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.