When I am creating art that isn’t a commission there are usually two ways they come about. One way is that I will get an idea in my head, something I love to draw or an idea I have had when my brains working overtime while trying to sleep! I will then usually go about sourcing a reference image to help me realise the drawing.
Drawing realistically from memory is pretty tough unless you have a photographic memory and I don’t… so good references are a must. I also don’t have a great talent for photography so there are a few places that are my go to’s for references, these include Pixabay, Unsplash and Pexels which are free to use photo reference sites.
I am also part of some Facebook groups in which photographers generously share their work for artists use. The main group I frequent is Russ Bridges Photographers with Artists. There are so many phenomenal photographers that share their work!
The latter is how the second way my originals often comes about! I am sometimes actively looking for inspiration, sometimes I find them when looking for something else if I’m not sure what I want to draw but posts often come up on my feed that take my breath away and I think ‘I just have to draw that’. I currently have over 80 of these images saved to attempt one day and that’s after a recent cull!
The first raven I drew had been saved on my phone for a little while before I was brave enough to attempt it. The reference photo was taken by Terence Porter and immediately caught my eye. Terence has a wonderful eye for photography and I am always drawn to his work. The beautiful colours he captures in his raven photography in particular are magnificent.
When I was completing an illustration diploma with The London Art College, I was tasked with illustrating the poem Nevermore my Edgar Allan Poe (I’m not sure what safe place I filed that illustration into!). My only other experience with the poem being a Simpsons episode, it surprisingly stuck with me and I cant see a raven without thinking ‘Nevermore’ so I decided to add part of the poem to this piece as well as I love beautiful hand lettering and wanted to attempt some artwork with script. Thus the first raven was born.
ref Terence Porter
One of our local pubs, The Bell in Sandy, is supportive of local artists and asked if I would like to display some of my work there. I took along a few pieces and the landlady was struck by the raven piece. She asked me to create a custom piece of just a raven for her and that is how the second piece came about. I searched through lots of raven images but in the end was again drawn to one of Terence Porters Images.
ref Terence Porter
This piece took far longer than the first. This was partly due to size (that wing was immense!), partly detail in the reference and partly down to the fact that the more I draw the more I draw! By this I mean I am constantly learning and improving and so adding more and more detail to my pieces before I am happy.
I don’t honestly know how long it took in the end, I get lost in my artwork and couldn’t tell you if 10 minutes or an hour had passed. I shared my progress on social media and it was met with lots of support and kind words that spurred me on with the tiny feathers! It also garnered another raven commission – I thought I was done with all those feathers Haha!
I do love drawing birds though so I was more than happy to take it on. The same day I completed it the original commissioner asked if they could also have another raven so they could hang in a pair and so my fourth raven was planned in.
I really love creating those iridescent feathers and utilising so many different blues to get the shine and shadow right and I got completely lost in the third raven on the hottest August day in 17 years! Thank goodness for fans and icy drinks.