Dalmation Head Study

It’s probably about time I uploaded another of my ‘proper’ works, and I have been wondering which one to choose. A few years back I was given the task to produce two drawings for a client, one of them a full body drawing and the other a head study. The subject was a dalmation cross and the owner was keen for me to do one of the drawings in charcoal, which I felt a terrifying prospect at the time. Not that I dislike charcoal, in fact, I enjoy using it, but it takes me completely out of my comfort zone, where everything is planned out and executed with the utmost detail in mind to produce a life like pencil portrait. This was compounded by the fact that I hadn’t used charcoal in a long long while and I get decidedly uncomfortable when I need to produce something in return for payment that I haven’t tried before. Couple that with a deadline and there is just too much of a chance that things can go badly wrong (and I end up looking like an idiot as a result of it).

I started with the full body drawing, for which I used the usual pencils. I wouldn’t call it one of my best works, I don’t know if it is the environment the dog is pictured in or what, but I could probably have made some better choices as to what to show and what not. It is sometimes difficult to make the right decisions, based on the photographs provided to me and the wishes expressed by the clients. I thought I’d upload it anyway as it was part of the same order.

Dalmation Cross, Graphite Pencil

Needless to say I was seeing spots by the end of it and was having nightmares about  Cruella de Vil ….  All the detail is there as my customers have come to expect of me, and the likeness, too, so they were very happy.

As you can guess I had decided to do the head study in charcoal – I figured it would be better in that medium than the full body drawing. It took a few practise runs but it turned out to be a very enjoyable project after all. The preliminary exercises got me into the swing of things, so to speak, and also helped to determine positioning etc., so in the end I just went for it without marking out anything beforehand. I wouldn’t dare work like that with my pencil drawings, they would end up all over the place.

Dalmation Cross, Head Study, Charcoal

The client liked what I produced, and so did I – I hope you do, too – it is still one of my favourite animal drawings. I am not sure I’d want to repeat the worrying part in a hurry, and I think I was lucky that the subject and the photograph were well suited to being reproduced in charcoal. But it has been an uplifting experience for me as I have been able to prove to myself that I am actually capable of using mediums that require a looser approach and allow less control than the fine mechanical pencils I am more accustomed to 🙂


7 thoughts on “Dalmation Head Study

  1. Interesting about the charcoal vs. pencil and your struggles with this job…what fantastic drawings these are; their owners are very lucky. And I bet they also enjoy the contrasting moods of the charcoal & pencil renderings. You capture more than a realistic impression of the particular animal – you really capture the energy and spirit there, too.

  2. “Not that I dislike charcoal, in fact, I enjoy using it, but it takes me completely out of my comfort zone, where everything is planned out and executed with the utmost detail in mind to produce a life like pencil portrait.”
    I agree, charcoal can be very messy! XD But with the right subject it can be very enjoyable. 🙂

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