6 January 2015

Blog post


I do not think of titles immediately, it usually comes to me in the midst of working on that particular piece.

I believe that titles are important to a piece of art, it is not only naming a piece of artwork, it gives identity and most important of all, ‘telling’ the audience the story, what the artist is trying to portray in his/her creation.

For example, this painting of my English Bulldog, Sugar, will be quite plain if I just titled it with her name. It will be just a portrait of my sweet lovey pet, Sugar.BUT, when I titled it “Contemplation”, it became a different kind of portrait. You will ‘study’ her expression, your eyes will be drawn to her eyes to see what she is contemplating, right?Therefore, I strongly believe in finding the right title. My opinion anyway. ref. photo

This portrait came about when we were lazing about one weekend at home. Sugar, as her usual stubborn self refused to respond to my call (Bulldogs stubbornness)! So I went down on the floor, still calling her and this was the look she gave to me, contemplating whether to respond to my call or otherwise. I quickly grab my mobile and snap away (she still did not move)…I have been painting my other bulldog, Spike and have not done any painting on Sugar. So I figured, why not do her portrait but in a very different composition and style. I cropped the photo and challenged myself to a very detailed work on this. And here we are, the almost sprained my thumb and fingers piece, the most detailed work I have ever done and I am really….. liking this style.

I have received many positive feed-backs on this piece, on my pages and also from groups I am a member of on Facebook. So I will try to recall and show below, the step by step of “Contemplation”.

This was done using Faber Castell Polychromos colour pencils. On 140lbs/300gm hot pressed Lanaquarelle watercolour paper. Polychromos works wonders with detailed work, their colours are quite opaque and therefore could withstand many layering without encountering any blooms like wax based pencils.




I start sketching the outline using the basic grid method, you can check out this site if you want to know how , I scale it up from 1cm to about 1.35cm to enlarge from a A4 size to almost A2 size.

Using ‘B’ graphite pencil, I sketch out rough outlines of the subject while paying attention to the position of the eyes and nose. That is the best method so far for me, for accuracy.

Once I got all the important outline done, I proceed with colour pencil.



To do whites on white paper is not as difficult as many think because of the misconception that white has many tones. It is actually grey. There is only 1 type of white in the universe, which is WHITE. A ‘white’ horse is never call white, they are known as grey horses.

Now, grey comes in many tones, they are warm and cool greys. Warm grey contains yellow pigments while the cool grey contains blues pigments.

For this overall painting, I use warm greys as the colour combinations are warm based, such as cream, ochre, umber so on.

I apply warm grey I,  using upwards short stroke, mimicking the hair growth direction as base.

Following that, warm grey II were used to apply from root till halfway of the warm grey I. Add more pressure on the warm grey II to deepened the roots. I don’t use all the grey instead I apply different pressure on different areas. Keep going and you will see the form of individual strand of hair, and then only I apply the white from the middle up of the hair. Applying pressure again on tip of the hair. Make sure the white lead is clean when you want it super white.







The best kept secret of doing white when you cannot go any whiter is to go darker. When you darkened anything, the lighter colours will be obvious. So in this case, when the white can’t pop out anymore, I play with warm grey III & IV, just at the bottom or halfway of the white strand.

Remember, positive negative. More positive, less negative vice-verse.



Once I got through the whites, the rest are not as tedious. Using the same method on all the colours combination.




Eyes are windows to the soul. How true it is. If I do not get the position of the eyes right, every effort will be down the drain.

To get that lively shinny look, I rely on my samsung digital tablet where I can enlarged to see the actual colour to be very precise.

Technology sure helps a lot especially in detailed work like this.





Blacks are usually not used alone in any paintings because they are flat. Some companies, like Caran D’Ache, have the cool and warm black range but not Faber Castell.

For warm black, I layered it with caput mortuum violet or magenta, these are deep maroon colours and they are red based. I use them to get that deep warm black.





For the darker hair on the cheek, I use lots of burnt sienna as base because of the red pigments. I gradually darkened it with nougat, walnut brown and dark sepia. Only after I have all these colours on, I used black to darkened the darkest part.

Because of all the warm colours are in place, the minute black was applied, the dark area will shine, looking really black.

The last part is the white again. Using a blade knife, I sharpened the tip of the white and apply firm short strokes to lift the individual hair. I have to make sure after about 3 times of applying, I need to clean the tip so as not to smudge the area.

Some paintings may look as though the artist uses multiple colours and you will be wondering how on earth would I know which colour to use? The trick is in the pressure. Just take one colour and apply different pressure with it and you will see you get many tones from it. With this method, when you mixed or blend the colours, you will get various shades. 

And that is the end of my first blog for 2015. Hope you like what you read.


Happy New Year.



  • Emily

    August 1, 2016 at 09:05

    This is absolutely amazing. You have such an amazing talent.

    1. 16Shar0n06DAb0ss

      September 15, 2016 at 11:11

      Thank you so much Emily!

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