Saturday, 4/2/11: James Franssen

Thanks to guest writer Mesha Koczian for today’s post

James sketches realistic portraits of people and animals. He starts by projecting the image onto his paper (vellum-surface bristol) and sketches the outline and major highlight spots. He uses a soft charcoal pencil with a smudge stick and a kneaded eraser to achieve the varying shades that occur in real life. The charcoal is layered up and taken away creating depth. He goes over the image after covering it in charcoal and adds the fine highlights and details.

James enjoys using charcoal because it’s easy to use and is relatively cheap to buy. He prefers charcoal to graphite because it doesn’t shine. Instead of reflecting light, it seems to absorb it. “Horses are my favorite subject right now, next to people, because I just started to draw them,” explains James. He covers the shape in charcoal with basic shading first then goes over it and defines the shadows and highlights. He uses the smudge stick to spread the medium adding a little along the way. “I like to add the major highlights later,” says James.

“I like to draw from pictures instead of real life because I don’t like to divide up my work into sessions,” He explains, “Sometimes I’ll sit and work on a drawing for 14 hours straight or until it’s done.” According to James, he’s still learning and is just getting the hang of charcoal as he’s only been working with it for 5 years. He hopes to keep learning and experimenting with new techniques and mediums.

(see COMMENTS  below for some clarifications and additional information from James)

Click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.


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3 responses to “Saturday, 4/2/11: James Franssen

  1. Hi Mesha,
    I just wanted to make a correction regarding the time I spend on drawings.. I generally tend to break up the hours and would never spend 14 hours straight without breaking it up over a couple of days. =) I’m just not that motivated. Haha.

    Also, I’ve been drawing horses for a couple of years now, I just like drawing animals over people because it isn’t as demanding since people know what they look like and horses really don’t care. =)

  2. Oh one other thing.. You forgot to mention that before I used projection, I had to prove to myself I could draw without it when I drew my nudes.

    Just saying. =)

    • James,
      Thanks for the clarifications & additional information.
      We put your drawing back on the easel after you finished and set it in the front window. Everyone who passed by stopped to look!
      –Peter at Muse

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