Continued from yesterday and with another bird. This time a cockerel watering can made of welded metal with a bronzed finish. It’s in the front room which was in shade when I started and then the sun came out and revealed more shape and shadows. I began ambitiously (after yesterday’s birds) with a brown pencil but found it difficult to ‘feel’ the shapes. Conte crayon helped but I need to persevere with sketching to get a good sense of this thing.



Second attempt, still too little tail and no handle but the rhythm of the drawing felt a bit lighter.




Pretty sure Picasso didn’t have to deal with this.







So, even at A5 I’ve not managed to fit in the cockerel, the whole cockerel and (see above!) nothing but the cockerel. Interesting combined effect of acrylic gesso, conte crayon, and a plastic eraser though. It’s almost as though the conte becomes fluid. Technically a ‘fail’, I do rather like this. It’s got a meaner look than the real article which will spend eternity with an uncomprehending eye on the world.



Concrete cat next, I think. Should be safer ground for me (and therefore not the challenge I need) but sometimes you just have to head back to your comfort zone for a quick refresher.

Ok, not much safer but it’s interesting drawing something large enough to be necessarily at a distance while not wearing close vision glasses. The movements are looser, maybe less accurate, but perhaps also a bit more honest. Nevertheless, this is ropey.


Back to the conte, this time with white charcoal. Not quite the concrete cat in shape or posture, so maybe I’m inserting more actual (or essence of) ‘cat’ than is really there. It’s fatter in the face for a start, but I like it more than the blue one.


I think that’s it for today. I’d better take another look at the coursework to see how far I’ve strayed from sliced vegetables.


29th December. Tried the quick-sketch approach now I’m more familiar with the birds. It was probably a little easier than the first time; definitely looser, and less ‘perfect’. I need to get past the idea of everything in these sketchbooks needing to be high standard when really they’re the equivalent of drafts, and goodness knows how many drafts my written work goes through before it’s [as] finished [as it’s going to be]. Done with fineliner and Faber-Castell aquarelle pencils.



Experiment with gesso-prepared cartridge paper. This was a skimmed coat so not complete; I wanted to see what happened in the gaps.


I used black charcoal to make trees (from memory – we have many stands of trees hereabouts), added white charcoal to highlight parts of the edges, and grey charcoal between the trunks. Then I scrubbed the lot horizontally with a piece of dry towel roll, then really scrubbed it with a grout cleaning brush. This turned my trees into silver birch so I emphasised that a little here and there, along with the light streak at the base of the trunks. The more stylised they became, the less I wanted to make realistic branches and leaves so they’ve become representational lollipops. I’ll ponder them overnight and take another look tomorrow.

Meanwhile, concrete cat v real cat. Again, gesso-prepped paper; the top [now insufferable] concrete cat which, despite remaining absolutely still, is causing me unbelievable difficulties. What is it with this creature?  What I do like is the way the texture of the gesso gives me an extra dimension to the image. The rest is pencil, conte, and aquarelle watercolour pencil livened with a Derwent waterbrush.


Underneath is Flora who had been asleep between keyboard and screen, became suddenly alert at something unseeable by human eye, and took off after it within five seconds of the first sweep of conte crayon. Of course I’m the only one who knows if it looks like her. It doesn’t but it’s better than the concrete one! Again a gesso-prepped page and some lovely textures, a bit like linen, brought up by the crayon marks. I’m becoming a fan of this stuff, now I’ve found a brand that doesn’t use rabbit skin. As a vegetarian/near vegan of nigh on fifty years, I find that abhorrent. But as I have non-vegetarian friends and family, I’m not inclined to get huffy with people who don’t hold the same views. Just don’t laugh when I mention tofu, right?

30th December and I’m back at that cat again. Conte powder on a finger with light conte crayon marks. I’m more satisfied with this one because the shape and the angle of the head feel right.


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