Melody’s Owl

This May I’m going to be part of an artists open house in the Brighton Fringe Festival. The open house is at the National Trust’s Saddlescombe Farm, and will raise funds for the Grow Project, a project which helps support people experiencing mental health problems by connecting them with nature.

The theme for the open house is “Spirit of Place” and I’ll be putting some prints of my more nature-themed portraits up for sale. I already have some portraits that I know I’ll be using but I also want to create some new work to make into cards and possibly postcards, so I’ll be making more nature-themed portraits over the next few weeks. This portrait of Melody’s owl is the first of these.

I drew the owl in my Midori Cotton sketchbook with Copic markers, coloured pencils and a Uniball Signo gel pen.


This is how all my Copic portraits start out. I draw a quick pencil portrait and then work over it with a fineliner before erasing the pencil. This time I liked my pencil sketch of Alena so much I decided to leave it as it is and not move on to pen and Copic markers.

I drew Alena with a Blackwing 602 pencil in a Midori Cotton sketchbook.


At the moment my Copic markers are being very leaky. Every time I do a Copic portrait I seem to end up with a large pool of Copic ink on the page. Fortunately Midori sketchbook pages don’t feather ink very much, it just dries in a pool creating a watercolour-like effect which is accentuated by my recent switch from black to dark fineliner s for my linework. This is definitely the most watercolour like Copic portrait I’ve drawn so far. But it was all Copic markers in a Midori Cotton sketchbook with some coloured pencil over the top to finish it off.


I’m still adjusting to the paper in my new sketchbook. I always forget what a difference paper makes to my drawings and that it will take me a week or two to adjust to working in a new book. I’ve worked in a Midori Cotton before, but it was a while ago, so I’m definitely having to readjust to the slickness of the paper again. But this is always a fun process!

I drew Yasmin with Copic markers and Prismacolor coloured pencils in an A5 Midori Cotton sketchbook.


All my portraits go through an ugly phase. That’s part of my process. When they’re looking ugly, I just have to have faith in my process, not worry about the ugliness, trust that if I just keep going it will end up looking ok. I’m sharing this because I think that beginner portrait artists think that my portraits look great as soon as I start drawing, and that’s just not the way it is. Here’s this portrait at its really ugly stage:

When I first started drawing with Copic markers and was experimenting with shadows and I added grey and my portrait looked like this I was horrified. But at that point I didn’t really have any choice but to carry on and see if I could improve it. So I did and that’s how I developed my portrait method. And I learned not be scared of the ugly phase But to work through it and experiment. It’s probably the most important thing I’ve learned.

I drew James in a Midori Cotton sketchbook with a Unipin dark grey fineliner and Copic markers.


The inspiration photo for this portrait of Rocio is so fantastic – it just oozes warmth and happiness, I couldn’t resist drawing it for this week’s Old School Sktchy challenge which has the prompt “light”. I wasn’t able to capture the fantastic glow that the light from the rainbow emits in the photo but I did get some of the warmth

I drew this portrait on the first page of my new Midori Cotton sketchbook using Ca Micron fineliner, Copic markers and Prismacolor coloured pencils.