Littl’uns

Hi all! Sorry I have been so quiet of late. The idea was to concentrate on the garden this year so I would not have to chase my tail so much in future years and also to have abundant opportunities for flower photography and painting without having to visit other people’s gardens all the time. Things are still not quite where I would like them to be, and the drawing has taken a dramatic step into the background. This is further exacerbated by my random idea of taking part in some sewing courses, which then incurred unexpected homework. I guess they appeal to my creative side and I will be looking to do more in that direction in the future. Then a close relative fell seriously ill, requiring much time and attention mainly from other members of the family, but with an unsettling effect on all and an increased workload – away from drawing – for myself.

A couple of commissions have come along, in spite of my distinct lack of advertising, and when I am privileged enough to be chosen for a commission I do not like to turn it down without good reason.

Littl'uns

‘Littl’uns’. Pencil on A3 Watercolour Paper.

This is an image of a drawing I completed and delivered just recently. My apologies for the lack of quality in the photograph, I promise I will master this with satisfactory results at some point! The drawing is a composite of two photographs, plus a little artistic license at the client’s request. The initial problem with the project was that the supplied reference photographs came from a mobile phone which is usually tricky, though I guess that is something I will somehow have to learn to work with. Blown up to sufficient size for me to use showed the focus clearly out which really is a no-no. Luckily I had my camera with me during the visit, sadly though, my portrait photography leaves much to be desired, – bouncy children are, after all, not like the placid and tranquil flowers I usually have as my subjects for that medium. So the images did not turn out as well as I had hoped, though better than what I was given to start with. I do hope I did the kiddos justice, certainly mum was delighted with the result, as was granddad.

I have stuck to the same paper as I did with ‘Biffy’ (view it here: https://shadedfaces.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/biffy/) , the dalmatian from earlier in the year. This heavy weight watercolour paper has yielded better results than the cartridge paper and card I have used in the past. It is not as strongly textured as many other watercolour papers and I decided to use the back of the paper instead of the front, as it was smoother still, while providing sufficient grip for the graphite to stick. (I am not yet ready to return to the very smooth Bristol board, but this may be a stepping stone, you never know).

This relative smoothness of the paper tempted me to use tortillons, which are blending sticks typically made from rolled paper. They help in distributing the graphite over the paper in very smooth layers. In the distant past I have achieved a similar effect by using fingers, tissue paper and cotton buds, but I have avoided it for many years as I have found this technique uncontrollable with somewhat unforeseeable and often irreversible results. The shading I would lay down as a base usually became a whole lot darker with blending, meaning that the drawing could look bitty and patchy. Therefore I normally prefer to achieve my rendering by directly applying the required number of graphite layers and varying the pressure while using different strength pencils. Or mechanical pencils, in my case.

This drawing was pretty labour intensive as is often the case when trying out new techniques, and I guess it needs more practice, but for a first attempt with blenders it was not bad. Certainly not a quick fix, as the tortillon just becomes like another pencil, but one to be used with care. Practise makes perfect, I guess, and I am not there yet. (As if anyone ever is.)

Thanks guys and gals for taking the time to look and read, it is much appreciated, I assure you!

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2 thoughts on “Littl’uns

  1. Photographing small children is notoriously difficult! I think this is an amazing job, really lovely. You seem to have captured their personalities, I can just imagine them.

    • Thanks, Lorna, you’re too kind. Taking the photos was actually rather awkward, and not being used to photographing people (as much as flowers), let alone children, especially in a hurry and when they are somewhat averse to even being looked at by a total stranger who just happened to have snowed into their home, didn’t help a lot. In the drawing I tried my best to soften the strained facial expressions they had in the photos. If this were to become a regular occurrence I should have to find myself a photography course 😉

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