Okay, what happens once I have chosen a subject? Well, I either have to create a drawing from life, from my memory or imagination, or from reference photos. As I have chosen fungi that I saw on some logs as my subject, I need to decide if I am going to work in the forest (too many mosquitoes for that option), take the subject to the studio (would require a chainsaw) or take photos. Yup, I took photos... :-) My memory and imagination are not really options for me!
I use my camera as a compositional tool. Up until a few months ago, I used a 35 mm SLR camera with a couple of macro lenses. Now I use an SLR digital camera that can also use my macro lenses. I know that a lot of artists use Photoshop to play around with their photos. I have never worked this way as I worked on an ancient computer and I didn't have the software (didn't have a digital camera either - what can I say, I am a bit of a Luddite). I have had to replace my ancient computer and I now have the option to tweak my photos in Photoshop. Preparing to do this fungi piece is the first time that I have tried to manipulate my photos. I confess I didn't spend too long at it. Spending years taking photos with a manual camera was great experience. I have become a much better photographer and as such I don't feel my pictures need much editing. Having said that, I did try some zooming in techniques and I did some lighting corrections (the forest was rather dark for taking good pictures).
The above photo shows a few of the edited photos that I printed off. I am using a few of them as references for my drawing.
The next decision is what will my surface be. Of course I already know that my medium is coloured pencil! For this piece, I am choosing to work on white Stonehenge paper.
The next step is to create a drawing. If my photos were not what I wanted compositionally, I would work this out in thumb nail sketches. As I said, I use my camera's view finder as a compositional tool so I don't usually need to do any preliminary sketches. I usually have a photo that is the image I am after. Referring to my photo, I create a line drawing that I then transfer to my good paper.
This particular line drawing had just the outline of the major shapes. I am drawing the rest of the lines directly onto the Stonehenge. I am using a coloured pencil to create a grisaille underpainting. You might be able to tell from the photo that I don't have all the drawing done and yet I have already started to add colour. I couldn't resist. I had to get some colour in there :-) !
These blog entries are supposed to be detailing my process. I should say then that my process doesn't always involve a grisaille underpainting. Usually I am not so formal in my approach. I usually just start working on my darks using whatever colours I see in the subject. For this piece I need a good road map and as there are so many lines visible in the logs and the fungi, I decided to create a monochromatic underpainting first.
I shall keep you posted on my progress!