A Blog About Oil Painting

Charcoal Studies - Working Through Ideas Part I

/ / Landscape Sketch Study WIP

Charcoal studies

Charcoal Sketches on paper (full sheet). 2016

Before investing a lot of time, effort and materials in a painting, I find it's always helpful to first work though my idea on paper. Simple studies like these help me to test out the compositions and make sure they have a good chance of working. I can move things around, and change the shapes and sizes of the various elements. I do this even if I'm working from good field studies and reference photographs.

Working with charcoal lets me see the big value shapes in the picture with most of the detail removed. After I've spent a while on a study (perhaps even revisiting it a time or two), I'll know whether or not I want to take the painting any further.

In this series, I've focused on some landscapes, all of them places where I've painted on location.

Charcoal studies

Charcoal Sketches on paper (full sheet). 2016

When the subject matter is less nebulous, it's helpful to make the studies larger. This second set of studies are the first steps in developing new paintings, each a continuation of a different series; one seascapes and the other farm animals.