Thursday, January 22, 2009


Camera Shy
16x9 inches, Coloured Pencil
Copyright Laura Hardie 2009

I must be growing impatient as I feel like I’ve been working on this drawing forever but I’m glad to say it is now finished – at least for the time being. I’m contemplating adding a bit of background - not a lot, more of a suggestion here and there - but need to take a break and look at it with fresh eyes before I can decide.

All in all I have enjoyed working with a grisaille underpainting and although I won’t work solely in this way from now on (I’m far too stuck in my ways) it is something I will definitely play with in the future. So what have I learned?

  • I liked the fact that all my values were worked out and in place before I added any colour making this stage quicker and easier. It wasn’t, however, a quicker way to work overall taking into account the grisaille stage (I’m still searching for a quicker way to work with my pencils).
  • There is still a lot to learn, and experiment with, on colours to use for the grisaille and the effects they will have on the finished drawing. Also the pressure with which the colours are applied can make a difference – there were areas in my drawing where I had a layer or two too much and could have gone lighter (and vice versa) so more work needed there.
  • The colour covered the grisaille surprisingly well – this was something I found hard to get my head around at first for some reason. Probably due to the fact I’m so used to working from light to dark.
  • The grisaille underpainting didn’t give me any more depth to my drawing than I would get from working in my normal way. Working with a grisaille does add depth to your drawing but I personally didn’t see any noticable difference.
  • I really enjoyed working on the grisaille stage with only a few pencils as opposed to many – very therapeutic - which can only be a good thing.

The subject for this drawing was a beautiful Thoroughbred that I photographed at Musselburgh racecourse last July as she was led around the parade ring. Every time she spotted me with my camera she would hold back and raise her head high to look at me, not taking her eye away from the camera until she had passed. This happened each time she passed and came to the conclusion that it must be the camera hence the title.

The overall size of the drawing was a bit too big for my scanner to cope with so all the work in progress shots have unfortunately had a bit chopped off the bottom. But after playing around with Photoshop this morning I have worked out how to merge two scans together and can now show you the full picture. I can't help thinking the 'chopped' version looks better somehow!

Copyright Laura Hardie 2009


Heather Page said...

I think this looks fantastic! And I find using the complimentary colour for your underpainting added a lot of depth. I've experimented with compimentary colours a little bit, but I've found using them to be more time-consuming. I still plan on playing with them more in the future though.

Abounader Photography said...

Goodness your work is so Inspiring and amazing. I don't know why you're not a world wide known artist, but lady, you should be!

Laura said...

Thank you Heather:) Yes, it is a time consuming process but can be worth it in the end if all goes well. With well over a hundred colours to play with we can certainly have fun experimenting:)

And thank you too Heather - you are too kind:) I can but dream.

Gillian McMurray said...

I love the movement in this piece. Beautiful work again.

Jennifer Rose said...

turned out wonderful :D I like the cropped version better only because the horses head seems to be more of a focal point. I really like the title and the story behind it :)

Teresa Mallen said...

Great to see the finished image. A wonderful job once again!!

My experience with grisaille has been much like yours. I like the discipline of creating my values with a restricted palette. I enjoy working this way but most of the time I end up choosing my usual way of working, i.e. with an unlimited palette. :-)

I haven't found a 'quick' way of working. I am not keen on underpaintings, solvents, burnishing etc. When you discover the secret method, do post it on your blog! Thanks.

Some folks swear by the grisaille method. I use it occasionally but I also use my 'grab whatever pencils I wish method' too. I don't think it makes a difference in the end result. I do establish my dark values first in a piece and I usually do that by working up the dark from light to dark. That is I don't usually go in with my darkest pencils right away. I tell my students that I like to sneak up on my colour. Not the quickest way to work but it gives me lots of control. And I like that! :-)

Anyway, fabulous job and I enjoyed reading about your experience with this method. For what it is worth, I like the chopped version too. And aren't you the computer whiz, Photoshoping two scans together? Congratulations, nice work. Now I know who to email for help! :-)

Laura said...

Thank you Gillian, Jennifer and Teresa:)

Jennifer, I too lean towards the cropped version. I'm going to live with it a bit before I make a decision:)

Teresa, I love your description of 'sneaking up on your colours' - excellent! I work very similar to you if not the same preferring to start with my lightest colours but establishing my darks from an early stage (going light to dark). It's strange because I have started another drawing working in my usual way but have done a bit of grisaille underpainting in the darkest area, so you never know, it may become more of a feature in my work though I am very set in my ways:)

If only I were a computer whizz - life would be so much easier:) I've yet to decide whether scanning artwork is better than photographing it and plan to experiment with this in the near future.

Anyway, thanks again for your support through my 'experiment' - it has been much appreciated:)