Wednesday, 30 December 2009

tiger pencil drawing-more progress

Just a quick update on yesterdays work.Ive finally put the eye in as i think most of the work is now complete on the tiger's head apart from a few tweaks once ive finished the whole image.More layering on the body of the cat has allowed me to start adding in some fur details,plenty more to do.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

tiger pencil drawing-back after the break

After an extended xmas lay off it's been back to the drawing board today.Just for now ive finished work on the tiger's head and ive been busy building up layers of graphite on the body of the cat.Some of the stripes have been marked in and layers of H,HB,B pencil built up in some areas of the body,there is much to do in terms of building up the shape and form of the cats body with further layers before adding some fur detail.i took this photo this morning whilst the light was still good in order that the different layers so far added could be the upper half of the body i have layered with H,HB and B grades and now am overlayering with another layer of H grade as i wanted to 'calm down' the texture a little,whilst in the lower half i have so far only layered with H and HB isnt the most exciting part of completing the drawing and will take several more sessions but absolutely fundamental to achieving a realistic look with depth and texture in the finished piece.

Monday, 21 December 2009

tiger pencil drawing-progress

i have now completed the second ear and some of the 'white' areas of the tigers face,using layers of graphite from H grade right through to 2B in some areas adding shadow tone and fur details.before completing the last white fur area i want to add tone to the neck and body of the cat so that the white area will stand out a little and i can work out the final tones for that area.To that end ive layed down a base layer of H grade pencil and am slowly working my way down the drawing.

Friday, 18 December 2009

tiger pencil drawing-update on progress

Ive just today managed to get back to this tiger drawing after having to take a couple of days out with a nasty cold,i'm feeling relatively human again and so ive cracked on with this one.After having put more layers into the fur and more or less reached the final tone here i can see that i'm probably going to have to tone the background a little more to ensure the cat stands proud.ive added in some fur details using a 2B pencil and added more soft graphite to the dark stripes with a 5B pencil,ive also layed in some tone to the light areas of the cats face with an H grade pencil which will require more tone adding as well as some fur detail suggestions to help give shape and form to the cats face.The whiskers have come in for a bit of refinement,they were a bit too long,i got carried away scratching them in,so ive shortened them a little and when i add more tone to the background i'll refine them further.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

tiger pencil drawing-work in progress

Slow progress i'm afraid at the moment due to a bad case of 'man flu' hampering my concentration.Ive made a start on the tiger by blocking in the darkest stripes on the cats head,these alone take a little while to do as each one is a combination of layers of graphite working from H grade right through to 5B to get the really deep blacks.ive completed one ear and the nose of the animal and have layed in the base coat of H grade pencil for the facial fur.The next stage will be to further layer the fur with HB and B grade pencils before working in the fur detail with B and 2B grades.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

tiger pencil drawing-background progress

Several more layers of graphite later and the background toning is almost complete.There are repeated layers of HB and B grade pencils applied here along with variances in pressure on the pencil to create a sort of blurry semi-photographic look to the background which will help to 'lift' the image slightly.A final layering using a 2B pencil in some areas has added the darkest tones.There may be more tone to be added but for now i'll move onto the cat and adjust tones if necessary later.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

tiger pencil drawing-work in progress

My latest drawing is to be of a tiger.Here the basic building blocks of all my artworks have been started,the layering.Ive already at this point spent a whole day laying down layers of H and HB grade pencil and have made a start on the third layer of B grade pencil.I want to go for a sort of blurry toned background here once again to really lift the tiger from the page especially around the white areas.This,as regular followers of my blog will know,is a very time consuming part of the process but absolutely vital to get a good finish.I'm likely to be working on the background alone for several more days before i can start to get my teeth into the tiger's quite a large piece this time and so is likely to be the last one completed this year.i shall post more progress once the background is a little more complete but i thought it might be of interest to those keen to know about technique.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

curlew drawing-a few last minute tweaks

As usual i left the drawing on the board overnight and had a look with fresh eyes this morning.i had been a little concerned that the rump of the bird had got a little lost in the background and so on looking this morning i decided to lift out some highlights along the edges as well as adding a little more highlighting to the loose feather edges on the birds nape and's a little bit of artistic licence but i think it's worked out ok and has served to just bring the bird out a little more.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Curlew drawing finished

I'm calling this one finished,completed this morning after some final tweaks.The objective here was to try and capture the sense of strong morning sunshine on the bird and it's surroundings and the lovely play of light and shadows on the curlew's plumage.I leave it to you to decide if you think it's worked.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Curlew drawing update

Making a start on the curlew now,ive completed most of the wing feathering although it will need tone added to form shadowed areas once complete.Ive also made a start on the shadows on the birds head and neck,these too will need further darkening.once the bird is fully rendered i can then adjust tones in the background and foreground to complete the more day's work should see this finished.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Curlew-further progress

The foreground has now been worked up and the strong shadows added.There is still more work to do here ,however, i am now starting on the curlew itself to establish the correct tones for the bird which will dictate the tones i use to finish off the foreground.I have layed down some tone on the bird where the shadows will be cast by the strong sunlight and when these are worked up and the bird complete i hope the drawing will hang together and the lighting make sense.I'm taking a day out of the studio tomorrow to head down the coast to torquay where fellow wildlife artist Paul Apps is holding a preview day for his latest exhibition of paintings at haddon galleries,looking forward to seeing the show and catching up with an old friend.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Curlew drawing-starting to develope background

Significant progress has now been made on the background to this piece over the last couple of sessions.The mudflat behind the bird is now complete,hopefully showing the strong sunlight and its cast shadows up nicely.ive had to go to quite soft grades to get the level of darkness i required,layering from H grade through to 3B in some spots.the small section of visible water at the base of the mud is also now complete.i'm now about to tackle the nearer mudflat that the curlew is standing upon,this will be well lit with strong sun and (if all goes to plan)some lovely dark shadows from stones and bird.My plan is to have some lovely cast shadows upon the bird as well which i hope will tie it all together and create the atmosphere within the piece.At this time ive just completed the second layer of graphite on the foreground having layered once with an H grade pencil and followed this by a layer of HB,these are the building blocks of the foreground,my next step is to start introducing some details.

Friday, 20 November 2009

New pencil drawing started-Curlew

This is the start of my latest bird drawing,again based on observations on my local patch.This time it's a curlew on the mudflats at keyhaven harbour.The idea here is to add some drama to a fairly straightforward composition and subject by concentrating heavily on the lighting conditions and attempting to convey something of the atmosphere at the time of my observations.I was walking along the sea wall,binoculars and camera at the ready on a windy but sunny morning last month,as is the norm on such windy days the birds were facing into the wind at low tide and feeding whilst taking advantage of any sheltered spots.there were feeding groups of dunlin,knot,brent geese,turnstones all within fairly close range providing me with some great reference shots as well as 3 or 4 curlews scattered along the mudflats.the sun was bright that day and provided some lovely shadows and bright highlights on the water and off the wet,seaweed clad mudflats and this is what i intend to try and portray.This drawing can go one of two ways,it's either going to work and the atmosphere will come through or its going to end up being just another curlew drawing,i know which one i'm aiming for!.as you can see ive started by laying down a wash of H grade pencil and then over-working with subsequent layers of HB,B and 2B attempting to bring out the shaded edges of the mudflat.This darkish background(i hope)will add to the drama by seeking to highlight even more the light and shadows striking the curlew.For such a relatively small drawing i think its likely to take a little while to complete,not least of all because of the complexity of the curlews plumage.

Teal gathering-slimbridge

As promised here is a good quality scan of my latest drawing.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Teal drawing complete

My Teal drawing is at last complete.The whole idea here was to try and re-create the view i had from a hide at slimbridge wwt in gloucestershire,uk of a group of Teal just hanging around on one of the lagoons.Teal are one of my favourite's they're such pretty little ducks and full of character.The original measures 7.5"x16".As usual my photographic skills are rather letting me down here so apologies for picture quality,i shall post a better image once ive had this one scanned.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

teal drawing-nearly there

end of day,nearly there
2 down 2 to go

starting point today

Working on the water today,with reflections from ducks and the background vegetation being added.ive included shots of the progress in stages today,showing how the picture is built up.another day's work and this one will be complete.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

teal drawing update

lighting conditions here a little erratic at the moment so please excuse the darkening on the right side.All the teal are now in place with a little more work required on the smallest female.the next stage is to lay in a wash of H grade pencil to form the base for the water and then its reflection time!.hopefully this will tie it all together and really bring it to life.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Teal drawing progress

The second Teal is now almost complete and ive been able to do a bit more work on the water to make it a little more interesting.My next step will be to continue and complete all the teal and then i'll tackle the foreground water and reflections.The image will eventually comprise of 3 male teal and 2 females.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

teal drawing update

The first Teal is now in place and now he's in i can more accurately judge the amount of toning that will be required on the water.i was a little wary of making the water too dark to begin with for fear of losing the teal in the background,now it's obvious that i shall be able to darken up and add some detail to the water.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Teal drawing progress

This is progress on my teal drawing as of last night,i meant to post it yesterday but the failing autumn light crept up on me before i got a chance.i have now completed the background vegetation to the top right of the image and layed in another wash in the centre of the picture for another stretch of water.i added reflections to the water from the vegetation and they will continue into the third stretch of water in the foreground.i'm working from top to bottom on this piece and once i've finished layering the mud bank that the ducks are standing on i'll proceed to add detail to them leaving the foreground water and reflections till last.i will work up the existing stretches of water a little more once i have more detail in the remainder of the piece as things come to mind.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

quality scans of latest images

The Egret pool
The chase-moorhen and avocet

Serval portrait

Just received some better quality scans of my latest drawings so i thought i'd post them here for your viewing pleasure

New drawing started

this is today's work on my latest drawing.It's a drawing of teal resting in one of the lagoons at slimbridge in gloucestershire.ive put together this image from lots of photo reference taken in february of this year on a lovely clear day,so there will be plenty of nice reflections to work with.ive made a start by plotting in the ducks and some of the more detailed vegetation as well as some faint outlines of where the mud and water will be.the first mud patch has been more or less fully worked up with grades H thru to B and i have layed in some of the background vegetation working thru the grades from H to 3B as it is fairly dark in places.ive also layed in a wash of H grade pencil in the background and blended it with a paper stump to begin the process of drawing water.ive been meaning to draw this scene for some time as i love teals they're my favourite duck's going to be fairly complicated and so likely to take a while to complete even though it's fairly small scale.hope you'll like watching progress unfold.

Friday, 23 October 2009

The chase-moorhen and avocet

Another day's work in the studio and this image is conditions are not great at the moment and so the image is a little darker than in reality.I'm happy that ive managed to get across the speed at which the moorhen departed the scene by placing it at the extreme left of the picture,this wouldn't work for all compositions but here it helps to increase the sense of the moorhen taking flight.ive enjoyed enormously getting back to my favourite subjects waterbirds over the last couple of pieces and in particular working in this smaller format 7"x15".i hope you've enjoyed them too.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

avocet update

blended and worked up the background some more and worked up the reflections from the avocet and moorhen today.i got a bit bored with drawing mud so ive made a start on the moorhen,will finish it tomorrow and then dive back into the mud again!.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

splashing around in the mud

today has been spent refining the foreground of this image.ive worked up some of the estuary mud and water puddles and started to work up the reflections from both the avocet and moorhen.i dont normally start with the foreground on something like this but because the tones are very light with the entire background i wanted to set my darkest one's early on so i didn't go too dark.talking of dark,my apologies for the darkness of the photo but the nights are closing in rapidly now as we approach winter and time flew by today rather catching me out.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Avocet on a mission

following on from my last drawing i wanted to stick with the theme of depicting birds from my local patch.this drawing is a snapshot of a moment i witnessed back in august at the titchfield haven nature reserve here on the south coast of england.titchfield haven is a wonderful habitat,situated where the river meon reaches the sea at the solent with large scrapes full of waders both in the breeding season and overwintering birds during the colder months.on this occasion i was watching from a hide across the exposed mud as an avocet pair with two juveniles in tow were feeding.every now and then one or both of the adults would deem that the local moorhens were getting too close for comfort and take an instant dislike to them and charge at them in a very purposeful manner,heads down, looking really rather menacing.the moorhens would scatter in all directions,skipping or flying across the mud and peace would reign again,until they once more strayed too close to the juveniles,then all hell would break lose once again!.i'm trying to capture the moment that the adult avocet got close enough to make the moorhen take flight.ive started this drawing by sketching in the birds and ive put the moorhen just taking flight to the extreme left of the picture to try and add to the impression of a hasty exit,hopefully it will work and the image wont look to initial 'wash' of H grade pencil has been laid in and now ive started to work up some of the muddy areas so that the puddles of water stand out.there will be some nice reflections here to work with.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Little Egret

Little Egret drawing

This drawing is quite unusual for me,in that it is a very small piece measuring only 5"x11".It's been a bit of an experiment as i wanted to see if i could produce a relatively detailed drawing at such a small of the problems with working in graphite is the time it takes to complete an image and i wanted to see if i could shorten this timescale without losing quality of imagery.i would love to hear what you all think as i really enjoyed being able to get an image onto paper so quickly(2 days) after observing the bird without sacrificing the quality.

Whenever i get a break from a drawing i love to get out my mountain bike and head of to my favourite local birding spots either on the river hamble estuary or to my local bird reserve at titchfield haven.This time of year there are plenty of interesting migrants arriving to supplement the resident species.this reference was obtained on the estuary at warsash at low tide when many of the mudflats are exposed and the wading birds dash in to feed before the tide returns submerging there food source until the next low tide.It was a beautiful crisp,sunny autumn day with barely any wind and so the water that remained in the saltmarsh pools was like a millpond with wonderful shadows and reflections from the strong sunlight.i watched several of our resident little egrets wading around in the shallow water,stirring the muddy bottom with one foot and scanning the resultant cloudy patch for fleeing fish,occasionally darting head-first into the water to retreive a tiddler or two.the shadows cast on the pure white egrets with the sun behind them provided quite a contrast to the silvery still water and immediately i knew there was a drawing to be had here and so here is the result.i'm hoping to produce some more of these smaller pieces documenting the birdlife on my 'patch' as birds are by far my favourite subjects.hope you all enjoy this one.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Serval portrait complete

the serval portrait is now complete,ive darkened the background a little to make the cat stand out a little more.thanks to all for your kind comments after my recent back troubles,i'm now fighting fit again after a couple of trips to my local osteopath and plenty of exercise!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

back at the board

after my remedial break i'm now back at the drawing board and raring to go!.this is yesterday's progress on my serval portrait,the ears are complete and i'm now working on the's quite a pale cat so it's easy doe's it on the layering for the face.ive used grades from H thru to B grade to depict the coloration with added 2 and 3B for the black markings.the background will require some more tone just to darken up a little to help the cat stand out.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

on an enforced break

Scottish blackface and lamb
ring tailed lemur

bengal tiger cub

young giraffe

Some of you may have wondered why no update on the serval image?
unfortunately i have been forced to take a break from drawing for a little while due to a recurrence of a back problem caused by long hours sitting at the drawing's a hazard of the job for me and whilst daily exercise and the occasional massage normally keep me in fine fettle every once in a while i require a bit of attention from an osteopath and a few days rest.i hope to be back at the board very soon as i get bored very quickly when i cant the meantime for those of you eager to see some finished works ive posted some older images not featured on my blog before

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Serval portrait

This is the start of my latest drawing a Serval portrait.They are such elegant cats,slim and long limbed with large ears,perfectly designed for hunting small mammals within the tall grasses of the african plains.
With this piece,as in my last tiger drawing,ive started by laying down some background toning,not too dark at this stage so that i can fiddle later.As with all my cat pictures i shall be starting by drawing the ears,simply because i find them the most difficult part of the drawing to get right and will be spending hours trying to get a good detailed representation.In the case of the serval ,with it's very large ears it will take me even longer than normal i fear till i'm happy with them.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

bengal tiger cub completed

Finished the tiger cub today,i'll leave him on the drawing board overnight in case i spot any 'tweaking' opportunities once i look at it with fresh eyes.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Bengal tiger cub update

Although there's not a lot of apparent difference since my last posting there is some significant work gone into the image over the past couple of days.the most noticeable part being the fully worked up forelimb and rear quarters of the cub to the left hand side.i have now begun to build up tone on the body of the cub and as you can see several layers of graphite have been laid down already from H grade thru to B grade so far ,with stripes also beginning to be plotted can see on this example how the correct tones,shape and form is produced by layering and the fur detail added pretty much at the last moment,sometimes if the fur looks a bit harsh i'll 'knock it back' a little by over-layering with a hard grade such as H or HB.Ive left the long hairs on the side of the tigers face for later as they're light toned and i wanted to establish the darker tone of the body fur first as well as the general outline of the face.i shall have to adjust the background toning above the tigers body as ive trimmed him down just a little,hence the white area between body and is quite normal during the drawing process for me to perform minor alterations here and there and luckily layering gradually from lighter pencil grades gives me plenty of time to spot and rectify areas i'm not totally happy with.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Bengal tiger cub update

I have now almost finished the tigers face,obviously the eyes will be left till last as usual.i am now working up some of the darker areas under the chin and around the edge of the face to give some definition to the outer, longer, more wispy fur layers at the extremities of the tiger's face.once ive completed the areas around it's face i can then erase in some of the longer hairs so that they overlap the body fur and look more realistic.similarly on the left hand side of the image i will tidy up the longer hairs so that they look more natural,this again will involve darkening the background tone and erasing in some finer hairs.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Bengal tiger cub progress

One half of the cubs face is very nearly complete will require a little tweaking later but i'm happy to leave it as is for now.I shall move onto the opposite side of the face tomorrow.I think the background toning will require darkening once again to ensure the tiger's face stands proud of the picture but once again i'll leave that till nearer completion so that i only have to darken once more and i can tidy up the hairs at the outer edges of the face at the same time.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Bengal tiger cub progress

Ive darkened the background tone a touch and then proceeded onto the tiger itself.Whenever i draw big cats i always start with the ears,i think it's because it's the most difficult part to draw and they take me forever untill i'm happy.The stripes have been darkened up and layers of tone added to the cats face.on top of this i have rendered the fur pattern and then ive overlayered several times with harder graphite and a few softer areas just so the fur isnt too prominent or workmanlike.i will be moving focus from the nose of the tiger to it's cheeks next,working one side at a time starting with darkening up the facial stripes.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Starting new drawing

This is the early stages of my latest drawing of a bengal tiger cub.As you can see i have drawn the outline of the animal and plotted the stripes and added some tone to them and the ears.i am now working up the background tone fairly loosely with layers starting with H then HB and B so far.i want to get the background tone set early on as this will determine the tonal range for the rest of the piece.

Friday, 28 August 2009

chocolate lab commission complete

'cookie' the finished image

close up of the head

After a few finishing touchs and a day on the board to check that i'm happy with it i'm calling this one complete.It has taken a good deal of layering to build up the shiny look to the coat which was necessary as the reference photo's had all been taken with quite strong lighting giving some strong lights and darks to work with.When finishing up the coat i got the opportunity to loosen up a bit and use some good and broad directional strokes of a 3B using the pencil on its side which i find helps with fur portrayal when depicting longer length hair,particularly if its a little curly.i hope the client will be happy with the finished portrait as i know it will mean a great deal to them.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

chocolate lab update

Another day spent layering on this one.Ive worked this one from H grade right through to 3B in the darkest is now progressing on the face and muzzle of the dog having set my darkest tones.Ive left the bottom right hand corner as this too will be very dark using soft grades and so rather than risk too much smudging i'm going to leave this til last.

Monday, 24 August 2009

chocolate lab progress

After my weekend away,ive been getting back into the swing of things with 'cookie',mainly layering the body of the can clearly see the layering process in action here with part of the body layered with H and HB grade and the darker areas worked up thru the grades to 2B having had a couple of layers of B grade to prepare for some really dark areas to come,the layering is quite time consuming and so it will probably take a couple of days to complete the body and move onto the head of the dog once again.

Birdfair 2009

chris rose's stand

john bye's stand

michael warrens art

Several artist friends of mine had suggested that the birdfair in rutland,uk may be a good venue for showing my art,in particular my bird works.
so it was that i decided to pay a weekend visit to the show,taking my wife for company,to check out the art marquee that i had been told so much about.the show largely caters for die-hard birding enthusiasts so i did feel a little out of my depth as i have a good knowledge of birds but i'm not a bird anorak.the show brims with bird observation gadgetry that puts my pair of bins and digital camera to shame,i did pop into the telescope marquee as i have a hankering for one to help me with fieldwork,its very difficult to sketch using only binoculars.i found the ideal one for me but there were no discounts here and ive already found the same thing on the net for far less.whilst many of the telescopes are superb and i would dearly love one the cost of most leaves me recoiling in horror at the price,blimey these birders must be loaded,no wonder the artists report good sales here!.
The art marquee itself was an absolute pleasure to visit with most of the artists a very friendly bunch working together with great spirit,there were a couple of prima donnas but then there always are.
As the temperature reached 29c the atmosphere in the marquee did become a little oppressive but didnt dampen the spirits.there was some superb work on show and despite the gloomy economic conditions a good number of sales.some of my favourite wildlife artists were in attendance including michael warren with his stunning watercolours,the complexity of some i could only wonder at,chris rose with his wonderful images full of light and atmosphere and john bye whose acrylic works truly are photo realistic.
Looking back on the show i think i will try for a stand next year although there is a waiting list,but thats just an indication of the popularity of the show.