Two Most Recent Charcoal Drawings

These are both 8x10 drawings finished in the last couple of weeks that I wanted to share.  Comments are always welcome.  "Mike the Tiger" and "Wanderlust."  Mike the Tiger because I'm an LSU Tiger fan and Wanderlust because of the reflection in the horse's eye.  Both initial sketches were made using a grid and used vine charcoal and General's medium and soft charcoal pencils.  My first sale just recently was of a charcoal drawing of a wolf.  With this sale and the local economy the way it is, I have a good chance of hopefully selling more charcoal drawings.  Thinking about trying PanPastels and pastel pencils to see how that works for me.



  • Nice drawings.  You will love the pan pastels as well as the pencils.  Keep up the good work.
  • These are good, @A_Time_To_Paint.  You are very good at getting the eyes right. Love the reflection in the horses eye.  :)
  • Thanky you @oilpainter1950 and @tassieguy.  Drawing was my first love in the art world way back when.  I really enjoy it so much, but now I've got to get back to an oil painting that's blocked in that keeps staring at me from the easel.  Not looking forward to it but don't like leaving something unfinished.
  • edited June 2021
    Lovely work @A_Time_To_Paint, beautiful expression you have caught in the tiger.and love the reflection in the eye of the horse.
  • The horses eye is lovely! Without even reading the description I knew it was a horse because its well drawn! 
  • Very well executed.   
    Having done horse eyes myself for years, I know how frustrating they can be,  Not the eye itself, but the contours and shadows of the surrounding sockets and planes of the head.  Consequently, having glanced at the reflection and seen it was well done, my eye automatically looked to what I would fix if it were my work.    I would not have felt entirely comfortable with the shadow to the bottom (left) of the eye.   Regardless of the photo (photos always lie and give false impressions, which is why a knowledge of anatomy is so important) the difference between the shadow and the surrounding lit area it a bit too sharp.  It distracts slightly from what would otherwise by a really great drawing to be proud of.

  • Thank you @toujours.  I went by the photograph and will have to look at horse skulls and learn the anatomy like you say, otherwise the drawing will not be right acording to the photo.  Again, thanks for your critique.
  • Thank you @toujours.  I went by the photograph and will have to look at horse skulls and learn the anatomy like you say, otherwise the drawing will not be right acording to the photo.  Again, thanks for your critique.
    Some skulls would be a great start, but remember, it would be the same as trying to do a human portrait from looking at a skull, you would not have a nose or ears or lips.    If you can get to some places where you can pat and stroke lots of horses you will get the best feel for how the skin covers the cartilage as well as the bones.  Understanding how the hair reflects light, depending on its direction and angle to the light is also important.
    Looking forward to seeing your next attempts.
  • That tiger looks amazing.  The horses eye is very cool too and the reflection does pull me in but it has a bit of a scary feel to me.
  • GTO said:
    That tiger looks amazing.  The horses eye is very cool too and the reflection does pull me in but it has a bit of a scary feel to me.
    Perhaps because the expression on the horse is one of anxiety and worry; it is transmitting to you, the viewer?   When you work with horses, you understand facial expression and this horse is very worried about something and tense.    I am sure that is coming out in the picture.

  • I am in 2 minds about the tiger.   It is very detailed, and technically correct; but I feel it is missing a structure to it.   
    I have not ever lived with a tiger, but would imagine if you stroke or pat them, there are some hard planes to the facial structure that are not translated to the picture.    I have looked at many tiger pictures over the years and come to the conclusion I am not brave enough to attempt one, since I am sure it would not be quite right due to that.    For this reason, I have a huge admiration for those artist who sculpt, as they have more of an understanding of the 3 dimensions required for realism than many of us "flat" artists do.  Perhaps that is why when a sculpture is "wrong" it is really obvious, where as it can just be unsettling in a drawing or painting as there is the covering skin and hair to distract and fudge any inconsistencies.     Sometimes I wonder why I paint and draw at all when I struggle with these ideas.

    I will post a painting I did a month or so ago of a horse eye.   I am not happy with the cheek bone, so do not consider the painting complete yet.  It is the eye of a more relaxed horse, and you can see the lack of tension in the surrounding folds of skin around the eye.  It may make a useful comparison for you to see how expression can effect the overall picture.
  • @toujours Here is a copy of the reference photo I used to draw the horse's eye.  I purposely made the reflection larger and brighter, which may have given a bit of a scary feel as @GTO commented.  There are some things that need attention, such as the right corner of the eye.  I love horses myself and have not had the privilege of being around them and stroking their faces to feel the construction of their anatomy.  I much prefer their smell and those beautiful eyes looking into my sould when I have had the pleasure of encountering a horse. Perhaps I shouldn't be painting and drawing either after reading our comments about us "flat" artists. 

    I look forward to seeing your painting of a horse's eye.  

    Here also is the referernce photo and drawing of the tiger.


  • edited July 2021
    Hi A Time To Paint.   NO, DO NOT STOP!  Carry on, you are doing a great job and are very talented.

    We never stop learning and I get it wrong, more than I get it right.  Even worse, I am embarrassed to say, I often make the same mistake more times than I can count, so do not learn easily from my mistakes!
    I do not know how other people work, but I have always drawn, sometimes painted and never really sculpted.  However, I have puddled at a few things sculpted in old chicken wire.   I found when doing those sculptures how important it was to get all the planes of the face and body of the animal correct.    I think I have begun to attempt to transfer this knowledge more consciously that to my flat art, and am now more conscious of the dilemma.  Perhaps it comes more naturally to the masters, which is what helps separate them from us?  who knows?

    One thing I have found, is you don't know how well you can do something until you actually attempt it.  That sometimes takes a bravery/confidence I know I often lack.  I tell myself before I begin, it will not be as good as any of the old masters.  I have been known to convince myself the world is full of brilliant artists, so what is the point of starting something, and therefore, I do not try.    It is a cop-out on my part, and I miss learning and creating so much because of it.  I tend to be my own worst critic, and am sure many others feel the same way about their work.

    Yes, many of the wrinkles above the eye of the horse in your reference indicate worry/pain.
    It is a pretty special photo of the tiger.  He (?) is such a stunning creature, isn't he?  You have done a great job in executing a real likeness.  When comparing the 2, the only things I can see which could differ, are the chin of the photo looks like you could cup your hand around it, where as yours is a wee bit flatter?  

    I really look forward to seeing more from you in the future and shall be looking out for more posts from you.
  • edited July 2021
    @toujours, I just wanted to pick up on your point about being your ‘Own worst critic”. I think many of us are like that. I found that turning that around to become my own (at least one of) constructive critic is the best thing to do with this.
    I’m sure we all have friends and acquaintances that say how good they think our work is, but really even if the piece is not so good, they are probably not going to say, or feel knowledgable enough to be constructive.

    Of course we can get some helpful critiques on here, and I have an artist teacher friend I can ask if I feel I need to. Often we become so involved in our work we cant see it.

    I think it takes a long time to develop this and I am certainly not there yet, indeed if I ever will be. But I am much better at it than I used to be. I think it comes along with building up your knowledge and in turn confidence.

    So in time what used to be saying to yourself, I am not very good at this, or I will never be as good as so and so, becomes `what’s wrong with this piece of work I have done, what is off with it, what is it that I don’t  like about it. Then you look at the solutions to make it into something you do like and are maybe proud of.

    I guess its so easy to see mistakes in a negative light, but they are in fact our lessons.


  • MichaelD Thank you.  That is a good way of putting it, I shall remember that.
  • edited July 2021
    @MichaelD it's an "whoops" message! 

  • @toujours thank you for your reply.  I am most definitely my own worst critic and heard just recently how important it is for us artists to not "beat ourselves up" but to develop self-analysis skills to really understand our work in an objective way, thereby seeing how to improve the areas we are not happy with.  I'm still trying to develop that skill among many others.  It's good to have a forum where artists can give feedback because I do get blind after staring at something for a long time.  I have also heard lately that we will not always produce our best works every time. Even the very best artists out there today have made more "bad" work than "good" to get them where they are today, and even they are not always completely satisfied with their art.  

    I have been listening to "Paint Coach" on YouTube and he offers some great tips and motivation as well.  Art is a never-ending, learning process and hope to continue learning for as many years as I have left in me.  

    It is also important for me to try and set the bar on what I'm trying to paint very high.  I have a fear of stagnating rather than improving. After finishing a work that is pretty good, my mind thinks that this was a bit of good luck rather than actual skill. This also makes me think that I'll never be able to do another piece that well, saying to myself, how am I going to top that?, which can be paralyzing to me before starting a new piece.

    It is also easy for me to want to give up as you say because I'll never be "as good as" all these very talented artists out there.  The famous "just do it" slogan from Nike has entered my thinking and it has shown me through a few paintings recently.  Normally, I will get frustrated with a piece and can find all kinds of reasons not to finish it.  Forcing myself to sit through the discomfort of wanting to quit and just concentrating on finishing one section at a time of the piece has taught me much. The results have lifted my confidence in my abilities.

    I would urge you to please not hold yourself back.  You obviously have good talent as evidenced by your horse's eye painting that you shared in another post.  I admire how you can use your artistic license to change things in a reference photo that make your painting even better.  I'm just now trying to learn this process but feel the need for more paintings under my belt before venturing out on that quest.  

    I have really enjoyed this thread.  It has motivated me to get to a piece I have blocked in that I've been dreading picking back up to finish.  So here I go and "just do it."
  • edited July 2021
    @A_Time_To_Paint, that was so well expressed and I'm sure it rings true for most of us. There's always this monkey on our shoulder who tries to sow doubt and bring us down. To some extent we need this monkey for without him we'd have no self criticism and we'd think everything we did was marvelous. And then we'd never learn or improve. But we must never let the monkey run the show or we'd never pick up a brush.  It's a balancing act.  I guess it boils down to doing the best we can with the skills we have at the time and constantly honing those skills by practice and listening to our inner critic - but judiciously and only after a session (however long) when  we're assessing the work we've done.

     I also relate very much to your words about forcing yourself not to give up, to sit with the discomfort and to see a painting through to the end even if it means narrowing one's sights to just the section we're working on and letting the big picture take care of itself. That way, we don't get overwhelmed by what is still to be done. It sometimes helps to look at how much we've actually got done rather than at how much there is still to do. With nearly every painting, even (or perhaps especially) those that turn out well, there is a point where I feel like just downing tools and giving up. But I know that's not a good idea.  Even if a painting is a failure I think we have to get through those failures and learn from them to get through to the successes. The failures are necessary.  I'm sure what you said about even the best artists making more bad work than good to get where they are is correct. 

    So, thanks for your post. It rang true and I enjoyed reading it.   :)
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