Recently I was commissioned to paint a native lobster by Mike Warner, a member of The Guild of Fine Food Writers and passionate lobster fisherman.
It has been one of the most challenging and beautiful animals I have drawn. Unfortunately as we were out of the lobster season it wasn't that easy to get hold of one. My local fishmongers in TunbridgeWells were able to order one however when it arrived it had a broken cutter claw. I thought I might be able able to draw the tip in and match the markings but it didn't work out. In the end it was easier to order another lobster to achieve the correct claw shape.
After roughly drawn the main shape I transfer the outline to a clean sheet of paper before building up tone and texture. I find this approach means I don't need to worry about making mistakes as I can just draw over them.
This drawing took a few days to complete, so in-between sessions the lobster was stored in the freezer. The blue of the lobster is so dark in places and combined with the markings I found it extremely difficult to draw at first as I just couldn't work out the body shape. Eventually I shone my day light lamp on different areas so I could understand all the joints and body segments.
Once I have traced my drawing I use masking tape to fix it securely on one side to a stretched sheet of watercolour paper. Using a dip pen and waterproof black ink I go over the lines and then blot them onto the watercolour paper. I try to work all over so that the final image is even. I find using this method creates unusual marks that I can't get by drawing alone.
Once the ink is completely dry I start to add pale washes of watercolour paint. The lobster has the most wonderful flashes of orange that contrast with the intense inky blue. It was interesting to try and replicate the blue and the legs are a slightly different shade to the body, after a few experiments I used Indigo and Indanthrene blue.
At this stage I find it easier to use photos for colour reference and the original drawing for the tone.
It was great to visit Fishmongers Hall in London and present Mike with his painting. During the process we have corresponded by phone or email, so it was good to finally meet him in person. After a days drawing or painting I would email a photo of the work in progress so he could see the transformation from drawing to print and then finally the painting stage.
This has been a fascinating animal to paint and It has really stretched my drawing and painting skills. I think somewhere along the way I may have to draw another...
Giclee prints of Native Lobster are available online.