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Thursday, 18 February 2016

Telling a story in Charcoal

For today's blog I use the simple and inexpensive medium of charcoal to draw a lone figure. I then show you how adding a few lines and shading to the background can build a whole story around the character, forcing the viewer to become involved in the picture.

This drawing is done on good quality drawing paper. I love Bockingford for great quality art paper. I work with a thin charcoal stick throughout the drawing, only switching to a thick one towards the end when I add the background/story.

I start with the shoulders of the figure, adding the jawline just above it. You can see how small this seem on the vast space of the paper. In this case the figure will not fill the paper, leaving room to tell her story.

I want to wrap her head in a scarve and get this in place first.

Only then do I add the minutest of detail to the face. This is not really detail, but rather space holders for the features.

Her coat helps to tell her story and I take time to develop this in the drawing. The collar and lapels determines the hang of the coat.

I am happy to see that I managed to make the coat seem oversized without allowing my figure to appear to need the extra size in the coat.

Lopsided feet will also assist in conveying the message of my figure.

I have already mentioned how important the coat is to the story of the figure. I have to make sure that the viewer understands that this coat was not fitted in a shop, but is rather the result of hand-outs that has become out of fashion, and never fitted the recipient properly in the first place. Adding old-fashioned tweat lines to the coat affirms this beautifully.

The detail of what the figure is wearing under the coat is unimportant and is simply obscured by shading it.

Now comes the story: We make the figure stand against a shop window with her reflection visible behind her. We use signs to make the viewer understand that it is a shop window. We place her well back against the window with water puddles in front of her to make it clear that she is a bedraggled figure, delivered unto the elements, aside fromt the hand-out coat which she wears of necessity, not choice.  Dirtying the pavement and road around her, sets the tone very subtly, as does the shading above her head. And then we add a rubbish bin very prominently next to her. This very tenderly conveys the message that she is one of life's outcasts. Isn't it marvelous how much can be said with lines only, using no color at all!

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