Squid in Watercolour

I had a go at painting a squid this week. Here’s how it went…

Basic structure in pencil
More details added
Completed drawing

I tend to use the same basic approach to painting as I do drawing, which is to draw/paint the bigger shapes first and the successively add small shapes. Below I’ve put on the basic overall wash and then add a few more detailed washes to add some darker pigment for shadows and darker skin colouration.

First wash of watercolour

Gradually I built up the washes until I was content with the final picture…

Zebra in Ink

This week’s art is a Zebra sketched in pencil and then drawn in ink over the course of an hour or two.

Here’s the drawing in a little more detail…

The Beautiful Pangolin

This week’s art is a drawing I started a while ago and finally finished. It is of a Pangolin. I think these guys are such awesome animals. They can roll up like armadillos and climb like monkeys; they can spray like skunks , dig like badgers and have tongues like anteaters! How great is that?! I don’t think I would mind being a Pangolin. It must be brilliant.

I began with basic shapes which I eventually worked into a sketch…

Then I began the process of inking. My goodness there were so many scales!!! Still, it was very meditative to draw them. I tried to do some in bed one afternoon when I was feeling a bit rough, however a certain Princess Leia was having none of it. Clearly it was kitty playtime, not art time as I had thought – silly me…

I’m so lucky to get such good feline help with my drawing LOL!

Here’s a closer picture of the beginning of my ink process…

After playing with kitty and working in short bursts on more of the drawing I finally got the basic black inks of the pangolin done. Then I sketched out a fallen tree for her to be walking along…

I inked the tree…

…and then added both white gouache and black watercolour to add highlights and shadows respectively. Finally it was finished! Here it is…

Autistic Animal Familiar – pen and ink

This week I drew what my own autistic animal familiar might be like. I began my drawing with some basic shapes…

Then I built on my basic shapes to make a pencil sketch…

Once this was done I set to work on my ink drawing. This was all done in bed since my pain has been ferocious recently. (I am trying to follow advice and listen to my body more and take better care of it but it has yet to show any results.) I prefer drawing at a table but “needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle” (Blackadder).

Here’s the finished ink drawing…

My thinking with this drawing and autism was…

  • I made him basic shape a scawney little cat – just the sort of cat I would be. Cat’s always seem to me to be naturally autistic. It gives me a very strong sense of affinity with them. My cat Leia and I are like two peas in a Star Wars loving pod. (Yes, she loves Star Wars too because people call her name sometimes and call her a princess, but mainly because I give her treats so she will watch it with me. Lol)
  • I gave him big big eyes, ears and whiskers to convey his heightened sensitivity and the way we take in all the information not just selective bits.
  • The broken collar represents how so many clothes, clothing labels, jewellery etc. are intensly irritating and also how we don’t always fit so well into society.
  • My creature’s tail is curved up into a golden spiral which is based on the golden ratio (which is approximately 1 to 1.61803398875). This indicates how cool patterns are for many autistic people, me included.
  • I also gave my cat slightly sad comic eyes to show how it can be difficult sometimes to be autistic, especially when we have communication and social problems.

I’m going to call my autistic animal familiar “Joe“.


Jurassic Line and Wash

This week I made a couple of ink drawings of Jurassic animals – the classic T-Rex in a running pose, and a drawing of Dimetrodon, which was a mammal-like reptile from the clade Synapsida.  I used basic shapes initially to get the general mass of each animal right and then refined each shape towards my reference.  Once I had a basic pencil drawing I switched over to my ink pens to finish the drawings properly.

Here are the two ink drawings…



Then I had a go at putting a watercolour wash over the top of my ink.  This was really fun to do…

Here are the final pictures…


A Barn Owl from Memory – playing with colour

Rather than work through some more of my watercolour book I want to spend some time getting used to my new Winsor and Newton Paints.  My favourite animal is the Barn Owl.  Barn Owls are completely silent when they hunt.  The fly really  slowly, so much so that they seem to be just hanging in the air.  I once had the privilege of watching one in the Cambridgeshire countryside in the early evening just meters from me.  It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life.  I hope I never forget it.

Here are some photos (not my work) of this beautiful creature:

barn owl in tree

barn owl in flight

barnowl on fence post

I have a collection of Barn Owl photographs (hundreds of photos) which helps me know the animal quite well visually.  So I decided to paint a picture of one without any reference – from memory.

Here’s the background, which I painted first:


Any here’s the finished painting:


Looking at it now I can see lots of improvements I would make if I painted this again – but he’s recognisably an owl!

Red-Eared Terrapin – Watercolour

After my monkey adventure yesterday I wanted to stay with the theme of animals.  This time I chose a Red-Eared Terrapin.  (I think they’re called ‘turtles’ or ‘sliders’ in the US.)  They are beautiful animals with green and very light green stripes.  At first I tried to paint this little guy exactly as he is but once i started on the shell I got caught up with the lovely patterns.

Here is my reference image from my big animal book:

terrapinreference_WEBAnd here is the painting:

Terrapin_FIN_WEB - Copy

Fox Painting in Acrylics – Getting Started

So, today I made a full-size sketch of the actual image I’m going to use on my painting.  Although when I was planning this I had just a simple coloured background, I decided that I wanted a bit more, so I skecthed in the outside of a cathedral in the background.  I didn’t want anything detailed or fancy so I left off any gargoyles or detailed architecture and just concentrated on the basic shape.  I made my own stained glass pattern across the fox figure and created strong black lines around him with an ink brush.

ActualSizeSketchThen I set up some space to paint (including covering various surfaces with some old sheets to protect them (I can be quite messy at times).

GettingReadyOnce all of this was done I got down to painting in a rough background colour scheme and then, when it was dry, drawing in my main features.

ForegroundDrawnOn My next plan was to make some swirly clouds mixing with the last of the sunlight.  This was harder than I expected because I wasn’t using any retarder with my paint (which slows the drying process down). So, in oder to blend colours I had to work really fast since it’s a warm, dry day here today.  The other thing which was difficult about this was that I didn’t have a clear enough picture of what this would look like in my head so I had to experiment a bit too.

Once I got the sky down (as a first approximation) I blocked in some basic colour for the cathedral walls – using a light cream with a hint of cherry and a light cream with a tiny bit of violet.  Since my paints were all getting low by this stage I decided to stop for the day.  So here is where I am up to:

EndOfStage3What with getting set up and then cleaning up and putting it all away again afterwards, this whole thing took me about 4 hours.  The most difficult thing for me is that I found all of this, much more physically demanding than drawing or inking or anything else and so my pain has become really bad now.  (I have a chronic neuopathic pain condition).  It’s so frustrating because I really love painting.  All I can realy do about it is to take some extra pain relief medication and rest until it lets go.  With other work, when this pain malarky becomes an issue, I just work in shorter time periods but given the amount of set-up and clearing up I need to do, a shorter time period would accomplish very little.  Hmmmm.  I’ll have to have a think about this.

(All Images unless otherwise explicitly stated are © Jo Fox, 2015)