I have never got on with charcoal or for that matter pencil. Which is a pity as I love drawings done in those media by others cleverer with them than I. I think it is because I never really drew with pencil as a child as I discovered pen first. Later on pencil was for the planning stage of a painting not a finished stand alone work. I love seeing adept pencil sketches of landscape but have never managed to produce many myself. I know the basics of course, hatch and avoid shading or smudging, indicate rather than define. When I do it however it looks rather laboured, without that bravura dashed off look I would like.
With life drawing and charcoal it is the same story. Somehow me and the medium doesn’t click! So out of sheer bloody mindedness I have been trying to get to grips with the stuff. What I did not want to do is emulate how others use the stuff. That is I feel what causes the unconvincing stiffness in any drawing done with that sort of ambition. The fact that I have trouble with the medium makes me suspect that there is a weakness in my drawing that it exposes, which means that struggling to find my way with the stuff should bring dividends.
The plein air season is well and truly started and I have been enjoying the sunny days painting in good company. So not much verbiage this post… straight on with some daubs.
First another studio watercolour. I painted this twice the first one going horribly wrong when I got a bit of pure Cadmium red on my brush!
There was never going to be any disguising the streak so I had to start again. 1/4 sheet Arches rough.
The second Wapping day of the year. The venue was Vauxhall and it delivered some fantastic subjects. This is terribly iconic but I just couldn’t resist!
16in by 10in. Oils.
I am often at a loss in the middle of the day. Many subjects look far from their best when the sun is high. So I went looking for
a subject that had good contrasts. I only had a short time to do this as the tide was rushing in but a good exercise.
Yes I know the same subject again! The light had totally transformed it though. This was wonderful to paint and I was completely engrossed so that it was
almost a shock to step back and see it done. I still have to adjust the wall so that the river doesn’t try to climb over it but that will have to wait until it is a bit
dry. A great day though and I felt I had earned my pint in the pub at the end of the day.
Graham Davies and Tony Lawman invited me out to play by the Medway near Rochester. The day didn’t disappoint with great light. I messed up my first
effort and had to wipe it off, but did this straight after which went much better. This bit of the Medway is called Strood and is full of tatty boaty clutter.
No doubt they are at this very moment planning to sweep it all away and build vile flats. 12in by 10in, oils.
After a bit of a hike we found a boat yard that would allow us to paint. So thanks to Strood Yacht Club for making us welcome! We painted away happily
here, I wasn’t quite sure where this was going at first but it all sort of fell into place as I went along. It is always hit or miss with plein air and each of us
had paintings that went awry. One of the great things painting in company is that you have people to listen to your despairing cries! 16in by 10in.
This is the graveyard of All Saints Findbury which sits high on a crag overlooking the Medway. Last of the day and getting weary but a nice relaxing subject
to finish the day. I don’t know why I paint graveyards, I know no one will ever buy one, but I just love them as a subject. 14in by 10in oils.
Here we go with the charcoal… I know it is brown but I found these sepia charcoal pencils that I rather like made by Derwent.
Also I am drawing on rough newsprint by Strathmore which has a nice tooth.
Ordinary charcoal too here. I am using thick sticks to block in and thinner to do the line work. A little progress here I feel.
Less of a success this one, but I am beginning to get a mixture of marks from the stuff that I like. I am lifting out here with a putty rubber. I greyed
the whole sheet with the side of a chunk of charcoal before starting. I think I will make sure I leave the whites next time.
At last I am getting somewhere with this one, it feels more “me” somehow. The red and the black charcoal is an accident really but I rather like it. I am
trying to just suggest the surroundings with big broad strokes.
Not as good on this one. I rather over defined the surroundings.
Didn’t like the pose here, it looked awkward and well… posy! I am starting to enjoy the media a little more though.
Another one I am quite pleased with, only about 15 min but has a delicate feel I rather like. I am off to paint for a week in Cornwall so be prepared for
cliffs and sea garnished, I hope, with sunshine.