You Need to feel the Love… Conclusions from an Ongoing Experiment!

With my latest projects virtually complete, it was time to go back to an earlier experiment.

This is the completed Water Buffalo drawing that I posted a few weeks back. The surface used was Drafting Film as it had been recommended as worthwhile.

Water Buffalo portrait on Drafting Film

At the time I was undecided as to whether this drawing surface would benefit me.

I started another drawing on drafting film. This time it is a highland cow:-

Highland Cow work in progress on Drafting Film

I am not feeling the love for drafting film!

The reason I was interested in exploring other surfaces is that the one I currently use is pastelmat by Clairefontaine. It is a good surface but it is designed mainly for pastels and grinds color pencils down very quickly. Therefore it becomes very expensive as color pencils are not cheap!

As I was skeptical about the drafting film, I went back to another paper which I had bought but hardly used… this was a watercolor paper by Arches. I used it for the Zebra which is now finished.

Portrait of Zebra
Portrait of Zebra on Arches watercolor paper

I am feeling the love for this paper!

I find the Arches paper acts in a similar way to the pastelmat but does not grind pencils down too quickly. With pastelmat I feel you are adding layers just to fill in the tooth of the paper which in my view is a waste of pigment.

As for the drafting film…you can build up layers… my conclusion is that it was interesting to try and will use up what I have but I am unlikely to buy anymore. Hard to explain but I am just not feeling it!

For me the Arches watercolor paper allows me to build up the layers in the way that I want to and it lets me blend colors in the way that I want to. I also preserve my pencils for a lot longer.

The conclusion is that most of my drawings will now be done on Arches Watercolor paper.

From Spots to Stripes

Last week the work was predominantly the spots on a cheetah but this week good progress has been made on the stripes of this Zebra.

Working in the contours of both animals so they don’t look flat has been quite a challenge!

I did not realize how much thought would be needed to make sure the spots and stripes did not look just like random flat black splodges or thick wavy lines!

Lots of subtle shades of grey are required to give a furry look and build in the important facial contours.

I have learnt a lot from drawing these animals… but still lots to do.

I am hopeful that both drawings will be finished for next week.

Thanks to The Humble Make-Up Sponge

As far as art equipment goes the humble make-up sponge is a must have!

A single make-up sponge
The make-up sponge… useful for blending and mark-making

For starters they are cheap and while they will not last forever… if you are careful then you can use them more than once.

You can also have specific sponges for specific colors. I use them while working with graphite, charcoal and pastel.

eight make up sponges used with different colors
Different makeup sponges for different uses

Although they are small, I find then quite versatile. There are three surfaces, two flat surfaces that are particularly good at blending, but also produce a broad enough mark that is useful for lightly marking in the direction of fur.

The third surface is the edge that joins the two sides and it creates a narrower mark. It is particularly useful for loading up with charcoal or graphite and creating smaller darker areas.

You just need to experiment!

For me the sponges have made the rendering of the fur on this cheetah much easier than it would otherwise have been!

Work in progress of a cheetah

Still a long way to go before this big cat is finished but good progress has been made!

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