Monday, November 24, 2008

How to create a charcoal portrait

This is one of a series of charcoal studies done in preparation for a finished oil portrait.

Materials: Smooth cartridge paper, willow charcoal, medium and soft charcoal pencils, compressed charcoal, black conte stick, soft cloth and a putty rubber.

Method: After establishing an initial outline, the area of the head was rubbed over with willow charcoal and smoothed with the cloth. The position of the main features was established before softening and lightening the mid-tones. The details in the eyes and mouth were built up using charcoal pencils. For the darkest tones, I used a combination of either conte crayon or compressed charcoal. The highlights were lifted out with a putty rubber.


Simon said...

That's beautiful John. How many sketches like this would you normally do before you tackle the final painting?
Do you discus them with the sitter beforehand?

Anonymous said...

like it - are you going to show the finished painting?

John Glover said...

Thanks for your comments Simon. I may do up to 6 sketches beforehand, some in charcoal, some in gouache or pastel. These are "working" drawings, where I experiment with pose, background and general composition. All of these are shown to and discussed with the client. Sometimes the client comes with their own very definite ideas. I do take these on board, but in these sketches I try to present other alternatives for consideration.

John Glover said...

Dear Anonymous, Yes I will be showing the finished portrait at a later stage. Prior to that I will be showing some of the other preliminary sketches and explaining my reasons for the final choice.

Simon said...

I admire the composition and the hands - if only I could draw like that. But less sure about the expression. What did your subject think about this one?
I've always been curious about these 'sketches' done before a painting - if you capture the perfect expression in a sketch, how on earth do you replicate it in the final painting?