Charcoal Portrait on paper: You might be familiar with charcoal from life drawing classes, it is a great medium to use for life drawing short poses because it is easy to smudge, take off and quick to add. You also get a very dark black that would be difficult to obtain with graphite.
Charcoal is also very well suited for more detailed portraits. I wanted to try it in a mixed media painting that would be done on paper mounted on a 48 x 48 inches board.
Here is how you can paint a charcoal portrait on paper mounted on board
I bought a roll of watercolor paper that has a width of 51 inches so I am able to mount it on a 48 x 48 inches board.
Mounting watercolor paper on board.
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I let the paper dry overnight before trimming the sides with a cutter.
The charcoal portrait
I am working with charcoal powder and brushes
And with charcoal sticks for darker areas and details
I start working on the portrait using big brushes for the powder and a charcoal stick for details.
Charcoal powder and brushes
The charcoal stick is convenient to draw details like eyebrows, lashes…
Building the portrait layer by layer.
Sometimes it is easier to look at the drawing upside down to compare it to your reference picture.
A kneadable eraser is very convenient to take off some of the extra charcoal.
Brushes are also convenient to lift off a bit of charcoal from the paper
Working on the background with fluid acrylics
I want to start working on the background patterns with fluid acrylics before the painting is done because I want some of the patterns to be visible through the areas on the edge of the hair. I already delimited the area where the hair will be with a transparent layer of charcoal.
I am mixing up a few fluid acrylic washes to start working on the background pattern.
With a flat brush I am drawing a variety of circles with each of the colors I mixed.
I am painting the patterns also through the edges of the hair area.
I am working with each color, one at a time, painting a series of circular shapes
I like that this pattern has a retro feel.
Finishing the portrait
Once the background has been painted, I am working on the hair, drawing the beehive hairdo.
I am also drawing a few charcoal bees
I am finishing the painting by spraying a layer of fixative and brushing on some Gamvar varnish.