Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ashness Bridge - my drawing for the new Derwent Catalogue

Ashness Bridge - looking north towards Skiddaw
297mm x 210mm, Derwert Artists' Pencils on Arches Hot Press
copyright Derwent - Cumberland Pencil Company

Derwent Cumberland Pencil Company recently commissioned me to produce a new drawing - see above - to illustrate their Artists Pencils range in the new catalogue for 2008.

Derwent Artists Pencils are the first colour pencils that Derwent ever developed. Since their introduction, they have always been associated with an image of Ashness Bridge in the Lake District. This old packhorse bridge crosses the Barrow Beck as it comes down off the fells on its journey to meet the eastern shores of Derwentwater below. Standing near to the bridge and looking north it's possible to have wonderful views of Skiddaw in the distance beyond Keswick.

Various drawings of the bridge have been produced over the years and many of you who have tins of Derwent Artists pencils will have one of those drawings on the cover of the tin.

I was asked to work from a photograph in my normal style - which is not photo-realist. I don't normally work from photos taken by other people since if I've taken them myself they help to remind me what a place looks like and how I need to adjust the photo. However, in this instance, I was very fortunate in being able to get a very good look at what Ashness Bridge looked like from all angles, in all seasons, in all sorts of weather - and taken over many years - by viewing the very many hundreds of photos of the bridge on the Internet! There's even a 360 degree panorama on the BBC website which shows the view from just above the bridge. This was the point at which I realised that Ashness Bridge is indeed a truly iconic bridge. It's certainly the most famous and most photographed bridge in the Lake District and is much loved by many people who visit the area. It was therefore a subject which I needed to treat with respect.
Derwent Artists are a traditional, large diameter pencil,available in 120 shades. The smooth round barrel is comfortable to hold and the generous 4mm wide colour strip encourages natural, broad strokes and free, expressive drawing. slightly waxy in texture, they are easy to mix and blend, producing an infinite spectrum of hues and tints.
Derwent Catalogue)
I normally mix pencils from different brands so this is the first drawing I've done using only Derwent Artists' Pencils. However, I am now convinced of the benefits of working with one brand throughout and very much enjoyed the range of colours available in the Derwent Range. I found they not only provided me with all I needed to do this landscape but that I was also spoilt for choice at times in relation to the autumnal colours.

I was also particularly pleased with how well the pencils worked with my layering and lifting approach to landscapes. I layer a number of colours using open hatching for each layer with the intention of producing optical mixing effects which give depth to the 'local' colour. I then lift off using a battery powered eraser - also using a very light hatching stroke - and then layer again on top to add more texture. (It's pretty much the same as the way a number of watercolour artists work.)

I was very keen to have a bridge which was made up of coloured greys and this approach seemed to work well with both achieving this aim and also getting a sense of the texture of the stone.

For those interested in a Derwent Catalogue, I understand the 2008 catalogue is aimed more at consumers than trade customers and is due to be published in January 2008. It's possible to order a catelogue from the website.



  1. You've been very discreet about this exciting commission, Katherine! Congratulations. It's a beautiful piece of work. I'm so impressed that Derwent found you for the commission. Makes me think they have their finger on the pulse.

    You always make me want to go out and try a CP landscape, but they never look like yours.

  2. We often walked to Ashness Bridge when visiting the Lake District. Although I have not been there for a long time you brought back some happy memmories. This is a beautiful landscape Katherine, you have done justice to both the place and the pencils.


  3. Thanks Robyn. I was likewise also impressed that Derwent found me - as it was an approach out of the blue! I was rather surprised and delighted to be asked.

    I had another big surprise last week when I was approached by a major retailer about featuring in their catalogue as well - as somebody who sketches a lot - but I don't know quite know where we're going with that one as yet.....

  4. Gayle - now that was the reaction I hoped to get. My big aim was to make sure I captured the reality and feel of the place AND demonstrated what the pencils can do if you work as I do.

  5. Congratulations on your commission! Your drawing is beautiful--I especially like the large variety of colors in it.

  6. fame :)

    it's great and well deserved

  7. Beautiful work Katherine - and well deserved attention! Your work has such great sophistication to it.

  8. Thank you Rose - much appreciated!

  9. This is a lovely illustration and interesting to see hatching used so differently from the way I use it. I'm so intrigued by your battery erasor technique and am going to have to track one down now so I can have a go!

  10. Katherine, this is just beautiful. Congratulations on the commission. The colors just sing. :)


  11. It's beautiful, Katherine...congratulations on the commission, your drawing does justice to the place and the company. I'd love to see the catalog!

  12. Hi Katherine,
    that´s an exceptionell honour and achievement, hopefully also a good start for further projects in that field. One day your beautiful travel sketches have to be published somehow and somewhere.
    all the best

    P.S.:blogger seems not to accept comments today

  13. Becky, Jo, Cathy, Martin - that you all so much for your wonderful comments - they are very much appreciated.

    Becky - maybe I should do a video on drawing with my eraser (there is a technique to this!)? ;)

    Martin - I'm still working on the travel sketches and am still minded to produce something. Maybe over the winter?

  14. Martin - I forgot to say. I note what you said about Blogger publishing comments. Blogger would not publish your comment from the e-mail but worked fine when I went into the Moderation screen online and published from there.

  15. Very exciting stuff! Be sure to post the look of the tins / tins and the catalog, please.

    Don't keep it under your hat, Katherine. Use this as an entre to other opportunities, if I may suggest that.

  16. Casey - it sounds even more exciting when you put it like that but I'm afraid you've misunderstood! As I indicated in the first sentence, this drawing is just for the catelogue.

    As you can imagine, redoing the tins is a major exercise and is only undertaken periodically whereas Derwent changes the artwork used in the catelogue more often.

    However I have now had my invite to be added to their database of artists'!

  17. Silly of me. Well, you'll make the tins next, I'll bet.

    The catalog is better because more issues go out.

  18. You dark horse you! But not in the least surprising knowing your talent and knowledge that Derwent would want your work representing their line of pencils.

    Your drawing is lovely. The colours are rich and make the piece stand out. Well done!

  19. Congratulations on this honor! To be selected to make the drawing to represent the high quality of a great product and to show off what can be done with it is wonderful (and most appropriate!). I've never seen the area but your picture of it makes it look warm, inviting and very beautiful and magical.

  20. Wow! What an honor. I use to always draw the bridge on my tins box of pencils. Everyone said, all I did was copy. I had no idea it was a real bridge. I certainly want to see it for real. I am kind of glad I was not copying a fake bridge. I was just drawing a beautiful bridge that someone had the mind's eye to make up and draw. I always hoped I would be as good an artist and make up my own wonderful bridge. Oh, I must some day come and draw "Ashness Bridge". I wrote Derwent a long time ago about the pictures on the tins. I do not remember there ever being a paper stating the creation of the piece of work. I sincerely hope that the catalogue tells the story of "Ashness Bridge" and the artist they chose to recreate the scene fresh and new for all of us. Brilliant! Katherine! My compliments to the Masons and brick layers and the person that took the time to build such a beautiful piece of work for all to see and draw.
    I am going to copy this one with a joy! Which electric eraser do you use? Also, I have a clear pencil sharpner in the triangle shape It is clear with color for the sharpners and the seperation parts. It is simply marked, 'Made in Germany'.

  21. Thanks! I was rather interested while researching the bridge to find a few photos by people all identifying it as the bridge on their pencils tin!

    The post which contains information about the eraser is this one - right click on My electric eraser

    I now realise the title is a bit misleading as it's battery powered rather than mains powered.

  22. SORRY!! I included the wrong link by mistake!

    Try right clicking on this one - My electric eraser

  23. Well I don't quite know what's going wrong here - but the correct link still hasn't come up.

    One more try

    This is My electric eraser

    and to get the right code for that post you need to add the following onto the end of my blog's URL



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