A Special Family Gift – First stage – part 1

The date is June 5th1974. A loving young family, and one special B&W photograph has endured the test of time. Forty-two years have passed. The child is now a man expecting his child. The Father is giving his gift of love to his son and family. I am honored to be the selected artist for this special occasion. Thank you Portraits Inc. and representative, Erin Cassidy of Alexandria Virginia for this commission. Also a special thank you to the General for selecting me as the artist. I feel privileged to walk you through this special creative gift.


When I began learning the world of portraiture Charcoal was my first medium to explore. Charcoal work is much more like painting than any other form of drawing. A wide piece of charcoal makes a wide mark similar to working with a brush. The light manner with which it has to be handled is also much more like handling a brush than any other point in drawing. When you rub with your sponge or finger over the charcoal, it sheds a soft gray over the paper. You now have a middle tone to build your values from dark to light. Highlights can be taken out with precision using a kneed eraser molded into a point or areas can be lifted almost like Silly Putty lifting print off a newspaper.

When I first learned to use charcoal it was a love – hate relationship, I have grown to love this beautiful medium called Charcoal. Slowly I learned how to keep my drawings light then work into dark and build again into the light. Yes, there were a lot of mistakes along this learning curve. Charcoal paper comes in a huge variety of colors and types; it takes time along with trial and error to find the paper that best suits you. In my early years I used only white paper. Now I prefer a neutral toned paper because I can use the white chalk for the highlights instead of the white of the paper.

An 8 x 10 photo, the tools used for this drawing.




draw and transfer images keeping a very light touch using vine charcoal.

keeping the light touch begin a soften the lines of the vine charcoal with a sponge, charcoal stump or this handy little tool used in pastel.

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