English artist Mike Sibley has been a professional graphite pencil specialist for over 27 years. His well-known prints of dog studies can be found as far afield as Australia to South Africa, and Europe to the USA. From 1980 to 1989 Mike drew over 50 head-studies of dogs – an open edition range of prints that many believe to be the definitive collection. Each meticulous drawing took an average of 85 hours to complete. At that time his publisher was selling over 20,000 prints a year. In 1990, Mike switched to drawing and self-publishing limited edition prints, featuring dogs in their environments. The first print, an Irish Water Spaniel composition, was released at Crufts and sold out in less than 3½ hours.
In 2000 Mike set up his popular website – SibleyFineArt.com – and began writing online tutorials to help less-experienced graphite pencil artists. These tutorials grew into his book “Drawing From Line To Life”, which many artists consider to be the definitive text. Mike hosts his own drawing forum at ArtPapa.com, and now runs Drawing Workshops in both the UK and USA.
My aim in my work is to emphasise character, tell a story, display the intricacies of the subject’s creation, and to draw in a manner that suggest a reality while still maintaining the feel of a hand-drawn work of art.
It was drawing at a small scale, such as my remarques applied to limited edition prints, that taught me how to extract the most important elements from any source – to know what to emphasise, what to discard or suggest, and what essential visual clues in the source to employ in my interpretation. The last is of particular importance to a Graphite Artist, as I have only contrast and texture to work with.