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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Sweet cherries, blunt pencils and summer sun

Bowing down with a great big smile and wishing you all a wonderful summer.
Time has come for my wee blunt scribble friends to take a well deserved rest.
They have packed their bags and are off with the fairies cherries.
Few loose ends to tie up and I'll be following them.

Black on Grey on White will be back with a vengeance in a few weeks.
Look forward to catching up with you all then.
Have a fan-da-be-d0-see summer.
Ciao ciao.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Some of my scribble friends

The red drawers in my studio hold well over a 108 pencils.
They are of different descent but share the same ability to draw a smooth professional line.
All are grand scribblers, crucial players in the creation of my work.
All play the same type of graphite music, some louder, some softer, some faster but all sound harmonious and clear.

(BTW, there is a great blog: Pencil Talk all about pencils, pencils and more pencils.
This blog orchestrates facts, figures and technicalities around the graphite pencil and as they aptly say "exploring the art and science of pencils since 2005".
Well worth checking out.)

Back to my studio inhabitants.
All have great blood lines.
They are the Staedlers, the Derwents, the Faber-Castells, The Cretacolors and the Prismacolors.

The Staedlers (Made in Germany - seriously big: around 2.500 people work for Europe's largest pencil manufacturers) live along side the Derwents (Made in England - my favorites- launched in 1938), the Faber-Castells (Also German -also seriously big: currently operate the largest pencil factory of the world in Sao Carlos, Brazil.), the Cretacolors (founded in 1792, by Austrian Joseph Hardtmuth) and a few Prismacolors (originated in Sussex England back in 1938 - speciality more in coloured pencils variety) in surprisingly good harmony.

Harmony in drawer #2

Below some posed familly portraits.

Staedler Mars Lumograph pencils displaying their striking colour.

One of the oldest industrial companies in Germany and has always remained true to its manufacturing base in Nuremberg.The pencil is where it all began - 3rd October 1835 saw the start of a German success story.

Above a small sample of my Derwent lodgers displaying their subtle yet memorable orange stripe.

I love working with these pencils. So much so, that I will revert to using all the tricks in the book to keep them scribbling way past their sell-by date...

Derwent pencils are the best.
They have been reliable top notch performers on my drawing board for many a drawing.
Others must say much the same " The Cumberland Pencil Co is known and respected worldwide for its innovation & quality." Cumberland Pencil Co have been producing pencils for the last 175 years. (Source: Derwent)
As well as being marked by history they are also...vegan. You may remember my mentioning this in a previous post.
There is a Derwent museum which claims to house the first ever pencil (a visit is an absolute must-add-to-my-bucket-list!)

Faber-Castell was founded long before the French Revolution and the formation of the United States of America.
They are the other world's major manufacturer of wood-cased pencils. (Every hour Faber -Castell grows 20 cubic metres of timber. 1 million Caribbean Pine seedlings are replanted each year) (Source: Faber-Castell)
I have an incredible amount of well scribbled and sharpened Faber-Castells.
No graphite artist's studio would be complete without them.

Cretacolor Monolith displaying their E.T like qualities: grey & mysterious.

The Monolith Graphite which derives from Greek and means “stone out of one flush”, is an exclusive to Cretacolor. It has no wood casing.
The ancestors of this pencil were the first pencils to be produced with burnt graphite leads. Hardthmuth, Austrian entrepreneur & inventor, mixed (cheap) graphite powder with clay and formed pencil leads out of it. The lead was then heated up to 900°C, producing a very strong lead with high breaking strengt. (Source:Wikipedia)

Only three Prismacolours have set up home in the red trolleys.
They are great to work with and create an interesting strong contrast. They created "Welcome Impact" . I can't help but think that we will be welcoming new additions to their family.
The Prismacolor water soluble graphites create rich, dark marks that can be diluted with water.

Did you know?
  • Pencil, a derivative of the Latin word pencillus for 'little tail', originally described a small, fine, pointed brush.
  • Faber-Castell, a German company for writing instruments was founded in 1761 in Nuremberg by Kaspar Faber.
  • Keswick in England has the distinction of producing the world's first graphite pencils. The first pencils ever made were manufactured at Keswick following the discovery of graphite in the Seathwaite Valley. The Cumberland Pencil Company manufactures the world famous Derwent Fine Art pencils. These are used by professional and leisure artists Keswick also has the Cumberland Pencil Museum which traces the fascinating history of pencils.
  • The first patent for attaching an eraser to a pencil was issued in 1858 to Hyman Lipman from Philadelphia. Initially, pencils did not have erasers attached to them. Later, pencil manufacturers started attaching erasers to pencils. This patent was later held to be invalid because it was just a combination of two things.
  • A pencil will write in zero gravity, upside down, and under water.
  • The typical pencil can draw a line 35 miles long and write 45,000 words (Who had time to figure that out?)
  • On an average, a 14-year-old 'pinus caribaea' tree can produce up to 2,500 pencils.
source: &

These were just a few of my scribbles friends, there are still the chunkies, the mechanicals and the sharpeners jumping up and down for attention.
Food for thought

Monday, 15 June 2009

The Equinest post all about "me, myself and I".

This is short and sweet.
The sun is to blame.
took me by the hand on Friday and coldly let go this morning.
Three days of a sunny cyberless world.
Beautifully strange.
Wrapped up in my other reality reminded me that I had not blow my horn about me myself and I.
A few weeks ago, a cool article/interview came out in The Equinest (a really informative and dynamic site for all things equine).
The article is a recommended read for finding out more about my views, inspirations (Da Vinci is mentioned...) and motivations.

I would also like to warmly greet (and reassure) all my new followers.
Don't run away; there is usually no trumpet playing here but much much more art.
The melodies made by my pencils sound a tad better than the sound of my own horn (signing off: that was slightly off key :)!)


Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Finishing stages of portrait drawing of black labrador

Untitled Black Lab
Graphite on Paper, 17x22 cm
Sheona Hamilton-Grant. All rights reserved.

Finished and awaiting approval (and a name).
Below: the vital steps that led me to the end result.
Following on from where I left off last week here are steps 4, 5, 6 and 7.

Step 4
Here more work has been done on the bone structure and depth. This was done by refining the layer of 4B and adding to the nose and mouth. Remembering to follow the lay of the hair.Work has also begun on the longer hairs around the neck.

Step 5
More emphasis is brought to the jaw line and start given to the ear. Invisible on the scan: work was also refined around the eyes.

Step 6
This step was all about getting more hair blocked in and establishing movement and texture to the neck. The ear also takes on a little more shape and texture. At this stage I am only working with a 2B and varying the layers over the blocked darks.

Step 7
This step is were the nose and the lighter areas of the head get "covered" in hair.
After which I was unhappy. A niggling annoying feeling.
When this is the case, best to mirror the image. This showed (and as suspected) the nose and muzzle were not quite right nor was the mouth and the outer eye.
This is crucial step. The changes are minute (sometimes in can be only a stroke) but I feel make a massive change to the overall accuracy.

The finished portrait mirrored with small changes made.

A gorgeous chap: he was great company -
At last it felt right beating back memory demons! I lost my Lambda 9 years ago and still feel the void.
If only he had a brother: I'd love to make his acquaintance...

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Belmont's Tail End. Racing drawing.

pARTied, had a smashing time and no headache to nurse!!!

"Belmont's Tail End"
Graphite on Paper 36x20 cm (14'x8')
Sheona Hamilton-Grant. All rights reserved

Went to a virtual art pARTy organised and hosted by fellow artists Kim Santini, Linda Shantz .

This simply means one reference pic, one day to produce an inspired piece of work and another day to peek at all the variations on a theme provided by the other participants.

This pARTy's reference picture was provide by photographer Juliet Harrison.

These are great challenges, especially for someone like me who likes to work too slowly.
With such a short dead-line you have to simplify and work loose and ....speed up!
Went for the first thing I saw: the bay horses eye and dilated nostril.
The diagonal composition emerged from there.
Sketched down a few lines (in ink would you believe!) picked up a 2B Derwent and got scribbling on Strathmore Bristol Smooth( 300 series).
Loaded The Killers into the hi-fi and swung into action.

Spent a little too long on the whole process (5 hours) but then again that's what usually happens at a good party right?

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Portrait of Black Labrador: first steps

I love labs especially when they are that traditional wise black.
My own lab was black and lived by my side for over 16 years.

I am amazed at the speed this portrait is coming along.
Subject knowledge and memory lane are the paths I am following.

The pencils making the marks: my good & faithful Derwents in 4B and 2B.
Their marks are going down on Hanemuhle 200gr paper.
The only one thing truly bothering me: I don't know this chap's name...and will have to wait (not cool!) three whole weeks until the owners are back in reach of modern day communication...

Oh and tomorrows a pARTy .... a first for Black on Grey on White!!!!