Portraiture & Fine Art Oil and Coloured Pencil

David Sandell

Coloured Pencil Portraits

I have just completed some work for Derwent Pencils, using their Coloursoft range. A really good pencil, well designed with a soft quality which sharpens to a good point; a useful combination. Coloursoft have some similarities with the soft ranges from USA and Central Europe but Derwent's range is also nicely branded, easy to read etc. I’ve used most of the well known soft brands and these are amongst the best with a good range of colours as you’d expect from Derwent. Colour pencils have come a long way in recent years with a pencil type for everyone, which is why I still enjoy using them for developing ideas for oil paintings as well as more considered finished pieces in coloured pencil.

Portrait of a Songwriter

April - while on holiday in Cornwall I was asked to give a portraiture talk and demo at the local Women's Institute! Yes, I know it sounds scary, but it was fine and the lovely ladies were very kind. On my return I have to prep 3 pencil pieces for the UKCPS Open Exhibition at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists in May. 2 pieces chosen are studies for my "Winter" oils project, which I've just started, the other was a pencil study for a recently completed oil portrait for singer/songwriter Gary Holt.

"Life Songs" - Chosen for LYRA AWARD for BEST PORTRAIT at UKCPS show. (pencil study below)

Book Features

Looking forward to seeing the two new books published this year featuring some of my work. Strokes of Genius 6, which features "After Lunch" in pencil which was Best in Show at 2012 UK coloured pencil awards. African Sister appears in CP Treasures Vol 2. I tend to use coloured pencil for studies to plan how I might tackle larger oil paintings. These pencil studies can take on a life of their own and end up as framed pieces. However, prior to this I also do a lot of scamps and scribbles in my sketch/notebook. These serve as shorthand visual notes or brain dumps; I'm sure other artists will agree, often you do a quick line scamp and wish you'd used a larger piece of quality paper, you are so pleased with it.

Currently working on a some pastel studies for end of March, more later.

After Lunch - coloured pencil study.

Read more in Books

Upcoming projects

Having completed a few commissions in oils and pencil in 2013 I'm now looking forward to 2014, perhaps entering a few shows. At present I have an oil commission for a friend in progress, which I need to keep under wraps for now.

However I am also working on a series of pencil studies, if they work I hope to complete a series of 4 pieces in oil. My initial study for Winter is working quite well, (my daughter in fur hat) I now need to work on developing the background part of the theme behind the model, so we'll see.


I have decided to start a blog to support the work on my website, so here goes: I have worked in pencil for as long as I can remember, both as a child and as a professional designer. It seems to me there is something primeval about making a mark on paper.

For many years I have also used coloured pencils to rough out ideas as well as finished illustrations in their own right. My working life in the main involves managing a professional design practice, which involves managing a digital design studio whose job is to design for the ever changing technology; iPad, web etc. 

The rest of my free time is taken up with oil painting and drawing. In truth I have always been interested in technology as a design and art tool, however away from professional practice and by contrast, painting and drawing appeals to me because the medium and resulting art work has essentially been the same for centuries. 

There is an enduring quality to the work, whereas digital work tends to be transient. So there we are, that's the reason I have two approaches to art and design and I love them both. 

My next blog will expand on my painting and drawing portraits and if nobody reads it then at least it will provide me with a journal of sorts to reflect on at some point in the future.


2012 - The Gallery Owner portrait commission

2011 - Charles Dickens study for 200th anniversary. 

2010 - Major 8 page feature on Davids work in latest International Artist magazine Feb 2010. 

2009 LIBERATING LIVES Exhibition - Mall Galleries London, Sue Ryder Care - (Self Portrait). 

2009 - First Prize - Royal Institute of Oil Painters Live Art Event, portrait of Antonio Carluccio. 

2008 - Sisters of Ghana - selected as Finalist in International Artists magazine. 

2008 - Completed two large canvas commissions for Standard Chartered Bank collection. 

2008 - A double portrait has been selected for this years Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Open Portrait Exhibition in July. 

2008 - Highly Commended in the Artist of the Year, Artist Magazine. (Emma’s Necklace)

2007 - Finalist in the Artist & Illustrator magazine Self Portrait award, in association with the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. 

2007 - Highly Commended in the Artist of the Year, Artist Magazine. (Plumber’s Break)

2006 - 2nd Place in Royal Institute of Oil Painters Live Art Event Mall Galleries – Painting from life.