White Carnation in black charcoal

Do y’all remember my frame giveaway on Facebook back in December? Or maybe you are a recent subscriber and missed it. I am doing it again for the month of June! Yes indeed, I will be giving away a frame and the winner gets to choose the subject for the artwork to go in it. I can already say I will be doing the winning painting in acrylic.

White carnation charcoal drawing

Now that I have an example, and a bit of experience doing this, it ought to go more smoothly this time around. A lady named Dorothy won the first frame giveaway, and I found out after the fact she is my friend Keashia’s aunt. She originally wanted me to draw her portrait, but when I realized I am still too rusty to pull that off to my satisfaction, I asked what her favorite flower is and was told a carnation. I decided to do it up in black charcoal (because I had not yet bought the colored charcoal) so that meant a white carnation. I couldn’t find a reference photo I liked that featured a white carnation, so I ended up using a photo of a light pink one, which didn’t make any difference since I was working in black on white. The framed drawing:

White Carnation charcoal drawing in wood frame
White Carnation in frame, won by Dorothy in the December give-away

There is no original available, as I passed the framed drawing on to Keashia to give to Dorothy since I was in the middle of bottling goat kids. Keashia says Dorothy loves it.

Art print information

I did scan it and upload it to my Pixels shop if any of y’all would like prints. I didn’t upload it to RedBubble because I don’t think my black and white work looks as good there. (If you leave me a comment saying you think otherwise, I will set that up for you though.)

Scan of charcoal flower drawing White Carnation
White Carnation, 5 by 7 inches charcoal on paper, prints available

Meanwhile, those of you on Facebook will need to follow my art page there and then check after the first of the month if FB doesn’t show you the announcement post (because sometimes they don’t). I will pin the giveaway post to the top of the page for the month, which will contain the instructions. For those who do not use Facebook, or have abandoned FB, I will think of something for here on the blog for September, so be sure to subscribe if you are interested in that.

Finally, just a quick link to my previous charcoal artwork round-up post.

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? I think it is was a good first effort, and does spotlight my charcoal artwork to date. 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!

Links to my current charcoal artwork

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.

Cougar drawing 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 charcoal 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.

charcoal drawing of a mountain lion in charcoal
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 (unsuccessfully) to get her off yesterday’s drawing without smearing it.

The rest of the month of drawing in charcoal

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.

Inspiration for charcoal drawing

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. While I am bouncing around as to which one I do any given day, depending on my mood, 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 a rose

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

Fun flamingoes head study in charcoal

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

Kicking up my heels with a horse drawing

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 another 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, charcoal drawing of young horse cantering in the pasture
Frolicking Filly, 12 by 9 inch charcoal on paper, $80 USD

Practice for a portrait

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 in charcoal on paper
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!

Summer Jalapeno acrylic painting

I am finally getting to the final image from the black and white challenge, which ended up being a photograph I took in early July of my husband’s jalapeno plant, cropped, straightened, and with the color taken out. I had a busy day out of the house that day, running errands up in Palatka, and was tired both physically and mentally once I got home. I really was not happy with the result, and immediately planned to redo it and replace the image with something better, something more “me” than a cluttered and busy photo.

black and white photo of my husband's jalapeno plant with blossoms and peppers
greyscale version of my reference photo

That something else ended up being the very next challenge, which I started with the Calla Lily painting in acrylic. Since the theme for the next challenge was “anything goes,” I figured to do up three images from the black and white challenge in color, using acrylic paint since I could use the practice with that medium.

Starting the painting

Some days, the paint just flows perfectly, and the painting comes together “like magic,” as the saying goes. Then, there are days when I feel as though I am fighting every step of the way … and the first day of this painting was definitely a struggle. I blocked out the position of everything easily enough, but my first stab at the background color turned out too purple, so I mixed up some more paint and tried again, with this time being too light a blue. Then, when that dried, I noticed I didn’t cover the too-violet paint well enough in some spots, so I went over it a third time, using the paint straight from the bottle. Then, I turned my attention to the green leaves and stems.

Trouble getting the green of summer

At the time, I only had two shades of green at hand, and neither one was dark enough to be a good jalapeno green. I tried mixing, but at this point it was time to put the critters up for the night and I was frustrated enough I needed to suppress the urge to throw the canvas across the room. That’s usually a clear sign to stop working on it, and try again the next day. So, this painting knocked me out of the short, three-day “anything goes” art challenge, which requires one completed work each day of the challenge. Dropping out of a challenge is only a minor disappointment for me, and one I actually prefer to posting up something I don’t like.

After officially dropping out, hubby was home and asked me what part of the painting had me so frustrated. When I got to the part about not having a good green, he started digging around his bunch of paint (he has used this brand for several years now) and started pulling out half a dozen shades of green for me to choose from. Then he remembered some blending medium that slows drying time that he tried but doesn’t use often, and also a wet palette setup to keep the paint you mix up on the palette from drying while you work.

Finishing the painting

With the expanded selection of greens available the next day, this painting came together so much easier! This one I actually like, and it is currently on display at El Amigo Mexican Restaurant – because that really is a perfect place to display a painting of a jalapeno plant that has a couple white blossoms, one dark green fruit, and two ripe red peppers (when jalapenos turn red, they are called chipotles). This particular painting may not be perfect (and to be honest, it isn’t because I can spot mistakes) but I like it much better than the photograph.

Summer Jalapeno, acrylic painting on stretched canvas
Summer Jalapeno, 11 by 14 acrylic painting on 5/8 deep stretched canvas, original available $175 USD

I’ll likely do a similar painting, or maybe recrop the photo for a more close-up view of it, and hopefully it will have fewer mistakes and be less frustrating. For those who may want a print either larger or smaller than the original 11 by 14, check out my Pixels store. If you want this printed on apparel or swag, look here on RedBubble. For the original, you can purchase through Daily PaintWorks – or call the number on my business card at the restaurant.