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Medium: Graphite (leads 2B, B, F, 3H, 6H 7H)
Size: A2 (594mm x 420mm)
Paper: Goldline Bristol board pad 220gsm
Duration: 16 hrs

This is the third and final of three commission sketches in graphite, this one, the main one is of the entire family, and probably one of the most enjoyable sketches I’ve rendered for a long time.

The original reference photo, wasn’t the best to work with, and the composition between the family members needed some tweaking (one child was alone on the right hand side and the other child was next to his dad with the mother alone in the middle of the photo), so I loaded the original photo I was given into Photoshop and moved the boy on the left closer to his mum and also brought the other sibling and his dad closer to make an athestically more pleasing composition.

Now that I had the composition I wanted, I soon realised that I would be sketching quite a lot of flesh and skin tones (boy do I like a challenge or what?) I also tried to linked the hi-lights in all of their eyes and sunglasses and make them similar, so I took as a basis, the reflection in the mother’s glasses (as “Brian” a dear old artist friend commented – reflections are a great aid to the artist) and tried to replicated this reflection in all the other’s eyes. I think it worked as you don’t notice it at first, but the link is there. The skin wasn’t as too bad as I had imagined and went onto the paper fairly quickly with careful cross hatching, now some folks would scream at the thought of cross hatching visibly on skin, but I wanted these figures to seen as being sketched and not mistaken as photos and cross hatching (I think) tells the viewer it’s not a photo but a sketch – see?).

The toughest time I had was in all four hairstyles which ranged in shade, texture and wetness, the first boy (on the left) had to have just wet damp hair, the mum posed a seperate challenge with her hair more loose and blowing in the wind, the other sibling had that kind of hair which is just starting to dry with a few dry strands blowing out in the breeze, but the daddy of all the hairstyles was with the dad himself, I think this is a first for me, short blonde straight and slightly ruffled hair (his hair took me over 2 hours alone!). The thing I like the most from this whole final sketch (apart from the hair, skin tones and teeth!) is how I used the towel as an anchor, it kind of pulls the figures closer together, sort of.

Well tommorrow is going to be the big day when I meet up with the client and find out whether or not he is satisfied with my art on these three pieces (which is going to a present for his wife in a few days). Hope she likes my efforts, otherwise the school runs I see her every day are going to be kind of akward!

Client called round today and was very impressed with all three, especially so with this last one, he never expected them to turn out so great! (Me happy now!).

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family, graphite, pencil, portrait, sketch

I`m really a self taught artist. A Geordie lad, hailing from a small mining village called Pegswood in Northumberland, originally, from Polish parents. I now live in Stannington, Northumberland, where I’m enjoying all that retirement has to offer.

I am available for commissions, including portraiture, animals and also for one off caricatures, for hire to wedding receptions, parties, local schools, fun fairs and fetes etc.

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  • Brian Towers
    Brian Towersabout 4 years ago

    Brilliant work my friend – never seen better pencilwork.

  • Thank you Brian, encouraging comments coming from masters such as thyself (bowing my cowboy hat in reverence) especially in such high places are always warmly welcomed here on the muddy bottom of the cold dark fish pond LOL!

    – Jan Szymczuk

  • carss66
    carss66about 4 years ago

    awesome work have no worries,thay will love them all.

  • Cheers Chris, you must of been through that moment many many times, clients comes to see your work, few split seconds of suspence, then (you hope) they like it! Thank for your comments, always appreciated.

    – Jan Szymczuk

  • carss66
    carss66about 4 years ago

    not realy,thay think im crap can please some people some of the time,but not all the people all the time lol.but every one is pleased with your work.

  • Now if we can only find a way to convert the pleasured few into paying masses, then we’ll be happy.

    – Jan Szymczuk

  • Colin Cartwright
    Colin Cartwrightabout 4 years ago

    Superb pencil art, Jan. The details are startling!

  • Thank you Colin, your comments are very much appreciated, now let’s hope the client is of the same opinion (hate this not knowing).

    – Jan Szymczuk

  • Colin Cartwright
    Colin Cartwrightabout 4 years ago

    I’m sure they will, Jan. If they don’t, they must be extremely demanding. But you never know – I suppose that’s the danger of portrait work!.
    Keep the viewers informed, if you get the thumbs up!

  • Well, I don’t know why I was so worried, the client was gobsmacked when he saw the three sketches, and really loved this final masterpiece, he said his wife is going to love these pictures to bits (they were commissionedfor her birthday). I’ll find out in person from her tomorrow on the school run!

    – Jan Szymczuk

    GEORGE SANDERSONabout 4 years ago

    Brilliant !!!
    Great stuff Jan, your client must be over the moon with the three pictures, As Brian says, I’ve never seen better pencil work !

  • Cheers George, the client wasabsolutely was gobsmacked when he came to view the three today. It was a grand warm feelin in me belly!

    – Jan Szymczuk

  • Woodie
    Woodieabout 4 years ago

    Fantastic pencil work Jan,
    I knew the client would love them. It’s great when they see the work is better than they expected.
    Cheers Neil

  • Thanks Neil, appreciate your comments.

    – Jan Szymczuk

  • J.D. Bowman
    J.D. Bowmanabout 4 years ago

    Very nice Jan. A great portrait shot, not too staged looking, natural, just a day on the beach. Great work!

  • Thank you J D, love your rodeo work, would love the chance to be able to see what you do on a regular basis, great reference material.

    – Jan Szymczuk

  • Simon Aberle
    Simon Aberleabout 4 years ago

    Fantasic Work!

  • Thank you Simon, I could never call a talent of your calibre dufus!

    – Jan Szymczuk

  • Stephanie Hymas
    Stephanie Hymasabout 4 years ago

    Great job!!! What a challenge, and you’ve come out of it shining!! :)))

  • Thanks Steph, much appreciated.

    – Jan Szymczuk

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