The moment I see this photo of two baby squirrels, I know I have to draw it. There is a little problem, since I can’t seem to find the photographer to credit. But they are so cute and fluffy, one nibbling on something and the other seeming to say what’s that u got? can I have sum? while trying to stick it’s nose in… And the colours are so warm and intense, it’s a no-brainer: pastel it is!
Seeing the fur colours, I choose a sheet of Pastelmat in sienna. After taking a good look at the background, I realise that it is going to be most of the headache. The squirrels themselves are not very sharp in focus, so there won’t be too much detail there. But the grass foreground… whoa!
Panpastel is perfect for this kind of blurry background. It takes a lot of mixing to get all these different greens, but the colours don’t have to be an exact match. The most fun is in the circles… the small, white, light grey, light blue, light purple circles to create a bokeh effect. The panpastels can easily be applied light over dark, so there’s room for improvisation on top of the underlayer of greens. I work my way around the squirrels, from the outside in.
And in no time, my desk is one big mess… 😂
The foreground, with all the grassy details, is a real challenge. I’ve never done a background this detailed before! I pick up a bunch of pastel pencils and start experimenting. A little bit of this, a little bit of that… Soon, I get the hang of it. For the blurry blades of grass in front, I use a light streak in the middle. Then I add a bit of greyish green colour towards the ends. A very soft darker edge, finally, gives the blurry effect. Using some bright yellow adds a touch of sunlight to them.
I also draw some broader blades of grass, with a darker line in the middle, where the blade folds. A tiny dent at the end is enough to suggest a curve. It’s hard to explain, just look at the pictures… 🙂
On to the squirrels. As I mentioned, the reference is not that sharp, so I can use my imagination. A bit of panpastel, then tiny pastel pencil strokes on top for the fur. It taks a lot of eeny-weeny shading with different colours to create the tiny fingers! I use bright yellow and light green and blue to create the glowy shadows on the bellies.
I could go on and on but I decide to call it a day in time. It’s not perfect, but I’ve had so much fun looking at these two cuties, and I don’t want to ruin it.
I think they might make a nice greeting card. Cuddles per mail in lockdown times…