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Posts tagged “charcoal

Landscape sketches..catching October colour.

I am in the mood to do landscape paintings in watercolour, which is a challenge for me, because I paint corners of landscapes, not full, wide scapes. so I set off this week with a collection of sketchbooks in different sizes and pages and a whole arm full of mediums and I  went sketching. I just sketched. Again and again. Some little sketches are awful, others not too bad. I do find it difficult, so I still have a lot of sketching landscapes to do. So. Voiilà. A few of my landscape sketches. In a next post I will show some more and embroider with more détail on my experiences.

les fardines

landscape study 1

I did this sketch at the bottom, after I decided that I didn’t like the one I did above. Then I liked this one even less. but by this time I was fairly tired, so I think the mood and energy to do a decent little sketch, left me.

landscape study 2

At home, I just scribbled a few things around me, while we were at the barbecue. they wer done in graphite and a little charcoal here abd tghere.

Graphite, charcoal sketches 2 Graphite, charcoal sketches à bientôt


Espelette chillies in charcoal and sanguine.

Without planning it, these experiments have turned into a series. As it is raining constantly outside, I have to dine my subjects inside. I started off with clementines(see post here) and today I grabbed the bunch of dried Espelette chillies hanging next to the stove.

…Espelette chillies in charcoal and sanguine, 50x 65cm…

piment d'espelettes 2358x3075-001

I started off in light vine charcoal, rubbed over slightly  with my hand to erase most of the lines and then went in with the sanguine. piment d'espelettes 2917x3641

The completed drawing. Using white conté stick, I added the last highlights/ details.

piment d'espelettes 3097x4400

…Close- up 1…

piment d'espelettes 3219x3313

…close-up 2…piment d'espelettes 4164x2955

Radishes in charcoal and watercolor

Continuing my experimentation with large formats, different mediums and free strokes. Still sticking with charcoal, which is an unforgiving medium, but exactly that fact gives me the freedom to “play” freely. You can”t start over every time you make a mistake; so you  are forced  to work with the mistakes, which can either lead to great discoveries, or total mess ups  – not to be seen as a bad thing. I also prefer working with the dark charcoal, and one can see in the images below the really dark black it gives. I don’t use fixatives.. I have the impression it doesn’t work in any case..

…radishes in charcoal, watercolor and watercolor pencils, 42x60cm..

Radishes in watercolor and charcoal 3251x3976

I chose radishes, cut off most of the leaves  to expose mostly the stems, thew them out on the table and chose a composition with only a few radishes.

..the start – in charcoal lines and watercolor washes, using lot of water and allowing it to run…

Radishes in watercolor and charcoal 3232x4683

After finishing, I stood back and the watercolor looked too washed out against the dark charcoal, so I added watercolor pencil, washed it to blend and give darker color, and here and there I left some pencil marks to echo the charcoal lines.

…radishes – close up 1..

Radishes in watercolor and charcoal 4928x3264-001

Far from being a perfect piece and it won’t end up in an exhibition, this was another good exercise in getting rid of “fear”.

….radishes – close up 2…

Radishes in watercolor and charcoal 4928x3264

…radishes – close up 3…

Radishes in watercolor and charcoal 3264x4928

Onto some some more work!!!

à bientôt


Clementines in charcoal.

Thankfully there is always an end to yesterday. And to whining. Once I got tired of my own whining about this not working and that not good enough(see the previous post), I had the clarity to see that the only way to change what I don’t like in my art, is to work at it.

..Clementines in charcoal on paper, 43X60cm..

Clementines in charcoal 3116x4317

So here is what I went for:

  1. I worked only charcoal and white conté sticks.
  2. Large format. I will go bigger still, bit for the time being 43x60cm is plenty.
  3. I put the drawing on my easel and work with the whole arm and not the wrist, standing back often to get distance.
  4. No details.
  5. Large and free strokes.
  6. No erasing.
  7. No planning ahead, trusting impulse.
  8. Still worked from life..whatever is around, but no photos.
  9. No direct copying, put marks and lines as I felt and wanted, whether it is correct or not.
  10. Stopped early enough, while I still had the urge to continue.

 I enjoyed this process todayeven though it still has my typical mark making, I feel happy about it. Will continue experimenting.

The paper is bending on the easel as I didn’t add a big enough support behind it, so the colour and focus are not perfect all over the paper.

Clementines in charcoal 2672x3629

Some close ups  below to see the marks and smudges.

Close up 1

Clementines in charcoal 4928x3264

Some of the close-ups actuall make for nice pieces on their own..so the piece of work can be torn or cut into sections and reworked..maybe collaged as part of another work…?

Close up 2

Clementines in charcoal 3264x4928-002

Close up 3

Clementines in charcoal 3264x4928-001

Close up 4

Clementines in charcoal 3264x4928

Stay tuned for loads of work in the next few weeks..and if you feel like joining in..please do so.

à bientôt


September 20 & 21: Garden urns.

I believe in drawing as a basis for all mediums of art. Whether doing aquarelle or oil painting, statues of abstraction..it all comes down to understanding an object/subject and nothing else than good old drawing  can get one to that point. Not forgetting doing it on large format. Just my personal opinion. I don’t draw enough. There was a time when I was much better at drawing than I am now. Doing life model drawing saw to that. I have to get back to live drawing sessions with a model. Perfect for drawing skills.

..Garden urn..

rotring Tikky graphic pen on drawing paper, 21×29.7cm

garden urn

I actually enjoy doing urns, bowls, jugs…they are a good mixture of simple shapes put together in a complex way…ellipses, round shapes, triangles, rectangles, value shapes, light shapes, depth.. good practice for seeing shapes rather than lines, even though I do like line work.

Charcoal on drawing paper, 29.7×42 cm



medici 20-09-2013 14-36-12 2673x3706

Aargh…so many booboos in these 2 drawings, but it is OK. At least I didn’t ‘feather’ my drawings into correctness, like I see so often and I find it terrible. Rather a sure, continuously wrong line than a hesitantly feathered correct “line”. Once again, only my personal opinion.

à demain


Free expression on large format.

Busy with my people’s project, I just wanted  to do something different. Something completely free and unrestrained. Taking large formats of paper and canvas, I put down the brushes and used only my hands and rolled towel paper. even though it feels a bit like first grade finger painting, there is a liberating feeling that results from “playful” and experimenting occasions like these.

1.Tilleul tree in gouache on paper.  For the first tree, I shaped the thick trunk with a large brush and for the leaves, added gouache pigment with my fingers, sometimes very wet so the color runs and sometimes I dotted only dry splotches. Not a very significant result, but it did loosen me up, like all these free, expressive exercises always do. this one really looks like a first grader “picture”!

1…tilleul tree in gouache on paper, 65x50cm…


2. Prune tree in oil on canvas. For the second tree, I used a large canvas, primed it with a layer of thin gesso,  “shaped” the tree trunks and branches with modelling paste and painting knifes, and finished off with a last coat of thinned gesso. After leaving it to dry overnight, I built up the tree trunk with layers of  oil pigment, using a rag to wipe and build up up the layers. The leaves were all added with crumpled toweling paper and lastly spatters of oil pigment with a large brush.

2…prune tree in oil on linen, 92x73cm…


3. Apple tree in charcoal: Again on large format and loose application of pressed charcoal, I only made marks and got in there with the fingers to suggest the folage loosely.

3…apple tree in charcoal on paper, 65x50cml…


To do excercises like this:

  • Use large sheets of paper or canvas or cartons. Off cuts from boxes can work as well
  • Wear old clothes.
  • Work where you have enough room/space…even outside on the lawn, or go to the park.
  • Choose something around you like large shrubs, trees, flowerbeds.
  • Use only big tools…big brushes, pieces of rag, knifes, twigs, and of course, hands(You can treat them afterwards with some good creams!)
  • Work on the WHOLE paper, even if you run off the page.
  • Stand back, up often and look at your creation from a distance. Don’t consider right or wrong or any painting rules.
  • Consider only marks, color, texture, shapes.
  • When finished with one, put it aside and immediately start another…with another bush another scene.. don’t go back to a previous painting, rather start another one.
  • Don’t think, just do.

Garden sketches from February

February was a busy month and I didsn’t get around to doing much art. I did succeed on doing a garden sketch and a drawing of Tartelette ad Omelette,  on a reasonably nice February afternoon.

I feel happy with the drawing, which was first done as a sketch and then developed further into a drawing. The cloches were done afterwards, rather lazily and not much effort or desire went into this sketch.

…Tartelette et Omelette…

…sanguine and charcoal drawing on paper, 24×20 cm…

..Two garden cloches…

…charcoal sketch on paper, 24x20cm…


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