Hahnemuihle 300gsm hot pressed watercolour paper
Derwent Inktense pencils
Derwent Graphite pencil 9b
Uni Pen fine liner black
Uni Pen fine liner white
Water brush Pen
I started with a very rough, loose sketch, working til I had a shape that looked natural. I then tidied my sketch and added in some small detail (hands, eyes, nose etc.)
At this stage I also added part of my background - the tree trunk and ivy.
I then moved on to the areas that I wanted to leave white.
Using a Uni Posca bullet nib pen I made markings around the eyes and the under belly of the squirrel.
I then began adding my colour, starting with light shades first, sun yellow followed by tangerine then poppy red. These were then blended together using a water refill brush.
Baked earth and bark were added next to create shadow and depth where needed.
A very light wash of deep indigo was added to the under belly of the squirrel. I find taking a small amount of colour from the pencil end to the brush reduces the risk of adding too much blue.
The third stage was to darken with more bark and deep indigo, creating shadow and depth on areas around the ears, hands and feet. The tail was finished with long strokes brushed out with lots of water.
The eyes need particular attention. I find the following technique gives the effect that I am looking for - you don’t want the eyes to look lifeless.
Using bark first, then deep indigo, I lifted a little bit of colour out with my brush. I then finished with a small highlight of white pen.
The hands and feet were also worked up at this stage.
Black Uni pen size 00.5 is now added to the tail, I want it to look all bristly but at the same time fading to a finer hair towards the end of the tail. I also mark a line around the eyes and small areas in between the fingers and feet, I don’t want to outline everything, then finish with small lines to the fur.
Next I moved on to the background. I wanted this kept as neutral as possible, as my aim was to keep the squirrel vibrant and bright, so using a 9b graphite pencil I started on the tree bark.
This watercolour paper has a fine grain which I found gave a great texture to the tree - exactly what I was looking for! I shaded some areas dark and left some light.
I also worked on the Ivy roots which I created using some negative sketching. Again, this paper was ideal as it gave the appearance of small roots.
At this stage you can see I have marked the right-hand side of the face with whiskers using white bullet nibbed uni pen.
For the Ivy I used leaf green, I found this provided a nice contrast against the red. I then outlined part of the tree bark, ivy leaves, stems and tree roots using uni pen 00.1
Finally, a cream mount (size 9 x 7) finished my painting off ready for framing.