Archie McDougall
BSc(Hons) MSc CEng MIET

Oil Paintings & Drawings
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  Charcoal Drawing

I find drawing with charcoal is, in many ways, like oil painting. This is epecially true when starting a drawing with vine charcoal. Its ability to be "modified" once a mark has been made, allows a more expressive and free flowing approach in much the same way as moving the edges of oil paint.
    On its own, vine charcoal is not usually sufficient to obtain a full range of tonal values on the drawing. I choose to finish most drawings with other forms of charcoal.  These usually include compressed charcoal blocks and , so called, carbon pencils.
    As with other media I use, the drawing surface is very important. There are many different surfaces to choose from including textured and toned paper.  I prefer a slightly smoother surface and use acid free , archival,  heavyweight cartridge paper.   the paper has sufficient "tooth" to hold on to the charcoal without any texture restricting the level of detail possible.  When completed. my charcoal drawings are sealed with archival fixative to lock the charcoal in place to prevent smudging and form a barrier against environmental factors such as humidity changes etc.
     Although charcoal drawings lack the colour richness found in oil paintings, I feel they have a distinct character of their own. Sometimes less is more. The regular practice of drawing such portraits continues to improve my overall drawing ability which, in turn, translates into better paintings. I have found this to be true regardless of whether the subject is a landscape, portrait, figure painting or still life.