Tag Archives: charcoal

My Geographic Palette #3 – Walnut Ink

23 Jul

 

culvert 1a

About 3 or 4 years now some friends gave me a bag of fresh walnuts – that’s walnut fruit – the nut is in the centre of an apple sized green fruit. I made my own walnut ink from them, please click here if you want to see the technique I used.

 

 

Anyway, I used it to work up a painting using ink washes of different intensity based on one of my original sketches of culverts way up in the Brecon Beacons. I was on a field trip with colleagues from The FIRE Lab a few weeks ago and I’m using those sketches to develop a new body of artwork.

The ink looks lovely when it dries out – it rehydrates as well so it doesn’t go to waste.

walnut ink dry

The FIRE Lab has some great blog posts, check out this one about the technology of the Tawe Path walk.

 

 

 

 

My Geographic Palette #2 – Bideford Black

22 Jul

 

Bideford 4

So, day 2 of drawing from my geographic palette. This is Bideford Black, an unique oily carbon-based pigment from North Devon, where is sits in the ground next to anthracite coal. It was mined for about 200 years up until the late 1960s but lost out to cheaper competitors and the mines closed. I was sent some by artists based near the geological seams a while back, in exchange for some of my homemade walnut ink. It’s quite greasy to draw with and a bit crumbly, and when used dry it looks a bit like a dense charcoal on paper.

 

 

I put some bits into a pestle and mortar and crushed it – surprisingly tough – into a fine powder and mixed it with water to experiment into an A5 300gsm Waterford sketchbook. I like the result. It’s a dense black – I watered it down quite a bit – and it flows easily. I based the little drawing on a sketch I’d done a few weeks back while I was out on a field trip near the source of the River Tawe with colleagues from the FIRE Lab team from Swansea University. FIRE Lab has a cool website with some great blogs – here’s one on walking the River Tawe path.

 

 

 

My Geographic Palette #1 – Charcoal

21 Jul

charcoal 2

 

This is my first tryout with my geographic palette, a drawing based on a sketch I did en plein air on a field trip with colleagues from Swansea University’s FIRE Lab a couple of months ago when we went off exploring culverts up in the Brecon Beacons.

 

The charcoal I bought a few years back when I visited John Ruskin’s house, Brantwood, at Coniston Water in the Lake District. At the time they made charcoal from willow grown on the estate, using traditional methods. It’s quite crumbly and benefits from being used with a heavyweight textured paper. I’m using a 300gsm Bockingford here and I’m pleased with the results, lots of tonal variation depending on the pressure I’ve used. It’s only a small drawing, I’m using an A5 size sketchbook, spiral bound from Pink Pig in Barnsley, and I’m abstracting away from the original which is starting to excite me.

 

 

 

 

My Geographic Palette

20 Jul

Geographic Palette small

I’m thinking about how to develop from the sketches I’ve done on a couple of field trips with colleagues in the FIRE Lab team and, as the research project is about ecosystems and environment, I thought I’d try as much as possible to use natural earths, plants and minerals in my artworks, so I’m putting together a geographic palette. I’ve made a pretty good start already, with graphite, lapis lazuli, ochre, charcoal, Bideford Black, some red sandstone and my own home-made walnut ink.

Over the next few days I’ll be researching and writing about them so watch this space …. 🙂

 

 

 

Filthy Paws

13 Jun

8

I always was a mucky kid, climbing trees, making dens, digging the garden with my fingers. I haven’t changed. One good thing about being an artist is that I can be just as mucky as I was back then. Today I prepared a huge piece of paper for manier noir drawing.

 

I was intending to cut up the sheet into smaller pieces to do a series of drawings, but I quite like this huge piece …. maybe I should keep it like this and do one giant drawing. What do you think?

 

manier noir

So…shall I split this up into smaller pieces or do one enormous drawing?

 

 

I’m currently working on a series of expressive drawings of ancestral sites and if you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

A Tight Fit (Male Nude- parental guidance suggested)

29 Jan
Jan 5

Drawing 5, 15 minutes

Went to life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop yesterday evening and sketched a male model who goes under the name of Ben D’Busse. I started with some very quick drawings and fell into the usual trap of not fitting the figure to the page. I nearly always run over the edges.

 

Ben is a fab model, really thin, so thin that the drawings end up with a touch of Egon Schiele about them

It was really hard fitting the drawing on the page of my A2 size brown paper sketchbook. I used willow charcoal and chalk, with the brown paper providing a nice mid-tone. I finally just managed to squeeze him all in by the fifth drawing. There was some strong foreshortening to contend with and I took a leaf out of Egon’s book and distorted the body to fit, a lot of his work is distorted.

Quickies

16 Jan
jan 6

five minute pose

At the start of our life drawing sessions at Swansea Print Workshop we have a few quick warm-up poses, typically no longer than 5 minutes each. They’re useful, especially if I’ve had a break and I’m a bit rusty. The first one is often awful; this one looks like Mr. Blobby, awkward, ugly and completely out of proportion. The second is much better, but still a bit out of proportion. The third pose is where I’m getting into my stride though, comfortable with the materials – chalk and willow charcoal into an A2 brown paper sketchbook – and comfortable with the model’s proportions.

 

First Nude Of The Year

15 Jan

jan 5

Back to life drawing sessions at Swansea Print Workshop last night, the first of the year but I only stayed for the first hour because I went off to see The Good, The Bad And The Ugly at Swansea’s newest cinema, Cinema & Co – I’d forgotten what a brilliant film it is.

Anyway, I ended up getting the most foreshortened view possible of our model – oh joy. I’m rusty because I’ve had a few weeks off, well about a month, so this was a challenge. I recorded it on my digital phone as I went along so you can see all the mistakes!

 

 

I drew into an A2 sketchbook made up of brown paper and used white chalk and Winsor & Newton willow charcoal. The brown paper provides a handy mid-tone. Our model is an older man, so interesting to draw.

From January 15th to February 8th, with some of my installations and lino prints in Penarth

From January 15th to February 8th, with some of my installations and lino prints in Penarth’s Pavilion Pier Gallery

And if you’re in Penarth in the next couple of weeks, please visit the Penarth Pier Pavilion Gallery where there’s a joint exhibition of work from Swansea and Cardiff Print Workshops, including some print installations I recently worked on and some of my lino prints.

The Spiral Stair

16 Dec

spiral 1

Here’s another drawing from my visit to the old church yesterday. It’s one of those rambling churches in the Victorian tradition, although it was actually built around World War 1. The fabric of the building is pretty sound, but there is a some deterioration to parts of the interior. There is a consortium of different community and cultural groups pulling together to buy and adapt the old building and give it a new lease of life.

The church is full of nooks and crannies and this little bit of a spiral stone staircase is behind a heavy wooden door at the back of the building, leading up to the top of the bell tower. I took a load of digital photos without a flash; the inside was dark and gloomy with little natural daylight coming in from the rain-soaked December afternoon outside.

I used white conte crayon, chalk and compressed charcoal into a Daler Rowney Ebony A4 spiral bound sketchbook. I like drawing onto black paper and I especially like the difference in the blackness of the paper and even more darkness of the compressed charcoal.

Digital Nausea

27 Nov

nov 2

 

Here’s another study from last night’s life drawing session at Swansea Print Workshop. I have spent a lot of time using my Galaxy Samsung Note 8 tablet with a free Markers app at life drawing. It’s been my main drawing tool for a couple of years, but recently I got sick of it. I quite literally started to feel nauseous at the thought of doing any more drawing with it. I think it’s because I have to spend so much time on the computer anyway that I really needed a break. I dug out an A3 Daler Rowney sketchbook and some charcoal and graphite blocks and started to scribble away, feeling the drawing materials rubbing across the paper. So different to digital drawing, so real and responsive.

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