Last year I used Blog2Print to create a book of my first years blog posts. I was pleased with the book so decided to do the same for the second year. I used the same design but in a different colour to suit the image I had chosen for this years front cover. This time I included the comments as it is nice to lppk back and see what people thought of my progress. Last year I had the first volume available on my stand at exhibitions and people seemed to like glancing through to see how I work. My main aim though is to have a hard copy of my blog for my personal use and there is something very satisfying in seeing the two volumes sitting side by side on the shelf.
I intend to create a book each year I write my blog and this year I intend to include things like the birds that visit the garden, more about the dogs etc.
I would add that I have absolutely no connection with Blog2Print and if anyone decides to have their own blog printed I recommend you read the small print carefully.
Carrying on with my leopard. I have no idea why I haven't finished the ear except that I haven't felt the time was right. This is definitely 'my' way of working certainly not recommended in the books that suggest working the whole piece as one. But, it works for me. I've adapted to the much rougher surface and am pleased with the effect. It does have a tendency to shine with the softer leads so I find it helps to put a layer of 2 or 4H down first before adding the softer darker tones. Working back over the top with the hard leads then further softens and dulls the effect. I'm not intending adding any more background than the small shadow because I want all the focus on the leopard. He will have back legs eventually.
I'm working on the cold pressed paper again, going even larger this time.
This is an Amur Leopard that I captured in a moment of relaxation rolling on his back in the sun. Sadly it is a captive animal, I will never see one in the wild.
The finished piece will show all the Leopard's body but it's too big to fit on the scanner.
A bit of background:-
The Amur Leopard is also known as the Far Eastern Leopard, the Manchurian Leopard or the Korean Leopard and is found in the Russian Far East and Northern China. It is a solitary nocturnal hunter and there are believed to be only around 40 individuals still left in the Russian Taiga.
Ecologists are going to do a count of the Leopards in Russia to see how the population is fluctuating.
When I looked at the photographs I'd taken of the Leopard I knew this was the one to draw. I immediately thought of the contrast between the carefree pose and the threat the animal faces in the wild. It was an exceptionally bittersweet moment as clearly this animal was relaxed and enjoying himself in the sun but I couldn't help but wish it could live as the lone nocturnal hunter hidden away from humans in its natural habitat.
I had two slightly less frequent visitors to my garden drop in today. Both photographs are poor quality because I was shooting through glass without having time to adjust my camera settings.
I see the Sparrowhawk every few days but usually just flying past low and fast, today it perched on the greenhouse for a few seconds.
The melanistic pheasant visits every so often but I hadn't seen it for about six months and had assumed it was dead so it was a nice surprise when it appeared this morning.
I understand the melanistic pheasant is a mutated version of the birds with the normal plumage and they are quite common in some parts of the country. I've never seen another one locally, there are plenty of pheasants but all the usual colour. This one looks very greeny/purple in the sun, not that I really remember as it has been a long time since the sun appeared in Yorkshire.
I could do a bit more with the foliage but I have done enough to decide I do like using the cold pressed paper. I need to move on to finishing some pieces I want to enter into competitions over the next few months.
I wanted to try a rougher surface and let the texture of the paper become part of the image so this is graphite on Fabriano cold pressed watercolour paper. It is only small 5.5 x 3 inches and the reference is from one of my own photographs. I wanted a different take on the standard meerkat pose, I'm going to call it 'Off Duty' when it's finished. I started fighting the texture as I tried to work in my usual way but adapted quite quickly to just touching my pencil to the paper and letting the point skim the surface. I built up several layers starting with a 4H pencil and working up to a2B, going back and blending with the harder lead. I think the cold press paper is too textured for how I like to work although I do like how the rock is turning out. I'll probably try a vellum finish next.
Oh and I also went to London today to return son 2 to University. I think I'll finish the meerkats tomorrow.
I decided to carry on with graphite, another Maine Coon this time 3 x 5 inches. I am still in the process of setting my aims for 2011 but one of them is to create at least 4 small drawings or paintings a week. This is the first for 2011.
I've now returned from my short holiday in Scotland with some nice reference photos for future artwork including the buzzard shown above.
On my return I was absolutely delighted to find that 'The Right Side' won the Making a Mark Award for Best Picture of the Year (Natural World) on an Art Blog and was runner up for Best Picture of the Year on an Art Blog. Karen Jurick's wonderful painting 'Hands of Time' won the overall award, congratulations to Karen as this is the second year she has won the award. This is the link to the awards on the Making a Mark blog