Portrait in Charcoal

Dominic- Charcoal
Dominic in Charcoal


I’m currently undertaking a number of portrait commissions at the moment, mostly in oils but some in charcoal. Dominic was commissioned as a present for his 50th birthday in December 2011. I managed only one afternoon sitting with Dominic. However, that was sufficient to capture a very good likeness. He is a man who ticks all the boxes of being tall, dark and handsome. After the sitting I was able to check all the aspects of his features for size, proportions and positioning from the reference photographs I took of him next to the drawing. I made a few minor changes and refined the marks I made during the sitting with my stump.


A stump is an artists tool, usually made of soft paper, (but can be made of leather or felt), that is tightly wound into a stick and sanded to a point at both ends. It is used to blend drawing marks made with charcoal, conte crayon, pencil and similar media. By moving it carefully over drawing marks, gradations and half tones can be produced. I like my charcoal drawings to look like drawings, rather than being too photographic. Therefore I kept the use of the stump to a minimum.


I’m pleased to say that Dominic is delighted with his portrait and it is now framed and hanging proudly in their family room. Since this blog post I have had the privilege of teaching portraiture to some of the men and women in our prisons. I often get them to start off by copying John Singer Sargent portraits in charcoal. The results are quite impressive.

My interest in portraiture has grown and I now have a number of portraits hanging in our home. One of them was purchased through the Artist Support Pledge. It’s by an artist called Rosso. You can read about her here.


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