Bonny Miss Bonnie - Pastel Portrait
I think that this portrait speaks for itself, Miss Bonnie is just irresitable! For me, portraiture is about finding an emotional connection between the subject and the viewer. Sometimes this is deeply sentimental or nostalgic, and other times I aim to make art that generates a big smile.
Ever since I painted my pastel picture Chewing it Over, starring a rather comedic looking giraffe, I have wanted to create a series of artworks with bright blue backgrounds and cheerful animals. Bonny Miss Bonnie is the second artwork in this now growing range of gleeful pictures.
Dear little Miss Bonnie is so full of life, almost bounding onto the page as if just popping up to say hello or to ask us to play. Her joyful expression makes me smile right back at here every time I see her, so I created this artwork to share the Miss Bonnie love and to brighten all of our days.
For this artwork, I used pastel pencils and worked on Pastelmat, whereas previously my pastel work was predominantly on velour paper. It was, I have to say, a very steep learning curve. I now understand Pastelmat a lot better than I once did, and am excited about the possibilities it offers me as an artist to work to a high level of detail with pastel. Miss Bonnie is just the beginning.
Many thanks to Tracy Lian Miles, Miss Bonnie's human, for the wonderful source image.
Goodbye Teaching, Hello More Drawing
The time has come for me to prioritise my time differently, and to return to my own art with a renewed enthusiasm and focus. I will no longer be running art workshops, my weekly art classes or taking on new students for private tuition. This has not been in any way an easy decision to make, and I know that it has been disappointing to those who have been making art with me, and to those who were hoping to do so. I do however believe that change brings with it new opportunities for us all. I trust that you will understand that this new phase is what I need to embrace, and that I move forward a far better artist and a more rounded person for all of the ways in which we have collaborated.
All the way back in 2012, now eight years ago, I designed and delivered my first Learn to Draw workshop which I held in Bugle, Cornwall. I clearly remember my nervous preparation (I had never attended an art workshop myself so wasn't sure how one should actually look) and how surprised and pleased I was when it became fully booked with eight enthusiastic soon to be artists. We had a really lovely day together, great pencil portraits were created and new friendships were forged on that cold Saturday in February. Little did I know what a potent seed was sown. Once we had all packed away and I was sat in my car reading the feedback forms the students had completed, I reflected on the session and thought to myself, 'If I could get enough interest to maybe run one of these workshops every couple of months, that would be great.'
Well, I had certainly underestimated the number of people who wanted to learn to draw!
Learn to Draw and Painting in Pastels workshops have taken me all over Cornwall and Devon, partnering with a wide variety of organisations including schools, adult training providers and community centres. I have delivered talks and interactive demonstrations with many art societies, and held countless day workshops in community settings. And I have curated three hugely successful collaborative exhibitions with my students. It has been so much fun!
At every turn I have been welcomed by the enthusiastic through to the mildly terrified, with the majority of my students convinced that they have no artistic ability, or that they will be the one whom cannot be taught. The common denominator has been a story I have heard countless times, criticism of their efforts in art at school or in childhood generally, and/or a lack of tuition in the fundamental skills and techniques of observation and shading. I do not believe this was intentional, but all too often those teaching did not know these skills either, so were unable to impart them to their students.
It doesn't have to be this way though. We are all born with a desire to be creative, and we can nurture this at any time of life - as so beautifully demonstrated by my numerous octogenarian students who had not drawn in seven decades.
This journey has been truly inspiring to me, and has brought me a great deal of joy and many wonderful friendships. It has reminded me that we each set our own boundaries, but we can challenge them and soar beyond what we might think are our limits. It has honestly been one of the great privileges of my life thus far, being trusted to guide people in finding their inner artist, and watching them blossom and grow as they discover skills they never knew they could possess. It is something I never tire of witnessing.
So to each and every one of you who has joined me either for a few hours of tuition, or for years of regular classes, I say a heartfelt and sincere thank you. Thank you for believing in me, for believing in yourself, for your support of my venture and for inspiring others with your art. I hope that you in turn will each encourage those you know to explore beyond what they may think is possible for themselves, and in turn keep an open mind when you next embark on new learning and expansion yourselves.
And you can see for yourself the great many amazing drawings that my students have created over the years in the albums here: www.facebook.com/tamsindearingportraits
Danny and Lisa - Commissioned Pencil Portrait
I am fortunate to be able to call this beautiful couple friends of mine, and this image brings back many great memories of their wonderful wedding day.
Drawing people you know brings a different set of challenges to it than drawing a stranger. Of course achieveing a likeness is always my foremost concern, and it can help when you know the subject, but there is a risk that as an artist you are also able to be less objective.
Their choice of photograph for the source image was excellent as it really captures Lisa's natural beauty and her radiance on their big day, and the kindness and pride that just shines from Danny.
When you think of portraiture, faces are what typically spring to mind. This drawing is a great example of what else can be involved and how complex a portrait can be. With silk, lace, flowers, embroidery and jewels all to be detailed, it called for numerous different techniques in the drawing. These challenges though are also what brings the image to life, and keeps me learning as an artist.
It was a joy to create this, especially knowing Danny and Lisa, and just how much love they have for one another. It is a privilege to be a small part of celebrating that with them.
Sharon - Commissioned Pencil Portrait
This portrait was a particularly poignant one to draw. Very sadly Sharon is no longer with us, and she is dearly missed by all who knew and loved her. This portrait was commissioned in her memory by a close relative, and features Sharon in her late teens whilst living abroad with her family.
I often think that the magic of portraiture is how it can capture a moment in time, and Sharon demonstrates that perfectly. In the moment that the photograph this was drawn from we see Sharon caught mid-movement, twisting around to see who has called her name, and in that instant she connects with the viewer as if we are right there with her.
A small run of fine art giclee prints were also made of this portrait so that Sharon's portrait can live with her family in their respective homes, keeping her close by wherever they may go in the world.
'The pictures arrived today. Thank you - I can't tell you how I feel about the fantastic job you've done. I met with my sister at her house and gave her her print as a housewarming surprise. She was speechless too - we had a hug and a (big) cry together as we looked at it - I'm sure you can imagine the scene. Everyone is amazed at how detailed the portrait is - much praise for your talent. I'm taking another surprise print to France in September when we're going to stay with Sharon's son, so this will be the gift that keeps on giving!
The lovely image of Sharon with the promise of her whole life ahead is so poignant but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Thank you again so much from all of us.'
A Lifetime of Laughter - Pencil Portrait
I have always felt an affinity with the older generations, and for me nothing says a life well lived like wrinkles which document the years of emotions and expressions on our faces.
This portrait has been quietly developed in the background over the last couple of years, being my go to project between commissions and when I have been demonstrating my drawing style at various events. There were times when I wondered if I had taken on too big a challenge, but patience is a virtue and very gradually she has come together and is finally ready to be shared with the world.
Drawn on cotton paper with just four pencils - a B, 2B, 3B and 4B and using an eraser to make changes as I went, it is a complex study created with the simplest of tools.
The inspiration for A Lifetime of Laughter came from a photograph by the incredible Rehahn Photography to whom I am very grateful for the use of his image.
Connie - Commissioned Pencil Portrait
Connie is the most adorable baby, and was an absolute pleasure to draw. You may know her big sister, Bess, whose portrait I drew a few years ago. Now both girls have their portraits proudly hung in their home.
The client, Connie and Bess's mum, chose to have prints made of this portrait as gifts for family which is a wonderful way to share your portrait with loved ones.
It is always exciting and a little nerve-wracking waiting to hear that the portrait has arrived safely, so I was delighted to receive this message:
'The three portraits arrived safely this morning and I wasn't prepared for the emotion I felt when I saw the original. It brought tears to my eyes and perfectly embodies my little Connie (back when she was really little!)'
Featured in Color Magazine
May 2019 issue of Color Magazine, an American publication by the coloured pencil artist Ann Kullberg, showcases my drawing The Violet Veil.
Across five pages I detail the materials used and describe my process, designed so Color readers can also draw this portrait, step by step.
I am thrilled to be the cover artist for such a respected magazine, and to have this opportunity to share my work with a global audience whom I hope will be inspired as I was by the beauty and potential of coloured pencil. Download your copy here at annkullberg.com
Seeing my artwork published is always a delight, however this feature has particular importance to me. When I was a teenager growing up in a small town in England, I had few frames of reference for what was happpening in the art world outside of my efforts at home and in school. For those of us who remember a time before the internet bombarded us with images and information, you will appreciate how hard it could be to find others who shared your interests. I happened upon a book by Ann Kullberg in my local library, and remember vividly how amazed I was by her artwork, and the joy of discovering a collection of such realistic portraits. The fact they were all in coloured pencil was beyond my comprehension, it seemed impossibly exciting and intriging. Now all these years later here I am, having had the opportunity to thank Ann directly for writing that book and for being an inspiration to my younger self, I am feeling very grateful for all that has happened and for the joy that art brings to mine and to so many others lives.
Wakhan Girl - Commissioned Coloured Pencil Portrait
Wakhan Girl is a portrait of a child who lives in the Wakhan Corridor, Afghanistan. The client met her and her family whilst travelling in the region, and took the incredible photograph that inspired this drawing. As with my earlier artwork, Bhutan Women, this has become a visual record of traditional costume from before increasing Westernisation led to changes in the culture and communities.
The sheer complexity of this picture and the arresting expression on the young girl's face made this by far the most challenging drawing I have experienced. Commissioned portraits are wonderful for stretching me as an artist as they so often contain elements - such as all these beads she is wearing, or the embroidered thread decorating her waistcoat, that I would not ordinarily choose to draw for fun. In addition, working on the fawn coloured paper brought unexpected changes to the vibrancy of the pencil. It is the perfect choice to bring out the white of her head scarf, but meant I had to find a new way to work compared to the more familar approach with white paper.
As is the way with moving beyond your comfort zone, this drawing brings with it for me a sense of pride, greater knowledge of the potential of coloured pencil, and the desire to take all I now know forward into my future creations.
On the Drawing Board
After months of coloured pencil work it feels like a treat to be back with my trusty graphite pencils. I am gradually adding more and more wrinkles to this wonderful face, a portrait that I have been working on occasionally whilst between commissions. Thanks go to Rehahn Photography for the source image.
Interview with Hand on Art
Many thanks to Diane Griffiths of Hand on Art for this blog post, I am very flattered to have been invited to chat with her about pastels and creativity. Diane is a very skilled painter who mixes media with dramatic effects, so get yourself a cuppa and enjoy exploring her website, I am in love with her skies.