It has been some time since I published a drawing, partly because I have been too busy with other things, and partly because of clients not wishing commissions uploaded to the internet. The latter I am not altogether happy about, but I have to respect their wishes, especially where children are concerned. Luckily it doesn’t happen often.

This one, which was taken from a photo showing a little girl on the seafront, was an enjoyable enterprise, as I was given pretty much a free hand as to which of the supplied photographs I used, and how I cropped it. The only stipulation was that it had to be a large work.

It turned out 50 x 58 cm in the end, that includes margins, and was executed with the usual selection of graphite pencils, paper stumps and a putty eraser. I have tried a new paper for it because the one I used previously does not come in the size I needed for this portrait. It is available from Jackson’s Art Supplies here, for those who are interested, and is another smooth watercolour paper.

2016.08.15 Leyla 1058Blog

Sunshine – Graphite Pencil on Watercolour Paper

5 Babies

Hi all, today I have a portrait again, after a long while. This drawing of five children presented me with some challenges, starting with not having the paper that I would have liked to use. I have come to love working with the Aquafine smooth watercolour paper by Daler Rowney, but sadly, their largest size, A3, wouldn’t do for this commission. I have a pad of A2 acrylic paper, though, also by Daler Rowney, the front of which has an embossed linen like texture, but the back looks very smooth, so that is what I used. It wasn’t as easy to work on as I had hoped, in that I was unable to apply much graphite all at once, as it wouldn’t hold it, and had to apply layer after layer and work it in, to achieve the depths I needed.

I was asked to use images which portrayed the children at roughly the same period in their lives, even though their ages differ widely in reality. The photographs mostly were small and / or lacking focus for such a task, although the poor client hunted high and low to find suitable images. Nowadays, in situations like this, I strictly stick to drawing what I see, rather than adding detail which the reference photograph does not yield. This inevitably means that paper stumps and putty rubbers see plenty action in order to defuse small detail and the drawing may look a little less refined than usual. But. That way it will look exactly as the photograph and I am not misinterpreting anything. Overall, the result is not bad, I think, as does the client.

I have spent ages online yesterday trying to get an idea what paper is best to use for photorealism/hyperrealism, but I am still somewhat undecided. It is a bit of a pain that everything is internet sourced these days, I much prefer to go into a shop and see/feel what I am buying. Living where I do, though, that is not going to happen in a hurry, so if any of you have any advice that you could share, please do.

5 Babies Drawing

5 Babies. Graphite pencil on the back of A2 acrylic paper.


Just to let you know I am still keeping my hand in…
This is Roly.

Roly 2015.10.27 6292reducedagain

Graphite pencil 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B and 6B on A3 watercolour paper

The World Is A Looking Glass

Calligraphy   –   Uncial Lettering

Calligraphy - Uncial lettering

Calligraphy – Uncial Lettering

Old Packhorse Bridge

Well, I missed yet another week, I seem to be way too busy with other things at the moment, and these distractions are not good for creating things. I have something today, though, a charcoal drawing … or are they called paintings, I don’t even know. I used a reference photo which I had taken on 26 September 2012. The idea was to force myself to work a bit rougher than I do with graphite pencils, and I believe this attempt didn’t turn out too bad, what do you think? I will definitely do a few more of those, it can only get better.

The subject is the old packhorse bridge in Carrbridge, a place we pass on our frequent trips back into civilisation, and it never fails to catch my eye.

The bridge, one of the oldest stone built bridges in the Scottish Highlands, was commissioned in 1717 by Clan Chief Brigadier-General Sir Alexander Grant of Grant and built by mason John Niccelsone from Ballindalloch. This single span hump back rubble bridge was constructed to take foot and horse traffic over the river Dulnain, and specifically to allow funerals to take place at the Church of Duthil, which, before then, were often delayed due to the river carrying too much water to permit a safe crossing. This would explain the other names it was known by locally, the Coffin Bridge or the Funeral Bridge.

At the time it cost £100 to build, which I imagine was a fair bit of money in those days, and was paid for from stipends of the local Parish of Duthil. Construction of the seven foot wide (between parapets) bridge took about six months. Major floods in the 18th and then again in the early 19th century washed away the side walls, parapets and the surface, leaving the structure as it stands today. It can be viewed from a viewing platform or the nearby B9153.

Apparently it used to provide a great venue for local youngsters to cool down on warmer days, as they jumped from the bridge into the river below. I am not sure if this is still going on today as, sadly, the B-listed structure is now considered unstable.

Packhorse Bridge, Carrbridge, Charcoal

The Old Packhorse Bridge, Carrbridge – Charcoal on A3 cartridge paper.

For those who are interested, these sites provide further reading:

More from the archives

‘Bluebell Walk’ is still not finished so this is another one from the archives.

Another one from the archives – ‘Death’ – Black ink on A6 Card

Wishing you all a Happy Easter!


    Forgiveness – Photograph of Original Calligraphy work, black Ink on card

Reminiscing …

I still haven’t found what went missing last week, in fact I fear it may be gone for good, though I came accross something else, another reminder from years back. Far from my best work of that nature, but the only one I ever did in English, since I was living on the Continent at the time. I am now wondering whether to pick up the quill again, it could be fun….

Reminiscing ...

Reminiscing … – Gouache on A4 parchment paper

In the meantime, the ‘Bluebell Walk’ is still coming along nicely 🙂

Bluebell Walk – Take 2

I had a clear out the other day and came across a couple of pieces from way back that I thought would be good to show here, since it was something entirely different, but today they are nowhere to be found. My fear is that they accidentally landed in the bin along with all the rubbish. I haven’t given up hope altogether just yet but I am running out of places to search, I’m gutted, and really cross with myself right now.

So, instead, here is another progress report. I tried hard, I really did, but it is still not finished, I can’t believe how long this is taking. It must be me, slow coach that I am, I’m sure others manage to churn them out much faster.

Bluebell Walk Take 2

Bluebell Walk Take 2

Bluebell Walk – Take 1

Well, I had the best of intentions and was hoping to have something ready for today. Sadly, in my naive enthusiasm, I messed up. Several times. So what was supposed to have been finished, is not. There follows a lengthy post to explain myself.

You see, I have this great soft pastel painting in my head and it needs to turn out exactly as it is in my head, the artists among you will know what I mean. The problem was that I didn’t have pastel paper in the house, so…..paper for acrylics has a rough surface, doesn’t it, mine does, anyway. I started painting, only to find it was eating the pastel sticks, while most of the pigment ended up on the floor and not on the paper. This is a close up, and no matter what tricks I tried, it ALWAYS ended up looking like this.

Bluebell Walk Fail 1

Bluebell Walk Fail 1

There was no point carrying on with it. The paper had a canvas print surface, which I thought would be good for pastels to find some grip on, but unfortunately it also had a smooth coating that prevented exactly that, – I have no idea why I didn’t come to that conclusion before I started. Talk about head in the sand. After filling the deepest recesses, the pigment just slid about on it with nothing to hang on to.

Bluebell Walk Fail 2

Bluebell Walk Fail 2

Starting over was really the only option, with appropriate paper from the local art supplier, lesson learnt – impatience is not clever. The second attempt got off to a reasonable start but it increasingly looked like certain colours weren’t going to last till completion on that large canvas. After acquiring a number of sticks at the local art shop, of the only, but reputable, make pastels they stock, which is different from my own ones, the painting progressed a little more. However, I was struggling to achieve the deep shadows that I needed, particularly as one or two of the sticks just weren’t playing ball, – being hard and scratchy and not at all like soft pastels, leaving very little pigment, if any, on the paper. Close to binning the whole project I put out a call for help on social media which luckily yielded results quickly, thanks to the talented Alanda.

Now, with the most velvety, buttery soft, delicious (the last two being Alanda’s description) soft pastels – I wish I had ordered some light ones, too, while I was at it – I feel I am finally getting somewhere, but all this has delayed things somewhat, having to fit it into our daily family life. So, in order not to disappoint altoghether I will do what I absolutely detest doing, which is let you have a sneek peek at my work in progress. This is a small section of the painting with a hint at the style of the whole work, if not the subject matter, but the clue is in the name ;-). I completely realise that it isn’t entirely how you would expect to use soft pastels, but the image in my head dictates that this is what it has to be. Wish me luck and I may have the whole thing for you next time – I hope you approve of what you see so far.

Bluebell Walk Take 1

Bluebell Walk Take 1

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