Eye illustrations; practice makes (almost) perfect.

A Detacher 2

This week I decided to do a couple of larger scale eye studies.  Normally when I draw portraits they are on A3 or A4 paper, so the eyes tend to be about 3cm wide at the most.  This tends to limit how much detail I can incorporate.  As a result I feel like ‘my’ eyes are getting a bit ‘formulaic’; a bit same-same.  In an effort to capture more detail I’ve scaled things up this time.  I’ve picked out a few of my favourite looks from the Fall 2018  runways to recreate in my eye studies. Next week I will break it down a bit for you and show you how I draw eyes step by step.

Louis Vuitton

Prada final

A Detacher 2

 

“Grace” in Colour

Last week I had finished the graphite part of this drawing.  You can read about the process and see some work in progress photos here.  I could have left it at that but I have been doing so many graphite pieces of late I really felt like adding a bit of colour.  I decided to break out the gouache paints as I like the opaque, flat almost ‘poster paint’ nature of them. None of that pesky, uncontrollable watercolour behaviour! I don’t feel particularly confident with any kind of painting so putting paint to paper is always a bit scary for me   There is always a high risk that I am going to stuff it up royally.  Hence it was quite a few days before I dived in but I am so glad I did.  I am really happy with the end result.

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Back to basics

I SUCK …S-U-C-K-!

Everything I do is shit…. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G

I CANT DRAW!!

Ahhhh these are the wailings of a tantrumy (I made that word up obviously) four-year old AND of a frustrated, perhaps every so slightly insecure, forty something year old artist.  My darling husband puts up with this shit about once every six weeks or so.  He’s such a champion and always responds patiently (and somewhat robotically?) with;

No you don’t

No it’s not.  

And.. yes you can 

I know I CAN draw pretty good but sometimes things just don’t turn out the way I have them planned in my head and it can get pretty damn annoying.  The more frustrated I get the more I tend to over think and jump from one idea to the next and from one piece of work to another in the hope that somehow I will have a “break through” and something will work!  Consequently I end up with a LOT of unfinished pieces of crap!  I recently had a clear out of all these pieces out and pretty much filled an entire wheelie bin!  Anyway, all this rushing around in my head, and on paper, has meant that I haven’t really taken my time with something for ages.  So time to stop, slow down, go back to basics.

I wanted to go back to the basic graphite pencil skills I had learnt over the last decade and that I had somehow forgotten in the rush of getting stuff done/trying to create a masterpiece. Step one was finding a reference picture that I liked.  I came across this amazing image by Kyle La Mere.  (If anyone actually reads my blog they might be going hang on a minute, wasn’t she banging on about NOT using reference images last week and something about a potato?!).  Yes I was. And, yes, I am not a huge fan of using reference images directly, but when your confidence is shot to shit and all your creativity has been sucked out of you, it’s time to go right back to basics.  Using a good reference image is a great way for me to practice my skills and to get my confidence back and simply rediscover my love for drawing.  (And before anyone gets their knickers in a knot about “copying”; I am practicing, not creating something for sale and I am giving credit to the amazing photographer who took this photo, twice now!  I’d give credit to the model too but I don’t know who she is.)

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I think I’ve made it clear before that I struggle with hair and for that reason I purposely chose a model without much hair.  I honestly did not realise until I started that she didn’t have eyebrows though!  I often think my eyebrows (not my ACTUAL eyebrows but the eyebrows I draw) look at bit ‘stuck on’ and not part of the face.  I wasn’t purposely avoiding eyebrows in this instance it just worked out that way.

For this drawing I used the back side of some Daler Rowney Smooth Heavyweight (220gm) paper that I had.  I figure maybe I brought it overseas, or a million years ago, as it has a price tag of $29.80 which seems VERY reasonable!  It doesn’t say how many sheets of paper it is, but there are 16 left which make it even more reasonable!  I’ve run out of Arches and when I want to my local art store and couldn’t find any the owner informed me that a new company owns it and they have put the price up $15 and reduced the number of sheets in a pad!  CORPORATE BASTARDS!!!!!  Plus she only had 300gsm.  I brought one pad at $83 which my husband reliably pointed out is $6-$7 a sheet, so “I better not stuff it up”.  Thanks.  Perhaps I should go dumpster diving in to that wheelie bin full of drawing fails and see what paper I can salvage

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I actually quite like this Daler Rowney paper.  It definitely has more of a distinctive texture than the Arches paper. It give a bit of texture to the skin that I like, particularly around the eyes and eyelids.  It naturally gives that crepe-y look that skin has (or at least older skin).  The down side is that the texture is fairly uniform and distinctly horizontal which can look a bit unnatural.  In some areas where the skin is quite firm and taut across the bone like the cheeks or the forehead, it is more difficult to achieve the necessary smooth look with this paper.

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I agonised over how to draw her hair (I told you I was an over-thinker).   My philosophy is always to draw what you SEE rather than what you THINK you see or what you think you know.  Our brains are pretty adept at translating what our eyes see so that we understand it better.  When we see an eyeball we know it to be a sphere so we draw a circle.  But if you really look at it, the top part of they eye is concealed by the eyelid, so really, what you are often seeing, is the bottom three-quarter of a circle.  My point being draw what you see in front of you (three-quarters of a circle) not what you know it to be (a complete circle).  Anyway once again I digress and once again .. am going to contradict myself.

With the hair I did the opposite.  My brain could just not compute what my eyes were seeing.  So I kind of ignored what I saw and thought it’s shaven hair and shaven hair is just short little strokes.  So that’s what I did… lots of short little strokes bit different grades of graphite.  Again the Daler Rowney paper was actually good for this as it added to that sense of texture and roughness.

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I didn’t want to have just a head floating in space so I added the neck using a combination of Tombow Mono 4B and 6B graphite and 6B Staedtler Mars Lumograph black pencils  I have probably mentioned these Lumograph blacks before but they are my charcoal “substitute”. I just can’t deal with charcoal!  It’s messy, impossible to sharpen, and ahhhgg sends a control freak like me in to a tail spin.   Lumographs contain a higher proportion of carbon in the lead than graphite pencils. The carbon creates a matt black finish.  I tend to only use the 6B and the 8B versions as the 2B and 4B aren’t particularly dark.  They are also smudge-able (again not a real word I know) as you can see around the collar of her top.  In truth they are probably not as matt black or as smudge-able as charcoal but for me they are a perfect alternative.

So I am pretty happy with the end result. I feel like I am back in the groove. Maybe I should just stick to what I know and stop mucking around with those colour pencils!!

final

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Random things

(Let me just start by apologising profusely for last weeks train wreck of a blog post.  This is what happens when you ask your husband to proof read something .. he just takes over and writes mean shit about people!)

I’m taking a bit of a break after all that Fashions on the Field business so thought I would share some things I did earlier this year.  These were graphite and colour pencil illustrations based on a some images from Zara.  I had planned to do a whole series of them but other stuff keeps coming up!

Both are available as prints (terribly unimaginative titles I know but I’m no good at naming my art!)

Blue-jeans“Blue Socks” – Graphite and colour pencil illustration

 

 

Red-dress-final

“Red Shoes” – Graphite and colour pencil illustration

Fashions on the Field has been hijacked!!!

So you think YOU are sick of those Fashions on the Field drawings I am freakin’ bored witless!  It has taken every ounce of mental discipline to finish this last one.  To be fair, discipline, focus, being task oriented etc, are all traits that I seriously lack.  Anyway now it is finally finished and no one need read another blog post (at least from me) about fascinators, millinery, or whatever the fuck that shit they put on their head is called. (husband here: she doesn’t really mean that)

This last one nearly killed me. I have to admit I hated every second of it!  I feel a bit bad owning up to that. It feels a bit like artistic blasphemy.  Everything should be created with love, passion etc etc … In all honesty this one came from a place of frustration and desperation … JUST GET IT DONE.

Here she is; Courtney Moore the winner of the 2016 Myer Fashions on the Field event, completed in graphite, colour pencil and digital colouring.

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…and here are all the rest.  These 11 drawings are part of bigger plan / collaboration project.  Only time will tell what happens with that project.  If I never speak of them again you will know that it amounted to nothing and I wasted six months drawing smiling women in silly hats!  Never again! (husband here: she really does love the hats and the smiling women)

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So which one is my favourite?  Certainly Chloe Moo – 2013, was the crowd favourite, smashing my Instagram account.  I think I am most chuffed with Kristy Magillivary – 2008, the all black one, only because I could not fathom how to draw an all black outfit (nor how an all black outfit actually won) (husband here: she likes black! she wears loads of black I swear!).  I did a lot of it in Photoshop and it turned out exactly as I planned.

As my personal favourite, I am torn between Emily Hunter – 2015, and Angela Menz – 2011 (aka – vagina head).  (husband here again: it was me who said it looked like a vagina. It’s not her fault).  For both of these I ventured a lot further with colour pencil than I have previously and was pretty happy with the results. It has definitely inspired me to pursue colour pencils a bit more (oh and to buy $100 worth of new fancy Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils.)

For all my wanting to be a real/ professional artist at the beginning of the year this project was a stark reality check.  Maybe it’s not all  that it’s cracked up to be.  Maybe I don’t want to be a REAL artist after all  and I am truly okay with that.  I just want to draw what I want to draw,  how and when I want to draw it, with no external or internal pressure.

Creativity is something deep within me that I just have to get out (I’m sure my husband is going to read that and say …what like a giant 💩.. ewwww),  It doesn’t have to have a purpose or a meaning, it doesn’t have to “get likes”, it doesn’t even have to be that good at the end of the day I just have to do it.

(Husband here: she really is a nice person, sometimes she just lets shit come out that should remain in her head. I guess that’s why I love her. I apologise to anyone who has been offended)

Ha ha.. he hijacked my blog post and the fact that I spent $100 on colour pencils didn’t even raise an eyebrow!!

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?  Not quite!  I managed to knock over two more Myer Fashions on the Field illustrations this week with just one more left to do.. phew!

First off, this week is the 2011 winner, Angela Menz.  Angela is a milliner and designer who created this winning outfit and headpiece for $400!!  And no my sweet but ignorant husband, she is not wearing a giant vagina on her head … it’s “fashun” darling… FASHUN!  Angela is also responsible for On Track Trend which you can also follow on Instagram if you like keeping up with all things racing fashion.

If you read last week’s post you will know I chickened out of doing a complete colour pencil portrait and ended up with a bit of half and half (graphite and colour mix).  This time I went for it and did my first ever colour pencil portrait.  I am actually pretty happy with how it turned out!

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Second up is 2010 winner Jaydee Menegon who won wearing an $18 dress …bargain!

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Photo Credit 1/2

Chloe Moo – Myer Fashions on the Field Winner 2013

Graphite, watercolour and digital colour fashion illustration of Chloe Moo winner of the 2013 Myer Fashions on the Field

Graphite, watercolour and digital colour fashion illustration of Chloe Moo winner of the 2013 Myer Fashions on the Field

This is one of my favourite looks of all the Myer Fashions on the Field National winners.  Chloe Moo’s dress was designed by her mother using fabric screen printed by Merrepen Arts at a community south of Darwin in the Northern Territory.  Nineteen year old Chloe matched the red, black and white dress with Valentino Shoes and a matching fascinator by Monsoon Millinery.

This piece was created using graphite pencils, watercolour and digital colouring.

Follow the links to see my illustrations of the 2017 and 2007 winners.

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Photo Credit: fabulous-femme.com 

 

 

New York fashion Week; colour pencil illustration

This is part 2 of my most recent colour pencil adventures.  You can read part 1 here.    To quickly recap the most important lessons / tips I learnt at last weekend’s colour pencil class;

  1. Use a sharp pencil held upright (i.e. perpendicular to the page) in small circular strokes.
  2. Smooth paper is essential to creating a smooth finish.
  3. Three methods of blending;
    1. layering colour pencils
    2. solvents
    3. colourless pencil blender
  4. Use a burnishing pencil to “polish’ the paper to create a shiny surface.
  5. Hold the tip of the pencil against the object you are drawing to achieve the best colour match for your base layers.
  6. Create shadows using a complementary colour and analogue colours for a smooth transition.

This week I put these tips to the test on my New York Fashion Week illustration.  I took at tonne of work-in-progress photos this time to document the process.  I am a little bit reluctant to share them as colour pencil is seriously best viewed at a bit of a distance.  It looks terribly grainy up close especially with unforgiving overhead lighting.

You can read all about the process of putting these tips in to action below or, just cut to the end for a look at the final image.

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When good things go bad or visa versa

Why is it that sometimes the things you think are going to turn out brilliant turn out shit and the things that you think are going to be shit turn out f’ing awesome (or at least better than shit)?  I’ve had so many drawings lately that I thought were going to turn out brilliant.  You know when you come up with an idea and you think I am a god damn genius (Gump), no one has EVER thought of this before, this illustration is going to be THE MOST awesome thing anyone has seen (well I’m never THAT confident but you get my drift).  And then you put pencil to paper and for some reason it just doesn’t work!

The flip side to all of this is those images that start out as a bit of a pile of shit and end up epic!.  Okay EPIC may be an exaggeration but a hell of a lot better than I thought it was going to be.

I have this job, collaboration, ‘thing’ going on which involves drawing a lot of Spring Racing fashion.  I like drawing fashion but I have to admit I am a bit out of practice, having focused largely on portraits of late.  I did the first drawing late last year of Crystal Kimber, winner on the 2017 Myer Fashions on the Field National Competition.  The National Competition brings together all the state finalists at Flemington race course on Kennedy Oaks Day and is Australia’s largest and most prestigious outdoor fashion event.

I have since attempted to illustrate three other winners and each one has been varying degrees of… blahg.

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After three consecutive so-so drawings I was neither inspired nor looking forward to tackling another.  I don’t know why (call me a glutton for punishment) but I chose to do the one I was dreading the most! It was an outfit from 2007 so like back when tweed and satin were fashionable fabrics (ugh), wide, waist-cinching belts were trendy and greys and browns were the colour of choice, apparently.  I am in no way criticising the sartorial choices of the winner (Lorraine Cookson).  She was bang on trend in 2007 but after all the colour of the last couple of years this felt a bit drab.

Aside from the somewhat uninspiring outfit, the really challenging part wa sourcing useful reference photos.  For these racing illustrations I am trying to accurately draw the clothing and the model.  To do so I pull a bunch of photos from the internet and then just use bits and pieces to create my own image.

So back to 1977  sorry 2007 and the lovely Lorraine.  I guess because its like all of TEN YEARS ago all the reference images I managed to source were dodgy, a bit grainy, low quality and at the weirdest angles.

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I didn’t feel confident creating my own image as there wasn’t enough detail in any of the photos.  In all honestly I didn’t have a clear picture in my head of what the outfit actually looked like.  I could tell it was a wrap skirt and a grey tweed jacket with a wide belt.  The hat was a fedora with some kind of flower and as far as the shoes, apart from being f’ing high (kudos to this woman for being able to walk on grass in those mothers) open toe, close toe, sling back I have no idea!

I ended up choosing this photo by Gaye Gerrad (Getty images) to be my sole reference photo.

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So with much trepidation and absolutely no confident I sat down one rainy Sunday afternoon to start.  Since everything was kinda vague, vague details, vague edges, vague idea of what I was doing I thought; I know I will just start by blocking in rough, vague, shapes and vainly hope that the fog will lift and I will get some clarity about what I am looking at.  By the end of the day I had this.

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and I was pretty well… chuffed!

It was by no means what I set out to do.  Normally I aim for very sharp, crisp, edges, clean lines and lots of detail, using a range of pencils from 4H through to 6B.  This was completed solely with an HB.  Generally I use a crosshatch stroke and/or a small circular motion.  For this particular drawing, I tried to maintain a 45 degree angle (although clearly my focus is not terribly good and you can see in the hat I was going 45 degrees the other way doh!)

In my second sitting I wanted to bring out the darker areas and smooth out the graduations of tone.  I really have no idea what I am doing here.  Part of me wanted to do the second layer at right angles (i.e. cross hatch) to get rid of the definite lines.  I was also tempted to focus on finishing an area completely before I moved on to the next as this is the way I normally work.  Remember the episode of Seinfield where George decides to do everything the opposite of what he normally does in the belief that it will bring him success since every decision he has ever made has been wrong.

 “if every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right”.

That’s kinda how I felt.  Resist the temptation to do what I would normally do and it will work out!

This second layer was completed primarily with a 2B focused on darkening the shadow areas and a HB to even out the transitions. I stayed away from the skirt for the time being as I wanted to keep this light.  Since I was focused on working in layers it was really important keep the pencil application light.  I wanted to avoid getting to a point where the paper couldn’t take any more graphite before I had achieved the level of darkness that I wanted.

For my third sitting I focused on the lighter areas, being the skirt and the skin, using a 4H pencil.  Also at this time I added in the darkest of the darks where necessary with a 4B (the shadow her skirt casts on her legs, the back leg and the right side of her jacket.). I continued to work on smoothing out the gradiations.

FINAL

I ended up with something really different to what I would normally do and I quite like it.  Truth be told it is one of those pictures that looks better in the flesh from a distance!  I know that sounds like a euphemism for saying its really shit.  Stand on one leg, close your left eye and then look at it and trust me then you’ll see how good it looks!😉

 

Photo reference 1/2