Tag Archives: charcoal

Sunday, 4/3/11: Virginia Church

Thanks to guest writer Mesha Koczian for today’s post

Virginia Church has been painting in oil for “a long time” but found herself drawn to acrylics because of how slow the oil paints are to dry. She picked them up again last fall and has fallen in love with them; she can’t seem to recall why she despised them to begin with. She loves going out to the Gorge and the little nature spots in Portland to take pictures to bring home and paint. She paints anything that catches her eye including inanimate objects. She makes a quick charcoal sketch of her picture to gauge the values and placement of everything. Then she gessos a wood panel and lightly sketches the scene before painting. Virginia likes acrylics (which she used today) because she can easily and quickly lay down her layers building from light to dark. Her favorite scenes are dark and dramatic with a little light glowing through. “I like being able to work all over the surface instead of just one piece at a time,” Virginia explains as she lays down her first basic coat. She mixes her paints with water to get the full range of value they can offer. Only her final layer and tiny details are added using thick, dark color.

The last picture below shows Virginia’s painting at the end of the day Sunday. We’ll post an update with a picture of the finished painting.
UPDATE: The final picture shows Virginia’s finished painting.  For information about placing a bid to purchase this piece, go to AnArtistADay.com

Click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.

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.


Sunday, 4/11/10: Carrie Hardison

Thanks to guest writer Cameron Hawkey for today’s post

The first thing I noticed about Carrie Hardison is the frenetic pace at which she paints. Turning her canvas around often, she flits from section to section like a hummingbird traveling from flower to flower. She works in acrylic, laying thin layers of paint down over and over again, letting her paint at the speed that she does. The looseness of the Graham acrylics she paints in serves her well – her preference for light washes would be more difficult with a heavy-body paint.

An art teacher at Centennial Middle School, Carrie is a warm energetic person that paints contemplative abstract landscapes. Perhaps dreamscapes would be more fitting. “It’s all about investigating color and shape, investigating mood,” she tells me. She starts off each painting by drawing a small value study, which lets her know where the contrast and value is going to be and allowing her to concentrate on the color while she paints. “I keep a simple subject matter that engages the viewer and lets them focus on the large planes of color fragments that develop from it.”

Carrie prefers to mix all her color from the primaries, adding earth tones with burnt or raw sienna. “I’m currently in love with the siennas,” she shares. “They’re just so rich.” Her canvas is a sloping landscape of cerulean and sky blue, of cobalt and ultramarine. The compliments of orange and sienna serves as a very stimulating contrast.

UPDATE: 4/13/10: The last image shows Carrie’s  finished piece.