Posts Tagged ‘charcoal’

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Drawing Final: Lashonda Florescent

September 19, 2017

Here’s the finished drawing; although, I still need to clean up a few small spots. I’ll let it sit for awhile to see if I want to add anything else. I may scrape away a little of the edges near the florescent stripes to make them appear to glow more.

I sprayed this with a couple coats of fixative, and noticed a slight problem afterwards. I was going to make up a fresh batch of my homemade casein fixative, but decided to use a commercial brand (Grumbacher) that I had handy. I noticed when I brought the drawing in under a light that there was a dusting of small white particles on the surface that came from the spray can. Fortunately, I was able to brush them off without disturbing the fixed charcoal underneath. My casein fixative doesn’t do that, so I’ll use that next time.

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Drawing Update 2: Lashonda Florescent

September 17, 2017

Here’s the latest state of the drawing. I’ve decided on a different approach for the background. The blending wasn’t working out to my satisfaction. The surface was too irregular to get it as smooth as it needed to be. So, decided to draw straight lines over it, and I think this will look better anyway.

I’m still drawing lines on the left side. Next I’ll add detail to her hair, and then it should be ready for fixative and clean-up.

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Drawing Update: Lashonda Florescent

September 11, 2017

Here’s the latest state of the new drawing. Everything is still in process, but I think her face is coming long nicely. I’ve decided that the background was too blotchy, so I used a paper stump to smooth it out. I’m going to try for a contrasting effect to make the background more out of focus. We’ll see how that looks as I get further along.

I’m using a couple different charcoal pencils for the thinner lines of her face and chest. I have a Conte and Wolff brand, and the Wolff is slightly darker. An X-Acto razor blade is used to cleanup lines, and lighten and sharpen areas, such as the highlight on her lips. The blade isn’t digging into the plaster surface, but when held lightly it just pushes the charcoal aside, and can then be blown away. You could use a razor on paper too to some degree, but it doesn’t remove as much of the charcoal as it does on plaster. For blowing, I use a drinking straw, and cover areas I don’t want hit with the air with scrap paper. Sometimes just tapping the back of the board will knock off the dust.

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Drawing Started: Lashonda Florescent

September 9, 2017

I’m staring a new charcoal drawing. This is my friend, Lashonda, who sat for me recently, back-lit by some florescent lights. I made a quick drawing study, and took some reference photos to work with later.

I used some tape to mask off two strips that will be the florescent lights in the background. I smoothed the background marks with brushes, and gave it a little more texture by lifting marks with a kneaded eraser. I’ll probably smooth it out more after I get the figure completed.

The surface is a 16 x 20″ illustration board that I’ve coated with a couple thin coats of plaster. The brushstrokes in the plaster help give it tooth and texture, and the soft plaster gives me a surface I can lightly scratch into to sharpen my charcoal lines. This works a little better than erasing, since it won’t smudge the charcoal.

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Painting Started: Jan Sunning on the Grass

May 7, 2017

I’m ready to get the painting started. Before I transferred the large sketch, I paused to consider how best to continue. This will be a gouache painting on illustration board primed with a thin coat of spackle plaster mixed with acrylic medium.

I made the outline of the figure in charcoal to the bare board (unprimed,) and wondered if I should spray fixative on it as I planned or test out other options. The lines of the beach towel were drawn with a yellow pastel pencil that I darkened in the picture so you can see it better. One idea was to just paint over this with a thin layer of plaster and acrylic (as I tested out in my previous post,) or spray fixative on it and then prime it, or coat the charcoal lines with a thin coat of acrylic and prime it. With the primer on top, the gouache will not mix with the charcoal.

I made a quick test of those three options on a scrap piece of illustration board. The “X”s in the picture are charcoal marks not coated, so you can see how thin the plaster layer is.

The unfixed charcoal smeared a little, but was otherwise okay. The fixed marks (one coat of spray) looked the same, but no smearing. The wet acrylic medium turned the charcoal into a wash, so I ruled that out. I decided to just go ahead and add the thin plaster layer without fixing the charcoal, saving an extra step, and despite a little smearing, it looked okay. I’m finally ready to start painting.

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Homemade Casein Fixative

October 27, 2016

I’ve been meaning to make fixative out of casein for some time now, but until recently I haven’t done much art in a medium that need it. Today, I was in a conversation with an online friend about types of fixatives, and this subject came up, so I thought it was a good time to make some and test it out. Conclusion: it works very well.

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If you’re possibly new to the term “fixative” and its use, it’s a coating that is added on top of dry media (charcoal, pastels, graphite, etc.) to keep it from smearing. Most commercial fixatives come in aerosol cans that use an acrylic resin. There’s a commercial brand of casein fixative on the market called SpectraFix. I’ve tried it, and it works okay; although, I’m not too fond of their pump sprayer.

I first heard of using casein as a fixative in a book about Paul Gauguin and his pastels where he learned this technique from Camille Pissarro. I later found a recipe for it in the Reed Kay book “The Painter’s Guide to Studio Methods and Materials.”
1 part by volume casein solution
2 parts by volume grain alcohol
5 parts by volume (distilled) water

The casein solution I used is the same as I always make for a base medium to start from. I describe it here in my most recent batch I made back in April. It has a couple drops of Thymol preservative in an 8 ounce mixture. It’s very easy to make. This batch came from raw milk, but it can also be made from dry casein powder, which I’ve talked about before. The grain alcohol I’m using is Everclear, which is 190 proof. A good clear Vodka could also work.

Mixing it was simple enough, so to apply it I used the Preval sprayer I wrote about a few years ago. I’ve used it occasionally for spraying primers and it works great. I found that the spray comes out with a little more force and volume than most aerosol cans I’ve used. As such, I knew to step back about 2 feet with the art surface upright, and move across the art in a quick sweeping motion; starting the spray off the art and finishing off the art.

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The plastic sheet above has the fixative on it, and the sheet below it has none, so you can see how it turns the plastic very dull. When sprayed on paper, even black paper, I don’t see anything. Held up to the light, I can’t see any reflections. Each coat dries very quickly, under 10 minutes. When soft pastels were sprayed with two coats, I didn’t get any smearing.

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At first, I got worried when I sprayed the grey pastels above. The whole image almost disappeared, but it came back as the fixative dried. It lost a little of it’s brightness, but otherwise worked fine. On the white paper sample, the color pastels didn’t seem to change value at all. It also works well on soft graphite pencils and charcoal.

I would have no concerns using this fixative on my finished work. I could also layer it; although, I would be reluctant to build it up too much – 3 to 4 coats max. The water content could cause paper to buckle, especially thin paper, unless it was stretched or taped down before the drawing was started.

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New Drawing: SPF-30

August 15, 2016

This is a charcoal drawing (charcoal pencil) of my friend, Elizabeth, applying some sunscreen spray. She wouldn’t need it today, with all the rain we’re getting. Paper size is 24 x 18 inches.

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It was done at a figure drawing session I participated in recently. I always prefer the model to be doing some sort of action other than just posing. I may make this into a more complete drawing once I figure out a good background for her.