Tag Archives: charcoal

Little Joe – Original charcoal bluetit drawing

Meet Little Joe, he’s a bluetit that comes regularly to my garden and the feeders. Like most bluetits he’s always moving, darting in and out, never still.  When he’s on one feeder he’s always looking to the next one, full of life and energy.

charcoal drawing of a bluetit
Little Joe
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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.

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….
I imagine your love... (2)

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

Betty – original charcoal sheep drawing

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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).

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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…

original charcoal drawing of a sheep in painted charcoal

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

Sebastian – original charcoal drawing of a junco

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Meet Sebastian

He’s a little junco bird, a very fluffy one.

Charcoal is a great medium for capturing movement.

Birds are never still, they are constantly moving or about to.  When drawing or painting birds I like to ensure I’ve captured that flitting sense that a bird has.

 

Here are some progress shots as I build up the charcoal…

 

I make sure the bird is completely drawn in charcoal first, adding the colour just at the end.

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Sebastian is available to buy from my website shop here

Or click on the image below to visit him….

Sebastian (2)

Six Sixes – original cricket drawing

original cricket drawing of a cricketer hitting six sixes in a t20 cricket match

It was suggested that I complete a drawing of Ross Whiteley hitting a wonderful six sixes in the 2017 T20 Blast for Worcestershire CC.  After viewing the over I decided to draw all six of the hits.  It was a great challenge and the largest cricket drawing I have completed.  Setting the hits out as in a cricket score book they are drawn in charcoal and white charcoal on light grey pastel paper.

This was a great challenge.  Initially I was only going to complete one of the hits.  After watching the footage I decided to sketch them out in my sketchbook with pencil and watercolour to get an idea of which hit I preferred.

Here is a shot where you can see the sketchbook open at a couple of hits…

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I could not decide which hit to go for so struck on the idea of completing all six.  At first I thought of producing a long narrow drawing with them all on in order.  That may have proved tricky with prints and indeed to frame it (maybe another time) so then I thought of setting them out as in a score book, like a dice of six.

Here is a slide show of some of the shots…..

 

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My biggest problem was simply the lack of detail.  I could not make out any of the features of the cricket players or details of their clothes etc.  I also wish it had been test cricket so I could add my signature red to the ball.  However, I concentrated on the hits themselves.  Hope you like it…

Prints are available (limited to 50)  Click here

Or on the drawing below to go to my website….

Six Sixes (2) print