Father Figure – graphite and charcoal contemporary portrait

charcoal and graphite drawing of two men one a father and son portrait

Father Figure

 

This idea for this drawing came from a commission request.  The client, drawn at the front of the piece requested the drawing as his ‘father figure’ – to whom he always referred to him (I still don’t know his name) had recently died.  He also would have celebrated his 70th birthday some time during the portrait’s execution.

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The photo presented lots of questions.  The main subject was at the back of the photo, the setting and background were not particularly interesting or added anything to the image and it is a typical selfie photo where the subjects are looking straight into the camera, not really showing any expression or emotion and are frozen for the pose.  I wanted to show the bond between these two and so my main focus and the thing that showed that bond most strongly was the arm around the shoulders.  I decided to therefore allow that to come forward out of the drawing towards the viewer.

These are some of the materials I used for this portrait.  A combination of charcoal and graphite.  I also had a couple of new deliveries during the process so I included them too.  One was Grumbacher charcoal which I’m looking forward to using more in the future.  It seems very similar to Nitram to be honest but the hard sticks seem a little more useful than the Nitram hard which can be very scratchy.  The other thing I tried out was some carbon pencils.  The combination of charcoal and graphite in these pencils seem to help work over the some areas that had either been heavily charcoaled or graphite.

Some early progress shots.  I used Bristol board for the background but won’t be using it again for a combination of the two materials.  It’s wonderful for graphite but the charcoal struggled with the smoothness.  I had to work it in really hard to get it to make any significant effect.  Laying down the shadows and initially working out where to go with the charcoal and where to go with the graphite.

Here are a few more shots of the progress.

Successes for the drawing were that I achieved a looseness with the drawing that I wanted as well as keeping it tight and fine around the facial features.  In the past the charcoal has prevented me from working on fine details in a portrait, this is something that the graphite allows me to do.  The two materials work well together with some restrictions that are also probably dependent on the surface.

Failures for the drawing is that the pose was restricting, I shall in future be looking for more expression and I worked the eyes of the younger man in graphite far too heavily which has given it some shine.

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