Red Squirrel Coloured Pencil portrait

I’ve always wanted to try coloured pencils. 

Towards the end of 2019, I was thinking about a new art challenge for myself for the New Year. Coloured pencils are something I haven’t had a proper go at. 

A tin of Derwent Drawing Pencils sat in a draw for a few years, unused, bought on a whim, too scared to actually put pencil to paper. 

Last year I blogged about some Red Squirrel visitors to my garden (Red Squirrel Garden Visitors blog post), so I have plenty of reference material, and hours spent watching them. I decided on an image of a pregnant female red who was the first to visit in the summer. 

red squirrel climbing down a tree
Female Red Squirrel heading for the peanut supply

Portrait of a Squirrel

With subject matter in hand, it was time to decide on paper. I opted for Bristol board paper; a bright white, smooth, stiff card-like paper. 

After the first hour’s work, I was ready to bin it.  I couldn’t achieve the colours I wanted, and the pencils were too soft.  Very different to working with than my usual paint. I took a break.

Coming back to it with a clear head, I resumed. As I built up the layers of colour, I realised it wasn’t too far off the way of working with watercolour: keep layering until you reach the desired colour and tone. 

In the end I was really pleased with the result. Below is the finished portrait. 
Artist’s note: Since I wrote this blog, the original drawing has sold. It was lovely that it found a good home.

Red Squirrel


  • Derwent Drawing Pencils
  • Paper: Smooth Bristol Board
  • Size: 7″ x 7″

I will use the pencils again, experimenting on different types of paper to find my preferred materials.

Derwent drawing pencils
My (almost pristine) tin of Derwent drawing pencils

© Karen Hartnell 2020

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 thought on “Red Squirrel Coloured Pencil portrait

  1. […] my first attempt with colour pencils (blog about my Red Squirrel coloured pencil drawing here), I wanted to try another wildlife piece and opted for one of my favourite birds, the […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *