Art Q&A

In the first of my blog posts answering some of your questions about my artwork, I have picked out five that I get asked the most frequently:

Stag beetle pencil drawing

Why graphite?

I’m not really sure why I was drawn to graphite in the first place over all other mediums, but it was something I instinctively gravitated towards and my passion for it has only grown stronger over the years. I love the simplicity and versatility of it – the many different forms and the diversity of atmosphere it can create; I love the magic of creating something out of very little and the challenges of working in monochrome. I also love the constant voyage of discovery using graphite – something I feel I have only scratched the surface of so far. Picking up a pencil to draw, at its most basic level, simply feels comfortable.

How long does a drawing take to complete?

A difficult one to answer as it varies depending on the subject and the size, but broadly speaking, a minimum of six hours for a small postcard-size drawing and many more hours over a number of weeks or even months to complete my larger drawings.

Do you have a favourite drawing?

I think it would be impossible for me to pick out one drawing as my favourite as they all have a tale to tell and mean something different to me. Some I love because they taught me a huge amount, others for their composition or subject, others because they are associated with something personal and some because I can really see progression in my technique. Every single drawing has my heart and soul poured into it. I’m always trying to improve and move forward with each one that I draw. Drawing for me is a real passion.

Pet portrait commission

Any tips for creating fur?

Practice is the main tip. Drawing, like anything else, is a skill and time spent on it reaps rewards. 

Make sure that you draw what you see and not what you think that you see – fur can be incredibly complex in terms of variations in texture and direction, even in a small area. 

Make sure that you draw fur in the direction that it lays on the animal – the human eye soon spots that there is something not quite right when the fur is drawn in the wrong direction. 

Practice negative drawing, which is particularly useful for drawing white fur, i.e. focus on the shadows and areas in between the actual hairs, rather than trying to draw the hair itself. 

Having said all that, to be honest, I think that the more you draw fur you begin to find your own unique way of making it come alive and that in my opinion, is the best way of all to learn and develop.

Where do you get reference photos from?

A combination of online sources (there are a number of websites that let you use photos for free, there are also one or two where you can pay a small amount to use them) and photos that I have taken myself – make sure that you read the small print on any images that you use if they are not your own, particularly important if you are planning to sell the drawing or use it for any other commercial purpose, many won’t let you do so without paying a license fee. 

Thanks so much to those that contact me to ask questions and for all of you who stick around to follow my artwork and show your support – I know I say it a lot, but it really is so appreciated.

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