Fast and loose…

My pictures take a long time to paint, generally. Mostly because I have a very precise style, with lots of detail. I’ve long thought I should try being a little looser. Puffins seemed like a good subject to try out a faster painting, as the big colourful bill tends to take the eye away from the feather detail. Get the bill and head right and the rest sort of follows. I suppose. In truth, the pencils are not the best medium for a very ‘loose’ picture, they are more suited to detail, which is why I love them so.

I have it in my head to do one of my ‘portmanteau’ paintings, three Puffins in various poses taken from different photos of Mark’s, so this picture also served as a preliminary go, getting the colours right for the bigger picture. I have also drawn this particular bird before, using this reference photo of Mark’s.

swimming puffin 1 watermark

Last summer, before I’d even purchased my first set of watercolour pencils, I had a go at this using a cheap set of coloured pencils, picked up at Deserres in Halifax, I was reasonably pleased with the result, although it was only a single layer of pencil, not the multiple layers and burnishing that a finished picture would need. I’ve never got back to the coloured pencils, even though I now own a couple of ‘artist’ grade sets. I really will have to have another try, trouble is I’m just enjoying the watercolours too much!

atlantic puffin watermark rsStill, not too bad for a very quick picture, probably a couple of hours total.  At least you can see what it is! 7 x 5 inch, coloured pencil on cartridge paper.

The watercolour version ended up taking all of yesterday afternoon (3-4 hours) and an hour or so this morning to finish, including the preliminary graphite pencil sketch. This is fast for me! I’m pleased with the head and bill, ok with the plumage and think that the sea could use a little work!

puffin rs watermark 2

‘Atlantic Puffin’ 5 x 7 inch, watercolour pencil (mainly Caran d’Ache Supracolor) on 140 lb cold press watercolour paper (Canson XL).


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Sandra Dennis

Now I'm in early retirement from my previous career as a pharmaceutical scientist, I've taken to creating art pieces. I specialise in wildlife art, especially birds.

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