Old Monk 2 – charcoal drawing

A monks face sometimes hold clues to burden of prayer they carry around where ever they may be – it’s the expression, the haunting eyes and slackened face muscles that has me curious.  What is it they feel and think .  .  .  how do they react to a world of which they are far removed?

Old Monk 2, a charcoal and graphite drawing (12×9) on Strathmore Paper, vine and willow charcoal was used for the monk and background, and 4H – 2H – HB graphite pencils for the cloth; tools used for blending were stumps, tortilium, kneaded and click eraser, and an artist brush.  Drawing free-hand takes me a while to do an initial layout of a subject (4 hrs for this monk) and about 12 hours in total drawing time for this piece.  Graphite was used for the cloth because of its reflective qualities and also it provides a slightly different texture than what the charcoal gives to the skin.

We had freezing rain, sleet and a little snow flurries (for February in TX, that’s unusual), in any event it’s dark out today so the photograph isn’t the best quality, but I think it represents him well enough.

Thanks for checking in ~ click onto the image for a larger view.

Old Monk 2 The reference image was from Elaine Cross an incredible photographer of pmp.


About Mary

Oil Pastelist
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69 Responses to Old Monk 2 – charcoal drawing

  1. I of July says:

    so happy to see so many people appreciate your work… you’re always consistent

  2. Jane Lurie says:

    Beautiful expression, Mary.

  3. I do believe monks experience, perceive and live life on a whole other level, very different from us the everyday sort of people and your subject certainly reflects that overwhelming knowledge and understanding of how everything works. There are great many details in this portrait which pull together and lend a strong character to this monk. He seems stronger than strong and at the same time more fragile than fragile. Marvelous work Mary, you really got under his skin and conveyed perfectly the essence and the spirit of a “Monk”.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Eva, thank you so much for your feedback and support with these portraits. I totally agree with your thoughts on monks and how they perceive the world around them. This particular monk had such an intense, but sad look to him that I really wanted to try and capture what I was feeling as well. I think you read me well on this subject, I walked away from the final drawing with him still on my mind – someone that I’d like to have a conversation with. Thank you again – your thoughts give me insight in many ways. Have a lovely weekend.

  4. Mary, your talent never ceases to amaze me. So much patience and peace expressed in this face.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Elizabeth, thank you so much for your beautiful feedback – his expression is what spoke to me when I first saw him. So glad you enjoyed the piece.

  5. Mary, what a beautiful portrait. Your details and drawing skills really shine in this portrait. I am drawn to his eyes, so expressive.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Janell, thank you very much for your generous comments – drawing the monk was a great learning tool for me. Appreciate your kind feedback.

  6. He shines with an inner peace, Mary.

  7. Yes, it certainly does make you wonder about what they are thinking and feeling. Another wonderful drawing Mary.

  8. coastalcrone says:

    A haunting face! Well done!

  9. elisa ruland says:

    Hi Mary! It’s as though a lifetime of worry is etched in his face. I wonder what he would look like if he smiled? Beautiful work, as always!

  10. restlessjo says:

    He certainly looks as though he’s lived, Mary! Not just led a cloistered life. 🙂 It’s amazing how much expression you’ve got into that face!

  11. Mary, such excellent details on this one!

  12. Superb artistry, Mary. You’ve really captured the wisdom of old age and the way his austere way of life has impacted his facial expressions.

  13. Painting for Joy says:

    Nicely done Mary. You rendered his age beautifully with all his wisdom. I like the dark splash in the background giving depth but not taking away from the portrait.

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Rhonda. Actually I usually have a background in mind when starting out, but this one I didn’t and I didn’t want a floating head. I also didn’t want anything with too much energy as it wouldn’t compliment his soul, so the splash on the right seemed to seat the Monk and still stay in the back. Thank you for noticing!

  14. aFrankAngle says:

    One in deep thoughts. Loved looking closer at all the detail. 🙂

    • Mary says:

      Thank Frank – the close-ups are so interesting, gets the character of this person on a more intimate level. Hope you are enjoying your break – I was thinking about your next play and wondered if you ever thought about doing a Pre-K through High School theme from a child’s perspective.

  15. ĽAdelaide says:

    He’s perfectly drawn and has the expression of many monks I’ve see. Like they’ve seen the world in both its joy and pain. xx

  16. Gallivanta says:

    You have certainly captured the burden and the wrinkles.

  17. Don says:

    Beautifully done Mary. I really like it. There’s always such expression and intrigue in your portraits.

    • Mary says:

      Beautiful description Don, means a lot. Thank you for such a compliment with my art – these portraits have been an interesting twist to my normal subjects.

  18. texastom46 says:

    What a wonderfully delicate drawing! The intensity of his concentration and his strength of character (i.e., his prayerful spirit and wisdom) was captured perfectly by your work, Mary!

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Tom for your generous comment and description – there is a lot going on with this subject and I think that’s why it took longer than usual for me to develop him. Thank you for noticing what I was trying to achieve.

  19. Miss Mary
    You’ve captured the years in his face – excellent!

    Big Hugs

    uncle john

  20. oh this is fantastic! i love it!

    long ago i did portraits at times for book illustrations, and the time spent studying the nuances of the faces always took me to a different level.. it was as if i stepped inside the psyche of the person, and it was spooky… i reached a point where i did not enjoy doing portraits at all – it was like being a voyeur.

    do you sometimes get that feeling? the depth of this study suggests that you’re definitely on the same ‘vibrations’ as this monk…

    • Mary says:

      Hi Z! Thank you so much – loved what you wrote and I can totally relate to what I meant about getting so deep within a character while drawing or painting a person, their psyche does start to emerge. You are right with this Monk I felt as much. Lisa your gentle soul and compassion for those around you I think naturally allows you to experience a subject on a totally different level than many others – it doesn’t surprise me that you would tap into the psyche of your subjects. I hope drawing portraits don’t take me down a path that takes the enjoyment out of it for me ~

  21. John says:

    Great work, Mary! Frame it up, pop it on the wall. 🙂

  22. lulu says:

    I so admire your talent. Drawing is not among the things I can do though goodness knows I’ve tried.

  23. A.PROMPTreply says:

    He not only has seen burdens, he carries them. There’s something very good in the asymmetrical aspects in the mouth and nose and those lines in sharp relief on the neck are indicative of his inner strain. I think the eyes, though, being left dull as they are really shows the depth of the weight he is carrying. All put together, a most wonderful capture, Mary!

    • Mary says:

      Hi A!, such deep and thought-provoking comments. Really appreciate your intimate analysis of the monk – it’s a way to see within the obvious. I really enjoyed your feedback – thank you so much.

    • Mary says:

      Hi A! I meant to say one other thing w/re to your comment. Thanks for noticing his dull eyes, after I applied several layers of charcoal I purposefully went back and blotted the eyes with the side of my thumb to dull them. It seemed totally appropriate for his eyes to be there w/soulful life rather than bright and dark. Thanks again ~

      • A.PROMPTreply says:

        Hah! And I work so hard to give you feedback and always feel inadequate in the scope of your talent! I’m so glad I captured your capture! 🙂

  24. Amy says:

    This portrait is so much like a remarkable BW photo that captured the moment…

  25. Heartafire says:

    Oh, this is wonderful, you have captured this so perfectly.

  26. A beautiful wise face that has seen much.

  27. Ah, Mary what an amazing portrait. You’ve captured his thoughts! 🙂

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