Study Based off of an Original Charcoal Drawing by Nathan Fowkes


Over my December break I found a remarkable artist, Nathan Fowkes, online whose charcoal portraits are really nothing short of spectacular.  Mr. Fowkes is incredibly talented in the normal artistic sense of painting and drawing, but also as an accomplished animation artist.  I spent considerable time studying his work and then read through nearly every post that he did on his blog since 2006 http://nathanfowkes.blogspot.com/.

Nathan is gracious enough to post full-demonstrations of several of his charcoal drawings, which have been beneficial for me in gaining a better understanding of light/shadows and purposeful strokes with this medium, etc.

Here is a 12×9 charcoal study (strathmore paper) I did based off of one of Nathan’s demonstrations (you might have to dig deep into his blog postings, but you can find it on his blog link above).   The challenge for me is learning not only how to master the medium, but to do free-hand portraits as well (if you only knew – very hard for me to draw what I see).

Nathan Fowkes is definitely an artist I admire ~

Study Based off of an Original Charcoal Drawing by Nathan Fawkes

Study Based off of an Original Charcoal Drawing by Nathan Fawkes

I’m struggling on a current drawing, so it was nice to go back and see what’s possible – I needed that personal encouragement (hey sometimes we have to give to ourselves, lol).

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About Mary

Oil Pastelist
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52 Responses to Study Based off of an Original Charcoal Drawing by Nathan Fowkes

  1. mihrank says:

    elegant and beautiful!

  2. Mary I really like this one. Your strokes seem bold and confident. The balance between light and dark is perfect. Love it!

  3. Beautifully done, Mary! The form-values are excellent!

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Elena, appreciate your feedback. Just for fun I did this back in the beginning of my break, and oh boy I caught the bug to draw portraits – it’s been fun and a great learning experience. You are my inspiration, dear blogging friend.

  4. restlessjo says:

    That’s fantastic, Mary! 🙂 He reminds me of Kris Kristofferson.

  5. ladyfi says:

    He really knows how to draw!

  6. Wow, this is impressive Mary! Compared to the softness of your ladies this one is a total opposite and I love it! Bold, sharp, deep lines a total display of masculinity, the shadows and light add to the drama and creates a real character of a man! Congratulations on this outstanding portrait!

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much Eva, your fine description is exactly what attracted me to Nathan’s work and to see his demonstration – well it was a gift for my learning. The portrait was perfect to help me not be afraid to make deep and certain marks, and to give a better idea on how to draw rugged characters. Thank you for your generous feedback, I have to admit it was a fast and fun project to draw. Charcoal was the perfect medium.

  7. Steven says:

    Awesome stuff, Mary – I’ve never really been able to master charcoal, tried though I have. As others have said, beautiful boldness and masculinity to it. Particularly love the lines on the forehead. Thanks for sharing Nathan, too – what a talent!

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Steven – glad you enjoyed the piece. Isn’t Nathan fantastic? His creativity is off the charts as evidenced by his work – I’m in love with his charcoal drawings.

  8. poppytump says:

    Chiselled good looks in charcoal .. you handle the medium so well Mary … I know you have doubts and turmoils but you WILL NOT be beaten … a great inspiration to people like me 🙂

    • Mary says:

      A great description “chiseled good looks in charcoal,” I totally felt this character come alive w/the charcoal – his rugged persona was suited perfectly for the medium (Nathan is a good judge for this based on his gorgeous work). Poppy you just nailed it, those doubts you refer too are always creeping up – my hope is that perhaps after I draw hundreds more that my confidence and technical confidence might finally be at a point that strokes will be of purpose. Thank you for your encouraging words of support, means a lot.

  9. elisa ruland says:

    There is something so familiar about the subject of this portrait, that I feel as though I know every interesting line.

    • Mary says:

      What a fabulous comment Elisa – really enjoyed it. Thanks so much – there was something very freeing in drawing someone with such great character.

  10. I wish I could draw people like you! Amazing!

  11. ashokbhatia says:

    It touches you because you get a feeling that you are able to see the inner personality of the person portrayed!

  12. This portrait is wonderful – I can see every wrinkle on his face and he looks happy with himself. I know exactly what you mean when you say you needed encouragement when stuck on a project. This one should make you fly through your next one 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Malvika for your kind and thoughtful feedback – means a lot. Actually I’m in my third day for my next drawing project, every time I think I’m done it pulls me back – so now I’m kind of going with it to see where it ends. Thanks again ~

  13. Amazing portrait. I am sure your hard work and discipline on this new challenge will show great results and talent as always. 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Karen so much for your generous comment – I’m hoping that down the road I’ll feel more confident for managing this medium. In the meantime I’m just going to keep at it – actually it’s a lot of fun.

  14. Ah, Mary that’s a beautiful charcoal portrait and the light comes out so well! 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Hi Marina, thanks so much – I think the light was what attracted me to the original drawing, that and Nathan extraordinary use of charcoal strokes. Hope you are having a beautiful day.

  15. Great drawing, and also great to find another art blog to follow. I’ll check out that link

    • Mary says:

      Thank you very much Mark. Nathan is fantastic – he also gives classes (I think in California) and has one starting soon. I wish I lived out West to attend. The more I read through his posts, the more I learned ~ I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Thanks!

  16. aFrankAngle says:

    Great example of how learning never stops! Interesting how many defined marks an artist can make with charcoal. Well done!

  17. Mary,
    You do both Nathan and You justice

    Best Wishes

    john

  18. Susan Feniak says:

    Fantastic drawing Mary! And yes, sometimes we do have to give to ourselves!

    • Mary says:

      Thanks Susan, because I was feeling pretty down these last two days on my current project. And with my personality, I just can’t leave well enough alone – so this gave me hope for possibilities. I really appreciate your encouragement Susan.

      • Susan Feniak says:

        Leaving well enough alone should cross our minds every once in awhile but it doesn’t. Too hard for some of us to do. I admire your work and think you do a wonderful job. Keep treating yourself you deserve it!! 🙂

  19. you amaze me with your thirst to be the best you can be… your discipline and study and practice is amazinig. you make me feel quite an amateur! thumbs up always for you and the example you set – in so many ways! love,lisa

    • Mary says:

      You are very kind Miss Z! But you are the one that I most admire – from drawing to painting, the knowledge of wielding your artistic tools with an exceptional eye of creative visions. I like the idea of learning, and keeping with the drawing challenge you gave to all of us – well that is exactly what got me going again. Thank you for your many kind and generous encouraging support – you’re a wonderful blogging friend.

  20. Painting for Joy says:

    Most excellent portraiture Mary. Your handling of the dramatic contrasts between light and dark bring excitement and great masculinity to this portrait. Very well done! xoxo

    • Mary says:

      Thanks Rhonda, the character lent itself to such a strong handling of the charcoal – being able to see how Nathan treated such a prospect helped tremendously.

  21. Mary, I love this one! The darkness in the eyes are so expressive!

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much Patsy. The intensity of how he handled the light and shadows really appealed to me, and like you, the dark eyes were my wow factor.

  22. Mary, I love your work. This one is amazing. The darkness in the eyes portrays so much expression! 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much Patsy. The intensity of how he handled the light and shadows really appealed to me, and like you, the dark eyes were my wow factor.

  23. It’s very heartwarming to read about these steps in your artistic journey, Mary. You seem to keep challenging yourself out of your own authentic need to know, and then working at it like a woman possessed! I am filled with admiration….

    • Mary says:

      You are so good Cynthia – can’t help but laugh and smile with your words of support and encouragement. I must confess that becoming obsessed and possessed are perfect verbs to describe what the heck is going on with this quest of mine to learn. And the problem with that, my oil pastels sit looking at me like – why aren’t you coming back. I am, but after I get this one last portrait done that I’m working on (it’s a bear). I’m fascinated with trying to refine my charcoal drawing skills – there’s a feel I want to accomplish in my pieces that I think is where this urge/drive is coming from.

      Thanks my blogging friend – just read “To a Tulip,” beautiful – “… beauty new as beauties past.” Looking forward to taking my time to drink your wonderful writing.

  24. What a great Portrait Mary 🙂 🙂

    I love the free style and Marks – Well done !!!

    • Mary says:

      Thanks Nigel, now if I can only reproduce the magic in my work outside of studies. There is magic in Nathan’s work – appreciate your generous comment.

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