donderdag 8 november 2012

Water at Last!

It was a lovely bright day with no demands on my time so I took the opportunity to spend the day drawing. Having filled in all the fish during the last sitting it was finally time to tackle the water, starting in the top lefthand corner and leaning on some clean paper to prevent the drawing from getting smudged in the process. Using a blend of spruce green, prussian blue, blue grey, and burnishing with Chinese white I made the water much darker, deepening the ripples and heightening the shine where needed.

Here you can see the already drawn in ripples, but these need deepening, refining and smoothing as does the surrounding water. I'll attempt to eliminate the pencil strokes as much as possible to make the final picture more realistic. This takes a lot of time, lots of layers, plenty of pressure on the pencils, a lot of burnishing and minute attention to detail. We'll see how close I can get to the picture in my head...

The roughly penciled in shapes and details of the water are clearly visible here. These will need to be a lot darker in tone and very much smoother.
In this photo I've done a fair amount of work on the movement in the water by adding lots of colour and smoothing things out with the help of the stumper. An eraser is very useful to help highlight the top "ridges" of the ripples. For very small white areas, particularly along the finer rings it can be helpful to cut tiny pieces of eraser with a paper knife for better accuracy. You can emphasize the light by adding dark colour in between the rings, but always blend and soften the edges so that the lines don't appear to be drawn.

Time for a break! I've had to turn on my daylight lamp so I can continue drawing. That's the trouble in the autumn and winter - the light fades quickly and it's not as easy to see the subtle differences between the various shades of colour. (That might of course be something to do with my gradually deteriorating eyesight, but shushsssss, we're not talking about that! I'm delaying the wearing of glasses for as long as possible! Well, I only need them for everything that's off in the distance. Trouble is, the distance is getting closer!). Anyway, I'm having a break now, looking out my window at the lovely trees. And no, that's not my halo you see reflected in the window, or a UFO hovering over the little park out the back, it's just that very useful magnifying daylight lamp which is allowing me to carry on drawing despite the clouds and fading light.

One cup of tea and a lot more drawing later and I've made some real progress. But more work needs to be done on the lower corner...
... and that's exactly what I do next, not forgetting the blurs of orange deeper in the water.
This photo shows how much darker the water on the left of the drawing has become. It's much darker in the room now so the flash from the camera shows up to the extreme left but you can see a clear difference in the depth of blue around the blue/white fish to the right. I'm working my way across to the right side.
Well, I've been busy now for 6 hours and 20 minutes - a very satisfying day of drawing - bringing the total time spent to 33 hours and 25 minutes so far. I'm guessing it'll be another 8-10 hours before the drawing is properly finished, but we'll see. It's going to be a challenge to get the water looking just as dark as in the photograph - but that's the fun of the exercise!

woensdag 7 november 2012

Fish Coming Along Swimmingly

Yes! The last few fish swim into view - well not quite, they still have to be drawn, but I'm almost there and very eager to finish. I sit down for another 3 and a half hours in my little studio, perfect daylight shining in through the window over my desk, online RTE radio playing in the background, little electric heater blowing heaven sent warm air onto my feet (it's such a cold room, with only a thin brick wall between me and the elements - ok cut the drama! - it's decidedly chilly in there though so the heater is necessary to keep me from retreating to the warmth of the living room). Anyway, I get on with it. All thought ebbs away as I become absorbed in the colours and shapes and I'm a happy bunny.

I add another fish, this time a pale little fellow with pinkish white skin and a deep orange patch on his head and some slight hints of a lighter orange around the nose. Deep tones in the water around the Koi's head serve to outline the details near the mouth. I also fill in more water, not forgetting to add the "floating bits" and shading them more deeply on the lower edges to capture the correct angle of light. I admit, the water doesn't look like much now, but there's a lot more work to be done on the whole of the water before I can call this a finished drawing. Now I just want to get those seemingly endless numbers of fish drawn in - then I can get on!

The water below this fish is filled with the blurry shapes and colours of more fish deeper down in the water. I sketch these in and do some more blending - they'll get more attention later on.
I step back and look at the surface of the water and, subsequently, start to draw in the beginning of some ripples near the sides and tails of these last fish. Again these will get more attention during the final stage when I'm sprucing up the water.
Just one last fish, some more ripples and a little water and the details of the drawing are finally all filled in! The light is starting to fade so it's time to stop for the moment.
It's taken 27 hours and 5 minutes to get this far, but the fish are coming along swimmingly!
Next time I get to bring things to life by tackling the really fun part - the water....

Onwards and Upwards

I'm keeping this entry short, not because I'm bored because that's not the case - I'm actually really enjoying the drawing now and can see how it will all turn out in my mind's eye. Until the final "polishing up" stage the next steps are really only more of the same - blocking in colour and detail on the remaining fish, refining the details as I go and applying the usual sequence of colours to the large areas of water to the right side of the paper.
This time, having already spent a total of 22 hours and 20 minutes on the drawing, I sit down for another 1 hour and 15 minutes  and get on with filling in some more fish and water.

Following the shapes in the photo I colour in some middle chrome orange on one of the remaining fish. Deep chrome accents along the shadow side of the dorsal fin and some gold (which is more of a shade of yellow) along the ridge of the fish's spine are added too, along with the necessary patches of ivory black. Note the deep orange of the upper fin blending gradually into the water, suggesting depth and movement.
I blend all the colours with the stumper - a very useful tool! - and mark in the scales along the sides, taking care not to draw them in too precisely, in the spirit of trying to make the fish appear as natural and "un-drawn" as possible.
Then, having blended everything, I once again highlight the darker patches with ivory black and fill in the water below the fish, burnishing with Chinese white as usual. Orange and yellow is blurred into the water around the head of the fish to imply movement.
Total time now is 23 hours and 35 minutes and there are just a couple more fish to complete... the end is in sight!

A Woolly Interlude

By accident I came across the "Innocent" website ( - I think via a link on Facebook, but not sure - and read all about their knitting campagne designed to focus attention on the elderly and to raise money to support the "BoodschappenPlusBus", a project which provides 15,000 elderly people in The Netherlands the opportunity to get out and about.
So, having lots of ends of wool lying about from previous knitting projects of my own, I thought that this was a brilliant way to use them up and began knitting. This photo shows the first 18 mini hats I made. It's turned out to be quite an addictive pursuit - the hats are small and very easy to knit (I've chosen to keep to the most simple pattern, available on the website) and perfect to keep busy while sitting watching TV in the evening. You can be as creative as you like, but keeping it simple means I can get more done. So far I've knitted 53  - all different! The hats have to be sent in (free postage) before the 1st December, so I'll just keep knitting until the time or the wool runs out. What fun!