I would like to say a few things about the Kate-on-the-kite drawing, probably very boring stuff but I don't mind even if no-one reads it…
I am (reasonably) pleased with this one. I am never completely happy with any of this stuff, and even when they are 'officially' finished I keep going back to them and adding a line here and some tone there. One reason I have them framed is to leave them alone, although I have been known to open frames, or use a pencil on the glass! But one has to know when to leave alone even if something is not as good as it might optimally be, and I'm not so good at this. Equally, if I don't leave them I'll never do another, so there's another reason.
Perhaps my approach is wrong to start with – I'm always striving for what's the best result within what's possible for me, but 'the best' is a very elusive concept. Difficult, too, because there's one way to achieve the best but many to be not-so-good. Perhaps I should be happy with whatever comes out, but that would feel like cheating and not a very honest thing to myself.
It actually took me less time than I had originally thought because I tend to become obsessive when I start something. This is limited by my daily schedule of course but I make up at the weekends.
I will spare you the tales of worry, I will only mention that the parts that looked challenging were not so difficult after all (like the wheel patterns) and others that looked innocent were quite difficult (the dots or 'cherry' shapes) because although they look like they are in lines, these are actually curves both horizontally and vertically as the fabric stretches or hangs loose. It took the better part of a day, and a lot of erasing, just to get these done (more or less) correctly so that they go with the tension. Likewise for the cherry 'stems'.
I would have preferred it to be larger and easier to work on, but it was compromised by the width of the kite. As it is, it's 36 cm (about 14'') square, the kite fitting the width of the paper with little to spare on either side. This means that, in proportion, Kate's figure isn't much longer than a tablespoon. Fitting all the detail in was a bit of a task. The original is smaller still, and to see some of the detail in the pattern and the face I resorted to a magnifying glass.
You can't expect a lot of resemblance at this size (the whole face is less than an inch high) but there is at least enough of a suggestion of Kate, I hope.
Red and black are very different colours but in greyscale they are similar, so I used some artistic licence as regards the tones. Same about the dragon, it's more subdued than in reality because if it was darker it would compete with Kate's figure for attention. I feel it already does this to a small degree but if it was fainter it would not stand out against the background at all and Kate would be too prominent.
A problem with this type of paper is that one must be somewhat sparing with erasing (i.e. think before you draw) because repeated erasing over the same area makes the paper rough and 'furry'; as a result even if you get it right eventually it won't look good. I use very soft lines and tones to start with, so if they are wrong they just disappear (blend in) with the correct and darker tones. Even so, some furry paper is unavoidable.
All this thinking and distress just for a drawing? you might say. Well, it's not about a drawing, it's ultimately about doubt. Can I pull this one off? Every drawing is a test. Some people will climb a mountain. I do this. I go to such lengths because I want to see the finished image and because I would like people to say they like it. This is probably selfish but most art is.