Tag Archives: charcoal

Bird Art – Maxwell – original charcoal & watercolour sparrow

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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…

Maxwell - framed

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Betty – original charcoal sheep drawing

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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).

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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…

original charcoal drawing of a sheep in painted charcoal

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

Sebastian – original charcoal drawing of a junco

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Meet Sebastian

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.

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Sebastian is available to buy from my website shop here

Or click on the image below to visit him….

Sebastian (2)

Six Sixes – original cricket drawing

original cricket drawing of a cricketer hitting six sixes in a t20 cricket match

I was requested to complete a drawing of Ross Whiteley hitting a wonderful six sixes in the 2017 T20 Blast for Worcestershire CC.  After viewing the over I decided to draw all six of the hits.  It was a great challenge and the largest cricket drawing I have completed.  Setting the hits out as in a cricket score book they are drawn in charcoal and white charcoal on light grey pastel paper.

This was a great challenge.  Initially I was asked to complete one of the hits.  After watching the footage I decided to sketch them out in my sketchbook with pencil and watercolour to get an idea of which hit I preferred.

Here is a shot where you can see the sketchbook open at a couple of hits…

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I could not decide which hit to go for so struck on the idea of completing all six.  At first I thought of producing a long narrow drawing with them all on in order.  That may have proved tricky with prints and indeed to frame it (maybe another time) so then I thought of setting them out as in a score book, like a dice of six.

Here is a slide show of some of the shots…..

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My biggest problem was simply the lack of detail.  I could not make out any of the features of the cricket players or details of their clothes etc.  I also wish it had been test cricket so I could add my signature red to the ball.  However, I concentrated on the hits themselves.  Hope you like it…

Prints are available (limited to 50)  Click here

Or on the drawing below to go to my website….

Six Sixes (2) print

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

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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Faith & the Goose – progress drawing

This is a progress drawing as I am part way through it.  The drawing will be entered into my very first competition.  I am entering into the Graphic Fine Art competition.  I have no real hopes of it winning but I would love for it to be selected.  Selection means it will go on display in an exhibition in London – a real dream.  I  have picked for my subject my friend’s daughter who had a scary but quite funny reaction when a goose tried to say hello.

I loved the photo when I first saw it and asked if I could use it as a subject.  It should be completed this week.  I am working it in charcoal because that’s the best way to achieve the extremes of light and dark within the drawing.  The obvious focus is Faith so everything is drawn from her.

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