November 06, 2008



A long drawn out portrait study is good practice but sometimes the shorter poses are equally so. They force you choose which details you'll emphasize and which you'll leave out. An important skill to learn since a stick of charcoal and a beige piece of paper can never reproduce all the subtleties you can see.

These are 40 minute studies with compressed charcoal on newsprint.


Le Tang said...

Beautiful. You do amazing things with charcoal.

adebanji said...


Jeremy Elder said...

My teacher is always saying NOT to used compressed charcoal because you can't remove it or blend it easily as opposed to vine. How do you get around this problem? Thanks for sharing your wonderful work.

lelisblogspot said...


Chris Sears said...

i agree completely. great drawings nathan.

jabraniho said...

beautiful!!i love the 3rd image!


Nubian Greene said...

these remind me of charles reids watercolour work.


rose said...

Each subject's features are depicted well in these charcoals.Great presentations.

Kyle Poling said...

you make it look so easy, really beautiful studies

Stephen James. said...

That top one is so Adrian! Nice!

Sharon said...

The variety of features are great.
I look forward to viewing these pieces.

nick said...

I like these very much too. Could you say what sort of charcoal and are you lifting out lights or just leaving them?

Patrick Ballesteros said...

Hi Nathan, great studies. I agree with everything that's been said...and love the details you chose to keep to get the likenesses.

Hope you are doing well sir.


Nathan Fowkes said...

Thanks guys. I love a stick of compressed charcoal. My brand is Alphacolor Char-kole (and Cretacolor chunky charcoal for the darkest darks). It's not for everyone though, it can be a mess, on the page and on you.(I keep an old bath towel over my lap when I draw, I've also been seen wandering the grocery store with smears of charcoal across my face.) It also doesn't have the precision of a pencil. What it does have is the greatest value range and workability of any drawing medium that I'm aware of.

Jeremy, drawing is about getting the right value with the right edge in the right place. All mediums have their advantages and disadvantages. Beautiful drawings have been done with vine charcoal but I'm too rough with my drawings to use it very often. You'll loose some of your vine charcoal drawing if you so much as sneeze on it. But..your teacher is right. I never apply compressed charcoal directly to the lighter parts of my drawings but rather blend those tones over from the shadows.

Sergio Melero said...

Awesome drawings, companion.

Your a real drawing master!!!

allie said...

Hi Nathan, beautiful work up here! I was at your color concepts workshop this past weekend and wanted to thank you for all the knowledge and information, I learned a lot. I have a blog at Thanks again and take care!

Jeremy Elder said...

Thanks for the advice and wisdom Nathan. I have noticed that it is difficult to get super dark with vine charcoal because it keeps powerding off. I think I will try working compressed charcoal into the darks to get a larger value range.

I do love charcoal. I think it is the most painterly drawing material.

Tia Maria said...

Beautiful! Your faces are amazing! :o)Do you know of harley brown? He is one of my favorite arists! Thanks for sharing!

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