Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Charcoal Workshop

I go to a lovely group near St Helens called Paint Pots (great name for a group!!) and they invited me recently to do a charcoal workshop. They really want to do a charcoal portrait class but thought the group could be introduced to the medium with a landscape lesson first.

I told Doris, the organiser, that I had never run a charcoal class before but that I would love to run one for them as I do enjoy charcoal and in the very early days of my art journey was the medium I had most success with as it suits my sketchy way of drawing. I do know Joanne does a lot of charcoal sketching en plein air as preparation for watercolour and Brusho paintings and then works from the sketch rather than the photo for her paintings and I need to take a leaf out of her book for the future.

So I went armed with a variety of papers, my blending tools (got lots of them but in the main use my fingers), putty rubber and some images for us to attempt and I think we all thoroughly enjoyed the session.

The first drawing was of an image taken by my brother in law John Robinson and is a fantastic atmospheric image of a sunset at Glen Coe and the second from one of my own photos of the Pigeon Tower Rivington. I have painted both images but never drawn them so a challenge for us all!!

This was done on a thickish smooth cartridge paper and not one I generally use but wanted to show the group the differences made by different papers. Blending isn't as easy as the charcoal tends to make quite permanent unmovable marks. I showed them all the blending tools but as ever came back to my fingers!!

This isn't finished as we didn't quite have time to complete both in the session but you can see lots more texture which I like and done on Bockingford extra rough. For what it's worth a NOT watercolour paper (rough in Bockingford) would probably be best though I do use the extra rough for portraits, unless I am drawing a very smooth haired animal in which case I would probably use graphite rather than charcoal anyway.

As usual I forgot to take photos, but the group did so well (you'll have to take my word for that!!) and I have to say they were all really pleased with their efforts as I had been all those years ago when I first tried charcoal. It is a very forgiving medium and I would advise anyone to have a go. A charcoal sketch is a great tool for a later painting, but a lovely medium to use just for its own sake. Would love to hear and see the results if any of you decide to try it.....


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