I've searched out my old portraits from my archives and here is one of the earliest of Kirsty, drawn in a sketchbook in coloured pencil. I copied a photo taken during the family holiday.
The two eldest used to come and stay with us soon after Sarah was born to give their mum a break. Here's Steph done in watercolour when she was 4 years old. We used to have a lot of fun painting in the spare room in our house in England. I well remember Kirsty making a sign for the door saying 'Mrs Gardiner's art class!'
I started to draw in graphite after we came to France and had more time to spend trying to perfect my technique.
Then I discovered Conté pencils, a sort of cross between pastel or charcoal and graphite so I bought a selection of the colours which range through earths to black and white.
You can see I've gone a bit over the top with the smudging here and I soon decided that anything that leaves a residue or powdery dust is not for me. Also these kind of drawings are quite difficult to keep in good condition as the marks continue to smudge even after fixing.
So I went back to my watercolours and produced a nice set for 2007.
I've just looked in the sketchbook of the time and found the original drawings I did before these paintings which I had completely forgotten about till now!
I find that each time I redraw the image I can make improvements and also to loosen up when I start painting, something I find rather difficult being a bit of a perfectionist!
By 2008 I was back with the graphite and I'd found a way to improve the likeness.
I trace the outlines of the person on a photo and then I scan the tracing into the computer.Then I enlarge the tracing to about A4 size and print it off on thin computer paper.
It's a simple matter then of transferring the image onto my drawing paper by laying a sheet of wax free transfer paper under the picture and drawing the lines with an embossing tool. The transfer paper I use is made by Saral and comes in 5 colours, red, yellow, blue, white and graphite.
The different colours are especially handy when I want to use a tinted paper and the graphite one can be carefully erased so that only the lightest outline shows.
I hope you've enjoyed my little trip down memory lane and I do love to hear what you think and please let me know if you're unsure of the technique and want to know more.