Charcoal on paper.
Working purely with tones without an outline is hard…
…but by Jove, it’s a hell lot more fun doing it that way.
After using charcoal to paint my first charcoal portrait of Einar Selvik, I received a suggestion from my friend, David (he’s the guy in the photo in this post), to attempt portraits of the two main characters from the British crime drama series, Broadchurch, and I thought: “Why not?”
In case you are interested, here is the trailer for the show’s first season. It’s a show that takes a look into how one crime can start tearing down the community of a small, idyllic English seaside town. And for 3 seasons, this beautiful story shows how that same community learn to heal from that.
So, I went for my favourite character first: DS Ellie Miller. And this was my first (disastrous) attempt:
I started with outlines. Then, one thing led to another and the blending came out terribly (I overdid it) and when I stepped back, I noticed that the proportions felt off. This was not Olivia Colman’s Ellie; this was Cate Blanchett. It was not my intention. The eyes were wrong, the jawline seemed wrong. In addition to that, the blending was very distracting and messy, and that pulled the focus of the picture away from where I intended: her eyes.
So instead of going with the outlines approach (that I used for my Einar Selvik portrait), which I felt led me to obsessing over every little thing on the face that kind of made everything the focus that the picture got lost, I decided to just wing it. Started with the one eye and then slowly worked outwardly from there.
It was a challenge to work with this technique. I have seen people do it and I have always been in awe. I never thought I could do such a thing. It was unfathomable for me: drawing without an outline? Without a model to get the proportions right? It was crazy!
It’s instinctive drawing; that’s what it is. And after my second attempt at painting Ellie’s portrait with charcoal, I think I will subscribe to this technique from now on.
So next. D.I. Alec Hardy.