Foxes in Colour – Work in Progress

From my recently completed charcoal drawings I have chosen to create coloured versions of the cub and the vixen. Here are images comparing the progress of the colour drawings with the charcoal versions.

Collage of four images that show a fox cub in colour and charcoal plus a vixen in colour and charcoal
mother and cub_ work in progress. Comparing the colour versions with the charcoal versions.

For the vixen I decided to concentrate on the head and shoulders as I really wanted to focus in on her expression. I just wonder what she is thinking!

Whatever it is, I still have a long way to go before the coloured drawings are finished.

Foxy Inspiration

There was a time when it was rare and therefore exciting to encounter a wild fox!

This was a drawing of a red fox that I did earlier in the year:-

Now they are so common and therefore easy to watch. I can see them when going out for a walk in the evening or even during the day.

A neighbour has been feeding them making it easier to photograph them. Numbers vary from a patient solitary fox to about seven depending on the number of cubs that are born.

Here is a gallery of the best fox images that I have managed to capture on camera.

Collage of nine images showing local foxes
Local foxes

These images are being used as the inspiration for charcoal sketches.

Here are the sketches I have completed so far!

Collage of four images showing different members of a fox family.
Different members of a fox family.

I will continue the foxy theme for a bit longer as capturing different aspects of Fox behaviour is a challenge that I cannot resist. But, I will also try drawing a couple in colour.

Interpreting Through Charcoal

I am really enjoying using charcoal!

It is great to go in light and smudge away or go in heavy and create that depth of shadow.

Having completed my drawing of a fox cub in charcoal, I have now added a drawing of the vixen plus a horse called Chester and a Red Deer. The Red Deer was very “obliging” by looking back and pausing long enough for me to photograph him.

None of the reference shots are ideal but good enough to sketch from.

Here are my sketches in charcoal and down below are the reference shots that I used.

Charcoal sketches of a fox cub, vixen, Horse and Deer
Charcoal sketches
Collage of 4 images showing a fox cub, vixen, horse and deer
You can see the four images are not the best reference material to draw from! Nevertheless the process was a useful exercise!

My favourite two drawings are of the foxes!

Capturing the Spontaneous

I like to take a camera wherever I go but lugging around a large camera, long lenses and a tripod is for me, not ideal. My preference is to have a camera that I can fit into my pocket.

Although the camera in my phone is extremely good, I still prefer to have a separate mini compact camera that has some form of zoom lens.

I accept that it is not going to give me the results that a DSLR is going to give me but the weight and bulk of carrying a DSLR is at times not practical.

For me the ease of portability creates the opportunity to capture the moment.

Yes, I will get shots that are blurred, which will be viewed by many as poor reference material but it is then up to me to translate what I have captured onto paper.

For this, I will initially use charcoal and start off lightly to begin with and at this stage all I am aiming to do, is to capture the form of the subject. That involves teasing out what the blurry lines mean. It may take a lot of erasing before I am happy with the final form but that is OK.

Here is a drawing of a young fox that has been taken from a blurred photo.

It has come out well and I will now go on to review all my recent photos to select the ones that have enough detail from which to work from.

Where need be, I will use other reference materials to refine the details. Eg. the shape of the nose or maybe the mouth.

Once I am happy with the results I will go on to create versions in colour.

I am looking forward to seeing the young fox in colour.

North West Coast Inspiration

Recently, I completed another trip in the Campervan up to the North West Coast of Scotland. The area explored was from Tayvallich in Argyle to Mallaig, North of Fort William. An area of beautiful coastlines and stunning hillsides and Lochs.

Nine images of the North West Coast of scotland
The image in the top centre shows the boats at Mallaig Harbour. Mallaig is situated at the end of the West Highland Railway and the end of the road that is often described as the ‘Road to the Isles’. From here you can get a ferry over to the West Coast Islands.
The image in the very centre describes the first thing that residents used to do on their return to the Isle of Seil where there is now a bridge. This bridge is often described as ‘The Bridge over the Atlantic’ as the sea completely surrounds this area of land. Growing on the bridge is the rare, but very pretty Fairy Foxglove.
The other images above show views around the coastline… with the two top corner shots taken from the far side of the isle while along the bottom are the rocks at Arisaig near Mallaig, a boat anchored off Crinan and a campsite at Oban.
Nine images taken in the Taynish Nature Reserve and on the Crinan Canal
Above are views from within Taynish National Nature Reserve and around the Crinan Canal, Argyle, Scotland
A collage showing nine different images representative of the colours and textures found on walks up the North West Coast
Different colours and textures are shown above that were encountered on walks up the North West Coast including the deep pink of Foxgloves, the wispy white strands of cotton grass, the browns, greens and greys of the fungi, lichens, moss bark and leaves of the trees. Also, not forgetting the delicate pink of the orchid and the white of what I think is a type of wild rose.
Nine images showing the residents of the North west
The collage above shows the residents of the North West that were prepared to stay still long enough to get their photograph taken. A White Butterfly, Cows, an Earwig, Red Deer, Toad and evidence of the shellfish of the coast …Cockle and Periwinkle.
The Ringed Plover was a sad story as despite the best efforts to alert visitors to the area of the presence of eggs, the birds still abandoned their nest.
Nine images illustrating the thought provoking art in the Taynish Nature Reserve and the interesting art of Fraser MacIvor along with his canal side residence.
Thought provoking art on display in the Taynish Nature Reserve as well as the interesting canal side residence of Fraser MacIvor.

Sadly, all too soon it comes to an end and you have no choice but to come back to “normal”.

Sunset looking over between the isle of Rhum and Skye
Sunset looking over between the isle of Rhum and Skye

Continuing with Black

Having now completed my Barn Owl, I am continuing with black backgrounds. There are a number of reasons for this:-

  • Firstly I have a good supply of black paper
  • As explained in an earlier post I enjoyed using just white and black to create the deer.
  • As it is less time consuming, it is good to do when the weather is too good to sit inside and draw. It is the type of project you can take with you

Here is the deer that I completed and a Badger that I have started:-

Should have a Hare and a version of the Barn Owl to add to this little gallery.

For interest this is the completed Barn Owl

Portrait of a Barn Owl

Can black be too black?

After having been out enjoying the warm weather, I have now finally finished my Tawny Owl and very close to finishing the Barn Owl but I have another dilemma. As both owls are nocturnal, I decided to use pan pastel to create a night time background for the Tawny Owl. Despite the use of several layers of the black pastel the background has come out a bit too patchy for my liking. I am considering whether it is worth going over it again… but would a uniform black be authentic as the night air is not a constant black. Should I just leave it patchy?

Coming to a decision has implications for how I decide to finish the barn owl. I am now wondering if I should just leave the barn owl on the dark grey which is the colour of the paper!

Is a very black background too black and a dark grey more accurate?

What is worth pointing out is that looking at both images of the owls on my screen it would almost seem as though there was no difference…it may vary with different viewers screens… therefore perhaps I am worrying about nothing and the important outcome is that whatever I decide… I should be consistent!

When the sun shines…

With fine sunny weather it was important to make the most of it. The campervan was packed up with all the necessary essentials plus drawing materials and my partner and I headed for Port William on the Galloway coast, Scotland. With extensive rocky shores to explore, it was difficult to fit in any drawing time.

There was an array of colours and textures to record but little time to sit and draw them. As always I had my trusty camera to capture these views and store them in preparation for sketching when there is more time … probably during cold, dark winter months.

20 images illustrating colours and textures from the coast
Collage illustrating colours and textures from the coast