This is the second portrait of Harley I have had the privilege of drawing. The first was a graphite which I finished in January. After seeing the graphite piece her family also wanted one in colour but from a different photo.
As you know, I LOVE drawing curls. Cockerpoos have lots of these so her portrait was one I got lost in :D. She’s now at my framers being mounted so will be soon off to her home and I can’t wait to see photos of her framed and on their wall <3.
I like trialing new art materials and working out what works with my techniques. I have used colour pencils for many years and used to use Zest It to blend. When I had to change my paper choice I found that the Zest It made the new paper quite slippery. I was using Fabriano hot pressed 140lb watercolour paper but something happened during the production where from what I have been told. So I trialled many paper… many papers! and finally stuck with Strathmore. It is much smoother but works well for how I work.
Burnishing to blend colour pencil can really be tedious on your wrist and fingers. Long term it isn’t ideal. So I have been thinking about getting another blending medium a go and this time have purchased some Mona Lisa Odourless Paint Thinner. So far so good! I am really pleased. It hasn’t created that slippery feel over the top of the colour pencil so that is one good thing I have found.
For this test piece I went and practised on a lovely little Blue Tit reference photo taken by Russ Bridges. I do not intend on working any more on this actual one as I want to re-sketch the entire image. I shall admit something… I actually measured my lines wrong… WOOPS! Those graphite lines are meant to be 5″ x 7″ and I must have been half asleep because is 1 inch to short! So I decided to just do a little sketch piece instead before completing the full project :). Time was ticking on this as I slotted this in on a spare hour I had at the end of yesterday. I shall let you know how I get on with the full project 😀
There are many aspects about my job that I love. Everyday is slightly different. I get to draw such a variety of breeds and animals. Where I use various mediums for one portrait I could be using graphite and then the other in colour. All of these things really do contribute to just one of the reasons why I feel lucky to call it my job.
I have been wanting to start this pastel portrait for months. Four beautiful dogs on a custom size piece of 30cm x 55cm. A specific layout which was previously designed in my photo editing software to make sure the sizes and ratio between each dog was right. Fine adjustments are easy to make during the design process and sometimes I can create many layouts, tweaking where needed until we get something which is spot on and accurate.
Putting in, for some cases, hours of work prepping pieces such as this is worth it. Make all these changes before you put a pencil to paper will make life so much easier in the long run. No erasing of lines, stressing about it when you are wanting to progress on the piece itself. Preserving your paper is important. You want it to be clean and in perfect condition.
Poppy is the first of the four pets. I do tend to work from left to right so she was first in line. One thing about these beautiful dogs is they all have stunning eyes. The colour and how they have been captured in the references is beautiful.
As you know, I love drawing against a black background. I really enjoy the contrast it creates and how the subjects pop. The addition of two of Levi’s favourite toys really balance out this portrait. He has such expressive eyes and the colour and reflection where a real pleasure to capture. Levi’s portrait will be heading off home in the USA! His parents have been mentioned the mount and frame they think they have chosen so I cannot wait to see what they decide. – – – – – A3 (11.7″ x 16.5″) Pastel Drawing
Why is graphite such a good medium? Graphite was the very first medium I practised in when I was a child. I guess from the age I could hold a pencil you could say I had always wanted to scribble on anything … Likely walls as well much to my mums delight I’m sure haha.
– Cheapest option.. Great place to start If anyone is looking to start creating, drawing etc graphite is a fantastic medium to get practising with. It’s probably the cheapest medium to get started with and you don’t have to be so exact on quality of materials. Graphite is graphite unlike colour pencils where you have to worry about lightfast ratings and longevity. So that is a massive bonus.
– What materials should you buy? * Pencils – Any set of graphite pencils will do. Ultimately you can create the same effect but the more expensive recognosied brands for artists such as Faber Castell 9000 and Derwent Graphic have nice wood casings and no ‘nuggets’. What I mean by this is sometimes you get like a small bit of grit which if using your pencils hard enough may scratch your paper. Even when this has happened with a pencil I have used I haven’t ever damaged my paper. But it is something to be aware of. All you need to do is sharpen your pencil to get rid of this and you’re back working. * Paper – This falls to personal choice in many instances. You can be a lot less picky with your paper for graphite than you can colour pencils or pastels. I know some artists like a bit of tooth to their paper but I personally like something a little smoother. I use Strathmore paper and use the smoother side of their paper in the pads. The other side is ever so slightly more textured; more tooth. It’s said that the more tooth with enable you to get your darks darker. But the way work I haven’t found it to be an issue. * Blending tools – For beginners just want to have a play with graphite you can buy a set of paper stumps also known as paper tortillions. These work great. Cotton buds which most households keep are also a good thing to use. For larger areas tissue works or a car Chamois.
A must have for me spoken in other blog posts is graphite powder.. Have a search on my website with the magnifying glass for graphite powder and I have a few different posts showing work and covering in more detail how I use it. My Rhino is a perfect demonstration of this. The full time lapse video of this will be posted on tomorrows blog post.
I have been busy creating some new video thumbnails. These are mainly for my YouTube channel to make it easier and clearer to navigate and see exactly what you’re watching. They are a little time consuming so I tend to make a couple at a time.
Nel’s close up :D. Click the above thumbnail if you’d like to watch the full time lapse. I have one other video where I have chosen an area of Nel to focus on showing you how I created the fur.
I have over 100 videos over at my YouTube channel. I am really pleasantly surprised how many views some of my videos have got and the lovely comments and feedback. So thank you to everyone for all the support 🙂
I have a selection of limited edition prints available :). This is one from the British wildlife series and what the sunset background is one of my favourites. – Original available – Feel free to contact me for more information. More details can be found over at my ‘Artwork for Sale’ page.
‘ On the Pr-Owl ‘ Limited edition run of 150 Giclée prints on 300gsm on fine art, archival quality paper. Each print will come professionally mounted/matted. Print size: 8″ x 10″ Mount size: 11″ x 14″ Ready to fit in a standard size frame
As are all my pieces of artwork from pet portraits to wildlife I only use the highest quality materials that are lightfast and made to last. The prints will be of the same excellent quality. Each print will be hand signed and will come with a certificate of authenticity.
£35 (£5 P&P within UK) – – – – Barn Owl Reference photograph taken by Craig Maisfield Sunset and foreground from multiple references