I first saw the photograph which inspired this portrait a few years ago, an instantly fell in love with this little girl. There is something so engaging about her joyful smile and the innocence she conveys as she proudly shows the blue of the indigo plant on her hands. Perhaps she has been doing something mischievous, or perhaps she has been helping as others hand dye fabric according to traditional methods. Either way, the simple pleasure of her actions is a universal experience, and is delightfully captured in this portrait.
I have wanted to draw her ever since I first saw her, and then when I discovered the image which inspired my drawing An Age of Indigo, I knew that they would be a perfect pair. At opposite ends of the generational spectrum, they both exude joy, and both make me smile as I look back at them.
Whilst drawing this portrait I scanned the picture at regular intervals to document the drawing process. This record is a visual diary for me, and a way to share how I work and what goes into creating an artwork like this. I posted the steps of this and many other artworks on my Facebook page in the Works in Progress album, so that my followers can join me on the journey. I love this opportunity to connect the solo work of an artist in her studio in Cornwall with a worldwide audience, sharing my thoughts at each point along the way.
This little girl has been a delight to have on my drawing board, and I am glad to have had this time getting to know her.
The original artwork, limited edition prints and greetings cards featuring An Apprentice of Indigo are available to purchase, please contact me directly for more information.
A great many thanks go to Réhahn Photography for his generosity in allowing me to reference his incredible photograph.
As a member of the UK Coloured Pencil Society, or UKCPS, I was invited to submit a Top Tip which will be a part of the membership package. This appealed to both the art tutor in me and also the artist, as I know how hard it can be to become confident working with a new medium. When I started drawing in coloured pencil there was very little guidance available, and although the digital era has brought with it a previously unimaginable wealth of information, there are also a huge amount of opinions to wade through.
When teaching I have always stressed that I was sharing what I found worked best for me and for those I met, and that it may be different for my students as we all have our individual preferences and there are no hard and fast rules in art. That said, experience is a great thing to share, especially when paired with reasons why a particular approach is recommended. So that is what I hope to offer with my Top Tip.
The UKCPS is a brilliant organisation for any coloured pencil enthusiasts to join. You do not need to be a great artist, everyone is made very welcome, and there are numerous ways to be involved, to learn from one another, exhibit your drawings, to encourage and to be supported. I would definitely recommend any coloured pencil artists check them out and join this thriving community, and perhaps even share a Top Tip of their own.
An Age of Indigo is my most recent portrait, drawn solely with coloured pencils. The woman we find ourselves smiling back at has such a presence, she seems to have the ability to connect with all who see her through the universal language of a smile.
In Vietnam covering your mouth when smiling is a sign of modesty. And although we cannot see her mouth at all, there is no doubt as to her expression thanks to the way her eyes are lit up with joy, and the lines carved into her skin speak of the thousands of moments of laughter and joy through her life. This fact speaks strongly to me, as whilst we can readily admire the physical legacy of emotion in the form of wrinkles on her face, we are all too often condemning anything other than a youthful complexion on our own. I choose to embrace the privilege that is aging, and to welcome the lines on my skin which will speak for me of all the emotions I have felt during my lifetime. I think there are few things more beautiful than a broad smile with the traces of thousands of smiles shining with it.
The blue of her fingers is thanks to decades of hand dyeing cloth with the leaves of the indigo plant, tucked away in the hills above Sapa.
Whilst drawing this portrait I scanned the picture at eight stages along the way. This documentation of the process is a visual diary for me, and a way to share how I work and what goes into creating an artwork like this. I post the steps on my Facebook page in the Works in Progress album so my followers can join me on the journey. I love this opportunity to connect the solo work of an artist in her studio in Cornwall with a worldwide audience, sharing my thoughts at each point along the way.
This wonderful woman has been such good company on my drawing board, and I am glad to have had this time getting to know her. I will be looking to exhibit this portrait at the next opportunity, and have already begun work on another coloured pencil drawing which will join her to make a pair of portraits.
The original artwork, limited edition prints and greetings cards featuring An Age of Indigo are available to purchase, please contact me directly for more information.
A great many thanks go to Rehahn Photography for his generosity in allowing me to reference his incredible photograph.