Charcoal artwork: Links, promo material, and a preview

Continuing on my roundup theme I’ve been on this past week, I made a YouTube video spotlighting all my current charcoal drawings and uploaded it this morning. Keep in mind this is my first YT video, and I can see a couple things to improve, but everyone has to start somewhere, right? Here it is:

my first YouTube art video – they’ll only get better from here!

I used the format and layout for a short (too short?) video I made for Facebook, which my brother really liked although he said I desperately need some music for it (the FB one) and sent me some of his work. Yeah, my brother is very much the musician in the family, and while I didn’t use any of the mixes he shared with me, we did chat a little this morning about him writing something that fits my art better. If I worked in a more modern art style, I’d have used his demos he sent because they have a definite 21st century vibe to them, while my art tends to have a more classical aesthetic.

Prior to the Facebook short, I had made an animated Pin for Pinterest … and just the other day discovered you can embed a Pin! There’s no stopping this crazy train now …! Oops, too much? I know I can get carried away some times, but the art-geek in me is very excited by this.

my second Idea Pin for Pinterest highlighting my charcoal work

This one quickly eclipsed my first attempt in views, and even got me some new followers over on that platform, so it certainly got tabulated in the Win column. I’m playing around with idea for more, but while those percolate on the back burner of my brain, I thought I’d make up another roundup post to go with all these short videos I’ve made. It would be a little silly to make these videos and not have a matching blog post! Here are the links to my individual posts on my charcoal artwork:

That brings me up-to-date on charcoal artwork for now. I have an acrylic painting on the easel just for the joy of playing with color and with a medium that isn’t as dusty, but I expect I will be back at the charcoal idea after this painting because I have some new toys to play with: Derwent brand tinted charcoal. I’ve seen it on the art websites I like to frequent (Jerry’s Artarama and Dick Blick, if family members want to send me gift cards) and was intrigued by the idea, so last month I went ahead and ordered the small set of six. I now have the big set of 24 as well! That ought to say it all when it comes to writing a review without providing pictures (yet!). Tinted charcoal to go with all my black charcoal and even white charcoal (which I also now have to play with on my black paper).

Oh, tomorrow I go get a new goat, the younger full sister of my Cocoa Puff – and she is due to kid “soon,” which means I get to do the whole bottle feeding of baby goats things again “soon.” Which will mean a continuation of the charcoal kick, which was probably going to happen anyway … but this time I have tinted charcoal to experiment with.

Cherry Blossoms of Spring

Spring is my busy season around the property, and this year has been par for the course with five goat kids, firing up the incubator, and rabbits kindling. While I have been on a charcoal kick so far for 2022, yesterday and this morning it felt so good to have a paint brush in my hand and to work with some color. The interesting angle on this is Judith over at Artistcoveries posted the other day about an historical debate between color and drawing, and how she feels she is on the color side of the argument because she can do color without drawing. I commented that given my ongoing charcoal drawing kick, I have to take the drawing side of that argument, because I can (and do) draw without employing color but flounder on the idea of using color without some drawing element. I suppose that is a succinct way of saying I just don’t feel abstract art like some folks do. We then agreed that it is better to not try to draw a line between these aspects since the art world is certainly big enough for not only both viewpoints, but some that are outside of this binary.

Yeah, I do indeed read other artists’ blogs, and heartily recommend doing so because the interplay of ideas often sparks inspiration all around. Case in point, fellow art blogger Steven of Backyard Image was inspired by my charcoal monarch butterfly I posted last time to play with his photographs and filter software to produce his own new piece. What he doesn’t (yet) know is a previous post of his inspired me to do up both charcoal and watercolor pictures of cherry blossoms, because what says spring quite like the brief glorious week of the cherry trees in Washington, D.C. in bloom? My post inspired him, and one of his inspired me.

I had intended to use the cherry blossom motif for a new art challenge which had the stated theme of “time,” but apparently the lady who organizes these challenges had a much more narrow interpretation than I do. I wasn’t the only participant who took a broader view of the theme, though most focused on timepieces of one sort or another. I just quietly dropped out to pursue my own thing, because that is what I do.

First step for me was to hop onto Pixabay and hunt up some nice cherry blossoms reference photos. As usual, I found a good handful that suited what I had in mind, then it was on to cropping it “just right” because I am just picky like that. Once I selected my target ref photo and had it cropped, then it was time for a charcoal value sketch, where I get a feel for the shapes and shadows. This is “just” a sketch, so nothing as fancy as a full drawing for a charcoal piece, and since it is in my raggedy sketchbook, there is no original to offer, but I did upload it to Pixels for art prints since it makes a nice companion to the watercolor version.

charcoal value sketch for Cherry Blossoms, 9 by 12 inches, in sketchbook

Once I was satisfied the image has enough value contrast to be visually appealing, it was time to transfer it to watercolor paper to paint. These days I do not sketch on watercolor paper, because even when I use watercolor pencils I can still see grid lines, so I now draw it in my sketchbook and use graphite transfer paper to get the necessary lines, which I often lighten up with a kneaded eraser before laying down paint. Just for fun, I wanted to see if I could pull this painting off only using three colors: cobalt blue, rose red (which is more a magenta if you ask me), and burnt umber. I think I succeed.

Cherry Blossoms of Spring, 9 by 12 inches, watercolor, $80 USD

For this iteration, the original is available, 9 by 12 inches, sealed with Dorland’s wax medium and if you are not local you can purchase through Daily PaintWorks via PayPal. Prints are through Pixels, along with a bit of swag like puzzles or a fancy shower curtain. I also uploaded the image to RedBubble, which has a nice variety of apparel, plus the face clock. I simply must include the image of the face clock – I think it looks awesome.

Cherry Blossoms of Spring as a clock face

Now, for the best news: the goat kids are down to two and three bottle feedings a day, which means I now have more time to get back to my art. They are cute, they are affectionate, but for the first four to five weeks they are rather needy, but now they are growing up and two have gone off to a new home where I have no doubt they will be spoiled rotten (no change from their life here).

Some Odds and Ends

Looking through what I have uploaded to my Pixels site, I realize I am missing a blog post. Then I realized the scan I had uploaded that was (past tense now) available was from my old scanner, and that needed fixing. So, I rescanned the page from my sketchbook and replaced the old, smaller file size scan, and now I can proudly say you can get a print of this either a little smaller or a whole lot larger … like 45 by 60 inch at the biggest. That’s even bigger than my largest canvas right now! So without further ado, here is one of my favorite pages from my sketchbook, a monarch butterfly on a coneflower, rendered in charcoal.

Monarch on coneflower, charcoal, 9 by 12 inch sketchbook page

In other news, there is a county fair this year, after a two-year hiatus, and I remembered in time to check for when they are accepting entries for the art category. It is Thursday evening and Friday morning, and I have that time block free. I will be taking up two works, the two first place winners from the VA Healthcare show. I still love how my Flamingo in Rippled Water turned out, and when I showed these two pieces to my neighbor who stopped by yesterday, he told me if it doesn’t get bought at the fair to come to him because he really wants my Dew on a Calla Lily drawing. Actually, he tried to persuade me to give it to there on the spot, but I am used to that routine by now, after living just down the road from him for nine years now.

Final bit is you may notice I have added an old style blog roll in the sidebar. Right now it is all art photographers, but I am hoping to find a drawing and painting blogger to also collaborate with soon. I blogged back in the days before social media was even a thing, and remember not only the sense of camaraderie we had, but also the fun things we used to do to help each other like link roundups, blog hops, and blog carnivals. Once I get through the busy part of spring, it will be, “Game ON!” with those ideas, so something to look forward to once the yellow flies come out of the swamp.

Cougar in charcoal

In between bottle feeding the five goat kids out in the pen, I managed to work up a charcoal study of a cougar from a photograph provided by Grace Carpenter for an art challenge on a forum I read. Unlike the tulip bud I started yesterday, I managed to get this one finished before a jealous indoor kitty sat on it. Said tulip project has both paw prints and a butt print on it in addition to the dry pastel smearing. I really do need to remember to turn my works-in-progress over so the working surface faces down. Enough grumbling from me about yesterday’s aborted project – back to today’s drawing.

Cougar, 9 by 12 inch charcoal, in sketchbook

This is just my first sketch of it, mostly for the experience points, and also to see how well I liked the crop of the original photo. While I am mostly pleased with how it turned out, I think I want to try it in white pencil on black paper as that may be a bit easier to get the whiskers to show up like I want. I also need to work on the chin and lower muzzle a bit better, but I decided to upload it and make prints available from my Pixels store.

The amusing part of this story is I scanned the drawing and was almost ready to upload it when I noticed I had forgotten to add in the whiskers and lightest highlights. So, just for the giggles, here is the first scan, before I finished it up.

not QUITE finished yet!

It may not seem like a lot of difference between the not-quite-done version and the final version, but I can see it and therefore cannot unsee it.

Now, for the geekiness that is me: This oversized house cat really is an oversized house cat, despite some of its other names like puma, mountain lion, or in this region Florida panther. It isn’t even in the panther genus, unlike actual lions, so I guess puma or cougar are the best names for it. Cougars are related to my jealous little feline monsters … and this is very similar to look on Stripe’s face this morning as I tried to get her off yesterday’s drawing without smearing it.

Apples 3 in Charcoal

I am still on my charcoal drawing kick, and still enjoying both process and results. Today, I finally finished up a simple (not the same as easy though) still life of a pair of apples, which is one of the tutorials I bought last month though I took the reference photo and made a different crop, which results in a different finished piece.

I actually started this late last week, but decided I wanted to take my time and see how well I liked the end product. The answer is, “I like it.”

Apples 3, 12 by 9 inch charcoal, in sketchbook

Since this started out as an exercise in my bedraggled, almost-but-not-quite-full sketchbook, I cannot offer the original for purchase, although I would be happy to redo it on better paper that doesn’t have two corners curling up. I did scan and upload it to my Pixels store, so print are available all the way up to 60 by 45 inches. Have I mentioned recently how much I love my scanner that I bought with stimulus money the other year?

The charcoal drawing I did prior to Apples 3 is not as impressive. It’s another study for portraiture, and also in my sketchbook and not available for purchase. Here I was focusing on the nose and mouth of a face. The reference photo seemed a little off to my eye, and my drawing seemed to bring that out. Oddly, I still like it enough to share here.

Nose and mouth study, 9 by 12 inches, charcoal, in sketchbook

I still need a bit more practice before I can claim to be able to do portraits of people, but in all honesty I have drawn worse than this. If nothing else, this is a marker on my journey to draw and paint people.

Two Drawings

As I was looking over my art catalogue last night for something to feature today, I realized that I had forgotten to blog about two drawings I did last year. What a perfect way to remedy that – by spotlighting these two pieces!

First is one that anyone who knew me growing up would expect: a horse head. The reference photo I found is of a beautiful chestnut mare, likely a Quarter Horse, looking out from the darkness of a barn or stall. I call it Bridled, and recall spending the better part of an afternoon working first to get the background dark enough, then on getting as much of the highlights and shadows right to my eye. This was also the first time I used the Strathmore 500 series charcoal paper, with its laid texture, and the result was pleasing enough I later purchased another pad of it. My only gripe is the paper feels so lightweight after working with multimedia and watercolor papers, but charcoal works need to be displayed behind glass anyway.

Bridled, charcoal on paper, 9 by 12 inches, $80 USD

The original piece is available – you can purchase it through Daily PaintWorks, which uses PayPal, or in person at One Stop Feed Store in Crescent City if you are local – and it is uploaded for art prints at my Pixels store in various sizes. I’ll probably look back at this in a few years as “not my best,” but right now I am pleased with how it turned out. I drew this in June of 2021.

Prior to that, February of 2021 judging from my notes, was this page from my sketchbook that I worked at until I could call it done. Rendered in graphite, which accounts for the greyness, and now a bit worse for the wear after a year of me carrying my sketchbook about, this scan is record of how it looked immediately after completion. Looking back, I am glad I scanned it before moving to the next page, as I went back to this and traced it over transfer paper to paint in watercolor which ended up as my Johnny Jump Ups painting I’ve blogged about previously.

Pansies Pair, sketchbook page

Since I not only left the page in my sketchbook, but used it to transfer the lines to another paper, the original is not available to buy, but since I did scan it, prints are available of it at my Pixels store. Its original size is 9 by 12 inches – perhaps my favorite size for a sketchbook because it is so portable – but the scan was good enough to print larger. It is also available as puzzles for the folks who love a good puzzle and are willing to work on one in greyscale instead of color. I have too many cats in the house to attempt an actual, physical puzzle, or I would give it a go just to see if time spent playing MicroSoft Jigsaw translates into the real world.

More to come soon!

the rest of the Month of Drawing

Now, for part two of my unplanned month of drawing that bled into the last day of 2021, and continued to the first day of February, and lasted the entire month of January. (Wow, that makes it sound really long!) Considering it is still in progress, I guess we are now well beyond the month idea, so perhaps I should call this a season of drawing? One big advantage drawing has over painting is how quickly it can be set aside to go do something else, and considering I have two nanny goats due to kid in the next month I think it is safe to say I’ll be working with dry media until probably mid to late March because one of the pure JOYS of having my goats is bottlefeeding the kids each spring. Even if I want to take a break from monochrome charcoal, I have soft pastels (I often call them dusties), pastel pencils, regular colored pencils, and even oil pastels, though the oilies will smear if a cat walks across before I’ve sealed it.

Enough rambling – back to the drawing spree I am still currently doing. A couple weeks ago, I got an email on a list I subscribed to for a free tutorial offering the “legacy class bundle” for a discounted price. I thought it over, then decided the sale price was fair and bought a whole huge heap of video tutorials, and decided to start with the drawing ones. I am bouncing around as to which one I do any given day, depending on my mood, and here are the first pieces I’ve drawn with the tutorials. I should probably mention the artist who made the tutorial bundle does photorealism. I call what I do just realism, as I don’t actually try to copy a photo down to the tiniest detail, but there are all kinds of small tips and pointers littered throughout the videos’ run times that can benefit me even if I don’t go as detailed as she does.

First, I just had to start with this rose in charcoal. Seriously, what is not to love here? I enjoy drawing and painting roses, and apparently people enjoy seeing drawings and paintings of roses, and a single white rose against a mostly-black background is about as dramatic as you can get without using color. To be honest, sometimes the monochromatic charcoal black on white can be more dramatic than color (when the stars align just right and and the picture feels like it just flows out from the pencil). This is in 8 by 10 inch format, and the very first page of a new sketchbook, plus I put it in the top corner instead of centered on the page so the original for this will not be available to buy … but I can do it again if someone wants me to, and in different size or aspect ratio. I do have prints available at my Pixels store, but I didn’t upload it to RedBubble because I am not sure my charcoal work looks as good there.

Single White Rose, 8 by 10 inch charcoal (in sketchbook)

The very next day I wanted to do another drawing, and picked a reference photo for a different tutorial. It was a video on how to transfer an image from a printed photo onto your art paper, so this is me taking the tips and general method from the rose video to make these two flamingo heads. Flamingoes are definitely one of my favorite birds to draw and paint, and this image just caught my imagination. This time, I centered the 8 by 10 inch image on my not-quite 9 by not-quite 12 inch sketchbook page, so if anyone wants to purchase the original I can remove the page and trim it down with no problem – if you live outside my area you can buy through Daily Paintworks. Or you can get prints in your desired size at my Pixels store.

Two Flamingoes, 8 by 10 inch charcoal on heavy paper, $80 USD

Those of y’all who have known me a while are already wondering how long it took me to go completely off the tutorials to do my own thing … and the magic number was three. Two days after drawing the flamingo heads, I decided it was past time I did a horse in charcoal. It took me a while to pick out a reference photo, but in the end I went with a galloping filly. I decided to try using hot press watercolor paper instead of multimedia or charcoal/pastel paper, and that goes back to the tutorial series. It is the first time I’ve used watercolor paper for something other than watercolor, and it is also the first time I’ve heard of using a dry media on paper for water media. I think I need to try a few more times before I can say if I like it or not, but it does have a different feel than normal dry drawing paper. This one is an actual 12 by 9 inch pad of paper, and the original is available for purchase through Daily PaintWorks. Prints of various sizes are available at my Pixels site as well.

Frolicking Filly, 12 by 9 inch charcoal on paper, $80 USD

I mentioned at the start of this post that my drawing kick kicked off on New Year’s Eve, and that is because I drew the winner of December’s frame giveaway that evening before bed. Since Murphy’s Law governs more than just the army, the winner wants her portrait to go into the frame she won. I am still knocking the rust off my people-drawing skills, and there is a series for that in the big legacy class bundle. First things first – an eye study since the eyes are the main feature that will make-or-break a portrait. I had my dog-eared almost-full old sketchbook within reach, so this is one I am not offering the original … and I have not uploaded it for prints either. About the only place I could see this in a frame and on a wall would be the waiting room of an optometry office. It is still “good training,” as we used to say in the army.

Eye study, 12 by 9 inch charcoal, in sketchbook

So this brings me current, as of today. I have tutorials on drawing the nose and the mouth to work through, then one on doing a whole face. After that, I may feel brave enough to try my hand at Dorothy’s portrait again. Yes, again – I did try early in January and was not satisfied with the result (which made the sale on the tutorial videos quite timely for me). I may be very much behind my self-set schedule for getting this out, but as I remarked to my husband yesterday, I won’t call a piece done until I am satisfied with how it has turned out. If that means I need to redo it until I get it to my satisfaction, well we did that in the army as well!

Until my next check-in!

A Month of Drawing

I’ve been doing some art this month, though I just didn’t get around to loading up the blog until this morning. It started the way it often starts for me – with an art challenge. While folks are doing the Big One, one a day for 335 days out of the year’s 365 days, I knew I would not be able to keep it up once the goats kidded and I must bottle feed every two to three hours during the first week. Bottle feeding goat kids is my annual spring joy. So, wile sitting out the Big One, I jumped on a shorter seven day challenge with the theme “from the kitchen.” I would love to get a nice long series of drawings and paintings featuring the kitchen and cooking motifs, and I have a LOT of reference photos from October when I spent over an hour taking photos of produce on my table, so I was in on the shorter challenge.

I made it through day four before I just had a bad day and dropped out on the fifth day of the challenge. Sometimes I just feel too poorly to even draw, and I was out of photos from that set that could count as an honest entry … which is to say I used my second photo from over a hundred. For me, that is an excellent success rate, and here is the one I used:

Orange 1, digital photo

This was actually sort-of an accidental photo, as I had set the digital camera on the table to change the towel in the background, then noticed before picking it back up that the image in the viewscreen had really nice composition. The other good one from that photo shoot has an apple that sits off to the left and was used as the reference for my apples paintings in November. While the idea of someone wanting a photograph I took tends to really puzzle me, I do have prints and stuff at my Pixels site featuring this. This was the first day of the challenge.

For the second day, I used an apples photo from the same shoot, but one that is noticeably out of focus – but that isn’t a big deal on an object that is both familiar and simple. I did this in graphite on my Strathmore 500 series charcoal paper, and once finished, I decided I am now certain I don’t like graphite as a medium anymore. The drawing is not bad, I just dislike the grey instead of black, and really dislike the shininess of graphite that becomes obvious the darker you attempt to make your shadows. Prints are available at my Pixels site, and the original is for sale and can be purchased through Daily PaintWorks or by contacting me directly.

sketch for Apples 2, graphite on laid paper, 12 by 9 inches, available $80 USD

For day three, I went back to my dog-eared sketchbook, and also back to working in charcoal instead of graphite, and also back to that collection of photos for this drawing of a bowl full of citrus fruit: a total of two oranges, one lemon, and two limes, one inside the bowl and the other sitting in front of it. I was pleased with how it turned out … until I noticed the right side of the bowl droops down. Oops! Aside from that, it turned out nicely, but once I saw that I could not unsee it. It was good practice though, and if anyone wants, prints are available on my Pixels site. The original will stay in my sketchbook though.

Citrus Bowl sketch, charcoal 12 by 9 inches, prints available

For the fourth day of the challenge, I returned to the orange reference photo, and worked it up in charcoal on the Strathmore charcoal paper, and uploaded this:

Orange 1 sketch, prints available

While not a shabby result for a good three hours’ sketching, I did go back and work on it some more. The not-quite-finished version does currently have prints available, although I will likely change that at some point. I think the final version is an improvement, and the original of it is available through Daily PaintWorks, or by contacting me directly. Here is how it looks now that I went over it again.

Orange 1 (final), 12 by 9 inches, charcoal on laid paper, original $100 USD

My intention to finish the challenge up was to go back to each of the three images and paint them in acrylic, and I do still intend to make that happen. Right now though I seem to keep reaching for my charcoal and paper, and so I am just rolling with it. I should probably break here, and continue tomorrow or so for the rest of it, for there is definitely more to post.

Two Calla Lilies white on black

Circling back to the black and white art challenge, this piece was the fifth one I drew, although it will technically be the last I post of this series, as I will explain in another post. I actually made this drawing before I did the single Calla Lily, and I was pleased enough with this piece to do the other. Like the others in this series, the reference photo used is color, but has enough contrast in values to make for a nice monochrome picture. Like the previous calla lily I posted, I am thinking of doing this one in color with paints, though I am still trying to decide between using acrylic versus oil paint.

Two Calla Lilies, white pencil on black paper, 9 by 12 inches, available $80 USD

Just like all the others in this series, I used 9 by 12 inch black paper and two different brands of white colored pencil. If you are interested in purchasing the original, you can message me on Facebook or email me directly (“artist” at this domain) to arrange. I do offer shipping, which is extra, but I will pack it to minimize potential for damage. Like the other drawings in the white-on-black series, I can add color for additional cost (for an example, see my Christmas Candle post).

If you prefer to have a print either smaller or larger than the 9×12 inch original, check out your options at my Pixels store. For this picture printed on apparel or accessories, browse my RedBubble store.

I still have one more image in this series, although I have replaced the original black and white photograph with an acrylic painting. That post will be next!

Calla Lily two ways

I did both of these pieces from the same reference photo, and both turned out nicely in my opinion. I worked this drawing first as the sixth in the black and white challenge, done on 9 by 12 inch black paper with white colored pencil. I included as much detail as I could, keeping the pencil point sharp to even get most of the dew drops on the white petal while trying to capture the light and shadow.

Dew on a Calla Lily, 9 by 12 inches white pencil on black paper, original available $80USD

As the black and white series progressed, I found myself enjoying these white on black drawings a lot when I chose a good subject for it. I will be returning to this medium for more white flowers in the future, with and without additional colors.

As I’ve noted in the caption, the original work is available (unframed). I will ship (packing and shipping costs are extra) so if you want the original, you can message me on Facebook, or email me direct (artist at this domain). If you prefer a larger or smaller print, those can be ordered at my Pixels store, while apparel and accessories are at RedBubble.

I will likely be revisiting this particular reference photo for more work … as I already have. The art challenge immediately after the black and white challenge was “anything goes” in terms of theme or subject, and I wanted to redo the calla lilies in color on black canvas, using acrylic paints since they do dry quickly enough to scan the same day. I chose this particular photo reference for my first painting, and had two 8 by 10 black canvases gessoed to my desired smoothness prior to the challenge starting. On that first day of the new challenge, the painting flowed smoothly from my brush with ease.

Calla Lily, 8 by 10 inch acrylic on 5/8 inch stretched canvas, original available $125 USD

I think 8 by 10 is going to be the smallest I paint for now. I know some artists love working on a small scale, but I must confess to dreams of working on LARGE canvases at some point in the future. That will likely involve a cat-free studio space, so for now 18 by 24 inches is probably my upper size limit, while 8 by 10 looks to be the smallest I can be happy doing.

For the acrylic on stretched canvas, the original is available, again you can either message me on FB or email me directly. Prints large and small are at my Pixels store, while swag is at RedBubble. I should probably mention that the image I uploaded to both print sites is the original high-resolution scan, without the domain name on it. I am going to be putting the domain name onto all my smaller and lower resolution images because the battle of image theft is about as old as the internet is. I should have done it as soon as I got this domain name.