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Working through a new drawing technique

By Paul Watson on .

Click image thumbnails above for larger images

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.

You can see a larger photograph of the finished drawing over in my Drawings gallery.