Saturday, September 30, 2006

Colour Pencil Week

Spent this week working on two colour pencil portraits with nothing inbetween - no oils, graphites, scratchboard - just colour pencils. Oh, and many hours on the Internet of course.

Don't know about anyone else but I've come to the conclusion I spend too much time on the computer/Internet. It's all relevant though - she says convincingly - and all art related. I'm not doing online shopping or playing games so it's not all bad right? Maybe I'm nosey as I generally like to see what other artists are up to in the world - I read their blogs, websites, check out art forums and even sites on SEO (not forgetting keeping my blog and website up to date). You should see my favourites list, my daughter actually commented on it's size the other day!

I often come away really inspired, which is a good thing, wanting to do this and that (also have a large must-do list) but there never seems to be enough time in the day to do everything I want. I know, I know - I am trying to spend less time on the Internet (need to at this time of year anyway as the Christmas commissions come in) and have an aim of trying to complete one non-commissioned picture a week. Think I'll keep them small to start with.

Anyway - back to the two colour pencil portraits. Angus the Bitsa/Sheltie is finished and I am waiting word back from my client.

Also completed a drawing I've titled 'Arabian Grace'.

This was done on mountboard - a first for me and probably the last (well on that particular mountboard anyway) as I found it hard to get complete coverage with the pencils despite finding the smoothest mountboard I could. I found I had to blend with a cotton bud after 2 or 3 layers and then work on top of this to get the look I was after, i.e. no white 'dots'!

Want to try colour pencils on black paper next and looking forward to it.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

New Work on the Easel

Thought I would give you an update of new work I currently have on the easel starting with the next commissioned portrait I will be working on. This is Angus who is a Bitsa (a bit of this and a bit of that) although I am told he is very much like a Sheltie. I had the opportunity to meet Angus on one of his morning plays in the park and take a good number of photographs. The weather was perfect and I managed to get a number of good shots, including these all important close-up head shots, or so I thought.

Sitting eagerly infront of the computer to see the great pictures I had taken my enthusiasm was soon lost as I realised there was not one good photograph amongst them! The majority were all too dark and seeing features or details in the fur was near impossible - and this was with my new, top of the range, expensive digital SLR! So I am working from a photograph originally given to me by my client, which he is happy with of course, and using the best of my bad lot for reference. Anyway, here are a couple of progress shots...

I have also been commissioned to do 5 guinea pig portraits - a first for me (drawing guinea pigs that is), which I am looking to make a start on over the coming week. The photographs I have been given to work from are unusually good, couldn't have asked for better, making my job a lot easier.

I will of course continue to work on my own artwork - I have a list of drawings and paintings I really want to do as long as my arm which seems to grow on a daily basis! Have started on a couple from this list but both are no more than outlines at the moment and not worth showing but will keep you posted.

Finally, for this post anyway, an update on Scratchboard Cat 3 (I really will have to give them all titles).

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Boxer and 2 Chocolate Labs

Had a productive last two days as it turned out and managed to finish three portraits I was working on. All took longer than I anticipated but I'm happy with the results all the same.

Bruno you know about (providing you read my Blog of course) - the Boxer completed in colour pencils.

He was delivered today to, I am pleased to say, a very happy client. I don't know how other artists cope/deal with this stage - 'revealing' the finished portrait to the client - but I am nervous every time. Granted not as nervous as when I sold my first portrait but still anxious as to how they will react.

Thankfully, touch wood, fingers crossed, etc I have not had any bad experiences but this doesn't make it any easier and it never improves. I genuinely want people to be more than happy with their portrait and would hate to think otherwise.

Moving on to the 2 Chocolate Labs (remember them?). I have been working on them for a while now but both portraits are now finished and awaiing approval from my client - nervous again as explained above. Hopefully all will be well. Here they are - Margaux is first followed by Dory.....

Tomorrow I will give you an update of what is currenly on my easel with hopefully a couple of WIP's.

Monday, September 18, 2006

WIP Updates

Schools are on holiday - AGAIN - I seriously can't remember getting as many days off school in my day as they do now. What, I hear you ask, has school holidays got to do with an Art Blog? For me it can mean the difference between a productive and non-productive day so have been doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that when I can.

First up is Bruno......

I have been working on him over the weekend and finally feel I am getting somewhere. Not much to do now (I think) just some work on the neck which, considering progress to date, could take longer than it looks.

Next is Scratchboard Cat 2 (still haven't come up with a suitable title)......

Have started adding colour - decided on watercolour instead of inks - and have learnt that I don't like this stage. For some reason unbeknown to me I can spend hours on the scratching stage but don't have the patience to do the colour. It could be that where I love to see the image coming alive before me while scratching I don't like - or rather it is not what I expected - when I add colour.

I could well be doing ot wrong - it is after all only my second attemp - but it looks like layer upon layer of paint needs to be added to get any real colour showing against the black. But if I do this I could loose a lot of the detail as the scratches get covered up . Make sense? Might leave my scratchboards colourless in future but would love to know how other artists achieve it without it looking washed out and pale like mine!

It still doesn't put me off scratchboard - yet - and have started another cat with the most amazing, beautiful blue eyes.

Should hopefully have some finished work to show soon.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Slave to Detail

It's official - I am a slave to detail! This is not a bad thing if I can control it.

It really hit me today when working on Bruno the boxer dog. He is only 10 x 8 and no matter how long or how much pencil work I have done on him he doesn't seem to be going anywhere fast. Mind you my husband doesn't help with comments like "... is that all you've done" or "... press harder with the pencils" ! But it's true - I do feel like I should be further on than I am and put it down to my obsession with detail.

Bruno's brindle colouring is perhaps not the easiest colouring to portray if, like me, you find yourself almost looking at each hair individually. I really can get 'lost' in a photograph and need to train myself not to scrutinize it to death looking for the hairs under hair etc.

Anyway here is where I am with him now ......

Inbetween the many hours I have spent on Bruno and the two chocolate labs (see how they are progressing at I am still scratching. Scratchboard cat 2 (temporary name until I think of a good title) is almost finished and ready to be painted. I will be using inks this time instead of acrylics to compare which, I feel, works best. Will keep you posted - until then here's where she is at the moment .....

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Prints, Printers and Technology

Didn't do any drawing or painting at all today unless you include 30 minutes or so when I added a few extra strokes onto Bruno the Boxer dog - my latest commission and a current work in progress. I just couldn't give it, or anything else for that matter, my full attention as my head has been spinning all day thinking about PRINTS.

If you have had the chance to look at my website you may have noticed that it's my intention to offer Limited Edition Prints of my artwork for sale in the near future. Well I have given myself until November to have this up and running - mainly because I have promised a client they would be ready then!

The 2 options open to me were (a)find a reputable printer who did good giclee prints at a reasonable price or (b)do them myself. Although option (b) did not look good in the beginning (the need to buy a good printer costing lots of money) my husband and I agreed it would be a good investment so could get one. Great news - I even have a model in mind that I want - I thought it was just a case of ordering, waiting for delivery and then printing. Not so!

In order to get a good crisp, clear print I would need to have a high resolution photograph or scan of the picture to start with. Up until now I have been photographing all my work for showing on my website and for my records. With the help of a fellow artist who has given me invaluable advice I have since discovered that although suitable for that purpose or for printing cards the file sizes were too small to work from and detail and quality suffered as a result the larger the print.

So to cut a long story short - if it is not too late to do this - I need to either change the image recording quality on my camera or scan my portraits instead. Scanning would however involve me using parts of Photoshop I just cannot get to work no matter how hard I try. I've followed step by step instructions till I am blue in the face with no luck - I'm sure I have a faulty programme!

All in all a long, stressful day trying to fathom Photoshop and learning more about what my new camera is capable of - something that has been on my to-do list for ages. Why cant technology and me get on?

Back to painting tomorrow I think.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Scratchboard Cat finished

Well here she is - my scratchboard cat is now finished. I decided to use acrylic washes when adding colour. Apparently you can use watercolours, acrylics or inks to do this so am going to try inks on the next one.

Now all that is left to do is give it a title before adding it to my website.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Cats and Horses

Dogs have to be the most frequently requested of all the pets that I am asked to portray. Although there are still many breeds of dog I look forward to drawing/painting I want to build up a small collection of cat and horse portraits in my spare time to show (and hopefully sell) on my website.

So the majority of today was spent looking for suitable reference material. Have found a couple of good, clear cat photographs to work from that would make great pictures but none of horses. I'll just have to keep searching while working on my cats.

Staying on the cat theme my scratchboard cat is now completed as far as the scratching goes. It is now ready for colour and I made a start on this today. I'm hoping I have done the right thing as it looks so different with colour added - and I've only added a little!!!

Mind you today has been a funny day in that I wasn't happy with anything I worked on. Started another cat on scratchboard last night so thought I would paint the eyes today - I spent 2 hours on the one eye (the other is barely visable and in shadow) trying to get it to look right and I'm still not happy with it. Didn't dare go near the 2 chocolate labs I am working on for fear of things happening in 3's. Tomorrow is another day and things might look better then.

Anyway here is where I am with my first scratchboard cat.......

and with my 2nd.........