Illustration of a gorilla on handmade notebook. Charcoal, pastel and sanguine on red paper and spray.
latest updates: charcoal
Bruce’s Statue, Bannockburn – Charcoal and Graphite
Following on my previous attempt to render objects in different ways. This copies the last posting by using the same stuff.
This imposing statue stands near the site of the Battle of Bannockburn where, Robert Bruce (The Bruce) defeated the English King Edward 2nd’s forces in 1314. I have always felt that this monument seems a wee bit false since every Scots schoolchild knows the story of an event which happened just before the battle. Legend has it that Henry de Bohun, nephew of the Earl of Hereford saw Bruce riding on a lightweight pony, some distance from the main army. Seeing an opportunity the knight charged The Bruce who remained still until, at the last moment, he whipped the small horse to one side then smashed his battle axe through the skull of the unfortunate knight. Either Bruce changed his gear, before the battle and this statue is correct or the sculptor has used some artistic license.
Our national bard, Robert Burns, commemorated the battle by penning what he thought Bruce might have said to his troops before the conflict. It is one of Scotland’s most famous songs and starts:
‘Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome tæ yer gory bed,
Or tæ victorie.
The full song, with translation for those of you unfortunate not to be Scottish, can be found at
Tree Scene – Graphite and Charcoal Powder
The is the first time I’ve used these powders to block in large areas. Its interesting – but very messy. Will probably now need to re-decorate the house.
Tree Study – European Larch – Pastel and Charcoal on textured paper
Another one of my favourite trees. Larches are the only conifer which looses leaves in the Autumn. They are quite prevalent in the borders and parts of the Highlands in Scotland
Snowy peak – Charcoal on textured paper
Not in a Moleskine but using the tooth of the paper to create this imaginary scene. Some of the charcoal has been over-brushed with wet water
Forth Bridge from North Queensferry – Pastel and charcoal
The iconic Forth Railway bridge was completed in 1890 after the original design, by Sir Thomas Bouch, was abandoned after his Tay Bridge blew down at the end of 1879. It joins the county of Fife to the Lothians where Edinburgh sits. After the Tay disaster this rail bridge was built so strong some reckon it it massively over-engineered by at least 30%. It is one of the best known landmarks in the world.
This is another attempt to involve different media for sketching with. The old French Masters used “Black Chalk” which is still available but seems to be quite rare. I substituted charcoal instead.
Ruined Cottages – Pastel and Charcoal
This uses the same techniques as described in my previous post with some exceptions. The variations in tone were obtained by watering the “slurry”pastel mix with different amounts of water or by overworking with a glaze of the same density of mix. The last stage is handy towards the end of a section – such as a wall, as going over the whole area, with a thin dark coat, seems to tie all the bricks and stonework together. The white highlights were removed last using a small electric eraser which is great for pin-prick precision. You can see these down the side of the fence posts, on some of the stone walls and in the trees.
This scene was captured during John’s visit to Scotland in January. The cottages, in question, are old farm buildings and lie at the foot of the Pentland Hills where we walked one sunny afternoon.
Misty Morning – Pastels with Charcoal
Another misty scene. The charcoal sky should be easy to spot here and the sharp edges of the trees were obtained by adding pastels with a wet brush
Foggy Foreshore – Pastels and Charcoal
The scene is the north shore of Edinburgh near Cramond. Having decided to explore different media, I went for a trip to collect different rocks and pieces of sea coal to mark the paper. It was only partially successful and I ended up using commercially produced stuff.
Evolved from a doodle I drew at a meeting of a guy on a bike playing chicken with a building. Ink and Charcoal.