New York Fashion week

It’s fashion week again and I have packed up my watercolours and brought out the colour pencils. My first piece is from the R13 collection. I couldn’t resist the combination of camouflage and leopard print. I love this drawing! I never say that but I am actually really pleased with how it turned out in the end. (Leaving part of it “unfinished” IS intentionally in case anyone was wondering 🙄)

‘R13 – Spring 2020 – Ready to Wear’

I was feeling pretty cocky after my first drawing turned out to be such a masterpiece, I thought Id try out some toned paper. Judging by the amount of toned paper I have in stock I must have had this thought numerous times before but have obviously never followed through! I have three unused pads of the stuff! For this one I chose the Toned Gray from Strathmore. For my first toned paper attempt I am pretty happy although looking at this now I may have got a little carried away with the white pencil highlights in the end.

‘Jonathan Simkhai – Spring 2020 – Ready to Wear’

And just to prove not everything goes to plan here is unfinished drawing number three from the Kate Spade collection. This one just didn’t work for me from the very start. I had so much trouble with her skin. I think I am just not well practiced in drawing dark skin tones. Admittedly it doesnt look totally horrible, I just personally don’t like it and have no appetite to finish it. I think I was trying to do too much and too many things in one drawing and now I feel a bit lost. Maybe I will go back to it one day!

More Mixed Media Portraits

I’ve been practicing my watercolour. I think I am slowly improving. I still find it a very challenging medium to use. The hardest part for me is to let go and allow the watercolours to really do what they want to do. The looser I can let myself be the better the end results.

These two portraits I did straight after one another. They are both of a Russian model called Sofia Steinberg and the reference photos appeared in the Zara online catalogue. She has a really interestesting quirky look about her that I like. I say interesting and quirky my husband says “pissed off and bitchy”. Regardless I am a bit obsessed with her now… not in a weird stalky way … although I have tagged her in everything I put on Instagram (which by the way she NEVER acknowledges.. maybe she is bitchy?)

Since I am still a pretty shitty water-colourist I always go back to my colour pencils to “refine” things a little (okay a lot). For both of these portraits I used colour pencil for the facial features and to refine a few edges. I quite like the end results. I think the colour pencil give it a bit more “pop” than I could achieve with watercolour paints alone.

Mixed media runway illustration

Dries Van Noten – Fall 2019

The Dries Van Noten show was one of my absolute favourites from the Fall 2019 runway shows. I am a bit of a sucker for a floral print especially when it’s not a sickly sweet one; “Flowers can be romantic, but this I wanted to take out, because the times are tougher than in the past. So you see the diseases, the black spot, the imperfections.”

Rub ‘n Buff Gold Leaf

Like a Bower Bird, I am attracted to all things sparkly. I picked up a tube of Rub’n Buff in my local art store a few months ago not really knowing what I would use it for. It comes in a 15ml tube in 12 metallic colours (Gold Leaf, Antique Gold, European Gold, Grecian Gold, Autumn Gold, Silver Leaf, Antique White, Pewter, Spanish Copper, Ebony, Ruby, Patina – which looks like it would be an amazing colour!). I have the colour “Gold Leaf”. I think technically it’s supposed to be used to add gold leaf to hard surfaces like timber. There are no real instructions of the tube just; ‘apply to most surfaces, polish with cloth. Clean with mineral spirits.’ ??????

Rub 'n Buff Gold Leaf

So, after basically ignoring the instructions, I thought it was the perfect thing to use to recreate one of the Dries Van Noten gold floral looks. I started with a watercolour base for the skin and the shoes. I then applied the Rub ‘n Buff with a small stiff brush to create the gold flowers. In larger areas you can buff it a bit with the brush, however, in small, more detailed areas, it is not so easy to use as it is very thick and not particularly fluid. Consequently, I had to apply it quite thickly to get a crisp edges. I am no alchemist (or even chemist for that matter) but perhaps you could thin it with a little mineral spirits and that would make it more spreadable? Just a thought.

Pearlescent Liquid Acrylic

Another product that I purchase on a whim but have never used; Daler Rowney Pearlescent Liquid Acrylic Artists Ink. This has a little bit of a sheen to it which complemented the gold quite well. Something that surprised me (but obviously wouldn’t have if I bothered to actually test things out before I committed to the final piece) was that this ink can be painted over the gold. For some reason I thought the Rub ‘n Buff being wax based would repel the water based acrylic. It doesn’t. So all my efforts to get a crisp edge with the gold were slightly unnecessary as I could just create the edges with the black ink.

Finishing Touches

For her bag I used another shiny buy; a ‘Wink of Stella’ glitter brush pen. They are, as the name suggests, a glitter pen that has a brush tip. There are loads of different colours and the finish is sensational. You will be seeing them a lot more in my art work. I am in love.

At this point everything was looking far more “unrealistic” than I was comfortable with so I used my colour pencils to enhance her face and feet. Her hands were also really bugging me. I could live with the one dimensional nature of her pants and coat but they hands just looked too weird. I took to them with a 6B pencil to add a bit of shading and hopefully they look a bit better.

So here she is. Unfortunately Run ‘n Buff and glitter pens, like a lot of metallic mediums, don’t scan particularly well. They need reflected light to really shine and a scanner just doesn’t do them justice.

“Dries Van Noten – Fall 2019” – mixed media runway illustration


A good hair day at last!

I have probably prattled on quite a bit about how much trouble I have drawing hair. I think because I find it so difficult I tend to leave it until the last thing to do. It always ends up being a bit of an afterthought and/or, in a rush to get things finished, I don’t pay it as much attention as I do the rest of the portrait. Consequently my hair always looks a little …flat.

I have developed a few crafty ways to avoid drawing hair all together; turbans, buzz cuts and my personal favourite negative space!

I think there is a saying something along the lines of if you don’t like doing something, you should tackle it head on (pardon the sort of pun there). Maybe I just made that up. I don’t know, but it sounds like it should be an adage of some sort. So I set myself a challenge to do a hair study. No distracting facial features allowed… yikes!)

I can’t really remember where this reference photo came from. I think it was a video on Instagram and I just took a couple of screen shots with my iPad until I got something I liked. Choosing a braid turned out to be a most fortuitous, albeit unconscious, decision. It enabled me to break it down in to manageable chunks. Literally, I went braid by braid, doing each one individually, before moving on to the next.

For this drawing I used a selection of my Tombow monos; a 6B for the darkest and 5H for the lightest, then an H and a 2B for the in between. I used Cretacolor Monoliths for the bow in her hair.  These are a woodless pencil; so basically solid graphite.  I had hoped they would bring a nice sheen and ‘satin-y’ feel to the ribbon, making it look quite different to the rest of the portrait. Alas, I don’t think you can really see much difference.

Graphite pencil illustration of hair braid

I wanted to add something to finish this drawing. I feel like this is where I fall down a bit with my art work. I have a nice drawing but I don’t really know how to elevate it to the next level so to speak. So after weeks (and weeks) of procrastinating (and some encouragement from the amazingbelindaxiaillustration, I finally took the plunge deciding to apply gold leaf to the background.

I have never, ever, done any gold leafing before, but I always think it looks super cool and how hard can it be?! It’s just gluing paper to paper right? Craft 101. Yeah. No. When they say gold leaf is delicate they are not kidding. Oh my god. This stuff tears and breaks in to tiny little pieces as soon as you touch it! Consequently I now have a house full of little bits of gold leaf.

The finished product may look a little ‘rough’ but I actually didn’t want a perfectly smooth gold background. I am pretty happy with the end result. What do you think?