This is Betty, a sheep that I took a picture of whilst walking my dog Charlie.
It’s the first sheep I have drawn, think I will definitely do more. She was fascinated by my dog Charlie, watching him wherever he went, constantly munching her grass as she did so. She was actually a pretty good looking sheep.
I hadn’t planned to do her just yet but I was desperate to try out a new charcoal technique that I had heard of and that is painting with charcoal. To be fair I couldn’t find out much about it. I had heard of painting a charcoal wash and of adding water to the charcoal already down to create a darker line but not actually doing a full painting with it.
Anyway, after flicking through my photographs I decided that Betty was going to be my guinea pig (or sheep).
All I knew is that I had better use watercolour paper. Fortunately I have quite a stash of watercolour paper, particularly the heavier paper from a phase of botanical watercolour last year.
Selecting a piece I began to make the wash, using a mixture of left over bits of charcoal dust from sharpening sticks to a pot of charcoal powder I began simply to just mix water with it.
Trying it on a scrap of paper I was immediately excited by the lovely dark colour and the way the brush strokes showed through. Adding more water created a light grey and playing it carefully I could have the full range of light grey to dark black. It also dried very quickly, leaving a dusty surface that I could lift off and move around.
Here’s a little clip video of the charcoal with water….
I took the painting with charcoal as far as I could but it became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to do the fine details with it. So I worked on her face with normal charcoal sticks. Here are some progress shots…
I tried painting with the white charcoal by sharpening the white charcoal stick and using that dust, it created a grey rather than white which I used on her body as she had a lot of grey hair.
The finished piece can be seen on my website shop by clicking here
Or clicking on the completed drawing below…
I intend to use this process again. Points going forward would be to plan it a little better with an initial drawing so that I can paint on the charcoal in exactly the right place. I had to move one of her eyes afterwards….
Let me know if you have a go at this technique