Charcoal Workshop

Looking to expand my mark making techniques, I went to a charcoal workshop recently with the artist Michael Wann. Michael is an accomplished artist living in the West of Ireland, acclaimed for his landscape and portrait work. Seeing his work close up was very interesting, they are stunning to see not only because of the size of them but to note the different textures and marks was a great experience. It was an interesting day, he spent the morning talking about his work, techniques and answering many questions.

In the afternoon we were asked to pick an image and draw it. Michael was very encouraging and kept asking us to look at the light, and the contrast, adding many useful tips. I’m so glad I went as my day had started rather badly. Michael helped me hugely as he kept asking if I thought I was finished, and showing me where to keep working when I couldn’t see it. He talked about the push and pull of the charcoal, intentional marks and random marks and getting a balance between them. I understood that not everything is intentional and to push on even when you thing something is wrong; there are no mistakes!


It’s not a perfect likeness of George Bernard Shaw but I am very happy with the result. I learned to really layer on the dark charcoal, and rub out the highlights. . I liked the effects of creating the darkest background and erasing the highlights. It was fun to create the beard hair using this technique. I feel very encouraged by the workshop and am excited to do more portraits in the future.




7 thoughts on “Charcoal Workshop

  1. jen3972 says:

    That’s wonderful! And I like your comment about a balance between intentional and unintentional marks – I’d not thought of viewing working with charcoal like that but that’s really helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Louise says:

    thank you, I wasn’t sure whether to put it up as it’s extra-curricular but it was a good experience that took me out of my comfort zone and I learnt more about using charcoal. I stole all of his tips! I can’t claim credit for that statement, it was the artist, but it makes sense.


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