Wednesday, 26 September 2012


 After all the excitement of putting some of my bigger pieces on sale, it was back to the drawing board for my latest wildlife picture. This time it was a wasp that had caught my eye- but no ordinary wasp :)

 She's a netelia producta, or an orange caterpillar parasite wasp to you and me, that we found in our garden in Cornwall. One of those creatures that is so beautiful you feel positively inadequate just looking at her....

 She was also very cooperative and posed for several photos before flying off. I'd sold a  set of three insect studies which left me with, er, none so she got bumped up the queue for my next effort. 

Once again she's done in charcoal pencil on Langton hot press watercolour paper which has a lovely smooth surface. I worked an hour a day and took photos as I went along to share with you. 

Because she has such a dark body and white legs,  had to fill in the background to a greater extent on this one to provide contrast. Normally, I add just enough to give the image context but madame had to be difficult at some point, didn't she :)

Here she is after the final tweaking - and she's now available to buy here :)

Monday, 17 September 2012

Portrait of Stephen

 As promised, a follow up to my last blog post on Stephen - this time, a bit more about his fantastic face. 

One of the reasons he took so long to complete was the difficulty I had getting his head right. In my dreams, he was always coming out of a dark space and it was hard to see clearly because of the angle of his body.

 I also kept trying to make him too human but as you'll know if you read the last post, he only started out that way. It turns out his eyes and mouth had grown over, healed up if you like because he just didn't need them anymore. He moves like a spider so he gained a set of arachnid eyes which are somewhat creepily dotted around his jaw- when he has all eight hands on the floor that means they are looking forward and slightly down so he can see where he's going...or what he's eating. Not that we want to dwell to much on what that might be.

 He now has a soft mouth in his throat so those feeding arms can post things in easily. I've never heard him speak so am guessing he's lost his vocal cords too. In fact, the only sound I associate with him is the soft patting noise of clammy palms on the wall....

Friday, 14 September 2012


After an awful lot of umm-ing and aaah-ing, I've decided to put one of my very favourite pieces up for sale.  Meet Stephen- the only one of my creations to ever give me actual nightmares until I got him out onto paper. I never knew you could be nagged by your own imaginings....if that's what he is of course :)

 He's worked as usual in charcoal pencil on watercolour paper but in this case, most of the hours went into working out how on earth he was put together in the first place. Sometimes I get an idea that comes through in such a very definite way that there is no arguing with it so it was more of an engineering project than anything.

He's named for the Alice Cooper track of the same name which I happened to be listening to when he first crept around the corner. That'll teach me.... To begin with all I had was the impression of something that had maybe once been a person but had become something else. Oh, and a lot of arms.

He has two sets of walking arms facing forward and two back but with an additional limb section so one of my first tasks was figuring out which joints went where and modifying bits as needed. I spent many days on good old google for that !

Then, it was choosing a position for that first drawing. I always do one of just the thing itself so I have everything clear in my head. Soon I hope to be keeping you all amused with pictures of him out and about. Are your windows shut by the way? :)

Just to give you an idea of the lengths I had to go to to get that one picture, here's a shot of my sketchbook page with the bones in each arm marked out and numbered to make sure I didn't get anything on backward. Possibly the most fascinating bit of Stephen is his face but as I already have a portrait of him I'll get into that in my next post along with a bit more about our new friends' habits....

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Going, going....gone :)

 This has been a good week for my Etsy shop- six pictures went over the weekend including this trio of figure studies I had listed. These had been in my studio for a couple of years now and I'd debated what to do with them. I was really pleased with them at the time but like many artists, my style has changed a lot and they just didn't fit.

 I decided to put them on at a lower price to distinguish them from my newer, more detailed work hoping this would entice someone to give them a good home - and it worked. Though I haven't made a huge profit, I have now cleared quite a bit of storage space for new pieces I'm working on and I've been able to invest in more frames etc.

 These were among the first images I did in charcoal pencil, worked on Daler Rowney textured watercolour paper which doesn't allow for very fine detail but adds a lovely finish.

I won't be repeating these as I rarely do figure work these days, and I now use a smooth hot pressed paper but it's nice to know they'll still be around on someones' wall, making me and the customer happy :)