Where did your inspiration come from for this piece?
For a detailed, realistic piece such as ‘Tiger Feet’, I find reference photographs online at sites such as Paint My Photo or Wetcanvas, which are free to use. This particular one was an image I’ve used once before, several years ago when I created a graphite pencil drawing. It was a very popular piece. I always have an eye on how commercial an artwork is likely to be. I came across a print of it and decided I would like to try again but with coloured pencils, as I think my CP skills have improved a lot with practice since the first version.
What is your creative process when creating such detailed work?
For highly detailed work such as this, a smooth surface is advantageous and so for this piece I have used Bristol board. The disadvantage of a Bristol surface is that it is normally difficult to get many layers of coloured pencil down to achieve much depth of colour, or the subtlety of blending necessary for a good ‘fluffy’ fur effect.
I overcome this firstly by using top quality, well sharpened pencils (Caran D’Ache Luminance) which have a high pigment content. I have also developed a technique using white spirit applied with cotton buds or tiny tortillons.
After an initial, lightly drawn pencil sketch, I apply the first layer of coloured pencil and blend it in using the spirit. This acts like an underpainting as you would when using oils. I then apply a more detailed layer on top. I may also blend this layer in too. I continue until I have achieved the depth of colour and detail I’m after. It’s a fiddly and time-consuming method, but I hope you agree that the results speak for themselves.
Of course, I do often use paper with more tooth for a looser style with more texture. It depends on the subject.
How long would this work have taken you?
I don’t usually count the hours, but I always try to complete a piece within a week otherwise I become distracted and impatient to begin my next project. So I work every day until I finish, in sessions of about 5 hours per day. This one took about 5 days so I guess around 25 actual hours.