How do I get a likeness?

Firstly it lies in the measurements: get an accurate initial rendering of the face. (However if we are doing a caricature, it’s a different kettle of fish and the art of exaggeration kicks in.) There are classic relationships ie., half, third and fifths in relation to eyes, nose, mouth, ears and eyebrows. The true relationships are width of face to length of face; eyes (usually half way), eyes to base of nose, eyes to hairline, and importantly watch the distance between the eyes (if doing front on). This is where the fifths comes into it, ie., an eye measurement goes into the face 5 times.  In any portrait, the true character lies in capturing the eyes.

A quick pencil ‘block in’ may not be totally accurate at this stage but allows the more creative aspects of colour application (in this case, pastel) to bring it to life. I usually complete a pastel portrait in 15-20 minutes (after the initial block in). I work fast to capture the energy of the subject or the energy of the moment. Nothing is laboured.

Colour, too, is important, as I don’t just see ‘flesh’ tone. I see reds, blues, greens and usually apply colour quickly in complementaries and analogous to create harmony in the image or, if the image allows, a sense of competing hue.

If you would like a one-on-one art class, contact me @veloceartist

From pastel to print – energy sketches

I have started using pastel again in my artmaking, starting with caricatures and now producing some more realistic art. However, I am not using this medium conventionally sense. Years ago, I started using pastel as my weapon of choice, rejoicing that I could do som,e here and some there and not have to worry about paint drying out etc. Pastel is a bright medium to use and extremely versatile. I love the fact of blending to create smooth effects.

When I work with pastels now, I have discovered that the loose dust plays a part in the image and storytelling. It adds character to the image’s edges and adds a freshness and energy in look and feel. Also it adds to the medium’s vulnerability. To this end, I incorporate that as part of the final image. When complete I’ll take a photo of the image to capture the spontaneity of the dust. That photo then becomes the artwork. The ‘original’ is the means to an end.

I know some say why don’t you sparay with fixative. By definition fixative, when sprayed on the surface will blow the dust over the artwork, so that’s not an option. Below is an example of a generated works of Pastel prints.

Selfie-ture TM

Here’s a detail of my latest work, completed over several sittings. It was completed using using pencils (2H, 3B, 5B and 8B). Note the particular emphasis on the beard and the various angles that the hairs take. They are not uniform.

selfie close up

Political ‘toon

A recent holiday by our PM to Hawaii created a lot of chatter on the airwaves. It also created some fodder for cartoonists. Here is my effort: as the PM was ‘scrambling’ to get back to Aus amid the strikes by one of the carriers: JetStar. It was a simple get. The art of melding two news stories into one message.


HAWKIE! Drawn to Politics – my curating job

This was a ‘labour’ of love acting as curator for this recent cartoon exhibition at Hotel Kurrajong, Barton, ACT. The exhibition went from 30 Nov to 15 Dec and featured 75 high quality prints of cartoons and caricatures from this nation’s best black and white artists from four decades. The show focussed on the political life of Bob Hawke.

At the time of our famous ex-PM’s passing earlier this year, I noticed many artists posting their drawings of Bob on social media. I thought ‘there is an exhibition here’. The show was supported by the Australian Cartoonists Association (ACA) and a venue was sourced. I then took over and went about sourcing the images, finding a sponsor and organising the opening. HAWKES Brewing came on board as ‘liquid’ sponsor which was great.


I put a shout out to Hawkie’s ex-cabinet colleagues: Graham ‘Richo’ Richardson and Gareth Evans. Both gentlemen accepted the invitation and gave wonderful speeches at the official opening on Thur 5 Dec. Bob’s widow, Blanche deAlpuget, thought the idea was wonderful, although could not attend the opening.

Further to this was an auction held at the ACA’s industry awards – The Stanleys – and all proceeds went to Landcare Australia.