I didn’t know what this charcoal drawing would turn out like when I started. I knew I wanted to—had to—work in a slightly different technique: the short, sharp, mark-making approach I used on the three Badb Catha drawings (here, here, and here) wouldn’t work when the figure was smaller and the marks needed to be more intricate.
I ended up using a more traditional tonal charcoal drawing technique, which I think really suited the image. There’s still plenty of texture, and I kept the same chiaroscuro lighting.
Working through a new drawing technique is always challenging, and always presents a risk that—for want of a better phrase—you’ll completely screw it up. For the first couple of hours of drawing you can’t tell how it’s going—it could work or it could fail miserably—but there’s a growing realisation about two thirds of the way in when you realise that you have succeeded. I’m very pleased with this one.
I’ve taken several photographs of it now, but I still haven’t managed to completely capture how it looks in real life. I think digital cameras have a problem with the close proximity of black and white marks, and the dense matte finish of compressed charcoal never quite comes across on camera, but I think these photographs come close.