Quick Sketch Process in charcoal

I have battled with portrait drawing since I can’t remember.  Despite drawing portraits pretty much every day, I still get it badly wrong more times than I get it right.

I don’t have any particular ambitions to be a portrait artist, there are too many artists that are so much better than I could hope to be whom I admire and am in awe of pretty much permanently.  However, being able to competently draw portraits helps me in all areas of my art.  My cricket and sports drawings will be so much easier if I didn’t spend days sweating over the faces and indeed any animal or bird drawing will be helped no end by increased portrait drawing skills.

I strongly believe that since portrait drawing is the hardest thing to master, there are those that will disagree, but I seriously believe that, then everything else should therefore be easier as a result of an increased skill in this area.

Right? Continue reading

The Blast – original pastel drawing of T20 batsman

pastel drawing of luke wright hitting a six in a t20 blast final edgbaston

Welcome to my cricket drawing ‘The Blast’ .

This was a bit of an impromptu drawing that ended up really well.  I was watching and enjoying this years Blast T20 final at Edgbaston between Sussex and Worcester.  Worcester went on to win the game but this is Sussex’s Luke Wright hitting a big six.

Rarely do I draw cricket art in colour but the colour and the razzmatazz of the competition lead to colour being on the cards.

The progress of my pastel drawings lately have been to prime gaterboard with pastel primer and an acrylic colour.  This time a golden colour.  It allows for the golden colour to light up the whole scene as the layers go on top.  I then take a darker pastel ground and paint an underpainting of the main figure.  This provides some depth to the batsman.

Progress shots…..

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Once the under painting is dry I build up the colour totally focusing on complementary colours to provide harmony to the piece.  It is not the same representing movement in pastel as it is in charcoal.  The method I have found most effective is as painting movement and that is to let the pastel strokes go through the neighbouring colour which provides a more impressionistic piece.

The original piece is with Luke himself.  Here’s a shot of him holding the original….

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I have set up a run of 50 limited prints available from my website…..Click here to visit or on the image below

pastel drawing of luke wright hitting a six in a t20 blast final edgbaston

Bat Drop – charcoal cricket drawing of Joe Root

 

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I originally drew this as a bit of fun.  It was a moment of unusual reaction and passion from England’s captain Joe Root.  Reaching a trying century in an ODI series against India he managed to secure it and an England win off the last ball.

 

Keeping the drawing loose with focus on the movement and drama of the situation it is drawn totally in charcoal on lily white pastel paper.

The drawing is available to buy along with limited edition prints from my website here 

Morning Glow – an original charcoal drawing of an egret

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This Moment.
Sunrise at dawn.
Wading into each others lives.
Togetherness and warmth
(Jack Thompson 2015)

Meet Denis, he’s an egret.  I mistook him for a stork initially but I am better informed now.  Many thanks to Diane Pickering for the kind use of her reference photo.

What I loved about this image was the soft glow of the morning sun hitting the twigs around Denis’ feet and illuminating his bottom feathers, making them glow a lovely warm yellow.

Quite a large piece I had initial decisions to make, do I keep it large and include the habitat or exclude the habitat and focus on the bird itself.  I decided to keep it large – he’s a large bird afterall and have a go at working with the habitat.

It became apparent that I would need to find a method to work with the habitat, I am not used to working on landscapes, my mind was overtaken with all the detail in those twists of twigs and stick.

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After experimenting with several different methods I settled on darkening the whole image and placing the dark shadows in first, then lightening it gradually, reinforcing the dark areas and lifting out the lighter areas.  This is how I work my portraits and fortunately it worked.  The trick is to keep a really light hand with the charcoal so you can blend it in or lift it out.  Here’s a quick video of me drawing it……

and another little video where I am describing the process …

Once I’d cracked the habitat I was able to work calmly on the bird itself.  Being a white bird it was necessary to keep a very light hand and concentrate on the lighter end of the grayscale.

Here is a little slideshow of all the bits of my progress shots…

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I hope you have enjoyed the progress shots of the making of ‘Morning Glow’, Denis has been framed in a dark wooden frame and is ready to hang.

Morning Glow - framed

Denis can be purchased from my online shop, click here or on the image above.

Mindfulness – original oil painting swan

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My latest bird art painting is called ‘Mindfulness’.  I called it that because I was touched by the present moment that the swan is just about to enter the mist.  Everything is about that moment.

I wanted to keep it very warm and not sinister so retained a palette of pinky grey as my main colour throughout the painting.  This was achieved by mixing french ultramarine with Alizarin crimson to create a purple and then adding some indian yellow.  That created a warm grey, pink was added to create the pink tone and then varied from light to dark of the same mix.

Here are some progress shots:

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The piece has been framed in my favourite type of dark wooden rustic frame…

Mindfulness - in frame

I am entering ‘Mindfulness’ into exhibitions throughout the year.  In the meantime it can be bought directly from my shop by clicking here or the image below.

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I imagine your love… contemporary charcoal tree art

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“I imagine your love
To be like the taste 
Of wild, wild berries..”
(Lynn Greyling)
A beautiful poem that sums it all up.
I’ve been keen to get into drawing trees.  I spent alot of last winter drawing bits of trees – cones, branches, teasels, holly etc.  I feel the time is right to tackle the full model.
Reading an article on the painting of trees, it did even more to ignite my wish to complete a tree portrait.  Looking up immediately after reading the article my eyes rested mindfully on this lovely bush just outside my studio window.  Passing it several times a day I feel embarrassed that I had not noticed how beautiful it was.
A week before Valentine’s Day it was probably that influence that had me seeing a heart shaped loop in it’s branches……..
I wanted to extract the shrub from its environment and draw it exclusively on white paper.
It is worked in various types of charcoal – charcoal dust, Nitram charcoal sticks, willow charcoal and charcoal pencils.  Watercolour is added for the berries…
Progress slide show…

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The challenge of dealing with all those tangles was amazing.  At times I couldn’t see the ‘wood for the trees’.  Initially I’d taken a whole load of photographs which were indeed useful but in the end moving my easel so I facing the shrub and drawing it from life was the best option.
We are constantly told that a camera flattens an image, this was certainly true in this case, branches that were visibly weaving their way towards me looked completely flat in the photo.  A good lesson reminder for me…..
The decision to paint the berries with watercolour was in interesting thought process.  When you look at the shrub in life it is indeed the red berries that are what strikes you at first, but in my rendition it’s the twisted curling loops of the branches that are the most striking.  This wasn’t intentional, I had always intended to paint the berries but decided to mute them to darker bluer reds and not represent the sheer volume that is on the shrub itself – artistic licence indeed!
‘I imagine your love….’ is available to purchase from my website shop.  Click here to go there.
Or click on the image below….
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Bird Art – Maxwell – original charcoal & watercolour sparrow

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This is Maxwell.

I named him after a character in a historical novel I was listening to whilst drawing him.

He’s been a saved photograph for quite a while, and in fact I have tried to draw him a few times.  Due to the fluffy nature of his coat it would only work with certain mediums.  Also, interestingly, I always have a problem with brown.  Lots of birds and animals have quite a lot of tan colour in their feathers and coats, for some reason that colour or tone always seem to be absent from my sets of pastels.

In the end I had to mix it myself.  It’s the first time I’ve used watercolour with charcoal but they work quite well as long as the charcoal drawing has been fixed before you start applying the paint.

Here are a few progress shots….

Maxwell, as with Betty was painted in charcoal initially.  It gives the bird a good flowing undercoat before working in my detail with the sticks of charcoal.  Probably a bit more controlled than with Betty.  Once the charcoal is dry its very easy to manipulate it, move it around, lift it off etc.

He always seems to be quite chirpy to me, singing away merrily…

The finished piece is available in my website shop – click here to go there!

Or click on the framed piece below…

Maxwell - framed