Dusted and Done

…and with a few waves of the hand the offending sketch had gone.  Magic!

Charcoal is a wonderful medium for learning to draw: it’s relatively inexpensive; you don’t have to start with a blank white page; you can draw with both charcoal and erasers; and willow charcoal can be easily wiped away.  You and your work area will get dusty, but that’s half the fun.  I have no idea why it’s taken me this long to appreciate it.

If you’re beyond outlines and ready to tackle light and shadow I can recommend Clara Lieu’s YouTube series on drawing a charcoal portrait to get you started, no matter your subject; read my review here.

If my internet connection hadn’t failed on both the evening I finished and the following morning, I would have left my own charcoal still-life alone.  The unusual disruption gave me pause to crit (and continue) my drawing for the Art Prof’s October Art Dare: Superstition, by adding my hand.


I love the tradition of superstitions, and “touch wood” is one my family often uses to repel fate or bad luck.  There are a couple of clues to this hidden in my composition; can you spot them?  Answers on a postcard…

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Daring Myself

Touch Wood 1

Four things I’ve learned this week:

  • Tweaking your still life is a form of procrastination, or a sign that something isn’t quite right.
  • Willow charcoal is very forgiving; you can dust away an hour’s worth of drawing as if it never happened.
  • When lightbulbs fail to make the right impression, natural light can be your (and your still-life’s) saviour.
  • Charcoal pencils and eraser pencils are great neighbours, and fantastic for capturing counterchange*.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve started (and erased) my still-life drawing for the Art Prof October Art Dare: Superstition.  With the arrangement I’d set-up, I decided charcoal was probably the worst medium I could have chosen, and was so fed up with it I started to dismantle simplify it yesterday.  But I’d already wasted spent enough time tweaking my still life and wasn’t prepared to give in.

With a simpler set-up, and the afternoon daylight settling over my still-life (and no specs to blur things a little), today I made progress that’s worth celebrating!

*counterchange  (noun),  patterning in which a dark motif on a light ground alternates with the same motif light on a dark ground

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Knocking on Wood

courgette collage

Over the last few days I’ve been dabbling with the same courgette drawing, rather than creating several new ones, so I know I’m ready for a new topic.  There isn’t much of October left, but I’m currently brainstorming ideas for this month’s Art Prof Art Dare: Superstition (and have other project ideas awaiting my attention, too).

I’m not sure if my own superstitions would make sense to anyone else, but they’re not supposed to be rational; they’re a kind of behavioural guide.  I, for example, am superstitious that if I miss a day’s drawing I’ll end up back at square one.  Not that adding bits to the same courgette drawing over several days constitutes actual drawing.

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A medley of yellow plums in: [day 1] collage with pen and ink; [days 2-7] pencil; and [days 8-10] my own recipe of ‘ink’ topped with pencil and conté pastel.  The beginning of a new daily drawing habit.  Long may it…

WordPress prompt: Continue

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I Dare You!

Art Prof’s new website The beginning of a new month welcomes the next Art Prof Art Dare, and it’s an unusual but interesting one.

Sadly, I never even made an attempt to doodle my thoughts for last month’s Art Dare, so I’m totting up unfinished challenges as fast as I’m completing them.  I had a couple of ideas for the March Dare, but with so many other demands, I didn’t factor in any creative time.  Oops!

So, this month, we’re being challenged to draw at least two self-portraits using only line, to represent the contrasting sides of our personalities.  I like the theme of this challenge, for its hint of conceptual art and focus on line rather than form.  Fortunately there are also a couple of examples on the Art Prof’s new website for inspiration.  I have amassed numerous sketchbooks over the years, so would like to attempt a few drawings just to try out the different papers.  Well, I did resolve to become prolifically creative.  Now, where did I put the calendar?

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