Task Complete

A few weeks ago I set myself the task of drawing four different butterflies.

The reason was to try something different as up until now my main subjects for drawing were portraits of animals and birds.

Here are the completed butterflies:-

It took a little longer than I had planned and it was more challenging than expected. I definitely prefer drawing portraits of animals and birds. I just love capturing their facial expressions. With insects their is not that same connection.

It is now back to animal portraits with this Zebra and Cheetah. The Zebra is in color pencil and the Cheetah is in graphite and black color pencil.

Plodding On… But Distraction was Required!

More progress has been achieved with the butterflies. The Orange-tip Butterfly is finished but I would have to say it is not my best. Part of the problem has been the reference photograph which was not always easy to interpret in places. This was particularly true where the head of the butterfly meets the flower. Also, the green and white under-wing could be better.

Orange Tip Butterfly on a Bluebell flower
Orange Tip Butterfly on a Bluebell flower

As for the Painted Lady Butterfly… well that is coming on better but the foliage is fiddly as the photograph again was not the best.

Painted Lady Butterfly on a leaf

To make up for these disappointments I started another project. Here it is… a zebra. An easier drawing that is not too challenging!

Zebra… a work in progress.

All about the Foliage

I have completed two of the four butterflies that I had planned to do. It has taken way longer than expected due to a holiday and just stuff getting in the way!

Here is the Peacock in flight and the Ringlet hanging off a grass stock. I am happy with how both of them have turned out.

The other two butterflies were the Orange Tip and the Painted Lady. The Orange Tip is just about there. It still needs a bit of work done on the bluebell and the Painted Lady is coming along. This butterfly really does need the foliage to give it context as the pose is a bit weird without it. I had hoped to get away without drawing in any foliage but that would have been just laziness. It is the way the butterfly is resting on the foliage that explains why it has one wing up and one wing coming out at the side. I chose this image for the challenge of perspective but there is still a bit of work to do before I am totally happy with it.

The main problem is that the foliage is a proving to be fiddly and I am having to use artistic licence to interpret the image. Right now I need to focus but that is easier said than done!

A Last Holiday Before Autumn

Not much drawing over the last week as with autumn not that far away and with some good weather, the opportunity for one last trip up to the North East of Scotland was not to be missed.

Good to experience the walks and the arts that the town of Ballater has to offer. Here is a gallery of images.

Around the town of Ballater

Three Butterflies, a Decision and an Experiment

I aim to complete a set of four butterflies and so far I have started three of them. These are a Peacock, an Orange Tip and a Ringlet.

As you can see from above the peacock is almost finished, the Orange Tip is now well underway and I have begun the initial sketching out of the Ringlet.

As for the fourth… well I am thinking of drawing a Painted Lady. It would be a shame not to draw one when there have been so many of them flying about.

I have taken many photographs of these butterflies but I have narrowed the selection down to these three images. There is a temptation to draw the first on the left.

Painted Lady images

This pose of looking straight at the eyes is a bit different from the rest which makes drawing the four butterflies as a set, more interesting! But… it does not show a lot of butterfly… so, I am not sure!

Had I not got involved in a debate on the use of drafting film as a surface on which to draw on, I would have made much more progress on the butterflies.

The reason I was interested in the drafting film was that I had seen some incredible art produced on this surface, to the point that I was inspired to go and purchase some. The intention was to give it a go after I had completed the butterflies.

However on Instagram, someone I followed posted comments explaining that she too had initially been impressed with drafting film as a surface on which to draw on… but, after trying it, decided it was not for her. Following her comments, my curiosity got the better of me and I took the decision that it was time to have a go.

Here is my progress so far… I have chosen a Water Buffalo as this was an image that I had identified as wanting to draw for sometime. It comes from a collection of images produced by Jason Morgan.

It has been interesting and I still have quite a bit of work to do, particularly on his horns and his ears as well as refining some of the detail around the face.

Water Buffalo Work in Progress

As far as using drafting film as a surface goes… to be honest I cannot make up my mind. There are plus points but there are also negative points!

Before coming to a final conclusion… I will finish drawing him and undertake a couple of other projects! But those projects will have to wait until after the butterflies have been completed!

To Capture a Butterfly

Drawing butterflies has been start…stop, start…stop.

Yet this summer has been quite a year for butterflies! There has been quite an invasion of Painted Ladies this year.

A series of three Painted Ladies photographed in the garden.

These butterflies have made it all the way from Africa! Quite amazing!

Over the last few years I have seen quite a few different butterflies. Here are my favorites.

Orange Tip, Peacock, Green-Veined White, Painted Lady, Small Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Ringlet and Fritillary

Therefore with this in mind, I really should compete a butterfly!

My first attempt was part of a watercolor pencil demonstration which I never finished and then I started a second drawing but was not happy with the paper I was using.

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly watercolor pencil demonstration

My current attempt is this Peacock on Pastelmat and thankfully I am happy with the way this drawing is progressing.

Peacock butterfly work in progress

Here’s hoping I can finish it!

Tinkering with a Lion

Deciding when a drawing is finished can be a difficult judgement call!

I am undecided if the drawing below should be considered finished!

Looking at both the drawing on the paper and then the photograph of the drawing I can identify areas where I could do a bit more work to… but if I did do that… would it add any value to the drawing?

One area I am thinking of is the forehead on the left hand side but another part of me says that if you add too much graphite then there is a danger of making the whole piece look too grey!

Another area is his white beard… I feel that it is too white but again my fear is if I add too much graphite… it will then be too grey!

This was very much a practice piece where the purpose was to identify how well the water soluble graphite in the form of graphitone and sketching pencils worked with other materials including the paper surface which was Arches hot pressed watercolor paper.

I do like using the pencils but there is no doubt that to get the best out of the pencils you do have to carefully control how much water you add.

While I decide if this is finished, I will get on with other projects such as continuing with butterflies. In the UK this was quite a year for butterflies particularly Painted Ladies.

World Lion Day was Saturday 10th August 2019

“World Lion Day supports and promotes charities and foundations that instill awareness of the great need for conservation efforts and sustainable solutions for addressing the global dwindling world lion population”

To acknowledge World Lion Day I decided to post on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram the following image:-

I chose this early graphite sketch as it best reflected how I feel about the lack of a ban on Lion Trophy hunting imports both here in the UK and internationally. As part of the post I raised awareness of the “Change.org petition Ban lion trophy hunting into the UK” hoping people would go and add their signature to that cause. Since then I have discovered that there is also a similar petition in the US on “Keep The Ban on Importing Elephant and Lion Trophies“. Hopefully these petitions will be successful!

For more information why not visit the World Lion Day website .

Lions are my favorite Big Cat and despite having completed a few lion drawings… I decided to undertake another drawing but this time in graphite. I had previously done this chap in color and will at some point redo a version in color as since that last drawing I have adopted new techniques and my drawing skills have improved.

A work in progress of a graphite male lion
A work in progress of a graphite male lion

In addition to it being World Lion Day on the 10th, it was also World Elephant Day on the 12th August. I have only ever done a very rough elephant sketch as you can see below!

Elephant on smooth card: Source image in “Animals” by Lucy Swinburne

Elephants are tricky to draw but I think I am now ready for another go. When I will get the time… I have no idea!