Rogues Gallery 2


Last year I made a small book of drawings of early twentieth century criminals, (see here) using images inspired by photos from the Police and Justice Museum in Sydney, and now I’m continuing the theme, but with larger drawings. Every face tells a story – some aggressive, some cocky, some dapper, others beaten down and sad.

Photographs of some Sydney criminals were taken in an almost casual way between about 1910 and 1930, some sitting, others slouching against a wall with their hands in their pockets before more formal mug shots came into use. It seems that these photos were quite random, not all criminals were photographed, some were named and their stories can be found, others were quite anonymous, but to me every one of these has a story written on his (or her, there are women too) face.

There is a book published by Sydney Living Museums which has a lot of these photos, and this is what I have used as my inspiration. I have not tried to copy the photos too accurately, but I’ve tried to gain an essence of who these people were.

Each drawing is 15 cm square, on Arches watercolour paper, drawn using water-soluble graphite. I do a loose sketch with an HB pencil, wet it with a brush to get in some tones, then when it is dry work into it more with a 4B pencil, wet it again, and so on till I’m satisfied.


Author: anna warren portfolio

I draw, I paint, I am a printmaker. Always searching for the interesting detail in the world around me.

21 thoughts

  1. These are so evocative. I admire very much your loose technique – it says so much in an economical way. What I also enjoy is how much these guys are of their time. Isn’t it funny – while people are simply people, these guys couldn’t be 2017 people. They are locked in the early 20th century, even though drawn by you in the here and now. My goodness, but some of them look so haunted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are absolutely right – these men are of their time. Maybe it is their hair styles, or their clothes, but it is their expressions too. You don’t see people who look like this any more. Some are right to look haunted, but often it is the petty criminals rather than the genuinely bad ones who do, it seems the worse the crime the more arrogance is in the face.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Anna, I love where you have taken these drawings and how different they are from where you started. Both wonderful. I have never worked with water soluble graphite. Would you mind telling me how one works with the medium? Thanks! Nancy

    Liked by 2 people

    1. For these I used water-soluble pencils, which are just like normal graphite pencils. I do a loose drawing with the HB pencil, putting in a bit of tone, then push it around a bit with a wet brush, that loosens the graphite to make a watercolour-like tone. Once that is dry, I draw into it again with a darker pencil, adding more areas of tone, wet it again and so on until I feel the drawing is the way I want it. The nice thing is that you don’t lose the drawn lines, but you gain the less controlled watery tonal areas. Glad you like it Nancy, do have a go with it, I think you would enjoy it!


      1. Thanks, Anna. I think I will have a go with it. Thank you very much for your explanation. About a year ago a sent away for water soluble graphite but received graphite powder. I think I will play around with pencils.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s