Tag Archives: realism drawing

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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Exhibition & portraits from life

I have two pieces in an exhibition in Macclesfield, Cheshire.  Typically the day I needed to drive to drop them off coincided with Stage 3 of the Tour of Britain.  The route went pretty much on the route I needed to take, there seemed to be no best time to go, so I had to bite the bullet and head off.  I managed to get there and back without delays which seemed a miracle but it meant I needed to hang around Macclesfield for an hour.  Not daunted I wandered off to check out their Art Shop, a real rabbit warren of a shop where you could not see what you wanted on display but they managed to produce everything from various hiding places.

Being blessed with more than their fair share of cafes, I was spoilt for choice and settled on a cafe with tables outside, a lovely cappuccino and a great view of the pedestrianised street to sit and sketch on my new watercolour sketch book.  I don’t really like sitting in cafes on my own, unless I’m busy and this seemed an ideal opportunity to try a bit of plein air sketching.

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Having swotted up on this arty activity I took the right reference photographs to complete later or in case I was met by a sudden change in the weather…

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No sooner had I put pencil to paper and begun to plan out this challenging composition than a rather large lady practically dismantled the table and chair next to me to plonk herself down in the chair that virtually touched mine.  I ignored her as best I could, trying to concentrate the tricky lines of perspective when out of my peripheral vision I saw her slam down a packet of cigarettes, a lighter and her phone – she meant business.  Not wishing to spend £2.30 to be smoked all over I asked her ‘do you intend to smoke?’ ‘Yes!’ she replied with a curl of her lips and a definitive crossing of her arms.  I packed up my stuff and left – even leaving the lovely cappuccino (but not the cookie) and wandered off.  There is nothing you can say, we are outside, there’s ashtrays on the tables….grrrr.

So I moved to another cafe – this time inside and ordered a second cappuccino.  It’s a lovely cafe (though no chocolate on my cappuccino 😦  ) and I began on a new page to sketch this view…

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I love drawing but I am not a fan of watercolours.  You can’t blend them and they seem to have a life of their own.  I made a bold attempt and completed the sketch from the other cafe but next time it will have to be pastels I think…

 

On Friday we went along to the preview evening (my first one as an artist).  Its quite nerve wracking wondering firstly if your work is up, if it’s put anywhere decent (or is it round a corner where no-one can see it).  To be fair it was positioned really well.  I have entered my cat and mouse drawing….

charcoal drawing of a cat looking into a mousehole with the silhouette of a mouse in shadow

Cat and Mouse

and my Ballerina Waltz drawing.  The cat and mouse drawing had a lot of attention, people were just staring and staring at it, one chap stared at it for ages then went away and came back to stare some more.  If it doesn’t sell I will be really surprised.  A great collective of work on show at Charles Roe House in Macclesfield for the next two weeks.  I will pop along some time next week and check out how they are getting on.  I picked up a leaflet that said they are turning part of the building into an Art Cafe which is great news.

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Here are a couple of snaps about the open studios and a photo of my entry in the brochure.


Portraits from life

I picked up from where I left off drawing Lorna on Friday morning last week.  My plan was always to begin the drawing from life – take lots of photos and then complete it in my studio.  I see a lot of portrait artists doing this, it’s a good idea as it allows you to get a good sense of the expressions and little facial uniquenesses that we all have and can not be captured in a photograph as well as allowing you to calmly work on the fine details in your own studio.

Here is a make up of some stages of the drawing starting from where I had got up to from life and then the finished piece underneath.

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portrait drawing from life by alsager cheshire portrait artist

Lorna

It’s a fairly good likeness, although not perfect.  I wasn’t really happy with the paper because it was too smooth and didn’t hold the charcoal well. Also being grey the white charcoal stands out really well so there is a tendency to go mad with it.  On Friday I will try to draw someone else from life at Two Doors studio gallery in Alsager, Cheshire.

As a ridiculous challenge to myself (sometimes you wonder why you start such things) I decided to draw this photograph posted by Kate Wimbush Jewellery – she is a local jewellery maker and sourcer of great material.

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I think I was entranced by all the bright colours and the fresh fruit feeling – here is a progress drawing:

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I went through the motions with this one, firstly I wanted to focus on a row of 5 fruits and then make the other fruits background, loose and out of focus.  This didn’t work as the background fruits looked scruffy and lacking care and attention.  So I had to change and draw them properly with each little fruits individual highlights and shadows.  It was at that point that I realised what a massive undertaking it would be and began to loose heart.

However, not wanting to give up I decided to give it one more day and see where we were.  Adopting the mindset that this was an excellent opportunity to show the beauty of pastel colour in a bright and happy drawing I immediately began to love it and then the process of taking control artistically took over….

This should be finished over the next few days….