New studio, new charcoal drawing

About a week ago, the place where I rent a shared studio space relocated to a new building. I helped the owner a bit by polyurethaning the tops of our wooden work stations. Ugh, the fumes! I also changed stations since one by the windows became available. Since the move, I’ve been there most days and am so happy with both the natural light I now get from the windows as well as the improved overhead lighting in the new space.

I also started a new drawing a couple of weeks ago and was making slow progress on it until I took it to the studio. I’m hoping to finish it this week and will probably frame this one as I’m pleased with the way it’s turning out. The subject may look familiar because I’ve been slightly obsessed with these NYC fire escapes since list year. I think I’ve drawn this image at least 5 times and painted it 3 times. Will probably paint it at least one more time before I feel done with it. Maybe I’ll eventually write a post about the benefits of doing the same subject matter over and over.

I don’t really hold my pencil like that when I draw although supposedly I should. This drawing is on Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Board paper. I like this paper for charcoal drawings because the slick surface allows me to manipulate the charcoal much more than on other types of drawing paper. I can apply pressed charcoal, pencil charcoal, or powdered charcoal and then move it around on the paper until I get it where I want it. It’s also easier to lighten areas with an eraser (kneaded rubber or with the essential Tombow Zero Round).

I do charcoal drawings on a slanted surface so the excess powder falls off. To keep from smearing my work, I use either a paper towel as shown here or, more often, a wooden yardstick as a mahl stick. I picked up that trick years ago from James Gurney only I’m too lazy to add the spacer or tung oil. I just rest the tip on the edge of my drawing board and that keeps the stick off the surface of the paper. When I’m drawing on a flat surface, I use an acrylic bridge like he references in the link above.

Once this drawing is finished, I’ll add it to my home page so you can see the final version.