Working through a new drawing technique

a drawing in 4 stages

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.

Click image thumbnails above for larger images

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.