Monday, 27 September 2010


Sorry I haven't posted for such a long while. I started one piece which ended up in the bin and i'm now working on two more ATCs but haven't done a scan of my progress, I may just do the finished pieces. I've also been working on other things, photography (of course) and some crochet. I need to decide on my next larger piece and get it started before the days get much shorter. I really don't like this time of year for that very reason, although I love crisp autumn days and cold frosty ones too. But indoors, when darkness falls so early............not good for drawing!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010


My cat ATC finished. 'Rigsby' is for a private trade with a fellow artist and Flickr friend who is doing me a barn owl based on Soren, one of the owls in the Ga'hoole fantasy series. I've actually seen my barn owl already - he is beautiful and I will be delighted to have him as my first ATC.
Rigsby is on Clairefontaine Pastelmat in Faber Castell Polychromos and Prismacolors, 2.5"x3.5"

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Cat ATC wip

My first attempt at an ATC (Artists Trading Card) for a swap with an artist friend in America who is doing me a lovely barn owl based on the owl Soren from the Ga'hoole fantasy series. ATCs must be 2.5" x 3.5" and it is really hard for me to get the detail I like in such a small size, even using my optivisor. Quite a lot more work needed on this one to build colour to get some depth - though I'm reasonably happy with her eyes. It is on Clairefontaine Pastelmat and I'm using various coloured pencils, but mainly FC Polychromos and a few Prismacolors.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

snow leopard completed

This is scanned, so hopefully the colours are more accurate. As you can see I have altered the crop, mainly because I couldn't get the paper to take any more pastel and I felt the fur on his body didn't look quite right.
I've added more white and dark grey, some light touches of pinky brown and peach to the fur and a hint of grey to his eyes.
I will definitely use velour again, but must get some soft pastels for the early layers and just use the pencils for detail, then naybe I will get better coverage.

Monday, 26 July 2010

A little progress

I've not had much time for art in the last few days but did a little on the snow leopard today. I'm finding him harder now, the softer fluffy looking fur is proving tricky.
I've darkened some areas on his head and lightened others and put in his whiskers - they don't show up as well as I'd like. Hopefully the next time I post, he'll be finished.
I'm taking photos of the wips rather than scanning and I notice that the colour is looking different on each one due to the different light and time of day that I've taken the photo. I shall have to decide whether to risk scanning the final one or if I'll just play around with the colour to get it as close as possible. Even scanning doesn't reproduce the picture perfectly.

Monday, 19 July 2010

snow leopard work in progress 3

I was able to spend some time drawing this morning while waiting in for a delivery, usually such a sunny day would have had me grabbing the camera and departing for the forest - especially as last week the weather was so bad.
Anyway, he is progressing quite nicely I think and even Clive has said it is good!! This one might even be framed and hung on my wall.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Snow Leopard progress

I'm happy with the way this picture is progressing - at the moment anyway! Today I've added some basic shading for his fur and done more work on his mouth, teeth and muzzle. I would have got more done, but had unexpected visitors. Probably a good thing, making me put it to one side and give some thought to the next stage, instead of rushing it, which is what usually happens.

Friday, 16 July 2010

snow leopard on velour

I hadn't realised how long it's been since my last post - I've been out and about taking photographs, making the most of the spell of hot weather. Today I made a start on the snow leopard, he is in pastel pencil on velour paper. It is an odd surface to work on and my initial impression is that it won't take many layers, nor will I be able to get much detail. This maybe due to me using pastel pencils - I think that soft pastels would be better for the early layers and only using the pencil for fine detail. I have been think about buying some soft pastels for a while but haven't got around to doing an order. I'm working from a photograph that I took last year at Marwell Zoo - their snow leopard is old but still magnificent - though I have added back his missing top tooth!

Sunday, 13 June 2010


Here is Ruby, completed but for the mount and frame, ready to give to my sister. I have found drawing Ruby quite emotional - my sister is in residential care and it is unlikely that she will even recognise Ruby. I will just be glad if the picture can give her even a small amount of pleasure.
In the end I used pastel pencil for the background on the reverse of the drafting film - which nearly ended in disaster. The first layer went on fine, I blended it with a tissue and then attempted to add a lighter colour on top - it wouldn't blend! I eventually rubbed hard with my finger and it blended enough to not look too bad.
I shall have a break for a couple of days before starting my next piece. I think I'm going to do a snow leopard, using a photo I took at Marwell last year. The plan is to use pastels on velour paper which I haven't tried before.

more of ruby

Several hours yesterday and an hour or so this morning have brought me to this stage and I'm relieved to say that it is going quite well. It actually looks better in reality - even my husband says it's looking good and I don't often get praise from him!
Now onto her neck and chest, then the background, then mounting and framing ready for my sister's birthday.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Ruby wip 3

I've made reasonably good progress today and I feel that Ruby is now coming along nicely. I'm working on both sides of the film which I hope will add a bit of depth to the fur. As I work I am making small changes here and there to the work I've already done, a bit more colour on the inside of the ears, a slight darkening of the eye rims.
I have given some thought to the background - if I decide to do one I think I shall use Prismacolors as they blend easily and I will add it on the reverse of the film.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

ear ear

Ruby is making very slow progress but at least she now has both her ears! It is a long while since I have worked on drafting film and I don't remember struggling with it like I am with this portrait. Maybe it is because I am using different pencils - polychromos - I don't know but it is frustrating. I can't give up and start over for the second time as my sister's birthday is fast approaching. Fingers crossed I will make better progress tomorrow.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Ruby 1

After a few busy days I finally got back to the drawing board. I began this new version of my sister's cat a few days ago, I was busy on it this afternoon when I remembered I hadn't done any scans. So you are seeing it a bit further on than my usual first wip - probably about 6 hours work so far, excluding the line drawing.

This is on Polydraw 050 double matt drafting film, using Faber Castell Polychromos. Black paper behind the film as I work and for the scan.

Already I am finding it difficult - with the polychromos I am finding it hard to get more than a three layers which isn't giving the depth of colour I would like. With the eyes I have worked on the reverse of the film to overcome this. Now I'm getting to the part I dread; choosing which colours to use for the fur. The colours in the photograph I had printed look way too bright and garish so I am toning them down quite a bit, referring to the computer for the colours and the photograph for the precise detail. I am using my new Optivisor for the first time, it is very helpful but at present gives me a headache after just a short time. I guess it is similar to having a new pair of glasses!

Monday, 31 May 2010

parrot workshop piece

This post was meant to be the first stage of Ruby, my sister's cat, but after spending about six hours working and getting increasingly frustrated I have decided to scrap it and begin again on a different support.
Giving myself a break before restarting I have finished off the little parrot from my last workshop.
He is in Derwent Coloursoft pencils, 6.5" x 9" on cream mountboard.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Parrot workshop

Today was my second workshop with artist Karen Coulson. Our small class worked on this parrot with lots of helpful instruction from Karen. This is as far as I got in the two hours, I do work slowly and rushed this a bit in places to try and keep up. I will try and finish this over the next couple of days. Then I must get some photos taken of my sister's cat, get some prints done and begin work.
This is in Derwent Coloursoft pencils on mountboard.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

The Churchyard Cat

A few more hours work since the last post and here he is, finished.
As usual, the hardest part was rendering the fur. I had thought it might be easier in pastels but no such luck and I'm still not getting the realistic effect I would like. A little later this year one of my favourite artists is bringing out some 'how to draw fur' instruction packs; I'm hoping these will help me overcome my difficulties.
I have another art workshop this week, this time working on a parrot - that will probably me my next blog update - unless I get time to play with my new Derwent Graphitint pencils which arrived in the post today. I found them half price while looking for something else online and couldn't resist such a bargain.

Friday, 14 May 2010

More on the churchyard cat

Here is the next stage of 'the churchyard cat'. Overall, I'm happy with how it is developing. It isn't going to be perfect - by a long way - but I do feel I'm learning and improving. I did a comparison with the original on the computer after I uploaded this wip and it isn't too far off - I overlay the original photograph over my drawing and then use the transparency brush to reveal the drawing underneath. I find it a good way to see where I have gone wrong. In this case I have somehow got the left ear slightly off but everything else is pretty much as it should be. I probably spent about 4 hours on this today, yesterday I only did about half an hour - and that was to try and improve the nose.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Churchyard Cat - work in progress

Well, here's my second posting of the 'churchyard cat'. I know his nose isn't right so I'll need to try and alter it tomorrow. I feel I'm muddling through this piece rather, only having used the pastel pencils once before and then I followed a tutorial. I'm unsure of how many layers to put down and what colours. Why do I always have so much difficulty picking colours! Still, it is all practice and experience.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The Churchyard Cat

Stopping at the local churyard one day in February to try and get photos of a green woodpecker I saw instead a pretty cat. Obviously 'Mister Yaffle' wasn't going to show himself while puss was around so I settled for some photos of him instead, hence this latest drawing. There is a line drawing on the paper but it's almost impossible to see even for me except in the right light. So very early days on this piece but it will be quicker than usual as I finally decided to try my pastel pencils again. I may have to put this to one side as today I've been asked to draw my sister's cat as a present for her birthday. I've already decided that it will be in coloured pencil so will take some time. I plan to use Faber Castell Polychromos on Langton 300gsm HP white paper. First though, I have to take some reference photos and get them printed so I will continue with my 'churchyard cat' until then.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

cat's eye in graphite

Today I spent a couple of hours on this cat's eye in graphite - from a tutorial by Lisandro Pena Interesting to work on but I don't think I'll do a full size piece in graphite - much as I love graphite work by others, I found it messy and prefer working in colour. My next piece is nearly on the drawing board, I've done the initial sketch and just need to transfer it to my support. I haven't quite decided whether to use coloured pencils or pastel pencils - or maybe a combination.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Tiger's eye workshop

I've deepened the colours with several more layers. I'm beginning to find it easier to see where I've gone wrong - here the tiger's eye is slightly too small and not quite the right shape. Overall though, for a quick piece I'm happy with it.
My optivisor has arrived so I'm hoping that I will find my next piece easier to work on.
I've also booked a place on Karen Coulson's next workshop, which will be a parrot.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

tiger's eye workshop

Yesterday I attended a two hour workshop at a local library, our tutor was Karen Coulson a successful local artist. The piece the group worked on was this tiger's eye, taken from an amazing original drawing by Karen.
Only having two hours meant it was hard work but I'm pleased with what I achieved in the time. I shall continue with this piece to get more depth. It's small - approx 5" x 3" and is in Derwent Coloursoft pencils on mountboard.
I still haven't decided what larger piece to do next. I shall get some photo refs printed at large size and then see which one attracts me most.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

amur leopard with a little more work

After some constructive criticism from my cp group the leopard went back on the drawing board. I've made a few small adjustments over the last few days and hope there is an improvement.

Now to decide on my next piece - I have two or three in mind.

Monday, 12 April 2010

completed amur leopard

I've spent a few hours today completing this picture. As I thought, not happy with the final result but there are things I like about it. Her eyes and nose!
I have booked myself a place on a two hour workshop in a couple of weeks time, I am hoping for some useful hints and tips. I would love to know how best to render fur!
I haven't decided on my next piece, but I don't think I'll use the pastelmat.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

More on the Amur

I didn't get any colour suggestions yet so decided to get reckless and wade in anyway. I've added some Derwent Studios and FC Polychromos to the mix, I couldn't get what I wanted from the Prismacolors.

When I began drawing I thought that eyes / noses / mouths were the hardest, now however I think it's fur! This is because when I started my fur looked so unrealistic. It isn't much better now - but at least I know that, lol. Still lots to do on this leopard, I do think she is progressing reasonably well but I already know I'm not going to be satisfied with the finished picture. Working on a piece this small has been really difficult for me - how artists do miniatures and get amazing detail I have no idea! Part of the problem I think is the surface, I'm almost certain that I won't used the pastelmat for coloured pencils again (I prefer a smoother surface) but will try it for pastels at some point. But probably with my vision difficulties I will be better sticking to larger pictures, easier for me to see what I'm doing though of course things will take longer to complete, which I find frustrating. Patience, patience........

Friday, 9 April 2010

Colour choices

I've having trouble with colour choices - I usually do! I have asked for some advice in my cp group and will wait to see what suggestions they have before I continue. I know that I don't 'see' things as an artist should, but I am trying hard to really study colour and form. I guess that after a full year away from drawing I must expect to be almost back to square one, and actually it's not as bad as it could be, *smile*.
Of the work I did today, most is ok, but the neck fur needs some work! I was trying for a softer looking fur and tomorrow I will try using either a stump or just a scrunched up tissue to blend the colours more so the lines aren't as obvious. At the bottom left of the picture, what I thought was dark fur, is actually part of the background - I have darkened all the background area in that spot to cover up this mistake!

Thursday, 8 April 2010


..........with the bridge of her nose. This is the fur I find hardest to get right, it's short, slightly bristly and I have no idea how to create that effect with the pencils. Oh for some proper lessons.

As always when I'm having trouble I moved on and began putting down colour for the dark 'spots' in her fur. Yes, I know that yesterday I said it would be the lighter fur but somehow it just seems best to do it this way. At least I think she is now beginning to look like a leopard.

I was reading the site of cp artist Christina Langman at Big Cat Art yesterday, she has some amazing big cat portraits and a superb tutorial -parts of which I am using to get help with this piece but the tutorial uses a smooth paper so it isn't ideal - but for my next piece I think it will be invaluable. One of the big cat portraits took her 400 hours to complete!! Such patience and dedication. I should have a mantra and repeat it night and morning, "I must take my time, I must slow down", lol. And on another blog I read an old post which is also relevant for me. I easily get disheartened and think my work is rubbish and that I will never improve. This blog post said that natural talent, while useful, is NOT the most important thing - hard work, dedication, practise, practise and more practise is what counts. I'm encouraged by the thought that if I do that, I will improve. So no more self pitying, "I can't", I must go back to my Learning to Draw book and work through the exercises from the beginning again. Enough rambling, hopefully back tomorrow.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

slow progress

Instead of racing along I am trying very hard to take this one slowly. My biggest fault when drawing is rushing and wanting to see the piece finished.
Here I have done a lot more layers on the eyes and most of the work on the nose. Unfortunately my initial line drawing has all but disappeared, I don't really know why as it didn't happen with the little cat drawing. In an effort to add back some of the lines I have managed to get a dent in the surface. Whether it will notice on the finished piece I don't know. This is all trial and error!
My next step is to start on the lighter coloured fur. I'm still undecided whether to put all the light in and then add the dark, or do it all as I go and work from top left to bottom right. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

amur leopard

Striking while the iron is hot I have made a start on my next picture. This Amur Leopard is from a photograph I took at Marwell Zoo during 2009. I was lucky enough to be able to zoom in on her face and avoid the wire fencing. This is again on Clairefontaine pastelmat but I'm using my favourite Prismacolor pencils. It is the smallest piece I've done, being just 7" x 5". The eyes already have a few very light layers but still a long way to go. I upped the contrast a little after scanning in the hope that you would be able to see the outline but it is very faint. It is the right way up though, in case you were wondering - the leopard was lying on her side.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Finished, I think!

I have done quite a lot more work and I think I've finished. I say think because I know what I'm like and over the next few days I may well make some changes/additions. There's a lot wrong with it but for my first attempt after a year I'm reasonably happy. A sense of satisfaction to complete it.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

First layer of fur

I'm plodding on with the tabby cat, still finding the pastelmat an unfamiliar support to work on. I don't actually dislike it but it is very different, particularly as I was getting used to working on drafting film which is so smooth and the pastelmat is like a sanded surface. I have to remember to keep sharpening my pencils! The light has been bad for working, so wet out it makes indoors very gloomy.
Although I'm not happy with this piece it will be worth finishing it. I'm really hoping it will get me back on track. I'll never be able to work for hours at a time again as I find my eyes get sore and start watering after a fairly short time. But short spurts will be better than nothing.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

he now has a nose

A quick post just to show that I haven't given up! I did a little more on the eyes and started his nose - I'm sure when I look at it tomorrow I will decide it need more work.

Thursday, 25 March 2010


I'm finding the pastelmat very different to any other support that I've tried. This piece will be trial and error - I may even try the tutorial again once I'm used to the surface and know a bit more what I'm doing. So far, the eyes are far from being right - more work needed. I have to find out if there is a way to erase / lift colour from the pastelmat. I'm finding it quite hard to make the colours look blended, again something I have to find out about. Even if it turns out to be rubbish, I will try to finish this!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Back with a tabby cat

It's been a long time! I really thought that 2009 was going to be good year for my drawing. Instead, I did nothing at all. In March I was diagnosed with a posterior vitreous detachment in my left eye. It has left me with hazy vision and floaters and coupled with my extremely poor vision it makes it difficult to see fine detail. I've also spent a lot of time on photography!Still, I'm going to try again and I'm starting with a tutorial piece of a sweet tabby cat by Pauline Longley. I'm trying a new support - Clairefontaine Pastelmat and mainly Derwent Coloursoft pencils with a few Prismacolors thrown in. As you can see, not a lot done yet - I've just transferred the line drawing to the grey pastelmat. At least my scanner still works!