Friday 29 July 2011


In a fit of madness, I decided to try out drawing with charcoal. Well, it is like watercolour: impossible to control, and quickly turns into a powdery mess. The drawing also tends to be extremely fragile compared to a pencil drawing: the slightest accidental touch, and your carefully placed line is smeared all over the paper. I am astonished at the way in which classically trained artists can use it to produce highly detailed and precisely naturalistic drawings. Perhaps practice will make perfect.

I do like the medium's rich, velvety blacks and grays, and its essential simplicity: it is the one drawing tool you can easily produce yourself (and indeed, until fairly recently, artists did burn their own charcoal instead of buying it). The drawing process itself is also an exercise in simplicity and minimalism: stick of charcoal, paper, eraser, and nothing more. In the old days, artists used a piece of old bread as eraser; these days we have a thing called a kneaded eraser that can work miracles in forgiving our artistic sins.

Without further ado, here's the powdery, murky, messy horror that resulted from my first excursion into this medium; it is about size A5:

This is going to take some practice...

Sunday 24 July 2011

Egg and glasses

I went along with friends to go see the last Harry Potter film, in 3D, some time ago. The film was okay; I disliked the 3D effect. It gave me a headache: everything seemed constantly slightly out of focus, and the colours and light dark and somehow not "there." But those 3D glasses, in combination with an egg, made for a somewhat surreal still life:

Monday 11 July 2011

Pear and pocket knife

Another attempt at something metallic, and again not entirely successful. HB mechanical pencil on printer paper; about size A5.

Thursday 7 July 2011


I had a mighty battle trying to render the metallic shine, and didn't quite succeed...

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Broken bottle

What is dangerous trash to everyone else, is priceless treasure to the artist. I found this piece of broken bottle on a sidewalk. I picked it up because it seemed like a rather dangerous thing to leave lying around on a surface where children walk, and because I liked the way the sun's light glinted on it and fell through it. How can one not want to draw such a marvelous thing?

Saturday 2 July 2011

Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary

A nice place to kill a few hours is the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary in Pretoria, where a large enclosure is home to all manner of critters, such as this steenbok:

As one might expect, there is also a large variety of birds, especially waterbirds, such as comb ducks (a.k.a. knob-billed ducks, for obvious reasons):

Blacksmith lapwing (so named because of its call, which resembles a small hammer hitting an anvil):

 Little egret:

 And the ubiquitous Egyptian goose:

Also commonly found at the reserve is the white-faced duck:

and yellow-billed duck:

It is a congenial place to make sketches of birds, something I try now and then when I can work up the courage to try sketching moving targets.