Unpublished drawings

One day in 1978 my wife Jenny asked if I would draw a motif of her three breeds (Pomeranian, Italian Greyhound and Yorkshire Terrier) for her pedigree forms... And so I began drawing dogs - though Jenny never did get her motif!  I drew dogs over the next three weeks - each night I would plan the next day's drawing and each morning I was enthusiastic to begin. Please note the inference - in those days I drew one dog a day - now I need a month or more!

These drawings were produced in 1978 on cheap typing paper, using the dining-room table as a drawing board.
Shih Tzu drawing 1978 Bearded Collie drawing 1978 Yorkie drawing 1978 Boxer drawing 1978

The Boxer, the newest of the four studies above, shows a variety of techniques, many of which I still use today. The use of "indenting" is evident above and to the right of the Boxer's eye and an understanding of three-dimensional form is also beginning to appear.

Chihuahua pencil study 1978 Gradually the work improved then, in one drawing, it made a significant leap forward. This unsigned drawing from late in 1978 of a Chihuahua was the first to really exceed my expectations. Although lacking in texture and rather basic in approach, it possesses a solidity missing from the earlier work ... and it has a degree of independent "life"!

Up until this time I was using photographs in dog annuals for a source. Now I only work from my own references.

• Progression of Boxer studies •

Boxer drawing 1978
Boxer drawing 1979
Boxer & Lynx-point Siamese Commission 1986
Boxer drawing © William Bacon

bulldogBulldog 1978
Afghan HoundAfghan Commission 1982
Bearded ColliesZimbabwe commission 1983
Bearded ColliesAustralian commission 1983
CatCat commission 1983
GoatOld English Goat study 1985
PonyPony commission 1982
CatCat commission 1986
Bearded Collie cross"Winston" 1987

Duvet cover design 1987
Duvet design draft
Duvet design pony
Duvet design dogs
Pillow Slip design
Duvet design 1987
Duvet design pillow case
This duvet set design, which took 500 hours to complete, was produced in collaboration with Cotswold Designs for Wardle Fabrics.  By mid-1987 printing screens had been manufactured and trial runs of the duvet produced in a number of different colour-ways.  Response from buyers at that year's Frankfurt show was promising and the RSPCA had endorsed the design.  Then, just three weeks from production, Wardle Fabrics' parent company closed the factory down and dismantled it.  As each of their fabric mills was autonomous, the project died with the works.  I was on commission-only — financial reward... nothing! ...

Cotswold Designs came to the rescue with the Shoppers and fleece-lined Dog Rugs, all of which have now sold out.

Shopping bag - Border Collie
Shopping bag - cat
Shopping bag - Bearded Collie cross
Dog rug - Bearded Collie and pups

Springer & Pheasant 1987Springer Spaniel and Pheasant
In the Fox-Silver collection, USA
Springer & Pheasant 1987Springer Spaniel and Pheasant
In the Cussons collection, UK
French commission 1987Cocker Spaniel (France) 1987

UK Commission 1988"Ziggy" 1988
Commission 1987Springer and cats 1987
Cat Mindy"Mindy" 1988
Cockatoo studies 1988
"Charlie" 1988
Charlie commission
Charlie commission - detail
Springer Spaniel commissionSammy 1989
Herdwick Sheep commission"Old Number 16"
Herdwick Ewe commission 1990
By the end of 1990 I had a four-year waiting list for commissions. An increase in fees in 1994 finally slowed the growing list of commissions to a trickle. Commissions are currently priced around £750-900 for a 12" × 9" (image size) head-study, less for a whole animal and £2500 or more for a study involving a complete scene. These prices should be compared with the time taken to complete a study, which respectively ranges from 75-hours to 250-hours. Commissions are now rarely accepted due to time constraints demanded by my online teaching at Drawspace.com, organising and running my international workshops, and other business commitments.

All images copyright © M J Sibley