I like goats. They have personality and charm; they give you the impression that they are their own goat (a bit like cats, really) and are nobody’s fools. So, when I came across an old photo I’d taken a few years back, it seemed like a good match for a coloured pencil piece. Also, it provided me a challenge for hair, horns and weathered timber-what’s not to like?!
As for the photo? Well, when we lived in Montreal we used to regularly visit a place called Parc Omega at Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours near Montebello, a safari park that is stocked with North American species only. You drive a loop through herds of deer, Wapiti, Wild Boar and Bison (you are encouraged to feed the deer and pigs with carrots), and can see foxes, wolves, Coyotes and Black Bears in trackside enclosures. It was always a fun day. About half way along the route is a spot where it is safe to leave the car and take a picnic or a stroll along some nice trails which lead to a spot called ‘The Old Farm’. When we visited on this occasion, there was a group (herd?) of Pygmy Goats. They were into everything, chasing each other around and being very playful (and extremely cute)! The barn they lived in had a number of small windows that had been surrounded on the outside by decorative frames. Inside, there were steps and platforms so, of course, the goats would regularly head up to the windows and stick their heads out. Totally artificial, I guess, but very endearing. I just had to wait a moment to get a picture of a goat with his head stuck out of the window.
So, I thought I’d use coloured pencil and, after the sortie last time into black paper, I went back to the trusty Bristol vellum. You know, sometimes, a picture feels right, right from the start. This was one of those pictures. I never hated it (which is definitely not the case with some of the others), it was always fun to do and everything I tried out seemed to work well, at least this time. I almost didn’t want it to finish!
My version is probably a little darker than the original animal. I used virtually all of the greys in the Polychromos set in that hair, and some of the ones in the Pablos, and a tiny touch of Dark Indigo, Aubergine and Violet in places-it’s always surprising the odd colours you can make out in what is ostensibly a white, grey and black animal! I went back over, after blending (with OMS), with the Luminance and Derwent Drawing whites, to lighten it a bit, but it just added a little more paleness, not the bright whites of some of the hair on the original. I didn’t want to use a gel pen, I don’t find them all that natural looking, so, in the absence of any alternative, a slightly darker goat will do. Artistic licence is a wonderful hider of a multitude of sins!
Incidentally, I have finally found a Canadian supplier for the Brush and Pencil Titanium White and Touch-up Texture that so many coloured pencil artists seem to swear by for white whiskers, etc., Delta Art in Edmonton, but it’s on back order so I have no idea when it will turn up (and the postage costs as much as the order, but that’s a different story)! I’ll let you know if I ever receive my order.
As I was working, I was reflecting on some colours that I reach for all the time (in both the standard coloured pencil and the watercolour pencil sets). For example, the olives in the Pablos/Supracolors are favourites for greenery, with the Olive Brown being particularly useful for the patina that you get on weathered timber such as this barn siding. In the Polychromos/Albrecht Durers, I like the cool dark grey, Payne’s Grey, very much, whereas Cocoa and Charcoal Grey in the Pablos/Supracolors are probably my favourite dark warm greys/grey-browns. I generally reach for the ochres in the Pablos/Supracolor sets, in preference to the Faber-Castell ones, but that’s probably because I’m more used to them, having had Supracolor for a lot longer than the other sets. I’ve been very taken by the reds in the Polychromos/Albrecht Durer sets, and am most likely to gravitate to those sets first; Pompeian Red and Venetian Red came in very handy for the window framing this time. In addition, Polychromos/Albrecht Durer has much better options for portraiture, with excellent tones of Light and Medium Flesh (I find Dark Flesh too dark for my pasty subjects!) and Caput Mortuum (a rusty dark reddish-brown). I still prefer the blue-toned greys (Dark Grey, Grey, Mouse Grey and Steel Grey) and the Granite Pink of the Pablos/Supracolors when working pebbles and rocks. All-in-all, the two sets are very complementary and I enjoy working with all of them.
‘Just Kidding Around’, 9 x 12 inch coloured pencil (Caran d’Ache Pablo, and Luminance White, Faber-Castell Polychromos, Derwent Drawing Chinese White) with OMS (Gamsol) to blend, on Strathmore 300 series Bristol vellum.