Tag Archives: compressed charcoal

Getting Mucky Together

23 Jun

three artists

Getting Mucky

I spent a couple of hours at Swansea’s Creative Bubble this morning with fellow artists Patti McJones and Chris Bird-Jones. We unleashed a box of compressed charcoal! And got mucky together. That’s one of the nicer things about being an artist, you always have an excuse to shamble around in overalls with charcoal dust up to your elbows.



Up A Ladder

20 Sep


I’m a member of an artist collective, 15 Hundred Lives and we have been running a monthly public art event at the Creative Bubble artspace in Swansea, we take the space for two days a month to work together as a group – a painter, a collagist and a printmaker / scribbler. I’ve been working on a series of very large drawings that will eventually form an installation. Here I am up a ladder.


My technique is evolving as I work on each drawing but that means they’re taking longer. The first two took a couple of days each but this one is still less than half done after 2 days, but that’s OK. It will take as long as it takes. Drawn on Fabriano Accademica paper 240 gsm using compressed charcoal and graphite block. Two days working on a large drawing means sore feet and aching shoulders, so I went for a curry this evening, to our favourite curry house, The Vojon, for a Handi Lamb Polongwala and sag rice. Sublime.


7 Jun

scan0001A description of 1980s denim fashion and also my way of preparing some of my little Khadi handmade paper sketchbooks (15cms square) with random ink washes using dilute Indian ink applied with a small piece of natural sponge. It’s a good base for night sketches. All you need is a bit of white compressed charcoal (Seawhite’s of Brighton) and carbon (Daler Rowney) and Bob’s your uncle. It also helps to live by the beach.

Stuff I Draw With

27 Sep

I’m doing some subtractive drawings on card prepared with two coats of acrylic gesso and overlaid, when dry, with compressed charcoal. It means I have to be a bit inventive with drawing materials, which include aluminium oxide paper, wire wool, a craft knife and bits of rag. Great fun.

Here’s the small one, based on the sketch I made at a life drawing session. I hope to finish it tomorrow and start on the huge pieces I’ve stretched onto the wall next week.

Back And Raring To Go!

24 Sep

I’ve had five whole days away from the computer. The RSI problem came back with a vengeance and coupled with a nasty lurgi, I decided to take a bit of a break from t’Internet. I’ve still been busy in the studio though, developing some plans for a series of larger scale subtractive drawings. I stretched some sheets of Fabriano Accademica onto the studio wall and gave them two coats of acrylic gesso. I rubbed in compressed charcoal over the surface of two of the sheets and coated the third with graphite, smoothing it over with a rag dipped in turpentine. Then I transferred one of my life drawings to a smaller bit of charcoal-coated card to do a practice piece before committing myself to the larger paper. I like this technique very much; the resulting drawing is rather like a mezzotint.

This shows the stretched paper coated with compressed charcoal either side of the piece I covered with graphite, before it had been smoothed over with turpentine.

Hard Feet And The Best Curryhouse

11 May

It’s the end of a tiring week; I’ve had a very productive time in the studio and a good session at the life drawing group, but that means I’ve been on my feet continuously every day and I’m looking forward to some chilling-out time this weekend. We started this evening with a curry at our local first-best-curryhouse-in-the-world, The Vojon, which is just one letter away from the third-worst-poets-in-the-universe, The Vogon [you’ve got to be fans of Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy to get that one].

This is one of the life drawings I did last night. Sometimes when I’m faced with an intimidating expanse of pristine white paper, I just get  handful of pastels and SCRIBBLE ALL OVER IT! Then it’s not intimidating any more. You’ve got to show it who’s Boss. Then I drew over it with compressed charcoal. It was a great pose, I love foreshortening and I used a very free and expressive style with the linework, but her feet…….. oh dear, they were SO hard. I kept drawing them until we ran out of time and I’m still not happy. Sometimes with foreshortening, no matter how accurately you measure and draw some bits, they don’t look right in the drawing because they don’t look right anyway.

Now I’m going to watch The Big Bang Theory on catch-up TV. Goodnight 🙂

A Brand New Life Drawing

19 Apr

Charcoal and pastel life drawing.

Just got back from life-drawing group at Swansea Print Workshop. We had a very experienced model this evening who also models at our local university. She has one of those Dutch ‘peasant’ faces that Van Gogh used to paint, like in the Potato Eaters. I mean this in the nicest way – very interesting features. I’ve been reading my new book about David Hockney and he’s been going on about how the more we artists look, the more we see and he’s certainly right about that. When you just glance at people you only take in a little impression but when you really look, all sorts of colours appear. Well, they do to me anyway 🙂


I particularly like drawing these scrunched-up, foetal poses. This is drawn with compressed charcoal and oil pastels into my A3 Bockingford sketchbook, which has a lovely creamy paper, used double-sided.

A Recycled Lady!

19 Nov

Oil Bar Drawing.


I often use discarded prints as the basis for drawing – I raid the waste paper bin at Swansea Print Workshop for prints that other artists have thrown away as they’re usually on really good paper, a Somerset or Bockinford, and often embossed and coloured which makes an interesting starting point for a drawing, introducing an element of chance into it. I did this drawing earlier in the week. It’s based on a very small sketchbook life drawing I did a few years back and it’s been worked up mainly in oil bars and compressed charcoal onto a highly coloured collagraph print – you can see the embossed patterns particularly under the dark areas. I have no idea who did the original print – it might have been a schoolchild during one of the community outreach sessions.

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