This is Maxwell.
I named him after a character in a historical novel I was listening to whilst drawing him.
He’s been a saved photograph for quite a while, and in fact I have tried to draw him a few times. Due to the fluffy nature of his coat it would only work with certain mediums. Also, interestingly, I always have a problem with brown. Lots of birds and animals have quite a lot of tan colour in their feathers and coats, for some reason that colour or tone always seem to be absent from my sets of pastels.
In the end I had to mix it myself. It’s the first time I’ve used watercolour with charcoal but they work quite well as long as the charcoal drawing has been fixed before you start applying the paint.
Here are a few progress shots….
Maxwell, as with Betty was painted in charcoal initially. It gives the bird a good flowing undercoat before working in my detail with the sticks of charcoal. Probably a bit more controlled than with Betty. Once the charcoal is dry its very easy to manipulate it, move it around, lift it off etc.
He always seems to be quite chirpy to me, singing away merrily…
The finished piece is available in my website shop – click here to go there!
Or click on the framed piece below…
This is Betty, a sheep that I took a picture of whilst walking my dog Charlie.
It’s the first sheep I have drawn, think I will definitely do more. She was fascinated by my dog Charlie, watching him wherever he went, constantly munching her grass as she did so. She was actually a pretty good looking sheep.
I hadn’t planned to do her just yet but I was desperate to try out a new charcoal technique that I had heard of and that is painting with charcoal. To be fair I couldn’t find out much about it. I had heard of painting a charcoal wash and of adding water to the charcoal already down to create a darker line but not actually doing a full painting with it.
Anyway, after flicking through my photographs I decided that Betty was going to be my guinea pig (or sheep).
All I knew is that I had better use watercolour paper. Fortunately I have quite a stash of watercolour paper, particularly the heavier paper from a phase of botanical watercolour last year.
Selecting a piece I began to make the wash, using a mixture of left over bits of charcoal dust from sharpening sticks to a pot of charcoal powder I began simply to just mix water with it.
Trying it on a scrap of paper I was immediately excited by the lovely dark colour and the way the brush strokes showed through. Adding more water created a light grey and playing it carefully I could have the full range of light grey to dark black. It also dried very quickly, leaving a dusty surface that I could lift off and move around.
Here’s a little clip video of the charcoal with water….
I took the painting with charcoal as far as I could but it became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to do the fine details with it. So I worked on her face with normal charcoal sticks. Here are some progress shots…
I tried painting with the white charcoal by sharpening the white charcoal stick and using that dust, it created a grey rather than white which I used on her body as she had a lot of grey hair.
The finished piece can be seen on my website shop by clicking here
Or clicking on the completed drawing below…
I intend to use this process again. Points going forward would be to plan it a little better with an initial drawing so that I can paint on the charcoal in exactly the right place. I had to move one of her eyes afterwards….
Let me know if you have a go at this technique
He’s a little junco bird, a very fluffy one.
Charcoal is a great medium for capturing movement.
Birds are never still, they are constantly moving or about to. When drawing or painting birds I like to ensure I’ve captured that flitting sense that a bird has.
Here are some progress shots as I build up the charcoal…
I make sure the bird is completely drawn in charcoal first, adding the colour just at the end.
Sebastian is available to buy from my website shop here
Or click on the image below to visit him….
I have called this one Pheasant Fan. It has taken me about 2 months to complete working on it for an hour or so each morning. I find this method allows me to work on fine detail and then step away and see it again with fresh eyes the next day.
My husband picked up 5 feathers whilst walking our dog Charlie. The 5 feathers were all different sizes and spread out made a lovely fan….
My excitement was complete as I know I will be able to produce work from these feathers for many years to come.
Settling on the largest 3 I maintained the fan composition, playing around to get the shadows correct. My first job is to draw the outline of the feathers in a light graphite drawing. making note of the imperfections in the feathers, which give the drawing more character….
Then the next 2 months were spent working on the many layers needed. I make the first layers darker than needed, marking the tone initially in light and dark ochre. Here’s some progress shots….
The original drawing has been framed in a gorgeous black and gold frame to 18 x 12″…
Pheasant Fan is available from my website shop here or click on the image above to follow the link…
Meet Alice, she is a frequent visitor to my bird table. Happily she loves to pose for photographs and I now have plenty for many future drawings.
I have drawn her in charcoal – here is a progress drawing so you can see her in charcoal…
I always like to keep the colour to a minimum but it is tricky when a bird has so many lovely colours. My strength is charcoal so with a solid under drawing in charcoal always helps….
Alice is available to buy from my online shop. Click here
I am getting quite proficient with my camera now and despite walking and taking my camera with me, the best shots are always from the birds in my own garden.
This little fella comes to visit with his gang most days. The feeding from the bird table and the feeders has increased greatly since the weather has got colder. I recognise Billy from the slightly tufty hair on his head, he’s quite bold for a bluetit.
I made a little video of laying down the pastel on his head with a few conte sticks. I love adding a shock of colour to my charcoal drawings but always try to keep it to a minimum
Billy is available to buy from my website shop.
Click here to follow the link