Monday, December 26, 2011

Sarapiqui River

charcoal on paper
15 x 19

I just finished this piece which is the Sarapiqui River in Costa Rica at dusk. I took some progression photos so viewers can get an idea of how my charcoals are done.
The first photo is a view of my set-up in my studio, drawing table with all my implements on a small side-table on the left. I mostly stand when I work, sometimes sitting for the more detailed drawing.

This is how I start. First I tape the paper down to the size and shape I want, then I usually cover the whole piece of paper with powdered vine charcoal. The only time I wouldn't do this is if I need some pure white areas, then I would cover everything but that area. Next, (below) I take a chamois and various erasers and loosely "carve" away the light areas, so I get the structure and values started.

Now, (above and below) I go back in with hard charcoal sticks and pencils to get the really dark areas. The paper wants to show through so fingers must be used to really mush the charcoal into the paper to get dark blacks.

The finishing can take a lot of tweaking with all the various charcoals and tools to get the right balance of light and dark, good edges and smooth fades. Below is the finished piece. This piece is all masses and not much line; I will post another piece soon showing more of the drawing techniques.

On another note, Happy Holidays!! Don't feel neglected if you did not get a card this year, I didn't send any out. Today, December 26th, it was 50 degrees here!? I had a nice hike with my sister and we saw a wonderful thing, a Townsend's Solitaire. This is a bird that is fairly unusual in Minnesota, it is auspicious to me and made me so happy to see it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Two Trees

Charcoal on paper
20 x 26

This is a piece I just finished... I wondered about posting it because it feels strange to me, like I didn't do it. The view is out in my woods, a mere skiff of snow dusting the ground, twilight and skeletal...
On another note, I just returned from a fantastic birding trip to Costa Rica! - Saw many wonderful things - birds, mammals, butterflies, frogs - in rain forest and cloud forest.
The coffee there is amazing. Our bird guide's parents own an organic coffee farm which we were lucky to be able to visit. I had no idea all that is involved in producing coffee, and how potentially hard it can be on the environment. I highly recommend anyone concerned who also loves coffee to buy from them, they have a distributor in the US. - The coffee is out of this world - really!