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Submitted on
September 17, 2012
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Journal Entry: Mon Sep 17, 2012, 2:15 AM
Hover a question to see the answer

Skin by pjuk

What pencils and supplies do you most often use? (Including coloured pencils )
For graphite drawings I use a fairly basic set of tools and I do have preferred brands.  I mainly use Tombow Mono 100 pencils, Tombow Mono Zero Erasers, Blu-Tack (instead of a kneaded eraser), Tortillions, colour shaper  and Tissue if I'm blending.    I mainly use a smooth plate finish paper for graphite drawings, my preferred brand is Mellotex, but I also use Winsor and Newton Extra Smooth Bristol board.   My essential kit is here it's not exhaustive, but it's what I use most of all.
For coloured pencil drawings I use Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils and Blu-Tack and occasionally a touch of white acrylic for highlights if I've lost them in the colouring process.  I like a Hot Pressed Watercolour paper for colour pencil drawings.  It's smooth enough to keep everything looking nice and blended, but has enough tooth to hold a good 8 or 9 layers of colour.  
For black paper drawings, I use Caran d'Ache Pablos, they're great!

For how long have you been drawing? (is it something you got passionate about some years ago or has it been following you since you were a kid)
I've been drawing for almost 2 years now.  I was always able to draw a bit in school etc.  But before coming across dA and joining, I hadn't picked up a pencil in 10 years.  I would say I always loved art and enjoyed being creative, but it's only recently that it's became my passion.  I have worked my way through many things, including card making for charity and I also really love to make jewellery, but I don't upload it to dA.  These things were all just a creative outlet until I found realism.

Which techniques do you use - circulism, cross-hatching, messily doing the under layer then blend it and 'repair' and add details on upper layers, etc (or all of the above) - do you prefer blending or leaving your drawings with more texture?
I use a couple of techniques to be honest, I'm not very consistent.  If I want something unblended, I use circulism and have a tutorial on this
If I'm going to blend a drawing, I actually do the same thing and lay everything down using circulism and blend it out.  It gives a much smoother blend than scribbling and trying to cover it up.    My preference is to use a nice homemade tortillion for blending too.  I make them from newsprint and sand the ends before using to break up the fibres … it makes blending very easy.

Which pencils do you use?  Do you just use a certain brand?
I'm a pencil snob, I cannot tell a lie :D  My preference is Tombow Mono 100 pencils.  They are so smooth and beautiful to use, nothing else compares for me.  If I had to have a second best (and  less expensive) I'd use Staedtler Mars Lumos.  They are great and I loved them before I found the Tombows.  The 8B Mars Lumo still lives alongside my Tombows.

How do you get inspired - movies, music, seeing a lovely photo, making a combination of more than one of the above - and how does it work for you? when something inspires you does it have to be done instantly otherwise you lose interest, how long does it take you to finish a drawing (approximately, since every drawing is different), do you obsessively sit through most of the drawing process and finish it without making major pauses or do you procrastinate and just stare at it for most of the time?
Inspiration is a relatively random for me.  I often come up with all these ideas spinning in my head and never do anything with them.  Occasionally they make it onto paper and it can be anything that sparks an idea …. Often statements in books get me thinking.   Ideas come to me more often than not in the middle of the night.    
Sometimes it's simply that I see an image and I have to draw it.  If it's an idea that is mine, I will go and source images to make my idea reality.  I like to start something quite quickly when it comes to me or I would most likely lose interest, I'm not very patient with myself.
On average I'd say a drawing takes me about 14-16 hours from start to finish, but I've been known to draw something in 5 hours - 30 hours, it really depends.  It takes me a while to finish a drawing as I don't have a lot of free time, but I rarely stare and procrastinate, I just go for it.

What is your favorite time of the day to draw?
My favourite time of the day to draw is at night when my little ones go to bed and the house is silent.  It's my wind down time and when I can lose myself a little bit.

I assume you're self-taught (or if not, did you ever take art classes, how old were you), but if you are self-taught have you ever been looked upon by a 'professional' who thinks he knows everything just because he went to a school, yet objectively looking you're much more skilled  have you ever been told - you're doing this wrong, this shouldn't be like that, you're not allowed to blend, you should work quickly and instinctively instead of being such a perfectionist?
I am self-taught (other than general schooling) and think I've come across my fair share of 'I'm better than you because I've been 'properly' trained' while I've been here.  I have a very firm belief that if another artist tries to belittle what you do to make them seem better, be it because they were trained or because they create their own characters, then the fault lies with them and them alone.  If they have insecurities, they will come out in their derogatory comments.  Art is art to me, if you love it, do it!  So, these opinions mean little to nothing.

Have you ever been 'accused' of not being a true artist because you do realism, and have you ever been asked "why don't you just take a photo" - what did you reply?
Yes, I think most realists have to some extent.  You know, most of the time, these people don't really deserve a response, they're just being rude.  I genuinely couldn't care less if someone has a problem with me creating a realistic drawing, if they can't see the difference from an observed drawing to a photo then that's their problem and since dA is full of wonderful realism, why are they here and looking at it .. you know?   
If I felt someone was being genuine in this question, my response would be that I am not merely recreating a photo, I am observing and manipulating and using drawing as my way of expressing how I see the photo.  Emphasising and eliminating as I see fit to make it more me.    It is a challenge and a pleasure and in the end, a photo does not come close to a realistic graphite drawing in depth and impact … in my opinion.

Do you have art exhibitions, do you take a lot of commissions or are you more of a hobbyist?
No, I've never had an exhibition, I'm quite insecure about these things and also quite shy about my work.  I've been lucky enough to have a few drawings published through dA contacts though.  I take a few commissions, but am quite selfish in my time management, I like to draw for me most of the time.  

Do you have an obsession over pencils and art supplies in general?
Absolutely, nothing makes me happier than browsing around pencils and paper and buying things I don't need just to look at them!

How do you make areas so black just using pencils?
This is the question I get asked more than anything else.  I am often met with disbelief and told that it's not possible.  My response is 'just because you can't do it, doesn't mean it can't be done'!
So, how do I make blacks black?  A few ways.  If I don't mind a texture difference in a drawing, I would use a Mars Lumo 8B pencil.  It is graphite, but looks more like a graphite/carbon hybrid.  It lays down dense black but matt, so it will show very differently to the natural sheen of graphite.  I use this less often.
My more likely way to create black is to very carefully do it using various pencil grades.  Details of this can be found here and in the comments of this deviation, where there is a link to a video of me drawing…

Can you teach me how to draw?
No, I don't think I can, unless you can come and sit right next to me :( I can give you answers to specific questions, but to learn to draw you need to practice and find your own way.  No, I don't think I can, unless you can come and sit right next to me :) I can give you answers to specific questions, but to learn to draw you need to practice and find your own way.  

What inspired you to take up drawing for serious? Was it something, somebody or you've been drawing all your life, so there wasn't any 'magic moment'?
This is a really easy one for me.  It was dA … I came across the site one day and saw all these drawings that I couldn't believe were drawings and had to do it too.  It was my entire driving force to learn.    Some of the people I remember from that first day are Cataclysm-X and Akalilith and one other who I've since found out doesn't actually draw, so that makes me a bit sad that I looked up to them.  Though, I guess it was positive for me in a round about way.

Have you ever thought of drawing from imagination? Not some parts of drawings, but the entire drawings.  I'm not sure if you haven't - I'm thinking about the eye you drew which is tattooed now, was it from imagination? What about other drawings, are there more?
I can draw from imagination and sometimes do, but I do prefer to use references and add bits to them, it's relaxing to not have to think too much.  The tattoo was imagination and a couple of drawings that I have done as commissions are from imagination.  They are in storage at the moment on request of the commissioner, but I'll upload them when he tells me I can.  One of them, I'm actually very fond of, so I'm looking forward to uploading it.

Do you prefer portraying men or women?
Neither really, I like both.  I especially like drawing mens skin and womens eyes, so I guess it's a pretty even split.

Pencils or coloured pencils or other medium?
Lol, I think this is a really easy one .., it will always be graphite, I love it but I am getting very fond of my coloured pencils too and the more I work out how to use them, the more I enjoy it.    I also really like pastels and watercolour,  but am not very good at either … more practice needed there for sure!

Do you post every drawing you start and finish? Are there some pieces that you didn't post online?
I have a couple of things lying around that never made it because I've not finished them.  I might still, so they could make an appearance at some point.  I pretty much post everything here on dA unless it's something a commissioner doesn't want online.    I also have one drawing uploaded to Stash that basically sucks, I won't upload it and offend everyone … it's only there for giggles  :D

Have you thought about making some tutorials?
I've made one tutorial on unblended skin, but if anyone wanted others, I'd do them if I thought I could.

Do you consider yourself a real artist?
Yes I do, a developing artist … I'm a work in progress

Why pbird12?  
This is such a dull and kind of weird answer.  The P is for Paula.  The rest … okay, well, here in Scotland, men sometimes call girls 'mah burd' (my bird, it's basically a relatively derogatory term for a girl/girl friend) and where I used to work I was called just P (for Paula) for a long time.  But people started to add things onto the end of this (I had PBoss, when I got promoted, I got PBitch when I got promoted and annoyed someone lol) but most of the time I got PBird and it just kind of stuck.  After hearing it for years,  it was the first thing that came to mind when I joined.  The 12 is my favourite number.

Might be a lame question, but how do you manage to juggle your time and find time to draw, especially with young children around?
It's not really easy, but for the most part I draw in the evening when the kids go to bed, with the aid of a daylight lamp.  I find it relaxing and it's my wind down time.  It's almost impossible to draw with the little ones around … small dirty fingers are very bad on Bristol board :crying:  

Which artists have influenced you most?
I answered before in the FAQ that it was dA artists who made me pick up a pencil.  But in terms of style and influence, I don't know that there is any single artist to be honest … I admire many things and many people and I couldn't narrow it down.  

How do you do your sketch and why can't I see gridlines?
You will never ever see gridlines or guidelines on my good paper because I never draw them on there.  My sketches always take place on a piece of very thick tracing paper or vellum.  I do this for three reasons: First reason, I can put the paper over a pre-printed grid and I don't have to draw it every time.  Second reason, I'm very heavy handed and like to sketch and erase a lot until I'm happy, doing this on plate finish Bristol board is a disaster waiting to happen, so I make my mistakes on separate paper and only transfer the lines I'm happy with.  Third reason, I think is pretty self-explanatory.   I can flip the paper over and still see my sketch, so can then redraw the lines I want to transfer without a lot of fuss and time.   This is not the most accurate way of working, but it works for me.

You don't draw very many guidelines, how can you see what you are doing?
I guess this is just a personal preference, I dislike a load of lines all over my paper, it's just graphite waiting to be smudged for me, so I keep my sketch to a minimum and only draw the absolute essentials.  Also, I really hate sketching and gridding, I like to get to the good part as soon as I can.  Sometimes it means sacrificing a likeness, but that's something I need to work on I guess.  

How do you make your own tortillions???
These are soooooo easy!  I use newsprint because it's really soft and fibrous, but you can use anything that's not too heavy.  Here are a couple of tutorials…

Oh, and where are your weaknesses, and where do your strengths lie in art?
I think I still have a long way to go in most things really, I'm not at the point I want to be at yet and probably when I get there, I'll have a new goal.  But I guess my weaknesses are patience, although I'm working on it and I'm getting better.  In terms of actual things to draw, my weaknesses are with mouths and sometimes hair.  I guess lack of confidence is a weakness too.  Strengths, I don't really know, I pretty much just draw and see what happens for the most part.  I am very very stubborn and determined and that can be annoying but probably is a strength when it comes to learning.  I'm also pretty happy to give most things a go, I like a challenge.

Are you the only artist in your family or is it in your blood?
I'm the only one in my family and I know no one else, in real life, interested in art at all :(

How do you blend, and do you use different blending techniques when drawing with graphite pencils vs. with coloured pencils?
I blend mostly with my pencils themselves using circulism (for both graphite and colour pencils).  But I might also blend with tissue or tortillions when using graphite depending what I'm doing too.
I also use a white pencil to blend/burnish colour pencils too.  I like a Derwent Colorsoft one best.

Do you use any kind of technique to get the proportions right (e.g. the grid technique, measuring distances with a ruler, tracing, turning the paper upside down, using a mirror to find mistakes, etc.)?
I do a bit of everything.  If I don't need a really good likeness, I freehand.  Sometimes checking with a ruler for key points.  Sometimes I use a grid if I need a good likeness.  I frequently turn my paper upside down to draw … it really works!  I don't trace, that's not really drawing to me, I wouldn't have any sense of achievement  :shrug:

Is there something you would never ever draw (and if so, why not)? And what will you probably never get tired of drawing?
Not really, I wouldn't draw anything rude or explicit, just because it would make me uncomfortable.  I'll never get tired of drawing portraits, in my whole life I never could until I joined dA and the novelty just hasn't worn off yet and I doubt it ever will.  

Do you ever feel like not drawing? What do you do if you have no motivation or does this never happen to you?
Yes I do sometimes … sometimes because I'm too tired or I just don't have any motivation.  I find it very frustrating when it happens.  Even although I might not have the urge to draw, I still always want to and have ideas.  It's a strange mix of things, but just waiting it out for a few days usually lets it pass over and then all is well again :)

How many of your pieces come from commissions or are most of them just what you want to draw?
I do some commissions, usually portraits and don't always upload them.  Some people don't like that too much, especially if it's kids portraits.  But the work I post on dA, almost all of it is just what I want to draw.  I like to draw for me and what I like, so that's when I'm happiest.  

What do you do with your finished pieces?
My finished works are all sealed and stored in portfolio cases like this one… plan on decorating these soon :)  I don't have anything framed or displayed at all.  My family have some things they have pinched hanging in their homes and I don't know where to look when I go there … I think I have some issues :P

Add a Comment:
Sun-Berries Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2013
"Art is art to me, if you love it, do it! So, these opinions mean little to nothing. "

I enjoyed this comment. :)
pbird12 Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
:) I believe this!

Thank you very much for having a read :heart:
HoshisamaValmor Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012
very interesting to read, thanks for sharing all that. Believe it or not I just thought of you the other day as an example of someone who can find time to draw, because I myself am fighting with that subject, and it's almost funny to know you can only get real time to draw at night. that's pretty much the only time I get too, but normally I either want to read or write and I tend to leave drawing behind to only weekends, which can suck greatly. I hope your children go to bed sooner than my brother does. And it's kind of sad that there's not many people around you in real life that are interested in art, ironic even considering how impressive and recognized your work is online.

and I don't draw with pencils anymore, but that tortillion tip was precious, thanks
pbird12 Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you very much for reading my ramblings :D

It's difficult to find time, but I guess it makes it all the more special to actually find some and it seems many of us are in the same situation :P My little ones go to bed about 9pm, so not tooooo bad!
cloudmilk Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Interesting to read. Things I already knew, others not. I learned idiomatic Scottish ;) . Just misses the music of it, the accent :giggle:
pbird12 Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
DeanSidwellArt Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
That was great to read, Paula. Very interesting and it's nice to learn more about you as an artist. I can identify with much of what you've said here too.
Can't believe I never thought to make my own tortillions before :doh:, I usually just buy them, I'm definitely going to make my own now. :)
pbird12 Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you for having a read Dean :heart:

You'll love your own tortillions, I just know it :)
DeanSidwellArt Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I've made a load and they work great! :)
pbird12 Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
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