A Child’s Innocence

A child portrayed with Arteza colored pencil set on A4 cardboard paper.

When a child is born, we see that sweetness, cuteness, adorability, and particularly, that shimmering innocence, gushing off their aura; however, where does this innocence go as they come of age?

One could argue that a child’s innocence suffocates in the chokehold that peer pressure has on our schools and society. Another could argue that a child’s innocence dissipates in a disjointed family, where one parent’s state of mind is in Tokyo, and the other’s is in Kyoto, and well, it can be hard to refute this since charity, they say, begins at home.

Furthermore, others think it’s just “normal” for innocency to reduce as a child gets older, but statisticians beg to differ. For those fond of mathematics and statistics, you’d remember the Gaussian curves or “normal” curves that tend to start at a point, peak at the middle, and then regress towards the end. Well, comparing this to innocence and our lifespan, I feel our naivety is at its peak when we are children, but this reduces as our brain develops and learns more about the world from childhood to adulthood. However, as we age gracefully towards our seventies and eighties, we see our innocence tends to peak again, thence, completing the inversely normal curve, or should I say an “abnormal” curve, lol. Now, this is just my fun observation which can be true for most, but definitely not all.

Nonetheless, this thought on a child’s innocence fascinated and spurred me to make this portrait in color pencil, and to be honest, I truly enjoyed it after making most of my previous drawings in graphite. I cannot say if my subsequent drawings will be in color, but I can only relish the unpredictability of my artistic journey.

So, what do you think?

Cheemnonso

Inter-Dimensions. (Sketch)

Completed with A4 cardboard paper and STÆDTLER graphite pencils. (Portrait reference)

What do you see when you close your eyes? Yep! You read that right. What do you see when you close your eyes? For lovers, the astral plane becomes the thin veil between reality and that fervent french kiss. For poets, words become ventriloquists, breathing life into the inanimate, whilst the living become statues of its awe. For cheerful givers, they see blooms of happiness sprouting from seeds sown in the needy’s bosom, and for non-givers, well, they see nothing, for they had already turned the blind eye, lol. Anyways, the answer to this question still saunters back and forth on the bridge between reality and our fantasies.

Fascinated by this question and the portrait reference (by Sandra Parreno photography , whose character seems torn between the 2D and 3D verse), I decided to make this my first drawing of the year 2022.

Looking back at my drawings in 2021, I noticed significant improvements from 2020, particularly in maintaining shading segue, to add more depth to realism; however one crucial drawback still exists: portrait likeness.

Last drawing of 2021 completed with STÆDTLER graphite pencils and Arteza Drawing pad (80 pages). Drawing deviated from portrait likeness, however shading seemed okay. (Portrait reference)

Achieving portrait likeness will be the key area I’d work on this year as I try to build on more emotive drawings from years past, and judging from my recent portrait, I see good signs in shading, particularly as the paper used was a bit low grade (still on my media exploration quest); However, the rooms for improvement in portrait likeness ultimately need inhabiting.

Please, feel free to reach out if you’re interested in learning some of my portrayed techniques, and I’d also appreciate every critical input on my works. Thank you.

Cheemnonso

Drawing Yelena. (Sketch)

Sketchbook: Arteza Drawing pad (80lb)

Media: Black Widow/ Arteza Color Pencil set

The reference this time was particularly inspired by my choice of coloured pencils, which was predominantly dark-toned black widow pencil set, hence my drawing of the character, Yelena Belova (portrayed by Florence Pugh), from the Black Widow movie.

I have had this pencil set a while now, but it was majorly used to underpin my prevalent Arteza coloured pencils in colour drawing, so I decided to make an exception this time with role reversals.

Three particular pencil shades were used for skin tones including Leather, Suede and Olive brown, whilst both Midnight and Greyhorn variants were used for her gear. Arteza’s Pink macaroon, however, was used for blending the skin out, albeit not hundred percent achieved. This was subject to my carefulness with the sketchbook paper, as the burnishing technique can be somewhat hostile and aggressive on drawing papers.

Nonetheless, these pencil sets have proved to be a great combo in colour pencil realism for me, and I’d keep using them, for now, to see how I improve off them.

I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I enjoyed creating it, and, do have a blessed week ahead. Ciao!

Cheemnonso

Ugochi III. (Sketch)

Graphite rendition of Ugochi

Sketchbook: Arteza Drawing Pad (80lb)

Medium: STÆDTLER Graphite pencil set

It’s that time of the year again, when my baby sister celebrates her birthday, consequently signaling one more progressive year in my artistic journey. At this point, she knows she has become my most used muse, but one thing she does not know is what reference picture I will choose of her, or which medium I’d portray her in (colored pencil or graphite). This has always made her birthday expectations somewhat of a surprise.

This time, however, I chose a tricky reference picture; one that she discarded at the time due to poor photo lighting. I chose this because it presented various challenging features including:
• portrayal of light and shadows
• achieving depth in drawing braids,
• realistic body features (hands and foot)
• cloth form and likeness.

I am happy with the performance in some of these areas and how it turned out generally, particularly as she was carved from another page on my sketchbook. More importantly, I am glad she loved it bearing in mind she once disliked the original photo; So, I’d like to use this opportunity to wish her a very happy birthday with many more years, hoping I’d capture her alluring moods in the years to come.

By the way, if you have any questions concerning improvements in portrait realism or realism in general, I’d be more than willing to help. Conversely, I’d appreciate critical inputs on some flaws that could help me improve as well. For now, however, do have splendid days ahead. Ciao!

Cheemnonso

Alma de Cristina. (Sketch)

Graphite rendition of Cristina Otero’s Soul Portrait.

Sketchbook: Arteza drawing pad (80lbs)

Media: STÆDTLER Graphite Pencils

Still on expressive portrait drawings, I stumbled on this monochromatic reference photo on Pinterest (as ever), and after finding it captivating, I decided to give it a try with my graphite pencils.


After some digging, I discovered that the photo is indeed a self-portrait of Cristina Otero, a young Spanish photographer, who captured this using the front camera of a Huawei P10 smartphone, of which she dubbed a Soul Portrait, hence the title of this blogpost in Spanish.


This time, however, I opted for my normal 80-paged Arteza drawing book to recreate this photo, rather than the much smoother Bristol vellum surface paper, as I seek to complete the sketchbook soon enough, amidst hectic school and work schedules.


The drawing came out coarser, as expected, because the drawing pad has got more tooth than vellum surfaces. It is evident from the original photo that I still struggle a bit with portrait likeness, probably due to the inaccuracy of my grids, which needs to be improved, thus, giving me room for progression in portrait realism.


In all, the drawing seemed satisfactory for me, if for anything, the depth of realism on the hand figure, and judging from this, there will be more graphite and colored pencils drawings emanating from this drawing pad, hopefully with better results. Fingers crossed!

Cheemnonso

Drawing Zendaya. (Sketch)

Sketchbook: Bienfang Bristol Vellum paper

Media: Black Widow/Arteza pencils

Two months gone now, and the gliding thoughts of how to go about realism and portraiture in 2021 still seeks the right perch. Most of it has been down to busy school/work schedules, but I realized that no schedule can ever be too busy to have a decent artwork, hence my recent drawing.

My portrait reference study is no other than the Emmy award winner (the youngest if I might add) for her role as a troubled teen in the somewhat brilliant HBO series, Euphoria. She also stars as a trapezist in The Greatest Showman, and as MJ (Michelle Jones) in SpiderMan: Homecoming, Far from home and No Way Home, where the latter is still in the works. Ladies and gents, Zendaya Maree Coleman needs no further introduction.

What particularly influenced my choice of reference is not just because of her delectable roles in movies (Malcolm and Marie for starters), but also the profoundness of her skin colour. As soon as I beheld her picture on Pinterest, I realized it has been a while I drew in coloured pencils, so I decided to take up this portrait study. Who says inspiration does not trump busy schedules?

First, I decided to try out the blending of the coloured pencils on the coarser side of the Bristol vellum paper, as I did with graphite pencils for my Freckled Smile work, and I must say, coloured pencils feel a lot smoother on this coarse side of the paper when compared to graphite pencils. Building layers of colours also seemed effortless, but it was accompanied by a cuddly drawback; more drawing time. However, having used the coarse side of vellum papers for both graphite and coloured pencils, the coarse side feels more suited for coloured pencil artworks, while the smooth side seems best for graphite pencils, at least in my case, with favourable results.

For the rest of the artistic journey this year, I’d build on these media exploration outcomes whilst working on achieving portrait likeness for different facial expressions (with interludes of other studies) using dry media. Garnering inspiration from sources like Pinterest, it’d be amazing hopefully. Fingers crossed.

Cheemnonso

Coloured Conceptions

Sketchbook: Arteza Drawing pad (80lb)

Media: Black Widow colour pencils.

In coloured portrait realism, one common misconception amongst budding artists is that the more expensive the pencils used, the better the artworks. Well, that may be true in some cases, especially in the grip of professionals; however, for beginners, several factors come to play like patience, tone/depth understanding and also the art of gradations. The truth is, every artist has that wand of a pencil that seem to bend to his/her will and create magical art pieces. I mean, I’ve seen excellent artworks completed with Crayola pencils that could rival those completed with Caran D’ache luminance pencils; hence, it’s not just a matter of the pencils, but, the dexterity of the artist.
However, I’ve been exploring mediums lately to find suitable colour pencil sets for portraits. On my quest, I eventually crossed paths with this Black Widow colour pencils, which I used to portray the innocence of this child. Initially, I had a creepy feeling towards the pencil set, considering its name, but I gradually grew fond of it (nothing to worry about for arachnophobes). I particularly liked the dark skin tone variant, as it provided lots of vibrant colours to layer and blend. The pencils generally proved promising and have been included in my list of dependable pencils for portrait drawing.
Are there any other pencils you know of that is not part of the mainstream media and has presented excellent results for you? Do let me know and who knows, it could be my one and only.

Cheemnonso

The Bristol Baby. (Sketch)


Sunday Bristol Sketchbook – Page 1

In realism, particularly pencil shading, I’ve come to realize that a careful choice of materials really play a crucial role in finished artworks. Back when I started drawing, I solely used printing papers and HB pencils, which definitely aren’t the worst media any budding artist could begin with. Truth is, the sketches seemed appealing at the time, until questions on depth, contrast and longevity arose. As first steps to tackling these questions, I purchased a STÆDTLER graphite pencil set to deal with the issue of tones and depth, hence achieving more realism; and an acid-free Strathmore Sketchbook to make the drawings last longer on paper without smudging or fading away. This actually made the drawings improve a bit, but it just didn’t feel right to stop exploring other art materials.

After watching a couple online drawing tutorials, I came to know about this Bristol vellum surface sketchbook and how finished drawings looked breathtaking on them, so, I decided to get one for myself. While making this baby drawing on the recently acquired sketchbook, I felt jealous of the camaraderie between the tip of the graphite pencil and the surface of the paper. Each stroke of the pencil glided effortlessly on the paper like a graceful geisha skiing on winter ice. I was also happy with how the paper could capture the contrast the pencils were willing to offer. The drawing ultimately proved to be one enjoyable art piece for me, and I can’t wait to see how other dry media including charcoal and coloured pencils would fare on this sketchbook. Fingers crossed.

Cheemnonso