Saturday, 7 February 2009

Larger Than Life

My German Shepherd dog Murphy always lies down and watches me from the doorway of my studio space when I'm working. One day I had my camera handy so turned and took a snap of him. I was reading a blog by another artist who specialises in life sized artwork. His portfolio includes a life sized bull elephant as well as a tiger done in pencil. This gave me the idea to try a life sized picture of Murphy.

Firstly I had to source some suitably large sheets of paper. Normally I draw on Bristol board, but this only comes in regular sized pads as far as I know. So I decided to try Stonehenge paper. I've not used it before but I'd heard it was excellent for use with many different media, incuding pencil and you can buy very large sheets.

I got some sheets sized 76cm x 112 cm from Jacksons art supplies. I taped a sheet to a large piece of board, re-organised my tiny studio around a bit to accomodate the extra large space needed and began.

Surprisingly it didn't take too long to start making progress. After making the first lightly drawn sketch, I began by laying down a wash of 2b graphite dust. Then with some deft use of a putty rubber started taking out the graphite to reveal the basic shapes. Then I went in with 4b, 6b and 8b pencils, working on the detail.
I worked on about a foot at a time, from left to right.
I think I spent about 40 hours, spread over a fortnight, to complete the drawing.
The real problems started when I began making the frame.
My workshop isn't big enough to deal with this sort of size so joining the four lengths of moulding was a bit of an ordeal but I managed it OK. I used a 3 inch natural wood frame and finished it with 2 coats of button polish and several coats of wax. I was able to purchase a ready cut bevel mount in a silver grey. The glazing was always going to be a problem. Due to the size I couldn't use my normal float glass as it would be too heavy and dangerous. So bought a large sheet of acrylic plastic glass. I've never cut this stuff before and promptly managed to bust it on my first attempt. So I had to buy a pre-cut piece (I should have done that straight away, would have saved a lot of trouble and money). Eventually it was done and now hangs in my kitchen, quite an impressive piece.


Anonymous said...

Very impressive

Geoffrey said...

I don't do blogs normally but as a long time admirer of your art I think the quality of what you have presented, so far, much exceeds many other websites...never mid the blogs!


jeannie said...

great start Peter and really interesting to know a bit about the actual processes behind the works.

Aitch said...

An excellent blog, Peter. I too admire your work - I particularly like this drawing of Murphy.

Jane Duke said...

Looking really good Peter. I'm sure you'll soon pick up an army of interested and keen followers!

Anonymous said...

It's lovely Peter, well laid out and so nicely presented. I shall be a frequent visitor. Sue

Anonymous said...


An interesting and revealing blog. You have a way with with words as well as with the paintbrush. Look forward to reading more.