Monday, April 2, 2012

Charcoal With My Coffee






I had lunch with a friend last week who asked me what's with the charcoal drawings, you paint? The question surprised me. It never occurred to me that people might think if an artist paints, they use no other mediums but paint. The fact is we use them all--at least I do--for different occasions. Charcoal is the best medium for  knocking off  a drawing while drinking one's morning coffee. And that's what I did.


I like charcoal. It's a good medium to use to warm up your engine.  It's the best medium to observe proportions, catch errors and correct them. There's no fuss or muss. Just a piece of vine, a decent size pad of paper--charcoal, pastel and even newprint--add a knead eraser and you're ready. The equipment whips out fast. No painting medium is needed, no vessels, no palettes. It's  great to take outdoors when you're feeling lazy and have a couple of folding lawn chairs out there----one to sit on and one to use as an easel--like when all the upright easels were taken in  life drawing class and you hated those benches because your legs fell asleep straddling the thing. Charcoal is a laid back medium you can mosey around with.


This "Good Morning,"  knock off charcoal is a self portrait study drawn from a photograph I took of myself when we were with the family in Vegas last June. I was kind to myself--it could use a few more years. But I love the hat.  I love the look in my eye.  My eyes tell me the whole Vegas story. I was not loving the Vegas heat or that we had paid through the nose for the cabana I was sitting in; they have quite a little racket going on there at the pool. I had to record my chagrin.  It isn't easy holding your camera out the full length of your arm and catching this kind of disgusted look directed straight at the lens. I was surprised the photo came out so well--if you don't look too closely at my chicken neck, puckered upper lip from years of smoking and sagging jowls. Damn gravity.

Well  the last drop of cold coffee is gone. I'm off for a refill,  laundry and painting. The laundry always gets the short end of the stick when painting is on the agenda.



17 comments:

  1. My,my, what a great likeness.... I love charcoal... next to pen and ink...oil still takes a back seat for me... tho your oils are a heck of a lot better than what I am use to seeing...

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    1. I took off about ten years--or rather, neglected to draw those telltale signs in. I didn't have time LOL. Charcoal is the first medium handed to the fine art student. It's the fundamental medium of drawing classes. I'm a baby with oils; I'm struggling with that portrait.

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    2. Struggling? Well u fooled me... Are u trying to get it to how oils were mastered eons ago? I like your version... The typical heavy gloppy ones I have seen in the past have a cheapened look to me... that is why I never was a fan of oils.

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    3. Well you've made me feel a lot better. I was feeling discouraged--like what the h--l am I doing this for. Gloppy wouldn't be right for these kids, nor would the old time sappy treatment. I think thinking I have to win the approval of others is intimidating me. I really must stamp out that fear.

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  2. LW, I recognize that hat, I have the exact same one. I have taken good care of it over the years, because I like it so well. It looks great on you. I like seeing your photo reference and the outcome. Nice likeness! I so completely agree with you, that drawing (and charcoal in particular) should be in every artist's life, but many seem to leave it on the wayside (or maybe just never blog it?). I love drawing, and I can tell you certainly do. I've never understood painters who don't "like" to draw (?) It doesn't make sense to me.

    & gravity has not been too bad to you, you look good!

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    1. You're very kind Celeste. It's amazing what gravity can do in a year! (There's an exclamation point for you). Drawing is fundamental to painting I think. I think a lot of artists think the same thing. When you're painting, you're drawing. I think the confusing issue is people associate drawing with dry lines--contour lines, cross hatching, etc. rather than with wet dabs of color.

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  3. Linda, I love it. The photo too. And your commentary.
    I used to love charcoal. But now it's all digital for me.

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    1. Well digital is just too clean. Agnes, you've got to get back to getting down and dirty. Finger tips and palms are as good as a stick of vine.

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  4. Oh, I love that hat too. I used charcoal once and got in SUCH A MESS with it, you wouldn't credit it.

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    1. Knead erasers, Ann, are great for the subtractive approach. Chamois cloths will wipe the slate almost as clean too. The supplies are inexpensive and charcoal smudges come out in the wash, a real plus for me who has Thalo green or Dioxinine purple spots on nearly everything I own.

      Isn't that a great hat? Honey hates it, but it cocks nicely on the head, smushes great when packed and shapes back up when taken out of the suitcase. I've thought of putting a big cabbage rose on the side of the headband, but haven't. Cabbage roses don't pack well.

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  5. Linda, I love it, your painting and your words. You certainly captured what you were feeling. No chicken neck for you, you look great.

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    1. A lot of gobble-gobble going on here Joan.As all successful portrait artists know, flattery is the key to building a successful business. I was practicing.

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  6. It's a wonderful self portrait Linda, your eyes are really expressive, and you totally nailed the likeness. I confess to doing quite a lot of drawing myself, in fact I am working on a self portrait in between oils or watercolor :-))

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    1. Jane keep up that drawing. We'd all love to see it when you're satisfied. Always drawing, always trying to put down a form as accurately as possible, with charcoal, marker, or any medium that encourages an immediate loose response--builds painting skills.

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  7. Linda, I do love your interpretation of your world - the written and the visual both! No easy feat capturing yourself on camera - well done, and your charcoal truly shows the chagrin.

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    1. Kathryn, I don't think this photo was the first I took. I kept at it till I understood where to point that little lens in that little digital camera and get a full headshot in the middle of the picture frame--my look of disgust might have been from that in addition to the heat of the day and the gorging of the cabana rental people.

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  8. Hi Linda, this is really a beautiful self portrait! I am impressed by the extraordinary resemblance with your picture. Great job! Ciao.

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