Dogs in socks

Humans are difficult to draw. That is why I enjoy the challenge of trying to capture their likeness, but it’s difficult to do a portrait justice if you genuinely don’t warm to the person. This is thankfully rare, but a recent commission of Donald Trump wasn’t the easiest. I don’t know the man and I’m not a citizen of the USA, but I didn’t like doing it one bit. I wonder if this showed in the final illustration?

I do not have this problem with pets! All animals, even the incredibly ugly ones: they all have their own unique charm, and even though I am not even an acquaintance of this greyhound, I believe if anyone (human or animal) can wear only socks and a collar and still look elegant, well, they deserve my upmost respect! And Dachshunds look elegant too, even if they aren’t wearing a stitch!

New year resolutions?

Actually, I am not a believer of New Year Resolutions. I don’t see why I should wait 365 days to start doing something for the better, so I don’t write that list every January. Why bother? Why not start a resolution in July?! Or March?! However, with January being associated with giving up all the things you gorged on in December, below are a few illustrations that will be apt for this time of year. These women obviously are lifting more than just cream cakes, and there is nothing like a bit of muscle definition to make a life drawing class interesting. I remember a life drawing class years ago where the teacher lamented how difficult it was to get people who have definition, all our models tended to carry a few pounds. This is interesting to draw in itself but it’s hard to work out the anatomy of the human under loose skin and a bit of flab. Note to all those skinny people out there: life drawing classes will embrace your bony frames!

My portrait process

Mixed media portrait of Debbie Harry, lead sinder of Blondie
Mixed media portrait of Debbie Harry, lead singer of Blondie

When painting or drawing, I have always been attracted to portraits. Oh yes, I really do love illustrating all sorts of things, and go into a bit of a panic if I come across something I haven’t drawn before (ever drawn a bush baby, anyone? Me neither) but human faces are a favourite. As humans, we all rely on complex social interaction and our faces and expressions play a key part of that. I also enjoy portraiture because it’s so incredibly difficult. Get the petal on a tulip wrong and no one is going to notice, even the other tulips. But draw a feature on a face incorrectly and instantly, it isn’t the person you intended. Even with other animals I feel there is more room for error. I’ve painted loads of birds in my lifetime and one of the reasons I enjoy them as a subject is their cold twitchy appearance. I really do sense their faces have a robotic quality. Maybe because it’s hard to smile when you have a beak. However, even with other more expressive animals like dogs and horses (I have drawn oodles of those too!), there still is something not as challenging.

I’ve probably drawn over a thousand faces in my time, and because of the variety of our fantastic species and the ability to express ourselves visually, it’s always guaranteed to be interesting.