser, Blu-tac and home-made blending stumps (must buy some proper tortilions one of these days - LOL).