8th March 2018

I’ve been looking at various styles of charcoal figure drawing.  My tutor suggested some more recent artists, which I’ll write up in the ‘research’ menu, but whilst looking at these I came across Henri Matisse’s charcoal drawings and decided to try his ‘woman resting’ as it looks like a much looser and softer way of using charcoal than I’ve tried so far, almost like charcoal powder has been blended into the paper before laying down the outline.  Looking closely, it is apparent that there may have been an outline drawn first as there are very faint lines in the background.

My attempt at this proved that although it may look loose and free-flowing, to copy someone else’s style loses all spontaneity.  I was very conscious of the figure filling the page, so I used an A6 sketchbook but actually struggled to fit it all in.  I think the filling of the page makes the subject the only focus and in a simplistic style, this really works.

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The ‘lifting off’ technique proved quite difficult.  The cheeks are not as light as I would have like them and I’m unsure if this is due to my putty eraser, the charcoal or the paper.  I’ll have to experiment further to figure this out.

Here’s a photo of the original Matisse ‘woman resting’, 1941:

Woman Resting, 1941

Source: http://www.theartstack.com

Looking at the two pictures again, I’m wondering if my drawing would have been less harsh if I’d drawn it on tracing paper.


I then decided to go back over one of my 2 minute warm-up drawings from the ‘life drawing live’ video.  I tried using pastels as well as charcoal to give a different dimension and try to rectify some of the mis-proportions of the quick sketch.

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It actually took a lot of reworking and although some aspects look better, I think it would have been better to have just started a fresh drawing and take this for what it was, a warm-up exercise.  I still had the temptation to add shading around the figure, but mainly to add some extra colour and try to ground it slightly.


My third charcoal drawing today was done from a tutorial video.  This one is a different technique again, where the rough outline is drawn, then smudged over to create a loose shading, which is then worked over. Unfortunately, the model was not shown, so I was having to work from the marks of the tutor.  I had no idea the lady was sat in a chair or that there was material involved.  It was a very interesting exercise.

At first it felt very unnatural to draw the outline and then effectively be hiding it by smudging over it with charcoal dust on a tissue, but enough showed through to then work on shadows and highlights.  Working on the head/face, I put down some of the darkest marks first and then contrasted it with lifting off to create the highlights.  This immediately gave depth to the drawing.  The rest of the image was finished in the same manner, just a little more loosely and leaving some areas with no working, just the initial sketch marks.

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Although the initial sketch marks are clearly visible and incorrect, I think the looseness at the bottom of the picture allows for this to work. If I were to look at this with my ‘old’ eyes, I would see the imperfections and want to correct them, and finish the drawing ‘properly’ to the last dot, but I like this technique and unfinished look.


13th March 2018

I bought an old book to use as a sketchbook to create some drawings with a different background.  My first drawing was another charcoal picture, taken from the book ‘Life Drawing’ by Eddie Armer.

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I like the overall effect here, although looking at it again after some time, maybe the drawing should have stopped at the point where the writing ends to create the look of a frame to the bottom and right hand side. I think it works well being monochrome and wonder if colour would make the lines of the writing overpower the picture.