Tag Archives: oil pastels

Experiments At Pentre Ifan

17 Oct


I spend a couple of days in Pembrokeshire drawing dolmens. I managed to get to 4 sites and did some sketching in the field, not easy as I forgot to take my drawing board so I was drawing on grass or even the stones themselves. I tried out some different techniques. These first two drawings at Pentre Ifan are drawn into my small Khadi handmade paper sketchbook that I had pre-coloured with a dark ink wash sploshed on randomly with a sponge. I drew with my Daler Rowney artist’s oil pastels, using white, pale blue and two tones of green. I filled in the negative spaces with the pastels – the dark stones are the ink-washed paper.

PI a

Pentre Ifan burial chamber, Nevern, Pembrokeshire, Wales



Then I tried experimenting with a piece of Fabriano Accademica paper that I had already drawn on some months ago. I visited St. Paul’s catacombs in Malta last Winter and when I came back, I developed some of my sketches into larger drawings with my home-made walnut ink. I didn’t much care for most of them and I’ve been planning on re-using them and this is my first attempt, drawn with carbon and oil pastels, both by Daler Rowney. I like the idea of overlaying an ancient burial chamber onto an ancient burial site, but I’m not sure what I think of the drawing itself. I’ll sleep on it.

Self Experiment

21 May

21 me

After the manic amount of work I did during my residency in Boise, Idaho earlier in the month, I’ve hit a bit of a slump, probably not helped by jetlag, so I gritted my teeth and sat in front of a mirror this afternoon and scribbled what I saw. I don’t usually do self-portraits but I wanted to experiment with some portrait drawings using black and white media – conte crayons, compressed charcoal, carbon, oil pastels. I also wanted to get away from the usual detailed, fine pen work I use for portraits and develop a much more scribbly style.

I’m very influenced by Kathe Kollwitz, a brilliant scribbler and printmaker, and she did lots of self-portraits. makes sense, I don’t have to pay myself. But it’s not a comfortable thing to do. I noticed every single wrinkle, every bit of flab, every blemish eeewwwwww. I haven’t got the likeness right yet, but I’ll keep practising. This is on a piece of A3 Bockingford, 250gsm, prepared with an ink wash and drawn in black and white conte crayon, carbon and white oil pastel.

Old Life

31 Jan

31 old life

This horrible lurgi has lasted so long that I’ve missed three weekly life drawing sessions at Swansea Print Workshop. I’ve been cataloguing old work and coming across stuff I’d forgotten about. I went through a phase of drawing with oil pastels into A3 canvas pads, mainly because I’d been given canvas pads for a present. Here’s one from about 5 years ago. I was surprised that I was using such decorative backgrounds. I still have quite a few canvas sheets left – I think I’ll dig them out and use them – when this darned lurgi lets me get back to work!

A Highly Coloured Man [parental guidance]

24 May

Just got back from life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop – went a bit mad with the oil pastels tonight and had a good scribble all over the sketchbook pages before I started drawing the figure. I’ve been doing it a lot recently to break up the intimidating neatness of the plain page. Blank pages are like bullies and they intimidate me. So I show them who’s boss! And then it feels as if the drawing is emerging from the background, rather than me imposing it onto the page. Does that make any sense? This is our older male model. I like drawing him, ageing bodies are very interesting. Drawn with pastels and compressed charcoal into an A3 cream Bockingford sketchbook, using both pages. Now I’m going to bed 🙂

A Brand New Life Drawing

19 Apr

Charcoal and pastel life drawing.

Just got back from life-drawing group at Swansea Print Workshop. We had a very experienced model this evening who also models at our local university. She has one of those Dutch ‘peasant’ faces that Van Gogh used to paint, like in the Potato Eaters. I mean this in the nicest way – very interesting features. I’ve been reading my new book about David Hockney and he’s been going on about how the more we artists look, the more we see and he’s certainly right about that. When you just glance at people you only take in a little impression but when you really look, all sorts of colours appear. Well, they do to me anyway 🙂


I particularly like drawing these scrunched-up, foetal poses. This is drawn with compressed charcoal and oil pastels into my A3 Bockingford sketchbook, which has a lovely creamy paper, used double-sided.

Hanging With Egon.

28 Mar

Drawing in charcoal and pastels after Egon Schiele.

I’ve been a bit short on the creative juices the past couple of days so I did some sketchbook studies of works by Egon Schiele. I adore Schiele and find his art inspirational. I didn’t try to slavishly copy his drawings, but rather to analyse and interpret them using charcoal and pastels. I often find when I study historical artists who work with the human figure that the bodies are distorted. Nigel Spivey picks up on this in his excellent book How Art Made The World. Schiele’s figures usually look exaggerated anyway but this one is well weird, the left leg and foot couldn’t possibly be like that in real life, but he’s distorted them to fit his vision – or maybe to fit his paper :).

I feel like I’ve been shaken out of my comfort zone by hanging out with Egon for a couple of days and am feeling more confident about a big project I’m about to tackle. More on that as it progresses. And now I’m off for a busy night, first to the opening of the new exhibition, with cake and ale, and then to the Swansea Steampunk Meet at Mozarts, with Earl Grey Tea and corsets.

Waspies, Steampunk and Drawing in the Dark

30 Jul

A Waspie on Steampunk Night


Swansea Steampunk night happens at a very atmospheric Victorian club which has developed a patina of faded grandeur over the past 150 years or so. Once a month it’s taken over by strange people in spectacular costumes and weird accessories. It’s great to draw there because I normally work with professional nude models and don’t get much chance to draw clothed people, especially this sort of mix of authentic Victorian and Edwardian outfits alongside bizarre scifi costumes.


It’s also very dark and it isn’t easy to draw in such low light levels. I usually draw in pen onto white paper but this night I used oil pastels onto black paper. I couldn’t see what colours I was pulling out of the box, but I liked the end result, even though her hair turned out purplish when really it was ginger. Nice bold waspie too.

%d bloggers like this: