Saturday, 5 March 2016

Creating a Ruckus!

I'm an animal lover, well perhaps nature enthusiast might well be a better description. I've always loved being outdoors and as a child growing up I loved all the nature that lived around me, avidly watched 'Life on Earth' on BBC TV and always had a wistful Disney-esque hope that I could surround myself with animals that would feed out of my hand or not run away when I approached them. Living in the suburbs of London that only really limited me to sparrows, ducks and the neighbourhood cats which were willing to come close for a pat or food. Now that brings me onto the topic of pets. My parents weren't pet people, nonetheless, my elder brother's resourcefulness for 'not pets', meant we grew up with his small menagerie of frogs, toads, snakes and lizards and escaped crickets that would chirrup in his bedroom that were dinner for his 'not really pets'!

Click on images for larger version.
Completed graphite and water colour pencil drawing.
Ruckus ferret sleeping © 2016 Angela Cutler

So now I have my own proper pets what did I choose? I don't remember where or why, but there has always been one animal that has fascinated me from the age of about 10. I must have seen it on TV and then there was a book in the local library which I looked at repeatedly. This animal was then certainly on the 'not really a pet' category as it was then the preserve of old men in flat caps 'up North'! However it captivated me with its cheeky bandit mask, slinky long body and intelligent beady eyes. Of course, it was a ferret and in those days they were a working animal and had a reputation for fierceness and being somewhat malodorous. People didn't keep them as pets, until much later when they did!

Paw detail.
Ruckus ferret sleeping 
© 2016 Angela Cutler

So I've had the pleasure of owning some wonderful, playful and funny little ferrets for a number of years now. They are just the most adorable and naughty pet you could probably have. And for the all the energy and bounce they possess when awake, they make up for by sleeping for up to 12 hours a day usually twisted and curled into the most improbable positions and looking completely angelic which belies their true nature!

When a Facebook friend posted a wonderful photo of one her ferrets, Ruckus sleeping, I thought it would make a lovely graphite study. Last year due to my health I didn't feel able to draw or paint, physically I found it difficult, but also because of my poor health I'd lost my enthusiasm. So I thought a straightforward graphite drawing would be an 'simple' way to ease my way back into my art. My friend gave me her photo in July last year and I had every intention of executing it far sooner than now. But as they say better late than never.

I was feeling quite 'rusty', and hoped for something straightforward. Being that it was basically a straight copy of photo I thought it should be fairly uncomplicated - I wouldn't have to put too much spirit and creativity into as with my other pictures. So as I started sketching the outlines, it dawned on me that...there were no outlines. The gorgeous Ruckus, the sleeping beauty ferret is all fur and fluff without one straight or obvious outline to his name. I often like to start on an eye as a central point of focus, but his are closed! It became obvious very quickly that this drawing was going to be far trickier than I first thought. After such a long break I wasn't feeling confident in my ability, but I didn't want to give up before I'd started. Also the thought that my friend had been waiting for months cheered me to carry on. There's only one way to approach this I thought, and that's slowly and steadily. And so that's what I did.

Original photo Ruckus ferret sleeping © 2016 Amanda Pressland

I started in one corner and just carried on, little by little and with every pencil stroke I put in the love I have for my own ferrets past and present whilst hopefully imbuing it with bags of character that all ferrets possess. I find that if I don't have a connection to the subject I'm drawing I can't keep the enthusiasm going or be creative in the doing. I used graphite pencil and a wash of water colour pencil for the coloured parts which works so well at bringing a little wamth and life to a drawing. And slowly first a paw, then his face, then another paw emerged - I had created Ruckus on paper. I'm never overly confident with any artwork that it will turn out well until it's finished, so half way through I posted on Facebook to let my friend know that at last I had started, and I was also encouraged to find I received a lot of positive feedback from ferret-loving Facebook friends too. I'm really pleased at how Ruckus turned out, and I hope you agree too. If you enjoyed this, please Like on Google+, leave a comment or Follow Me on Google+.