One from the other day




Weekend art

Well, I'm STILL not well (yes, I know, it's getting boring now, isn't it?) so I've just been doing casual sketching / art with not a lot of effort or intent.

Yesterday, I sketched these two characters using Conte Pierre Noire

I really Iove the creaminess and richness of the Pierre Noire pencil and find it much easier to control than charcoal.

Then I sketched this person roughly on a large sheet of paper

She's very flawed and I'm not going to finish her, but I quite like her all the same.

Next, another abandoned attempt:

As you can see, she ended up looking quite snooty and ugly. I may go back to this one at some point but I don't find pastels very compatible with my over sensitive sinuses.

Finally, a quick and lazy coloured pencil sketch:


And finally, there's Bob. Bob works in a car showroom and eats too many crisps. He's not a very nice person, really. I love it when the characters tell me something about themselves.

So a relatively productive weekend and I'm pleased I made myself do stuff despite not really feeling in the mood for it.



A return to painting

Today was the first day in WEEKS (months?) that I’ve found the time to paint. And was it hard! I’d almost completely forgotten the technique and I struggled with it at every point. Needless to say I’m not happy with the result, but I LOVED having a paintbrush in my hand again…



New book

This is a truly inspiring book – even though it’s the kind of book that makes you want to throw your pencils away in self disgust. Or is that just me?

It explains chiaroscuro (GREAT word), value, form, shadow – and how to represent these on coloured paper with a dark and a light pastel pencil. It feels so different from starting on white paper and laying all tonal values down with graphite, and it does make you stop and think a bit.

I haven’t been able to get hold of the pastel pencil the author recommends, and I’m finding my white a bit hard to blend. Whether it should be, or whether it’s my particular make of pencil, I’m not sure. And I’m still finding the proportions of the face REALLY hard to get right. How long before this comes naturally?

Anyway, here’s my first attempt

Pastel Drawing


July 14th 2011

Lady in Red

I was trying for something a bit different here. I find layered backgrounds a real challenge – I always end up staring at it thinking ‘what on earth next?’ – and should have carried on with this one to knock it back a bit. I posted on the Willowing forum to get some tips – I love the internet for being able to connect with some many new people.

This piece ended up looking a bit melancholic. I do find it funny to see what emerges – I have no control over it, really. I wonder how many people really do, or whether they just go with the flow?


Portrait – yet another one!

Yet another go at the same portrait. And again I was trying out a different style, only for it to come back to look similar to other attempts. Similar, but not the same – there’s definitely a progression there. Which is fabulous to see.

I am just loving trying out these portraits. I am not totally comfortable with the paint – I always start off thinking that I just don’t quite know what I’m doing. And I reach a point of thinking ‘Ugh, nope, this one hasn’t worked’. And then I seem to get past that, and somehow into a place where everything just clicks. Or kind of clicks- I still screw up and manage to lift some of the paint by painting over it before it was dry, or by smudging things, or going too dark. But suddenly I find that whole hours have passed without me even knowing it, and I’m focussing on the canvas and on the tonal values and I LOVE that feeling.

Things I’m finding hard: noses, eyes and hair. I suppose that’s standard for everyone.

The question that’s really in my mind tonight – what am I going to do with all these pictures I’m painting? I fear the downstairs loo is going to become a scary place to be…




How do you begin to develop your own style? I suppose you just have to paint and paint, and paint a bit more?

I decided to give a much freer way of painting a try, using slightly different colours.

The painting went through many stages, some more successful than others, but eventually came back to look pretty similar to the other portraits I’ve done. Or perhaps that is just my style?




I’m really excited by the way this one turned out. I mean, seriously excited. As I was painting it and was watching it emerge I was all ‘Oooh, eek, look at that!’. To the point that I felt quite worried about finishing it, in case I spoiled it.

I honestly think this is the most successful thing I’ve ever drawn or painted.


I used a different reference picture for this one – a much more vibrant, defined picture. The lesson I learned here is that the better the reference pic, the easier it is too paint it.

This was the underpainting.




Another attempt at the Gritty Jane portrait course. I’m loving this course – it’s given me the confidence to just break out the paints and have a go at it. And it’s not nearly as scary as I thought it would be.




True to my goals, I spent yesterday and this morning doing a painting following the Gritty Jane portrait course.

There’s a couple of things I want to say about this course. First, it’s really good fun. I enjoyed every minute of it. I was amazed to get as far as I did, and I was even more amazed with the result. This is the first painting that I want to hang on the wall – and as I’m a very self-critical person, that’s a huge benchmark.

Jane makes the course easy to follow and, most striking of all, I soon found I was far less wary of the paint than I have previously been.

Here’s my attempt in various stages of completion