Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Charcoal experimentation

Last week I got the urge to just stop painting and start drawing up a storm. Like, make finished pieces using only drawing media. So with that in mind, I browsed the wealth of stock photos on deviantart for something that would pique my interest. I found an image by Marcus Ranum, of mjranum_stock (I strongly suggest looking him up on deviantart) and created this quick study.

It's actually a horizontally orientated photo, since it would be rather uncomfortable to sit like that. But for my purposes, I just turned the photo. This is done on gray charcoal paper with graphite and colored pencil. Originally I was intending to transfer this to canvas and do a color pencil/ink wash finish since I really want to try and explore that medium a bit more. I created this charcoal abstract, I guess you can call it, based on Richard Schmid's old figure painting book. It was intended for a different photo by the same artist. All I did was sprinkle powdered charcoal on the surface, wet it, brush it around, added matte medium to create a cool gray tone and make the surface non-absorbent. Then I sprinkle some more powder and sprayed heavier concentrations of water and tilted the board letting it drip here and there. Voila! I noticed that some of the gestures within the charcoal mimicked the photo I had already used, so went ahead and started drawing it again. Perhaps colored pencil might work on the charcoal surface? Nope, so I quickly erased what I could. After looking at it today, I noticed some trouble areas that I will address tonight after work, but here's the process so far. Bear with me, most of them are cell phone pics.

After I finish it up and fix what I don't like, I'll post a better picture of the final image. All in all though, I love the process. It has been years since I used charcoal. I couldn't stand it because it would get all on my hands and in turn all over my paper. Since the surface is already toned and non-absorbent, the charcoal is easily erased or brushed off and any marks I may make by accident are barely noticeable. But the reality is I hate getting my hands dirty. I ended up using charcoal pencils, which on the matte medium surface erases completely off like magic with virtually no residual marks left. Needless to say, I'll be playing with this much more. Enjoy!