My next pastel drawing is taking me more than 4 weeks… Not just because of the drawing itself, but also due to the holidays. Still experimenting with my new panpastels and pastel pencils – and I’m not sure if I will ever turn back to coloured pencils… – I choose a beautiful close-up of a lynx face (by cocoparissiene on pixabay.com). Those eyes, that fur… ooooo!
I have not tried out all the pastelmat colours yet, so this time I use the brown paper for the first time. The same approach for taping and measuring as the last time, creating an outline with graphite. This time, I decide to challenge myself to start the drawing in the upper left corner, working my way across to the bottom right. That is really hard, suppressing the urge to start with the eyes and nose right away! But I see many different approaches among the artists I follow on Twitter, which makes me very curious how they do it! So, I’ll try something new, and see how it goes.
I start with a layer of panpastel. Since I’m still not quite used to the light-over-dark properties of the pastel pencils, I leave some of the areas blank. I simply do not always know yet what the effect of an underpainting will be, and how many layers of pencil I will be able to apply. In fact, I’m using the underpainting a bit as an outline…
Then I start drawing the fur in the top left corner. I am lucky that the reference is a close-up. That means the eye is very close to the corner and I can soon start on that…
The eye has many colours in the little veins, and during the whole process I keep coming back to them, adding a little more colour here and there. I do not know if I am accidentally smudging off the colour, or if it just seems paler when the colour of the rest of the drawing becomes more intense. But I keep darkening the eyes, a lot of times.
I love drawing the area around the eyes: dark eye edges with blue reflections, the corner of the eye, the fur above the eyelid, the light fur under the eye… It involves a lot of playing with colours, to suggest details and depth. By darkening little spaces between individual hairs, depth is created, as well as by darkening individual hairs at their ends or brightening them up in the middle.
Working my way down on the left side, there’s a big difference in focus between the cheek and the neck. It is really interesting to see how light and dark is mixed in this cheek fur. The long whiskers, giving the lynx its typical broad face, consist of alternate layers of light and dark hair. Accentuating the ends of these hairs creates depth. The longer, out-of-focus strands have a glow of yellow, gray, blue and green.
Meanwhile, I’m getting to the part of the muzzle where the whiskers grow from little dark patches.
The other eye, yummy! And I start with a first layer of the nose. I’m using at least 15 colours for the nose, to make it look realistic, from pinks to purples to reds to greys to blues to greens to yellows.
Then, on with the fur on top of the nose and other cheek. Hair by hair, varying colours.
The chin is also satisfying, because of the contrast. I can bring in the darkest blues, browns and greys to create the mouth.
The last part is the other side of the muzzle. Finally I can use white again, not as white as under the eyes, but white anyway. And the whiskers themselves… that is a tough job. Sharpening the pencils as much as you dare. Then, a very, very steady hand for the first stroke. Then, a very, very steady hand to colour the different parts of the hairs to suggest depth. Grey, blue, green, yellow, pink, to make them fade or stand out against the background.
I think I even like it 🙂
“The name lynx originated in Middle English via Latin from the Greek word λύγξ, derived from the Indo-European root leuk- (‘light, brightness’) in reference to the luminescence of its reflective eyes.” (source: Wikipedia )… Interesting, isn’t it?