Leo on slide

Laughter playing on a slide

I love drawing. Always have. I studied fine art printmaking primarily because it really makes use of draughtsmanship and so gave me a way to spend lots of time drawing. I tend to draw in a single colour, which is grand but the pictures lack colour and this makes for a rather morbit picture on a wall. The viewer shouldn’t just have the pleasure of coming close and enjoying the detail – they should be wowed with the brightness, the range of hues, the vibrancy of colour. Not a gift that my black and white pen (usually a 0.05 or 0.01 mm fine-liner) drawings can offer.

At the same time as drawing, I like to paint and try to push myself to paint more as my drawing skills are fine but my painting skills need some work. What I have noticed is that when I paint I sometimes do the painting as though I was drawing. I did that here. A few people who have seen this painting in my sketchpad have referred to it as a drawing. It isn’t. It does have a light pencil line drawing to get the positioning right – you can see that in the sides and background – but this is actually all painted with black and white watercolour (Payne’s gray actually, if I remember right).

The subject of this unfinished sketch is my youngest son, sliding down a slide and trying to capture the absolute joy he was getting from the experience. Initially I was just going to work out how best to frame the image – go close or draw the field of view out further to capture the slide in more detail, but as often happens with a quick sketch I got absorbed into the face and shading.

Boy in blue shoes

Blue shoe boy

I often like to work with a restricted palette, and in this watercolour sketch, I was going for browns. I felt the picture was going great through a few stages in it, but then it was just getting boring – the browns of the sofa Leo was sitting on were too distracting from the detail I managed to get into his face. The range of tones wasn’t consistently varied in different areas. In short, it wasn’t working for me.

Rather than abandon it completely – I still had the legs and feet to complete – I decided to emphasize the blue of the new shoes he had on, which were the reason for the happy smiles (not entirely – he is always smiling!). The picture is grand for a sketchpad, and I did learn from it – I would have been far better off with the earlier stages and not having painted the seat itself. What I am quite satisfied with through this sketch is the knowing look I manage to capture in his face.