Saturday, January 16, 2010


"After Hillberry" - 5.5x8.5 inches, charcoal and carbon pencil on cream Canson Sketch

Well, January 2010 is full of surprises!  I chanced across a website and fell in love with the techniques and artwork I saw, and decided to try some on for size.  The website is Charcoal and Pencil Drawings by J.D. Hillberry , and his portraits and trompe l'oeil are fantastic.

The image at left is my attempt at using some of his techniques for charcoal, based on an online description of one of his drawings, called White Bouquet

As you can see, I have used his drawing as the basis for mine, and just moved the objects around (I also left out the rose, put in a ball instead).  I did this so I could gauge how well I was understanding his descriptions. I'm pretty pleased with my first attempt - I got the basics down, now have to refine my techniques.

I'm excited about this technique.  I stayed away from charcoal because it was so messy.  At least, when I tried to use charcoal it was messy - I looked like the Peanuts character Pigpen about 5 minutes into using charcoal!

But from my interpretation of how Hillberry uses chamois, paper towels, stomps, and charcoal pencils  I found that there was very little mess around.  I could work in a small area (about 20x20 inches) and not worry about charcoal dust getting on everything. BONUS!  I particularly enjoy the smoothness of the finished piece - it's very difficult to tell what the medium is, once it's done.

And his use of a Carbon pencil for the really dark areas is great (I'm still not quite sure what the actual difference is between a charcoal and a carbon pencil is). But the Carbon pencil is truly a deep velvety black, and it makes the charcoal look browner, and definitely lighter.  Interesting....

Hillberry offers courses at an extremely reasonable price - about $300US.  However, he's in Colorado, and I'm in Eastern Canada.  So -- that reasonable course would end up costing me about $2500 after airfare, accomodations, food, and the exchange rate.  Sigh - some day I'll get to take one of his courses, but I'll have to save up a lot first.  Hey - maybe that can be one of my resolutions - to take a Hillberry course before August 2011.

Well, tomorrow I'm off to take some photos of my next portait subject - Yves.  He has a very interesting face, and I hope to be able to capture just the right pose that will match what I have floating around in my head as an image of the yet to be started portrait.  Wish me luck!


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