Friday, October 24, 2008

Charcoal pencil portrait - Tayla WIP

Wednesday was an absolutely beautiful spring day here in Auckland (has been raining ever since) so the kiddies played outside and I took about 150 photos. I got loads of gorgeous ones of Carter and as Tayla was quite grumpy (teething again at the moment) I got lots of grumpy photos and just a few beautiful ones. I decided that I would draw my favourite of Tayla's photos so I started the above last night. It is A4 Arches Smooth and is with a charcoal pencil which I haven't used before. Still a very very long way to go but I am loving the intense darks you get with a charcoal pencil.

What has put me off charcoal in the past is the messiness and the lack of control I feel I have with a charcoal stick. So a charcoal pencil gives me the control I like (am I a control freak?) but the beautiful intense dark which is a change from graphite. I need to figure out the blending side of things and may use a charcoal stick or willow charcoal for that softer part but I was pretty happy with the eyes.

I am nervous of smudging it and was wondering if I should have started top left and worked my way down. The trouble is that I like to draw the eyes first after I have done the outline as that makes the picture come alive to me and I really love seeing my daughter's face appear on the page. I guess I will just have to be careful.

One interesting thing I found when drawing Mackenzie recently, was because I have never met her in real life and only see photos, I didn't get that sense that I get when I draw my children of "that's her". Even though I am working of a photo of Tayla, I know her face so well from life that I think it adds something. I can understand why portrait painters prefer to meet the subject in real life as I think it helps with knowing when you have got that true likeness and sense of who they are.

In terms of other art, I have actually done more work on that self-portrait and it is looking better so once it is further long I will post it along with some of the exceptionally "ugly" stages this particular piece has gone through. I have also been battling with this dragonfly. I have been painting it in acrylic but I keep getting frustrated with not being able to blend and manipulate the paint like you can with oils. I was doing it in acrylic as I was intending to resin it once it was finished as it has a very textured mixed media background which would look great under resin but I think I might just paint over the dragonfly in oils and then just use a gloss varnish. I like acrylic for certain things but I find oil paint so much better for blending and manipulating and I almost feel like I have lost my skills in acrylic and the quick drying frustrates me immensely.

It is also Virtual Sketch Date week and I haven't done anything yet so will try and do that today. It is pears this time so might be a good chance to try out the charcoal pencil on something different that people.

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