Tag Archives: charcoal

Feeling It

26 Nov

nov 1

Just back from life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop. I started with a piece of charcoal but I wasn’t in a charcoal mood tonight and it didn’t feel right on the paper (Daler Rowney A3 sketch pad). So I switched to a lump of graphite and scribbled away. If felt better, it just felt right somehow. That’s something I don’t get when I do digital drawings, the feel of the drawing material dragging across the paper, the way it feels different depending on whether you use the point or the flat side. I experience art as a very physical thing; how materials feel, how they smell, how they sound – yes the sound of different drawing materials against different papers. It’s a sensory experience. In the spirit of “waste not, want not” I drew over the unsuccessful earlier drawings.

Quick Kitty Scribbles

10 Nov

quick draw

A couple of quick kitty scribbles done in Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens and charcoal into a little A6 sketchbook. Ming The Merciless is one of my favourite models. She’s an elderly one-eyed rescued cat who is nice as pie until she sees the cat basket because that only means one thing, a visit to the vets. Then she turns into psycho kitty!

Plum Cake And A Nude

5 Nov

nov 5 a

Just back from life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop. I hadn’t drawn this model before, she’s new but I got the hang of her reasonably well. Sometimes it takes ages to get used to a new model, sometimes things just fall in place. The portrait and figure took about 50 minutes then I did the semi-abstract one in the last few minutes. I used charcoal and chalk into an A2 sketchbook made from brown paper. I love drawing onto brown paper, it’s great having a ready-made mid tone .

I made a plum upside-down cake for tea break. I had some hard plums that were not juicy or interesting so I put them into the bottom of a cake tin and mixed up a sponge to go on top. It went down well enough and the plums tasted much better cooked.

Heston And Husb

15 Sep

wall g

I’m carrying on with the ephemeral Β wall drawing I’m doing down at The Bagpuss Window, the pop-up artspace in a shop about to be demolished in Swansea’s High Street. The drawing will be demolished at the same time. I wrote some text, “The older you get, the more dead people you know” and this is inspiring the whole piece. I’m using charcoal, chalk and conte crayon.

The door has been open and people pop in for a look. One chap came in and asked why I was drawing “….that telly chef, Heston Blumenthal“. It’s Husb! Same hairstyle though πŸ™‚



Can’t See For Looking!

11 Sep



Sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees. I’ve made a start on a wall drawing onto newspaper, working from a photograph and it’s only now that I’ve put the photos onto the computer that I can see that the legs are too short! I could NOT see that when I was doing it. Leonardo da Vinci recommends checking your work in a mirror regularly because it helps to spot the wrong bits. I’ll have to take his feet down over the skirting board.

I’m working in an old shop in the centre of Swansea; it’s on loan until it gets demolished and I’m there with some other artists; we’re using as a pop-up artist’s studio. I papered the wall with newspaper and blocked some basic figures in white emulsion. I like working onto newspaper, I can incorporate images and headings into the work. I also like the texture of the charcoal on top of the brushstrokes and the wrinkles in the newspaper. I’ll be carrying on for a couple of weeks and when the demolition crew moves in, it’ll all be knocked down to make way for urban regeneration.

If you’re on Facebook, you can find out more about our temporary artspace here.

Loosening Up

27 Jun

tiny drawings

I carried on working on tiny recycled fragments of beautiful papers today, Somerset, Bockingford, BFK Rives, Hahnemulle, and found myself relaxing into it. Yesterday was frustrating and difficult, as it should be, I was trying something new and there’s no reason why it should be easy.

Today I was much less prissy and precious about what I was doing on the paper. At the end of the day it’s just a fragment of paper and if I don’t like what I have done, I can gesso over it. In fact I did that to a couple that I had worked on yesterday anyway.

All the pieces of paper are size A6 or smaller and I have been working on them with gesso, willow charcoal, carbon, graphite, Indian ink wash, home made walnut ink, conte crayon using brushes, fingers, wet wipes and cotton buds to blend and fade the marks.

Evil Foreshortening (Female Nude)

30 Apr


Just back from life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop. I had a choice of where to sit so, thinking aloud I said, “Shall I sit side on to draw an easier pose or shall I sit front on and do the really nasty foreshortening?” My sadistic fellow artists said, as one, “Front on! Do the foreshortening!” I was daft enough to listen. It was tough.


I started out with large graphite blocks and conte crayon onto a piece of Saunders paper, size A2, but I just couldn’t get the proportions right (bottom drawing). So I turned it over and started again with compressed charcoal and chalk (top drawing). It’s better but the foreshortening was really vicious. Oh well, good practice. It’s top quality paper and I don’t want to waste it so I’ll probably cover it with a layer of white gesso and re-use it, so this blog will eventually be the only record of the drawings.



Drawing Darkly

25 Feb


I spent some time in my studio today, starting a ‘manier noir’ style drawing. It’s a type of reductive drawing, working from black to white, rubbing away areas of charcoal to reveal the highlights. It’s the very first of a substantial body of drawings and original prints I have planned.

I prepared Fabriano Accademica paper with gesso and when it dried, I rubbed it evenly all over with compressed charcoal, using my hand to get a smooth black surface. I ‘draw’ into the charcoal with steel wool and very fine sandpaper. This technique results in a subtle but dramatic chiaroscuro.

Manier noir is an alternative name for the printmaking technique mezzotint, where an engraved metal plate has the highlights smoothed away with a steel burnisher.

Wookey Hole

1 Feb


I was given a stack of vintage art papers by a kind benefactor a while back and I am gradually using them for drawing and printmaking. Today’s daily drawing was done on a beautiful piece of W.S.H. & Co British Handmade Paper, made at the Wookey Hole paper mill near Cheddar in Somerset in the West Country. Wookey Hole is probably more famous for its wonderful ancient caves, the legend of the Witch and its cave-aged Cheddar cheese, but in amongst all of this is a paper mill that has been operating over 400 years, since at least 1610. The paper is beautifully textured with deckle edges, a large watermark and a slightly bluish tint.

I had used this sheet of paper to do a bit of opportunistic marbling. A fellow artist had some left over black oil paint mixed with turps and chucked it into a bowl of water with washing up liquid and the surface went all marbly. So I grabbed a few sheets of paper and laid them on top and got some lovely marbled effects. I scribbled this while Husb was Skyping a relative this evening, using compressed charcoal and black and white conte crayons. It took about 10 minutes. It is fairly accurate but makes him look much older than he is.

I like to spend my time fondling beautiful papers and doing research and reading about them. I am such a geek πŸ˜€

Wrong! Wrong! Not Too Bad!

10 Jul


Just back from life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop. Not had a good time, didn’t take my mojo with me. My first two drawings were clunky and didn’t work at all. So I gave up trying to draw the full figure and focused on his head. It was better.

I’ve worked with this model before, quite successfully, but I used different media. I decided to give charcoal and chalk on newspaper a go this evening and I couldn’t really get into it. But ho hum. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

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