Portrait in Charcoal

I hope you are all enjoying your 2018 so far!

I have been hard at work in my studio working on my portrait skills and updating materials for those interested in commissioning me for their own projects. I now have a brochure that is available to you for the asking that describes my fees and procedures.

In my last post I showed you the pet portraits I have been doing over the last year and a bit and now I would like to share a finished charcoal portrait on paper. I have not done these as commissioned work before now so I am very happy to add this to my offerings.

Ali complete

This work is 20×16″ on paper and you can see the work in progress on my Instagram gallery where I post frequently here.  I enjoy very much a  physical kind of drawing full of varying textures and methods and this work shows that tendency perfectly. I began by rubbing charcoal dust into the paper to get an overall grey tone. The process is physical and intuitive, very messy and very satisfying. I add layers of different weights of charcoal, buffing and rubbing with fabric, brushes and fingers,  drawing with different types of erasers which I cut into shapes for thin, dull or sharp marks. I add and remove the pigment until the form and description of the subject is perfect to my eye.  It creates a lovely texture and life to the portrait.   At the end of the process I fix the drawing with a spray so that it all stays in tact and won’t shed dust any more.

Ali detail 8

One of the most exciting things about drawing in this way for me as an artist doing representational work is that I can get a variance of descriptive marks. Hair next to fabric next to flesh are all drawn differently but in the same media-charcoal and white chalk. For instance when my attention was on the flesh I was rubbing in a faint layer of charcoal then shaving off a layer of it with a thinly sliced eraser wrapped around my finger. For the shoulder I added a layer of white chalk rubbed into the charcoal ground underneath.

Ali detail 7I save the very sharpened charcoal pencil for adding pigment for detail in the facial features but use an equally sharpened hard plastic eraser removing pigment detail in the hair. I’m showing close up details of the work so you can see what I am talking about.

Ali detail 4

I’ll be back soon with updates from my current project but until then if you are interested in commission a portrait from me of this or any kind please contact me here or through Jarvis Hall Gallery here.  I am very grateful for any projects as it is a major way to support my studio practice.

Ali detail 1

Good bye 2017

I’m finding it a little hard to believe it has been so long since I have written! The last two years have been very busy ones although not the kind of busyness that gets much painting done. I have rearranged my schedule and will be devoting regular time to writing and posting here in 2018.

Commissioned portraits are a major way I support my studio practice and I have been doing various commissions.  Beginning in 2016 I added pet portraits to my skill set. These examples below show the composition I am using always a 20×20″ canvas with a trompe l’oeil mat cut in a circular opening as the setting for the subject.  I enjoy doing these very much and welcome the opportunity to do more.  For these pet portraits I have been using photos provided by my clients. Like photographing babies and toddlers the family often has the best photos that capture the pets at their most relaxed, secure and loving moments.  You can contact me about my fees and procedures here.

Tia

Stewie web

Kobber complete

Thanks for reading and check back in January for more or watch for links on my Facebook page and on my Instagram here.

More soon!

 

Dream, Breath, Mist

I have just completed the newest of a group of paintings I began over a year ago. You can read about them here, here and here.  With this piece I am continuing the themes of meditation, contemplation, mindfulness and deep awareness and this time I’ve explored the experience of what the “inner” space feels like to me.

Dream detail

When I first conceived the idea behind these works I was considering how one image could morph into another based on the subconscious projection of a viewer the way a Rorschach inkblot is meant to work. I described my interest in the multivalence of an image and of the emergence of meaning that might come from interacting with the paintings that I had not expressly put there.  Specifically it was interesting to me that the image of the portraits facing each other might, more than just “flip” to the image created by the negative space in between them, but combine with it in some kind of third composite image in a viewer’s mind.

Dream detail 4

The first ideas behind these works may not matter so much to you at this point, except to notice that the idea of three levels of the image- one element, a second element, and the third element that comes from the combination of the first two-is here in three layers of the painting. There is the “back” layer upon which everything else happens, the layer of the portraits and a third atmospheric and abstract layer on top of the other two; a back, a middle and a front layer.

Dream detail 3

As I said, with this piece I was more conscious of the experience of inner space, which for me is very colourful and full of texture and movement. These rich colours and mistiness is what I might assume others experience in a meditative space as well.  In this painting  I think of the three layers described above as follows… first, the blue in the back being the “field” of inner space, the colour that registers after one’s eyes have been closed for some time. The second layer, the portraits, is the subject of one’s thought which is has form and description. And the third layer, the mist, is the abstract activity of colour and movement that comes with having one’s eyes closed for any length of time. It is this layer on top of the others that symbolizes to me the third composite image that might arise from the combination of the others.

Dream detail 2

By the time I was finished working I was deciding between three titles for the piece.  Dream (being in the blue ground of a dream), Breath (the portraits and the pink breath between them) and Mist(the abstract level of inner mind activity).   In the end I think the most appropriate title given the rhythm of three that is present might be Dream, Breath, Mist.   It is 24×30″, oil on canvas and you can see it now at the Jarvis Hall Gallery.

 

Thank you for reading!