Capturing a Character

Andy produces a pencil drawing of the famous guidebook writer, Alfred Wainwright.

UPDATE 12/2/23: Due to requests and the response to this work on this website and across social media I have decided to release a Limited Edition print of this drawing. There will only be 75 copies printed and 25% of the price will be donated to Animal Rescue Cumbria. For more details and to order your copy click here.

Those who follow me on various social media platforms will perhaps recall that every now and then I find a suitable character to capture in a portrait. These are usually produced as pencil drawings and ocassionally in watercolour. They are normally completed as part of Andy’s portfolio and not as commissions.

Andy Beck portraits in watercolour and pencil

This new study has come about as Andy requires an image of the famous guidebook writer to be used as part of a series of new films and blogs. Whilst there are many good images of AW out there Andy wanted a portrait that hadn’t been seen before. One that captured the essence of the man in his later years.

After studying many reference photographs and videos Andy put together this simple preliminary sketch. It measures 6″x 6″ approx.

Wainwright portrait preliminary sketch
Wainwright preliminary sketch

The idea was to show AW in a way that most would recognise him. His mop of white hair, the pipe and the car coat which he often wore. All features that help to identify the man. Whilst the sketch isn’t quite accurate it did get a great response when posted on the social media platforms. This gave me confidence that I was well on the way to a good study.

The task was now to refine the portrait in a more detailed drawing. This was done Canson 1557 cartridge paper, a quality paper ideal for this sort of work. The size is 24cm wide by 27cm high. I laid out the design and spent more time getting the shape of his head and face more precise. In the initial sketch I felt that his head was too rounded.

Wainwright portrait initial drawing
The initial stage of drawing.

Working in just 2b pencil I was able to lightly draw the portrait and adjust as necessary. Once I was happy with the shape I progressed on to the blending and detail. This was done using blending stumps and 4b pencil.

Wainwright portrait blending and background
The mid stage

Adding a dark background served to contrast AW’s white hair and add dimension to the portrait. It was now a case of adding much more definition and detail.

Wainwright portrait finished work
The completed portrait

After about 3 hours work the portrait is complete. Realistic without being hyper-realistic is the aim. It’s meant to look like an accurate drawing and not a photograph. Personally I like the composition of the drawing, AW is not looking directly at the viewer- looking off into the distance. The pipe, the checked shirt and the heavy car coat are all elements of his regular attire. It’s a drawing which I am very pleased with and it will serve it’s purpose for me very well. It wasn’t produced as a commercial venture but due to the response on social media it is now available as a limited edition print and we hope to raise some funds for Animal Rescue Cumbria. If you keep watching this website and my YouTube channel you will see it making regular appearances in the future.

I would be interested to hear your comments on this work-good or bad.

If you would like to see how the work was produced in detail then why not watch the YouTube film:


  1. Iconic Andy. An excellent portrait of a legend. Well done

  2. Hi Andy…just watched the video through and it’s great to watch the master at work…especially when the subject is another master in his field (or on his fell!).
    The end result is just stunning and I’m in awe of anybody who can create such an image…nice one Andy!

    • Hi Stephen, thanks for watching and for taking time to comment. This was one of the artworks that I was hinting at when we spoke last week. 🙂

  3. I must admit when I first saw it, there was something not right…the less rounded face has captured it, well done Andy, excellent.

    • Hi John, yes, the initial sketch had it’s faults, the rounded face being one of them. I think the finaldrawing has sorted that. Thanks for commenting.

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