Saturday, October 27, 2007

A WIP - Part One

I love trying out new supports to work on when I can - cue Ampersand Pastelbord. I have various sizes and colours of this sitting around waiting to be used and thought it was about time I tried it out.

For those of you who may not have heard of Pastelbord it is, and I quote, "a clay and gesso coated hardboard panel with a granular marble dust finish comparable to a sanded pastel paper except more durable and more versatile." Sounds like it could eat my pencils but I was eager to try it out all the same and see what it could do. And why not have my efforts shown as a WIP. So here it is.....

Stage 1: Adding the darks. I wanted to start with an acrylic underpainting before adding any pencils - this would/should reduce the number of hours spent using coloured pencils. Was pleasantly surprised with how the paint took to this surface and really liked the effects achieved when doing wet in wet. Also found the washes stayed wet for longer which gets a big thumbs up from me.

Stage 2: The underpainting finished. At this stage I know I should be thinking about a background and have this washed in but, as is usually the case when it comes to backgrounds, can't decide what I want to do so leave it as it is for now. I do know I want to do a lot more painting on Pastelbord.

Stage 3: Adding coloured pencil. Start with the eyes, as always, and work on her nose and mouth. I was right, it does eat my pencils! Not sure yet if I like working with coloured pencils on this support.

Stage 4: Adding yet more coloured pencil. Nose and mouth area more or less finished apart from the inevitable tidying up here and there at the end. Building up the colours on her face and ear - not having to do as many layers thanks to the underpainting. STILL thinking about a background, even when I'm not working on it!

Stage 5: Latest update. This is the stage I am at now - working my way down the neck area. Next step is putting in that background.

Monday, October 22, 2007


12x10 Coloured Pencil

Last week saw the schools on holiday again. I know I've said this before but I honestly don't remember having as many holidays when I was at school. Luckily my kids are now at an age where they are happy to amuse themselves and are rarely ever in anyway so I didn't have to spend the week thinking of things to do to keep them amused. A good thing really considering my work load in the run up to Christmas - can't see me having any days off for a good while yet.

Friday, October 12, 2007


A work in progress - coloured pencil
I've been thinking a lot lately about how I never make time (that word again) to go to more art galleries. There are at least 45 art galleries in Edinburgh, according to the Yellow Pages, so have plenty to choose from and no excuses not to visit something on a more regular basis.
I really enjoy going around a good exhibition, often coming away full of inspiration, and so found myself browsing the Internet to find out who and what was showing this month. I managed to drag Gav along to a small local gallery as I recognised one of the artists exhibiting as being someone I went to college with all these years ago, be it a couple of years above me. I enjoyed seeing his work - more contemporary than traditional - and would have loved to have caught up with him personally but he works and lives in Dundee.
One thing I always hope to see being exhibited more are drawings - it's all paintings. Anything coloured pencil would be good but I wouldn't be fussy as long as it wasn't paint all the time. The gallery owner I spoke to yesterday never accepts drawings saying they don't sell and there isn't a market for them - not very encouraging.
As I only have a half finished portrait to show in this post, Odie (who by the way has the cutest wee face), I thought I'd let you see the ref I'll be using for my next 'me piece' that I'll be working on between commissions. It's one I took of Zara on her first birthday, waiting ever so patiently for her biscuit.

Working on Ampersand Pastelbord with paint and coloured pencils this will be a first for me - an experiment - and all going well hope to show it as a WIP right here on my blog - ugly stages and all!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Cocker Spaniels

Morse and Lewis
16x12 Coloured Pencil

My latest portrait of two Cocker Spaniels is now finished - 33 hours later, taking slightly longer than I had planned. I blame it on the ears. I'm going to be honest here, I've never been totally happy doing Spaniels ears in coloured pencil (and I love their floppy ears) but don't have this problem with pastel or paint.

It's all those layers of curls and flicks going this way and that and trying to create depth at the same time that I find a bit daunting. Strange I know but true all the same. Despite my 'struggle', and I'm sure we all have them, I'm really pleased with how they turned out.

Is there a subject you find challenging or dislike doing? Do let me know and help make me feel less guilty about picking on Spaniels ears.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Time management

12x10, Coloured Pencil on paper

No I haven't abandoned my blog and am still here. Life in general has simply taken over in one way or another leaving me with not enough hours in the day - again - to fit everything in.

Not having enough hours in the day is something I'm always complaining about prompting me to think more seriously about time management. As a Pay and Personnell Admin Officer in a previous life, managing my time in the office was compulsory so it shouldn't be a problem in the studio and home right? Right! Need to be positive and start as I mean to go on.

So as a start, at the end of everyday I plan to put pen to paper and list all my goals for the following day that I want to accomplish .......... must/WILL accomplish - and stick to it. If that means less time on the Internet or TV, not having elevenses or cooking the kids tea then so be it (ok, maybe not the last one).

The way I see it is that I should be having a lot more work flying off the easel than I am and doing a lot more with my business than what I'm currently doing but for some reason or other am not. I have so many things I want to do, and can do, if I just organized myself better. This should, in turn, give me more time to update my blog regularly (I'm looking at twice a week) - yet something else I keep promising to do but always put off to another day. But not anymore, here's to a more organised and focused me.