This is the finished painting… painted in oils on a 16″ x 12″ wooden panel.
I rarely do commissions these days. It’s a personal choice that I have wrestled with many times over the years. Basically I know enough about myself as an artist now to know how I tick and commissions make me tick alot, they cause me a great deal of stress and basically no pleasure from beginning to end. It is with a great deal of relief when the customer likes and wants the commission and I can finally ship it and get it out of my head.
I have battled with portrait drawing since I can’t remember. Despite drawing portraits pretty much every day, I still get it badly wrong more times than I get it right.
I don’t have any particular ambitions to be a portrait artist, there are too many artists that are so much better than I could hope to be whom I admire and am in awe of pretty much permanently. However, being able to competently draw portraits helps me in all areas of my art. My cricket and sports drawings will be so much easier if I didn’t spend days sweating over the faces and indeed any animal or bird drawing will be helped no end by increased portrait drawing skills.
I strongly believe that since portrait drawing is the hardest thing to master, there are those that will disagree, but I seriously believe that, then everything else should therefore be easier as a result of an increased skill in this area.
I’ve been working hard on improving my portrait drawings and finding out what is my preferred paper and preferred medium. After making a long list of all the different surfaces and all the different mediums I like to work with and practising over and over I finally settled with charcoal on Strathmore toned grey paper. A real bonus happened when Strathmore released a toned grey mixed media paper which is exactly the same tone grey and surface but a thicker version. This is a great bonus as I did have a concern that the original toned paper was a bit on the thin side.
Here a few of the recent portraits I have confidently completed in this style…..
As you can see it really has become a big step forward. My portraits are becoming quicker and more relaxed. I intend to do portrait sittings and try to work on my life drawing skills, but continue to work from photographs in the meantime. If you are interested in commissioning a portrait from me, they are all 11 x 14″ on toned grey Strathmore mixed media paper and cost £120 + shipping. They will be shipped flat in an all board envelope for you to frame.
For further details you can visit my website and read my commission page here
This was a tough commission. The original drawing is 20 x 16″ on pastelmat.
When originally asked to do the commission I was presented with a photograph of the three dogs in this pose. It’s taken by a professional pet photographer. My initial reaction was to say that the photo was great and could not be improved upon with art. However, the customer insisted that he wanted something bigger and completed in art. Reluctantly I agreed, as most pet artists know a great photo can lead to a great piece because when the photography is so clear it makes my job a lot easier.
Decisions – I thought the best course of action was to focus on the dog’s faces and make everything else loose and impressionistic. I figured that if I drew the bench and the trees and grass in great detail then it would detract away from the dogs themselves.
Here are my materials for the commission – Unison soft pastels (Emma Colbert set) stabilo carbothello pastel pencils, conte soft and hard pastels all on pastelmat.
Here is a slideshow showing progress shots taken as I went along…
This idea for this drawing came from a commission request. The client, drawn at the front of the piece requested the drawing as his ‘father figure’ – to whom he always referred to him (I still don’t know his name) had recently died. He also would have celebrated his 70th birthday some time during the portrait’s execution.
The photo presented lots of questions. The main subject was at the back of the photo, the setting and background were not particularly interesting or added anything to the image and it is a typical selfie photo where the subjects are looking straight into the camera, not really showing any expression or emotion and are frozen for the pose. I wanted to show the bond between these two and so my main focus and the thing that showed that bond most strongly was the arm around the shoulders. I decided to therefore allow that to come forward out of the drawing towards the viewer.
These are some of the materials I used for this portrait. A combination of charcoal and graphite. I also had a couple of new deliveries during the process so I included them too. One was Grumbacher charcoal which I’m looking forward to using more in the future. It seems very similar to Nitram to be honest but the hard sticks seem a little more useful than the Nitram hard which can be very scratchy. The other thing I tried out was some carbon pencils. The combination of charcoal and graphite in these pencils seem to help work over the some areas that had either been heavily charcoaled or graphite.
Some early progress shots. I used Bristol board for the background but won’t be using it again for a combination of the two materials. It’s wonderful for graphite but the charcoal struggled with the smoothness. I had to work it in really hard to get it to make any significant effect. Laying down the shadows and initially working out where to go with the charcoal and where to go with the graphite.
Here are a few more shots of the progress.
Successes for the drawing were that I achieved a looseness with the drawing that I wanted as well as keeping it tight and fine around the facial features. In the past the charcoal has prevented me from working on fine details in a portrait, this is something that the graphite allows me to do. The two materials work well together with some restrictions that are also probably dependent on the surface.
Failures for the drawing is that the pose was restricting, I shall in future be looking for more expression and I worked the eyes of the younger man in graphite far too heavily which has given it some shine.
This week has all been about working through this very technical drawing. In the nick of time I figured out that you can work graphite with charcoal to help with those fine details on the very small faces. This is a drawing from an old black and white photo that has been commissioned by a customer in Texas, USA. The family will be reuniting again this year and he wanted it complete to share with them.
Here is a slides show of progress shots…
Here is the completed drawing, winding its way to Texas
Back to my botanical studies from life. This time snowberries, a lovely gentle bunch of berries found in most hedgerows in winter.
Finally I have some cricket mugs that I really love. Initially going for two of my most popular drawings – That Taylor Catch and Swept Away if they prove successful I will introduce more of my designs. Check out my collection on my website shop here or click on the image to follow the link.
Finally I get around to drawing a man with a beard. It’s a great challenge and Steve has kindly agreed to model for me. The completed piece is underneath.
Wicket Keeper Drawing
This week I have been completing my wicket keeper drawing. I took a break from it as I was not getting a likeness but managed to complete it successfully.
Here is a video of is progress….
The finished piece is not available to purchase at the moment but limited edition prints (50) are available. Only prints bought directly from myself as the artist will be the correct quality, signed and dated by me. The image below is of a lower resolution version for the internet. Click here to go to my website shop.