Magpie in pastels

I finally finished this drawing today. I started it last year, but lost interest, until this week, when I felt my muse return.
It is a house warming present for my son. I am hopeless at backgrounds, so I didn’t bother trying to put anything behind the bird in case I ruined the whole thing.
I used Stabilo CarbOthello pastel pencils on Mi Teintes toned paper.
The blemish under the bird’s belly is where I used a kneaded eraser to clean up a smudge. It shows up more in the photo than it does in reality.

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I personally think the background complements the bird beautifully. And the bird is lovely, very detailed even down to the fence. Why did you get disinterested? I can’t tell the eraser smudge. Have you signed it? A thoughtful gift!

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Thank you for your kind comments. I lost interest because I wasn’t happy with what I was achieving at the time. A year later I wasn’t quite so fussy. Lol. I don’t sign my work. I’m a bit like Matt in that respect. I can never decide if I am adding to or devaluing the piece with my signature. I sent a photo of the drawing to my son, he said he loves it, so I am happy. :smile::smile:

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Love, love, love this work! Very adorable :sparkling_heart::sparkling_heart::sparkling_heart:
I cannot use pastel pencils very well and they always give me headaches, but maybe I use too small paper to make my pastel pencils work well. Can you tell me the size of this paper please?

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Sorry to hear that pastels give you headaches. Such a pity, they are a very rewarding medium. Thank you for your kind words. The paper size is A4, 21 x 29 cm, 8 x 11 inches, approximately. :slightly_smiling_face::slightly_smiling_face:

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How beautiful! Perfectly stunning. :heart_eyes:

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Beautifully done! :grinning::art: Interesting to year what you say about signing your work. I have often thought along the lines of does a signature add value or takeaway? I certainly hate the moment that I am happy with a piece and then have to sign it and hope I don’t mess it up. More so when signing with paint that pen or pencil, but still. :scream::wink:

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The bird is gorgeous.

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Thank you Pam. A4 is actually the size I use most often so I understand that you don’t use such a large paper.
I have been using Conte a Paris, which is so soft that it breaks so easily while sharpening. I am also frustrated because I cannot draw really thin lines with my pastel pencils. When I need to draw something really thin, I prefer using coloured pencils. I wonder if Stabilo CarbOthello may work differently. Thank you anyway :blush:

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What is your sharpening method? I use CarbOthello and I use a razorblade and sandpaper. A handheld sharpener breaks the pencils and does not make a satisfactory point. An electric just wastes pencils.

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Thank you for your comment, Ginny. I use a razorblade, but not a sand paper. Furthermore, I should have mentioned “density” or “sharpness” of lines when talking about the pastel pencils problem which has been bugging me. I want sharp and clear lines especially when I am working on something which has clear-cut edges like a house. I have just uploaded a new pastel work and for the very thin lines used for the café building, I used black or purple coloured pencils. I couldn’t help it, and as long as this sort of mixed media approach works fine, I lean toward keeping this way for my other works as well. At least I don’t find any reasons why I shouldn’t. Now I just did a bit of comparison of the thinnest lines I can achieve using a coloured pencil or a pastel pencil. This is the results of the comparison.


The line drawn using a coloured pencil is thinner plus more distinct, i.e. dense and sharp. This is the line I want. Maybe for the drawing of animals, the little bit of unevenness of pastel pencil lines would work as a strong point because the subject is soft and fluffy. But when it comes to buildings, and especially drawn using an A4 size paper, I think coloured pencils are the appropriate choice.

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I see. But, paper has a lot to do with it, also.

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I use a hand held sharpener that came with my set of Generals pastel pencils. I don’t always achieve as sharp a point as I would sometimes like, but I find by varying the way I make marks, I can achieve a finer line with the pastel pencils.

The Stabilo pastel pencils are capable of achieving some nice sharp lines, but if I need really sharp, or really fine marks, I sometimes use my Generals pastel pencils as they are a lot harder than any of the others.

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Thank you James, I never try to sign in paint. I was so happy when I first heard Matt talk about signing, and saying it isn’t absolutely necessary. Such a relief.

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Thank you Pam, but unfortunately, Generals pastel pencils are not available in Japan and if I decide to buy it, I have to pay quite a lot to get it directly from the US. :frowning_face: Thank you anyway :+1:

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Hi Pam, I just watched the latest episode of critique where Matt picked up this work. I got really curious to see how this work would look like with different backgrounds, so I did some experiments using my own texture data which I created earlier this year.




They all look fabulous :slight_smile:
Next time you create a work like this, I hope you will add some beautiful backgrounds!

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Wow! What a huge difference a bit of background colour makes. Thank you, Maki. I am going to go back and add a coloured background now. :+1:

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