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Portraits in Charcoal

Charcoal Portrait of Emanuela

Portrait of Emanuela

Drawing Portraits in Charcoal can be a very rewarding experience, especially when you are working from life. When I have a portrait commission, especially if it’s a child, I find it helpful to do a quick study in one of my moleskine sketchbooks.

Usually children these days don’t like to sit still for even just a few minutes so it’s nigh on impossible to do an oil painting from life of a child. One has to rely on photographs but there is a real benefit in having a couple of sketches to refer to as well.

This study in charcoal pencil of Emanuela is based on a much longer drawing made from life over three short afternoon sittings. It is currently on view as part of my 30th Anniversary Christmas exhibition at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

One of the links on this post is an affiliate link to a Moleskine sketchbook, a product which I personally use, available from Amazon. Another is for some charcoal pencils. If you click on the links and buy any of these products then I will receive a small percentage of the sale from Amazon at no extra cost to yourself.

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Sargent Studies – A Daily Sketch

Gouache Sketch

Gouache Sketch of “Old Man with a Dark Mantle”

For the last few weeks I have been continuing with my daily discipline of a sketch a day. I try to do this for 20 minutes to an hour, 5 or 6 days a week, usually in my Moleskine Sketchbook. 

Most of my studies have been made with a charcoal pencil, however today I decided to do a gouache rendition of John Singer Sargent’s oil sketch of “Old Man with a Dark Mantle”. Although I would prefer to paint this in oils, the advantage of using gouache paint is that it’s quick drying.

I’ve photographed the palate, brushes and Winsor and Newton paints, together with the reference book I’ve used, John Singer Sargent Figures and Landscapes, 1883-1899 by Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray.

Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray have written some brilliant books on Sargent’s paintings which give a fascinating insight into his work.

To follow my daily sketches on twitter, go to @adailysketch

The links on this post are affiliate links to products which I personally use. If you click on the links and buy any of these products then I will receive a small percentage of the sale from Amazon at no extra cost to yourself.

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Sargent – A Daily sketch

Charcoal Sketches

Studies of John Singer Sargent Drawings

Every so often I like to set some kind of painting/drawing discipline to keep on top of my game. Good habits are hard to form and easy to break and sadly the converse of that statement is also true!

I tend to find that my regular sketching habit falls by the wayside, particularly if I’m busy with commissions or working towards an exhibition. However, despite being very busy at the moment working on a series of portraits in oils of City Church, Newcastle members, I’ve decide to set myself the goal of doing some kind of sketchbook study every day for about 10-30 minutes.

The two charcoal sketches above were drawn in my Moleskine Sketchbook and are studies of John Singer Sargent’s Portrait drawings. Making studies of this kind is a great way to develop your own drawing technique, particularly if you are unable to find a willing model to sit for you.

To see my daily (hopefully) sketches, you can follow my twitter accounts @artistalanreed and @adailysketch

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The Response

Watercolour of "The Response"

“The Response”

Every so often I decide to paint a subject which is different to my usual repertoire. Sometimes it can be very personal. “The Response” is a recent painting that has a number of meanings but rather than me explain them all in this post, I’ve decided to leave the viewer to have their own thoughts for now.

“The Response” is a very moving World War One memorial commissioned by Sir George Renwick, a local ship owner. He gave the memorial to the city to commemorate the raising of the World War I Commercial Battalions of the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers by the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce and also to celebrate the safe return of his five sons from the Great War.

The monument is an emotionally charged depiction of the call to arms in 1914. The life sized 5th Northumberland Fusiliers are patriotically marching to war, led by drummer boys and an angel. Various well-wishers, parents, wives and children, some cheering, some weeping gather around the procession.

When I was a little boy, I would be captivated by this scene of soldiers and their families when my grandma took me through the town to see the Saturday morning matinee. The monument cropped up in a conversation about sculptures recently so I decided to make some observational sketchbook drawings in my moleskine of this magnificent sculpture. I became more and more intrigued by what I was drawing to the point of painting a very large 40″ x 30″ studio watercolour.

The more personal aspect of my painting of “The Response” is the group of figures on the right. I’ve painted myself, my daughter Louise and her children Ewan and Anya. The last soldier behind Louise is my Great Grandfather Thomas Reed who served in the conflict. He was shot in the chest but miraculously survived the Great War. He used to carve ships figureheads for a living and was a gifted draughtsman.

The painting can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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The Kiss

The Kiss by Rodin

Charcoal Sketch of Rodin’s The Kiss

 

I’d heard the Rodin’s famous sculpture, The Kiss is currently on display in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities. I’ve been painting its stunning architecture and famous streets for over 20 years, producing over a dozen limited edition prints of Auld Reekie. Last week I was dropping off some paintings at a gallery nearby so I couldn’t resist popping in to the National Gallery to see some truly engaging art. There’s too much to see in less than two hours so I restricted myself to making three charcoal sketches in my moleskine sketchbook.

After a brief date with the lovely Lady Agnew by John Singer Sargent and a quick hello to one of Rembrant’s later self portraits (both recorded in my sketchbook) I decided to make another charcoal drawing of Auguste Rodin’s ‘The Kiss”. I had already made several studies earlier on this year which I used to produce a larger watercolour available as a limited edition print.

If you haven’t been to the National Gallery recently then it’s well worth a visit and if your’e an artist, make sure you take your sketchbook!

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Susan in St Mark’s Church

Susan Reed, Portrait in Oils

Susan in St Mark’s Church, Venice

In September 2012 Susan and I travelled to Venice to work on a number of painting projects, one of which was this oil painting of Susan in the Basilica San Marco. On the 7th April 1985 Susan experienced a dramatic conversion to Christianity on her own as she cried out to God in the famous church in St Mark’s Square. The painting depicts Susan quietly giving thanks to God for His goodness towards her since that day in St Mark’s Church.

Susan and I spent time together in St Mark’s Church so that I could do a small sketchbook watercolour to capture the colours and mood of the interior which you can see in a previous blog post. I returned the following day to do some detailed studies of some the architectural elements of the interior so I could refer to them in the finished painting. Back in my studio Susan assumed the same pose so that I could paint her from life in oils.

The original painting can be seen at my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland.

 

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Rijksmuseum

Self Portrait by Rembrandt

Charcoal Study of Self Portrait by Rembrandt

On a recent trip to Amsterdam I decided to visit the newly re-opened Rijksmuseum dedicated to Dutch Art and the history of the Netherlands. I’d read a very  positive review of the museum by art critic and TV presenter Waldemar Januszczak which encouraged me to brave the crowds and queues to pay homage to Rembrandt, Vermeer and Frans Hals.

I was not disappointed. It was difficult to spend huge amounts of time studying some of the more well known paintings, however I managed to make a couple of charcoal studies of one of Rembrandt’s later self portraits and a section of his “The Denial of St Peter” in my moleskine sketchbook . If you’re visiting Amsterdam then put the Rijksmuseum on your radar but buy your ticket beforehand and get there early!

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Auguste Rodin’s – The Kiss

Auguste Rodin's "The Kiss"

Rodin’s “The Kiss”

In my previous post I described how I went to the National Gallery in Edinburgh to see Auguste Rodin’s famous marble sculpture “The Kiss” in March. I made a couple of sketchbook studies in charcoal then an A6 watercolour. After analysing my studies, I decided to do a 14″ x 10″ watercolour of The Kiss in the studio which came out really well.

I’ve since produced a larger 29″ x 20″ original watercolour of The Kiss which has been reproduced as a limited edition giclee print available in three sizes.

The painting forms part of my Spring Exhibition at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland which is on until Sunday 28th April. The first copy has already been sold. Whilst I was doing this painting, I was photographed by a street photographer called Victor Adams. Check out his blog here.

 

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