Spotted Nubian – Illo Friday

Click to enlarge

I got busy this week and missed the chance to do something for Illustration Friday. So here’s something done earlier this year that wasn’t used for any previous project …

If you’re a regular reader, you know that I very seldom do any graphite drawing. I don’t have any negative feelings about it. In fact, I love the beautiful halftones that some of my artist friends like Detlef and Felicity so skillfully achieve. For some reason, perhaps negative experiences drawing with a pencil when I was a child, I just don’t gravitate to it. So today, as part of my ongoing animal series I decided to do something radical and to draw this spotted Nubian goat in graphite instead of ink or paint. The paper was not particuarly smooth or fine, much to my regret. I used 2B, 6B and 8B pencils, a kneaded eraser and a tortillon here and there.

(Edited to add: The paper size was 8 1/2 x 11 – for some idea of scale. K.)

In reality the goat is colored burnt sienna, deep burnt umber, black and white. Maybe I’ll try her in watercolor next. After I finish cleaning my refrigerator, that is.


  1. Lin
    January 16, 2006

    Karen — even tho you don’t like the medium you used, you used it so SKILLFULLY! The fur looks absolutely TOUCHABLE, softly rendered, great highlights — there is such a compellingness in the image to run your hand over his back!

  2. Kate
    January 16, 2006

    Awwww…makes me miss my goats! She’s beautiful!

  3. Linda
    January 16, 2006

    Karen — I’m loving your petting zoo series — you do animal portraits so very well.

  4. shavenwarthog
    January 16, 2006

    I like pencil pretty well, but I sometimes think it’s “cheating”. Sometimes a drawing will be done with the most unforgiving of media: a Sharpie. Ever tried getting any sort of subtle crosshatching or grayscale with one of those? It can’t be done! Well, it’s a great challenge, at least.

    I really like using charcoal. You can finish a biiig drawing in 10 minutes! None of this line-at-a-time nonsense as with pen :)

    The goat is nice! Especially the range of tones across the fur, I’ve always had problems in that area. yay!

  5. pink
    January 16, 2006

    Oh my goodness, I just never did see such a cutie in all my entire life!

    What a beautiful drawing, Karen! The pose is so sensitive. You were petting that beast with every line!

  6. Laura
    January 17, 2006

    This is such a nice drawing, Karen! Isn’t it funny the way different people gravitate to different mediums? I LOVE pencil for its sensuality, the way
    I love painting with oil paints, and Chinese brush and ink, charcoal. There’s a feeling of closeness to the skin, tactileness that you just can’t get with other
    mediums. At any rate, it seems pencil allowed you to get the goat (ha!) very, very well.

  7. Felicity
    January 17, 2006

    It’s a beautiful drawing Karen, I hope it will dispel any bad memories – it makes me sad when I hear about those.
    It’s so skillful, it shows no sign of you disliking the medium. Love the zoo sketches!
    (Pencil as ‘cheating’?! ouch!)

  8. Karen
    January 17, 2006

    Felicity, I was thinking about this some more … trying to understand what it was about pencil that didn’t inspire me. I think it’s that pencil requires time, patience and observational and manual skills … maturity and skills that I lacked growing up. Because I drew too quickly and without good observation, I did a lot of heavy-handed erasing that easily damaged the cheap paper, turning the whole thing into a mess. I could see value but I didn’t really know how to portray it with a #2 and #3 pencil. The concepts of blending and shading and picking out lights was foreign to me. I thought that everything done with a pencil was just putting a line on paper, period.

    In truth, I don’t think that I really gave pencil a fair try. Although I use pencil for quick sketches in my sketchbook, this is probably the first detailed pencil drawing I’ve done in quite a long time. I rather liked the experience and it makes me want to do more.

  9. Karen
    January 17, 2006

    Charcoal, now there’s another one I have just zip, nada experience with. And I haven’t painted in oils in, well, decades. Maybe someday again. I’ve seen that they now have water-based oils although I don’t know how they get the oil and water to mix. I wonder if they smell as strong as the oils I remember from the past? Or maybe that was just the turpentine I mixed it with, I can’t recall. The fumes did something to my brain cells. How’s that for an excuse?

  10. deb
    April 20, 2006

    Yes I agree graphite isn’t my favourite either. You did a lovely job.

  11. Michelle
    April 20, 2006

    This is such a lovely sketch, well done.

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