Category Archives: Charcoal

Custom charcoal portraits

I’ve been working hard on improving my portrait drawings and finding out what is my preferred paper and preferred medium.  After making a long list of all the different surfaces and all the different mediums I like to work with and practising over and over I finally settled with charcoal on Strathmore toned grey paper.  A real bonus happened when Strathmore released a toned grey mixed media paper which is exactly the same tone grey and surface but a thicker version.  This is a great bonus as I did have a concern that the original toned paper was a bit on the thin side.

 

Here a few of the recent portraits I have confidently completed in this style…..

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As you can see it really has become a big step forward.  My portraits are becoming quicker and more relaxed.  I intend to do portrait sittings and try to work on my life drawing skills, but continue to work from photographs in the meantime.  If you are interested in commissioning a portrait from me, they are all 11 x 14″ on toned grey Strathmore mixed media paper and cost £120 + shipping.  They will be shipped flat in an all board envelope for you to frame.

For further details you can visit my website and read my commission page here

Forward – original charcoal rugby drawing

rugby drawing in charcoal of an england rugby player running for a try

Forward

This has been drawn with Nitram charcoal on grey Canson Mi Teintes paper.

It is 20 x 16″ framed in a black wooden frame.

The original & limited edition prints are available.

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The inspiration for this drawing came from watching all the action in the recent six nations championship.  I watch video of the action I prefer, freeze it where I want it and then take a screenshot.  It is the most effective way of getting the exact image that I want.  In this case I wanted to save that point where we are not really sure if the forward is going to get away from the defender and score the try.  The force of action is represented with loose charcoal stokes.

Here are some shots of the work in progress….

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When capturing movement in art there are some principles that I have learnt:

  • ensure some part of the body is grounded
  • avoid figures in the air.pay close attention on which parts of the body is moving, in real time we would probably see them as a blur, represent them loosely.
  • represent the muscle structure of the body accurately on parts of the body that are not moving as that is where the power comes from.
  • sometimes there is so much movement that you can represent the air around the figures moving instead.  In such a case try to imagine the air around them as water, which parts would be disturbed and which parts of the air would be still.

 

There are also limited edition (50) prints available….

Forward (2) print

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.

Reunion Drawing – charcoal drawing of a family reunion, graphite snowberries & cricket mugs

This week has all been about working through this very technical drawing.  In the nick of time I figured out that you can work graphite with charcoal to help with those fine details on the very small faces.  This is a drawing from an old black and white photo that has been commissioned by a customer in Texas, USA.  The family will be reuniting again this year and he wanted it complete to share with them.

Here is a slides show of progress shots…

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Here is the completed drawing, winding its way to Texas

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Daily Sketches

Back to my botanical studies from life.  This time snowberries, a lovely gentle bunch of berries found in most hedgerows in winter.

graphite pencil drawing of snowberries framed in a wooden frame

Snowberries


Cricket Mugs

Finally I have some cricket mugs that I really love.  Initially going for two of my most popular drawings – That Taylor Catch and Swept Away if they prove successful I will introduce more of my designs.  Check out my collection on my website shop here or click on the image to follow the link.

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Charcoal portrait & wicket keeper drawing

Finally I get around to drawing a man with a beard.  It’s a great challenge and Steve has kindly agreed to model for me.  The completed piece is underneath.

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charcoal drawing of a man with a beard and glasses

Steve


Wicket Keeper Drawing

This week I have been completing my wicket keeper drawing.  I took a break from it as I was not getting a likeness but managed to complete it successfully.

Here is a video of is progress….

The finished piece is not available to purchase at the moment but limited edition prints (50) are available.  Only prints bought directly from myself as the artist will be the correct quality, signed and dated by me.   The image below is of a lower resolution version for the internet.  Click here to go to my website shop.

charcoal wicket keeper drawing with a green cap

Standing Up to the Stumps


Sales this week:

Two limited edition prints

 

Wicket keeper original charcoal commission

Wicket keeper original charcoal drawing

This week I am working on a commission, it is a surprise wedding anniversary present for the subjects husband (he doesn’t really use social media so we are ok for updates.)

This is drawn with Nitram charcoal on Canson Mi Teintes paper. The size is 16 x 12 inches.  Here are some progress drawings…..

 I have also produced some short videos to show actual drawing at speed..

The piece is not yet complete, its on hold whilst I await some more reference photographs.


Portrait Drawing

Back to portrait drawing from life on Friday morning, although this time there was limited time so I had to take photos and draw it in my studio.  I have been dying to do this one as it is a real challenge.  Steve has glasses and a beard, a double challenge for a portrait artist..

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I have begun work on this one which should be complete in the week.


New Pastel Cat Drawing

Itching to get back into colour I have selected this drawing of a cat that I’ve kept hold of for a while.  I’ve changed the cat from its traditional tortoiseshell to a play with colours.  I wanted to contrast the emerald eyes with sapphire ears.  Here’s a clip video of the progress….

The completed piece has proved to be very popular.  It is available in my website shop as well as a limited number of fine art prints…

Click here to go to its page or on the image below..

an original pastel drawing of a tortoiseshell cat completed in conte pastels on pastelmat with green emerald eyes

Emerald

More charcoal portraits from life, drawing Moeen Ali and thoughts on County Cricket…

Whilst welcoming visitors to my studio through Cheshire Open Studios I have been continuing with my portrait from life practise.  I visited Two Doors Studio in Alsager again on Friday morning, this time the second owner, Ruthie sat for me whilst I sketched away.  We talked and talked, it was quite therapeutic but during the time I took lots of photos with my phone and began sketching.  There was a certain look when she talked, gazing into the distance that I liked, a playful little light in her eyes…..

Here are some progress drawings..

and here is the finished portrait…

original charcoal portrait of a lady woman drawn from life wearing glasses

Ruthie


At the end of the week (23 – 25th September) I will be running my first art auction online.  It is something that quite a few artists do via facebook.  I have decided to keep it to my cricket drawings and prints initially to see how it goes.  The purpose is to obviously make sales but also allow customers to possibly get some discounts and to get to see all the drawings and prints in one place.

If successful I will run another along with a selection of other artists to bring you original drawings and paintings in an auction style event.

Here is the link to my event – DON’T MISS OUT!

https://www.facebook.com/events/235281573540614/

 In line with the auction I am also working on an original cricket drawing.  My first that will be available for sale for some time. ..here is a progress slides show..

 

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 The finished piece I have called ‘Extra Special’ as he is a very special cricketer and he is executing a great extra cover drive.  Here is the finished piece, you can view it on my website in more detail here or click on the image below…

original charcoal drawing showing movement of a batsman hitting a cricket ball by uk cricket artist

Extra Special


No sales this week but lots of excitement in the world of cricket as the County Championship comes to its conclusion. It’s my first year following championship cricket, I can’t really believe I have not followed it before.  Previously I have only really followed England cricket and had began to listen to it on the radio via TMS as I worked in my studio.  It is a great companion, light hearted, addictive, funny and a real breath of fresh air from all the rubbish usually on the radio.

Missing my test match special days I started listening to the county cricket coverage on Radio 5 Live Extra.  It seems an age ago that I first listened to a cricket match at Durham where they went off for snow and you could hear the wind whistling around the commentary box through the radio broadcast.  Living in Cheshire, without a first class county I have no real team to follow so kept an open mind.  Having to get used to a whole host of local radio presenters was a challenge, some are better than others, some are very funny and sometimes it can get quite heated.  All held together marvellously by Kevin Howells and the BBC radio team.

The real positives that I have to report are the following:  I now have a better understanding of how players move up through the ranks – previously they had just turned up for England and I didn’t know their history.  Now there’s a great range of talented cricketers all vying for national selection.  The real passion and knowledge of county cricket comes across so strongly through the radio coverage – these broadcasters know so much, they’ve seen so much and they share that with us in such funny, brilliant ways.  Finally due to the wonders of the internet you can follow the matches you choose, since most of them are broadcast on the bbc website.  As a result the last few weeks of the season were so addictive and so compelling I’m surprised I got any work done.

My favourite moment had to be Cally (Yorkshire) explaining how the ground would empty at Scarborough in time for the B and B brigade to get back and get settled in time for the evening meal – usually about 6pm

My thought and word of wisdom is this – as a result I went to watch a county game at Warwickshire.  I am a cricket fan and I have always been one.  There isn’t a whole lot of unconverted cricket fans out there, but by making county cricket more exciting, more accessible (possibly cheaper) with more competitions and opportunity to watch it gives more of an opportunity of current fans to get along and watch.