Behind the Derwent National Trust Collection Commissions with Claudine O’Sullivan

I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, both as a child and now, drawing is when I feel most relaxed. Nature has always been my main inspiration; I still remember repetitively drawing trees and leaves as a child. Even now, I believe drawing is one of the best ways to connect with nature, or indeed any subject. I always describe my practice as fueled by observation – this is where almost all my work begins, not necessarily as an imaginative idea, but instead as a response to my surroundings, experiences, and memories. I aim to capture the energy of my subject, which means often drawing from life, or multiple references, to truly capture their life and movement.

Cotton Grass

I have worked with Derwent for many years, both as an Artist Ambassador and on packaging and design projects. Naturally, I was thrilled when they invited me to be a part of the National Trust collaboration, something I believed to be a perfect fit for my work. Using a mix of Derwent product, I focused on wildlife and foliage native to the National Trust Riverland’s Project. I used the Sketching Wallet to capture the movement and flow of the swimming otter, and the Graphic Pencils set to portray the beauty and delicacy of the local cotton grass. Working in monotone was something I hadn’t focused on as a final piece in some time, so I enjoyed the simplicity of these pieces.

Working in pastels is something I often do when sketching and working on quick observational studies, so using Pastel Pencils was actually a first for me. I loved the vibrancy and texture I could achieve in the Emperor Dragonfly image, working on coloured paper. What I appreciated most was the level of detail I could achieve even in pastel, as you can see on the intricate lines of the wings and body, balanced with the softer areas of blended colour.

Landscapes have become a prominent focus in my personal work, so this felt like the perfect subject matter for the Watercolour set, depicting the balance of the flowing water, where I’ve added water and the fine line detail of the stonework. Finally, my favourite piece from the collection is the Kingfisher, drawn using the Chromaflow set. I often use Chromaflow pencils in my work and sketchbooks as their vibrancy and laydown are fantastic. Even working on a slightly grey page, the colours in this image really pop.

I’m delighted to have worked with Derwent on this range, from choosing the subject matter of each package, to collating the 12 pencils in each set, it’s been such a joy to be a part of. I’m excited to add the full collection to my own supplies.

Thank you to Claudine O’Sullivan for providing us with this blog. Discover more of Claudine’s work on her website or Instagram.

To purchase your own Derwent National Trust Collection, please visit our website here.