Grizzly Bear Drawing

When my mother requested/ commissioned me for a grizzly bear drawing I was very excited. However what she had in mind was something shockingly complex. I let her chose the photo she wanted from which is my favourite stock image site. She chose a grizzly standing in a waterfall with a fish in his mouth, with multiple types of water surface, he had wet fur, dry hair, fuzzy fur, damp fur and everything in between.

Beginning the GRizzly bear drawing

This grizzly bear drawing was extremely challenging and took a very long time for me to complete. I knew I would speed through the actual bear so I wanted to leave that fairly late. The water was very tricky it was one of the first times I had done water where it was a major part of the scene.


Grizzly bear progress shots

I also brought two products that work together to help me with the water. It is basically white coloured pencil in powder form so you then paint it on. This helps with adding brighter whites, or making highlights on a drawing after completing the darker areas. It worked really well. I found adding all the details to the water made it mostly light grey. So I wanted to bring back those bright whites. Also there were areas where the water is dripping in front of the bear, so I needed the water to be slightly transparent to show the bear behind it. So it worked really well.


Grizzly bear

Here are some Grizzly Bear Interesting Facts

  • Grizzly bears first originated in Europe and Asia, but now can only be found in Canada and America.
  • They can Stand as tall as 2.5 m (8 ft) and weighing up to 360 kg (800 lbs.),
  • To survive the winter they may intake 40 kg (90 lbs.) of food each day, gaining over 1 kg (2.2 lbs.) of body weight a day.
  • Grizzlies will eat anything nutritious they can find, gorging on nuts, fruit, leaves, roots, fungi, insects, and a variety of animals including salmon and other fish, rodents, sheep, and elk. Their diet varies depending on what foods are available for the season.
  • During hibernation their heart rate slows down from 40 beats per minute to 8.
  • The cubs stay under their mother’s care for 2-3 years.
  • They are good swimmers and fast runners, reaching speeds as high as 50 km/h (35 mph) over land.
  • Grizzlies have an astute sense of smell, even better than that of a hound dog.
  • They are highly intelligent and have excellent memories.
  • In the late summer and early fall, grizzlies enter hyperphagia, a period of 2-4 months when they intensify their calorie intake to put on weight for winter denning.
  • A grizzly bear’s front claws measure about 2-4 inches in length.

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Fur Drawing Tutorial

Good morning everyone! So I have been trying to do a video all week so I can make this drawing fur tutorial. However I have needed to order some new equipment so we will have to wait. So I thought in the meantime I would do a photo and written description of my technique.

Lets first get started with some equipment that I use that doesn’t get spoken about. 

Gemma Whelbourn Equipment for drawing fur

Firstly my favourite can not do without is my Carl Angel -5 Sharpener. I cannot express how I love this little piece of hardware. Here are the reasons why I love it!

  1. It scrapes the smallest amount away. So instead of getting rid of all the wood, or lots of lead so you can get a decent point it keeps it. This means that not only are the points long and pointy 😉 but they are also strong and rarely break.

  1. SAVE MONEY!!!!! Because it shaves so little off you save a ridiculous amount of money on pencils. I actually feel bad for my local art shop because I am not buying as often as I used to.
  1. The point that you get is ridiculous. It has allowed me with this bear drawing to draw the hairs on the nose that are less than an mm long.



Showing Sharp pencil perfect for drawing fur

Now it is a little pricey, however you save that money on pencils. One thing that annoys me like crazy though, is that you can not get replacement blades. I am the idiot who keeps putting pastel pencils in it, which I know ruins the sharpener. But I am a slow learner. So that means I need to buy a whole new sharpener.

So what else do I use?

I use a kneadable eraser by faber castell. I imagine any kneadable eraser should be fine. Why do I have this? As I can knead it into different shapes I can make tiny adjustments to my drawing. Erase some lighter hairs or just get rid of the darkness a little bit.

Another eraser I use is a gum eraser. This is for when I need to get rid of a bunch of stuff, or erase really well.

My third eraser is an electronic one. This one is by Derwent. I use this if I need a miracle. It is small so it is very precise. So if I need to add an eye highlight, or oops that’s too dark moment.

The pencils I use are polychromos pencils by faber castell. I love them because I do not find them unnaturally vibrant, they have strong leads, and they have excellent variety of colours.

Fur Drawing Tutorial

Alright lets get into this fur tutorial!!

Firstly I like to work in sections. It gives me a sense of peace when I complete a section and get to move onto the next. So I put a base colour down. This colour is generally not crazy important. Try to pick the general colour that the subject is. This bear is all sandy browns so I chose Burnt Ochre 187. Because its one of my go to’s, and it is light enough to stay as the highlight but dark enough so I have a decent base.


fur tutorial photo 1

The next step of this fur tutorial is that I pick a slightly darker colour. I then mark out where all the shadows are. This bear has very tricky fur. As it is fluffy on the top of his shoulder. Then goes to clumped fur as it goes down. In some spots it’s also wet, and frizzy. And others it is drenched. So it is very helpful in testing your skill.

Try to get it close to the reference photo, so you can learn how fur is effected by its environment, pose, and how different it is all over the body. It is extremely important to get the direction of the fur correct. I cannot stress this enough. If you have trouble either print out an extra copy, or draw arrows on a second layer in photoshop to show you the direction of the fur.


Second photo showing fur drawing example

The next step to drawing fur, is to fill in some colours! Variety really is the spice of life. So here I bring in colours that I can find, and overlay them and put them down on the drawing. Look carefully at the photo, maybe one area has more Raw Umber 180 than another section which is mostly Brown Ochre 182.


The final step for the way I draw fur is the shadows. Here I take darker tones, and fill in the shadows. Starting first with colours like Burnt Umber 280, Van-Dyke-Brown 176 and Walnut Brown 177.  And then adding Dark Sepia 175. I only use Black 199 if the shadow is very very dark. And even then it is a small amount of black, and then one of the first 3 darker browns ontop of that. Black has extreme contrast against brown. Sometimes we want it, and other times we don’t. I want the black to recede as its pushed back as the fur is separated.

Do not worry if you tried your hardest but it still looks wrong. You might find you need to work more sections so that sections fits into place. 

Toucan Drawing-Many Lessons

Good afternoon all! For this blog, I thought I would talk about my Toucan drawing. I have been drawing for many many years. However, I had forgotten a lesson that I needed to relearn. And thankfully this Toucan taught me it. The lesson is… it’s perfectly fine to restart a drawing.


So let’s go into this a little more. I was feeling worn down from winter, so naturally, I asked my best friend what to draw. I wanted it to be a bird as I wanted to practice detailed feathers. Naturally, he chose a super large bird so I close up feathers would have to wait. But how could I say no? So after a bit of a search, I decided on a Keel-billed Toucan. As you may be aware I am not used to drawing with bright colours. So I wondered how the toucan drawing would turn out.

The start of the toucan drawing

So like always I pick my size. I wanted to have a little quick drawing between commissions so an 8×10 inch. My paper is my favourite Bristol smooth paper. I sketch away. It didn’t look correct so I erased it and restarted. Ok, the toucan drawing looked great! Perfect start colouring. I started with the bill as I like to work left to right. As I moved my way to the eye I started to realise it was off. So I sat and thought. The colour was too intense to erase. I had already poured in 3 hours already into a quick drawing. I could give up on the whole toucan drawing and move onto a waiting commission.

So I sat thought about it and decided to restart completely. This time I decided I would do the partial grid that I explained about in my last blog and in my tutorial. After finally getting the proportions right I started on toucan drawing take 2!

Toucan Drawing

As you can see from this photo most of my inaccuracies were with the dimensions of the bill. Had I of drawn the bill larger the rest of the toucan drawing would have been in proportion. If you see the mistakes in your drawing early, it is better to either change them or start fresh like I did. Once you see the mistakes you will not be happy with the drawing anyway. 

I really enjoyed working with all the different colours, it was a challenge to layer them in a way that looked seamless for the bill. But I was pleased with the result. I really liked the drawing but I thought it was missing something. So I decided to add a quick background. I wanted it to look out of focus. I think it looks ok. But it is definitely something I want and need to work on.

Final Toucan Drawing

I really enjoyed adding the blues, greens and purples in the black feathers for this toucan drawing. All the different colours were so refreshing. Something else this toucan drawing taught me was to burnish the coloured pencil. It added that extra bit of vibrancy I hadn’t been used to with my more delicate coloured pencil drawings.

This is it for now. Hope you all have a great week! Next week I will be doing a tutorial on sketching. And how to use points in your drawing to make sure it has the correct proportions.  Dont forget you can follow me on social media to get notifications when I post a new blog.  You can follow by pressing the links below. 

My Pony Drawing

Good afternoon everyone today I would like to talk about my pony drawing of Whisky!

After finishing my horse Lexi I decided it would be appropriate if I worked on a pony drawing of whiskey. Whisky is Lexi’s pasture buddy and is also my nephew’s horse. I love drawing horses. I have loved horses since I was little so they are very close to my heart. Whiskey is such an adorable pony and incredibly sweet pony. If you spent much time around ponies you know that some can be little demonic nightmares. But this guy is a total sweetheart.

Pony Drawing reference photo

Pony drawing

I really enjoyed this pony drawing. The colouration was one I had not done before and so it was a bit of a challenge. For light coloured animals what I have found works, is adding a 1 or 2 light layers using the lightest colour they have. In this case cream, and then adding the darker colours on top. If you find the colours are too dark add more light layers over them. This will set them into the piece. The hair was really fun. He has tons of hair, I added variety by making some hair clumped and some that were wavy some are bent and out of place. This is very important otherwise your pony drawing will look too uniform and unrealistic. Even with the classiest of ponies they have at least one hair that is out of place.

So for this pony drawing I wanted it more detailed. So I looked at the reference photo hard. Ok where are there lots of details?

  • Eyes
  • Nose/muzzle
  • Where the fur changes direction
  • Mane

As you can see from this photo, I have pointed to all the areas that will add interest to my pony drawing. Zoom in to see more if you need to, also if you find your reference photo is a little light use the Levels adjustment to lighten or darken your photo. Here you can see from these close ups you can see more details, you also can see hair direction which is possibly the most important thing to learn.

So what else can make your pony drawing more realistic? Variety, we have talked about variety of the mane. But also inside the coat are many colours! I like to use the colour picker in Photoshop to get an idea of the colours I will need for this piece. So what I have found works is to  use various  shades of colours, of course try to match the colours that are showing on your reference photo .Zoom into your reference photo to make sure you can see all the little details that will make your drawing pop in a realistic way.

Here are some work in progress shots of my pony drawing. Note how I mostly finish each area before moving on. Artists work in a variety of ways. Some prefer to work on the whole drawing and build the entire drawing in layers. Personally I find I get bored when I use this method. I also have not yet managed to master the technique of not smudging my drawing so to work on the whole thing is a bit chaotic for me. It is best to work in a way you are most comfortable with. It is only when you are comfortable that you will make your best work.

The finished pony drawing

I hope you like this little guy. I thoroughly enjoyed working on him.
Don’t forget you can follow me on your favourite social media. Links are below!

Another EXCITING change is that now you can purchase my prints directly from my website! 

Check out the prints that are available.

If you would like your own pony drawing or any other animal, you can contact me here for inquiries.

Testing Out Paper

Good afternoon everyone!

I trust you all had a wonderful Christmas, and hopefully didn’t go too crazy on the food. I had a wonderful Christmas. I couldn’t make it home to my family. So instead I was invited to spend it with my roommate’s family. It was a very lovely Christmas. And I truly felt welcomed into their home.

If you follow me on my Instagram you will know that I recently brought new paper to try. I brought the Fabriano Artistico hot press 140lb. I have previously used Bristol Smooth, and Bristol Vellum paper. When it arrived I compared it to my vellum, and the Artistico is a lot creamier than the Vellum. However after a little bit of research I discovered you can get varying degrees of white. I think next time I will also get extra white.

So I decided a horse portrait of my horse Lexi would be perfect to test this new paper. She is a beautiful big orange girl. The cream paper really worked for her horse portrait.

Horse Portrait Test on Fabriano Artistico Paper

The paper is a lot more textured than I have been used to. I learned with my schnauzer how to use a coloured pencil blender effectively. “Zest It” is the product I use. After laying down a few layers of colour I use zest it to get rid of the white paper underneath.

After that it’s just a question of layering the hair on top of each other.

As you can see from this photo, the artistico paper is a little creamier. However I found with the horse portrait that it worked really nicely.

This paper was really nice to work with.More work on it however to fully decide and try different techniques on the paper. I think you will need to use some kind of pencil blender, to make it work for you. Just so you can get rid of the white showing through, and still obtaining the ability to build layers on top.

If you would like to keep up to date with my pet portraits you can do so in a variety of ways. Facebook is your guy if you would like to connect on a more personal level and look into my daily life, along with tips. If you are more interested in regular artwork posts then instagram is the one for you. Speed drawings and videos are available on my youtube channel.

If you are interested in having me draw a commission for you, here is an article about my new SALE.

Pet Drawing – January 2018 Special

Christmas Dog Drawing


ITS CHRISTMAS!! I hope you are all having an amazing Christmas, and was able to make some fond memories with your family and friends.

I have been working on a little personal project. But first let’s talk about my dog drawing. Drawing dogs is one of my favourite things to do and it shows. Dog portraits are by far my most popular work, and my most commissioned. When my friends dog passed away. She commissioned me to do a dog drawing of her baby Boots. I was a little nervous. This dog drawing needed to be as amazing as Boots. I wanted it to remind her of Boots and bring memories to mind as she looked at it.

Dog Drawing Boots

This dog drawing taught me so much. I can’t wait to put what I have learned into future drawings. Hopefully this year  I will have some very different breeds. Maybe some pugs, or setters would be super cool. I have been really interested in doing a dog portrait for a Irish Wolfhound for some time now. So fingers crossed I get commissioned to draw one of those.

It’s so exciting to think of how many of my pet portraits will be unwrapped tomorrow, with the majority of them being dog drawings. Over the next few weeks I will be unveiling many of them. Hopefully you enjoy seeing my Christmas commissions as much as I have enjoyed drawing them.

Personal Project

After Boots I moved onto this ferret drawing. Taking what I had learned from Boot’s dog drawing and applied it on this ferret. I totally fell in love with this drawing. Don’t you just find his little face irresistible!  He is available to purchase at the star!

Don’t forget guys, I still have my amazing 2018 sale.

  •  8×10 inch are $140
  •  11×14 inch are $220

And both come with a free gift of 5 greeting cards with your pet portrait on them! So if you want your own dog drawing or other animal drawing send me a message!

So I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

If you would like to keep up to date with my pet portraits you can do so in a variety of ways. Facebook is your guy if you would like to connect on a more personal level and look into my daily life, along with tips. If you are more interested in regular artwork posts then instagram is the one for you. Speed drawings and videos are available on my youtube channel.

How can we help?

Feel free to ask a question or simply leave a comment.

Pet Drawing – January 2018 Special

Good morning guys,

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.

So I wanted to discuss the crazy new special I am offering on my pet drawings. I am giving away free gifts. That’s right FREE! Order a 8×10 inch portrait or an 11×14 inch portrait and receive 5 free blank greeting cards with your pet portrait on them.

I really wanted to do something special this year. I have been drawing pet portraits for 2 years now, so I wanted to celebrate it. I have come along so far, with the help of my clients, and my followers. I could not thank you enough for your support and encouragement.

Pet Drawing Special Prices

To Order Yours Click HERE!

So here is a pet drawing I have been working on, this gorgeous schnauzer was the beloved pet of a dear friend. This little guy unfortunately developed cancer. So this is a little memorial pet drawing for her husband, who was very close him.

schnauzer wip

I have a few drawings I am looking to do over Christmas. One is a ferret, many of you know I have a ferret her name is Rosie. Though this drawing is not of Rosie I feel like I wanted to attempt to capture the cuteness of these guys with a pet drawing.

Another pet drawing I wish to work on is a pet drawing of my horse Lexi. She is a beautiful girl, who is getting old however still has plenty of power left. She lives on my sisters farm in New Brunswick, while I am here in Ontario. I miss her a lot, hence the portrait. But that’s the way it goes. So I think a horse drawing will be very appropriate.

This is Rosie when she was younger.

This is the photo I will use for Lexi

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas and I will be spending a bunch of time drawing! So lots of updates to come. Don’t forget if you want to book me for a pet drawing, all you need to do is send me a message by email or facebook.

If you would like to keep up to date with my pet portraits you can do so in a variety of ways. Facebook is your guy if you would like to connect on a more personal level and look into my daily life, along with tips. If you are more interested in regular artwork posts then instagram is the one for you. Speed drawings and videos are available on my youtube channel.

Horse Drawing

Horse Drawing

Hi guys!

I am sorry it’s been such a long time since my last blog post. Moving to Hamilton has been crazy. I have been so busy with Christmas commissions so a massive thank you for everyone who has commissioned me for work this year.

So a lot of the work I have been working on is secret, but I did find time to work on this horse drawing. I used to love drawing horses but when I was little I figured I need to branch out to other animals. Now I find horse drawing tricky, however I think I’m doing pretty well. 

foal 8x10

So here are a few work in progress shots from my horse drawing. As you can see it’s just layering colours from lightest to darkest. It is very important to keep an eye on your reference photo to know where the highlights and shadows are. I try to just look at my reference photo for 5 minutes to study all the details. That way I can add them to my nature drawing whatever it happens to be. The more details you notice and add the more realistic the piece will be. Now that doesn’t mean every square inch should have tons of detail. The head or the focal point will have the most detail, but like in this horse drawing the body recedes then it will have less focus, or if a leg is heavily shadowed it will have less detail than one in balanced light.

Horses are a great animal to practice as their hair is rather short. So you are able to see all the muscles under the hair and how they raise and lower. Horse drawing for this reason is also difficult but it’s an excellent practice exercise. They also come in a huge array of shapes and sizes. Try drawing breed extremes, such as an Arabian and compare it to a Shire horse. Study your reference photos to pick out the differences and show those differences in your horse drawing. You will notice that even the noses are a completely different shape.

Progress Shots of my Horse Drawing

Here you can see as I begin my horse drawing I start with the head first. Typically starting with the eyes as if the eyes are wrong it throws off the whole drawing. I know muzzles are not my strong point, I always tend to draw them too wide or I over compensate and make them too narrow. So I made a point to triple check dimensions. Keep layering your colours, using many colours like this adds interest and dimension. Don’t just pick one colour pencil and go yep that’s the right colour. This will flatten out your horse drawing.

As I move through the body, I just kept layering and kept looking at my reference photo. Where did the hair group together, where were the lightest colours, was there specs of odd colour patterns, was there any scars.

Something also to note, I drew the grass first that way I could have blades of grass over my foal. This way it puts the foal into the setting, and makes the horse drawing look more realistic.

My finished horse drawing is available for purchase over on my ebay account. 

If you would like to keep up to date with my pet portraits you can do so in a variety of ways. Facebook is your guy if you would like to connect on a more personal level and look into my daily life, along with tips. If you are more interested in regular artwork posts then instagram is the one for you. Speed drawings and videos are available on my youtube channel.

How can we help?

Feel free to ask a question or simply leave a comment.

Hamilton Move- Pet Portraits

I apologise for my absence the last couple of weeks, I moved to Hamilton Ontario from New Brunswick. I am absolutely loving it so far, I have been kept busy with a bunch of Christmas pet portraits.

Pet portraits are a wonderful addition to any home, my artwork remove the background keeping the portrait simple and free from clutter. This showcases your stunning pet, while showing the pet’s personality in its artwork. The cleanness of coloured pencil allows to make a delicate yet vibrant work for your home. So whether you have a country style or chic business style home the pet portrait will fit perfectly in your home décor.

Room showcasing pet portrait

I have been drawing pet portraits for a few years now, and with every pet portrait I work on I fall in love with it more and more. Every drawing stretches my skills, and presents new challenges and exciting new opportunities.

When starting any new drawing, I always like to start with the eyes. The eyes I feel are the most important as they show the most personality. If the eyes are lacking that sparkle in your favourite photo of your pet do not fear. My years of experience has provided me with the knowledge to create the life the photo is missing. That’s why a pet portrait artwork is sometimes a lot better than the photo, as I can add key things that bring the artwork to life.

Here are some examples of my previous eyes:

pet portrait showing dogs eyes
pet portrait showing dogs eyes
pet portrait showing dogs eyes

Wildlife Artwork

I have been working very slowly at my latest wildlife piece. With the move and all the chaos of saying goodbye, packing, and then unpacking work has been slow. I also have my next wildlife piece all set up and I cannot wait to start. I will be working on it between my pet portraits. So hopefully you get to see it soon.

deer work in progress

deer work in progress
fox drawing

I hope you guys have a great week, thank you for reading. Next week I will post some progress pictures of one of my artworks going through the stages.

As always guys you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Youtube.

Double Dog Pet Portrait in coloured pencil

Bailey & Taylor Pet Portrait

For this Pet Portrait, I was given two great reference photos. The poses of the dogs for the pet portrait were lovely and worked so well together. However one of the reference photos was a little dark which got rid of all its details. The client decided on a 11×14 inch so we could get some really nice detailing in the pet portrait. Which we would not have been able to do had it have been an 8×10 inch.

Once in Photoshop I was able to bring the photo out as much as could. I also rely on my knowledge of canines, and their skull, muscular and fur composition to fill in the rest that I cannot see. The client and I fell in love with this right away. The contrast of the two pup’s one alert ready to go for a walk at any moment, whereas the other also laying down, was sleepy and barely opened her eye to see what the viewer wants. I knew right away this would be a lovely pet portrait.

I could not wait to start, and I started where I always love to start with the eyes. The eyes are so important. I have to pour in all the life of the animal into the eyes to make a convincing portrait. As the main focal point, they have to look realistic, living, and have the intended expression. With drawing a pet portrait or wildlife if the artist is a millimeter off it looks instantly wrong. So I work hard to make the eyes as perfect as possible. Once the eyes are done, I gradually move around the pet portrait, making sure to rest my hand on a clean section of the pet portrait.

Pet portrait of a geman shepherd
Pet portrait of a geman shepherd
Pet portrait of a dog

Pet Portrait Challenges

The two dogs were very different, with the left hand pup she has a reddish coat, and the challenge was getting the right colour. If the colour is wrong, than it may as well be another pup. With my limited number of pencils I have to create the colour that nature had picked out for this sweetheart. Layering the colours testing what colours worked together, and which ones offset each other. It’s a process to say the least. The second girl on the other hand, was a whole other story. She was black, the challenge here, is making her look black not grey and still keeping the details. Detailing black dogs can be tricky. I am very pleased with how she turned out.

Another challenge was two reference photos, one highly clear and detailed the other had lost a lot of details. However I cannot draw the pet portrait that way, the detail has to remain the same throughout the pet portrait. Using my knowledge of all the dog pet portraits I have done previously, and all my many years spent around dogs, I estimate what detail was there. That way I can make the second pup just as detailed as her best friend. Which creates a uniform and pleasing portrait.

I loved drawing this pet portrait, it is beautiful, and shows the personalities of the dogs. The poses, the expressions, the details, it all came together beautifully. And I know this pet portrait will look stunning on the wall.

If you paint to see more of my pet portraits, please visit my gallery!

Wildlife portrait of a bobcat

So what have I also been working on? My fox in finished and looks stunning!! Absolutely love her! I have also been working on a bobcat wildlife painting. Trying a bunch of techniques a larger size, and I am super pleased with how hes coming. I am starting a little kitten pet portrait for the Mississauga humane society who desperately needs a loving home. Along with my bald eagle wildlife drawing, and also my cardinal ofcourse.

Its going to be a very busy week!

Check out my originals for sale here!