Wool Carder Painting step by step….almost there.

I am back to commissions and some commercial work this week but hope to have a little more time for just sketching and drawing.
When teaching my workshops I am a bit of a nag about drawing and practise, everyday if possible, so I really must practise what I preach!!

But it’s back to completing the Wool Carder Bee first. I almost finished it for the Meadow Days show and was able to have it on display and chat about the process of drawing and painting a bee. Here are a few stages of the work:

Referring back to my preliminary sketches I lightly draw the bee on the frighteningly clean and pristine paper. This always makes me very nervous.
Thank goodness it is tough stuff because I still do quite a bit of re-drawing and adjusting on the paper.
i.e. was not quite sure where I wanted that front leg…..


Leg adjusted, I put in first colour guides.


Stages 3 and 4 are just building up colour depth and getting the eye right. It’s important to me that I have the eye done fairly soon. “Eye contact” with your painting helps make a bond between you and your work!! It’s a bit of a responsibility creating something!!

and by this stage I have erased up some of the pencil lines!

Stages 5 is more building up and I use quite a bit of lifting out and add white gouache to paint the lovely long silky hairs that this bee has on the underside of her thorax.

stage 5 bg

The almost last stage is the wings, sorting out the detail of the abdomen markings and the antennae.. when I pray for a steady hand!
There is nowhere to hide mistakes made here!

stage 6 bg

I then leave the bee and get on with the background. I will go back to do further adjustments later on if I see any glaring mistakes. It’s good to leave things alone for a while!
The pencil work takes a long LONG time as, again, I do draw and redraw on the paper and it is forgiving, but only up to a point.
Some times I rough out the leaves and flowers on tracing paper and position them here and there to check the composition.
I didn’t take stage images as that would be very boring..

stage 7 bg

Its almost finished now. Just a few adjustments to do and I need to add a small image of Wallsworth Hall, home of Nature in Art gallery. I have sketched it roughly on tracing paper to position it….It might go about here!

stage 8 bg      image

I will be finishing it this week…unless, perchance, we have SUN??? Hope springs eternal …….

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  1. Oh wonderful, these are the posts I treasure. I am awed by your skill, made real to me as I follow the steps.

  2. wonderfull drawing , this as if photograpy

  3. Thanks for sharing your process. It really helps to see the painting develop step-by-step. Lovely detail in the fur and wings.

  4. What a wonderful post! I so enjoy your writing and illustrations, and the way you explain the steps!

  5. Thanks very much all!

    Diana.. Many thanks as always..you are just too kind! 🙂
    But I am glad you like seeing the development.

    Zeysim.. Thank you so much and I am very glad you like the work. I do try to bring these little creatures to life..This one is a particular favourite!

    KJ..Thanks you! The differing types of fur on bees can be a challenge. It is silky under the wings and then sometimes quite bristly on the thorax depending on the species. Some are velvety and some are tufty… I could go on and on and …….. 🙂

    Mags.. Hello and thank you. I often forget to take stage shots of the work but its quite nice for me to see how it developed. But I am not sure it makes for a sizzling blog post… something about watching paint dry? 🙂

  6. I love how the bee gradually 'comes to life' on the paper. Truly beautiful! – Clare @ CVF

  7. I think I'll want one of this prints.
    It's lovelly!
    Waiting for the final picture!
    I finally hang the four prints I bought from you in my small country house but I guess I need two more.
    🙂 I'll keep in touch.

    And I finally found out what was eating the leaves of some plants in my garden. I didn't know about the leaf cutter bees. I'll take some pictures for you to check!! i was looking for beatles or caterpillars but found nothing… It must be bees!

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