Resting Comfortably, graphite and charcoal

Continuing to challenge myself with still life drawings using graphite and charcoal ~ in this piece it was all about the double tablecloths, in particular the white one.

Resting Comfortably, a graphite and charcoal drawing (9×12) was done on Strathmore Bristol Vellum paper.  Lots of challenges – the biggest I had to tackle was the stark white tablecloth from its design to the way it was laying on top of another tablecloth, working the light and shadow values right was the key here.  I’m not convinced that the cloth reflects my best work, it was tough draw.  The fruit worked out okay, but my favorite part of the drawing were the leaves and their edges – it was my drawing relief within the piece and I loved working the hard/soft edging against the charcoal background.

Staying true to my growth as an artist – thanks for checking in.

Resting Comfortably


About Mary

Oil Pastelist
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78 Responses to Resting Comfortably, graphite and charcoal

  1. nutsfortreasure says:

    So beautiful.

  2. pizzuti says:

    Mary these are beautiful! Great work. I think I like them better than your paintings.

  3. Nice work Mary! I am really enjoying seeing your graphite work this year. ~Rita

  4. Something about this makes me think of fruit from Renaissance paintings, or paintings from the Dutch masters. The fruit looks plump and juicy, and I like there’s a trio. Wonderful piece!

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much for your generous thoughts on this piece. I enjoyed the darkness of the Renaissance period and interesting subjects in the masters still life’s, this scene was my attempt to bring some drama to an ordinary pencil still life.

  5. restlessjo says:

    This looks incredibly difficult! 🙂

  6. Your talent astounds me and how quickly you are able to do these drawings is amazing!

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Elizabeth. Drawing is a slow going process at least for me, at some point I get real relaxed and I’ll be totally absorbed into each piece I work on.

  7. You’ll be having to change the title of your blog soon, Mary, with all this tonal work. I think the tablecloth would look better if it dropped over the table and out the frame (even if it didn’t) and gave the impression of falling downwards at the edge. This one looks well starched and quite horizontal. A tonal shift between the top of the cloth and that part falling down the side of the table to indicate a change of plane would help as well.

    • Mary says:

      Thank you so much Graham for your comments and thoughtful suggestions, they were spot-on. I went back and looked at the top tablecloth based on your feedback I will revisit that area in the drawing and hope to make some successful adjustments. I really appreciate your artistic eye and thank you for taking the time to examine this drawing – it’s been very helpful.

      I know with the drawing and acrylics my focus is somewhat been drawn away from oil pastels a bit, but it’s still my favorite medium. That’s the problem with naming a blog after (what I thought) was my one and only medium – I’m going to have to give this some thought.

  8. Painting for Joy says:

    Exquisite!!! Your piece has an old masters feel. You truly excel with this medium Mary. My eyes want to soak in every delicious nuance. I would be very pleased with how it turned out, were it mine. Bravo!

    • Mary says:

      Hi Rhonda, you are always so generous and gracious with your feedback and comments – can’t thank you enough. Your support and encouragement are appreciated more than you know. This still life was a great teacher of some subtle techniques in pencil – really enjoyed working it out. Thanks again Rhonda ~

      • Painting for Joy says:

        Oh goodness you are so welcome. You are such a fabulous artist Mary.

        I’m sorry I don’t get around to visiting you and others more often. I have a horrible internet service at this time. I will be changing providers in the spring but for now I don’t have much bandwidth to use each month unless I want to be up from 2am to 8 am. It’s so ridiculous. On top of that we live in an area that gets spotty cell phone reception so it’s hard to peruse blogs via my phone. Argh!! Please forgive me for not being a consistent blog friend. 😕

        • Mary says:

          Oh Rhonda you never have to explain – it’s just a true pleasure to have you visit when you can. We are very lucky for where we live, I know my friend in South Africa has the same issues with bandwidth and internet connections as you are experiencing. It must be very frustrating for you especially when your art is also your business. I hope the change in providers brings you much needed relief in this area.

          BTW I just loved the floral you painted for the charity – someone is going to have a gorgeous painting hanging on their wall. Take care my friend ~

  9. Amy says:

    Love this drawing, Mary.The light and shadow are beautifully done. 🙂

  10. Heartafire says:

    This is incredibly beautiful Mary! Bravo!

  11. exiledprospero says:

    Between this drawing and your last, I prefer the last. The tablecloth seems a little nebulously depicted. Is this the effect you were after. Still, it’s a very good drawing.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Propsero, great comment and I can see why you thought this. You are correct in how you read the tablecloth, it was to be a bit nebulous overall because of how bright the light was hitting it, the cloth was bunched somewhat and also heavily frayed. In the end there weren’t a lot areas to clearly define – I can understand how you came to your conclusion and I’m glad you mentioned it.

      As an artist I go back n’ forth on whether to go for hyper-realism, realism or bring a sort of painterly effect with my pencils – I don’t know, but for now it’s the enjoyment of the process of figuring it out. You know my friend, I might never come to a conclusion ~

  12. Chloe says:

    You have some serious talent there. I love the shading you have done and how each fruit appears three dimensional even though they are on a piece of paper. I wish I could make art with graphite and charcoal like that 🙂

  13. Tom Donovan says:

    Hey Mary – Disappointed with this piece? This is an excellent drawing! Beautiful values. Think you portrayed the illusion of the two tablecloths nicely and the frayed shapes and depth you created on the white cloth are eye candy and dance across the foreground! Nice job modeling the form on the fruit with your light source on the right and agree the leaves are headliners in this show. Really nice rendering here. Only suggestion? When I magnify the drawing, there a some bare spots of white tooth ( i.e above the fruit on the right, the large leaf on the middle fruit, etc) that didn’t collect any material. As a finishing touch, would use a soft brush and make a couple gentle passes to fill them. – Tom

    • Mary says:

      Hi Tom, thanks very much for your feedback on this drawing. I really enjoyed reading your description of the subjects, as seen through the eyes of an artist/viewer – showed me how you analyzed the pieces. Your suggestion was spot-on and glad you mentioned it. I was having trouble getting the charcoal to cover and darken the area – I think because I wanted a mixture so the leave edges would be softened and lost, but once you lay down graphite charcoal won’t lay down over it. So I’ll go back in and see if I can just adjust through additional lower values of graphite and hopefully that will takeaway the white spots. Good eye and much appreciated. Thanks so much – glad you enjoyed the drawing.

  14. debiriley says:

    I’m a huge fan of graphite and charcoal, and you have just proved how well they marry! Love the smoothness of edges and the feel of the paper surface you’ve allowed to come through, love it! The deep charcoal background is a wonderful, dramatic touch that adds a lot of impact to your composition, which I really like. your tonal range and subtle nuances…. delight the eye. 🙂 yes, I guess I like it Mary. LOL chuckling… cheers, Debi

    • Mary says:

      Hi Debi, thank you very much for your generous thoughts on this drawing. I also like using both graphite and charcoal together – they seem to play off on one another because of their qualities and the contrasts are played up a bit more. Sometimes I’ll add carbon if I want that extra darkness within a piece. I really appreciate your artists eye in your feedback, it was the subtle nuances that I was hoping to exploit in the drawing. Thanks again ~

  15. Ogee says:

    Disappointed with the piece? Oh Mary. Please send any disappointments my way. 🙂 Beautiful.

    • Mary says:

      You are too kind Audrey! Thanks very much – the cloth was one of those subjects that had me wondering what was I thinking?! Thanks again ~

  16. Miss Mary,
    Fine composition with good depth and shading.
    i hope 2016 has started in the best possible way for You

    Big Hugs

    uncle john

    • Mary says:

      Great to see you Uncle John – thank you so much for your generous support and encouragement with this piece. Happy New Year to you and looking forward to reading your latest writings – the best to you this year!

  17. Nicodemas says:

    Excellent Mary! So beautiful.

  18. The leaves are exquisite, Mary! I’m amazed at the detail you get with both of these mediums.

    • Mary says:

      Thanks so much Laura. I’m still working at refining my marks with both graphite and charcoal, I think that’s what I enjoy most about drawing ~

  19. Nicely done, Mary. You did a fantastic job with the leaves.

  20. I totally agree with the leaves, they are perfectly done! Cloth is a though medium, I had trouble and actually for a while didn’t liked when we needed to have studies done over them. It drove me crazy when the teacher was draping them, folding them and we had to make it look like it’s real on the paper, I still have problem with them but now I don’t need to do it. I really admire your tenacity to work on difficult subjects, practice will get results, the more you do it the better those muscle memories will kick in and help guide you for the best results. I suppose I got a bit carried away with the cloth subject, hehe!
    A wonderful drawing once again Mary and is getting more and more beautiful each time, well done indeed!
    Have a wonderful week! Hugs~Eva

    • Mary says:

      Hi Eva, thank you for thoughts on this piece and especially your discussion about the cloth. What I love is that through the arduous training you received earlier on your work has a magical quality about it – your eyes carry the vision forward into your drawings. I’m hoping that with the challenges I work into my drawings that I can begin to train my eye to see values, forms/shapes and the intricacies that make a subject go from “oh that’s interesting” to “ah – now that’s what I’m talking about.” Perhaps that’s why I get so focused on learning, I want to see growth and development at a deeper level and I hope it will carries over into my work. Thank you – I like these kinds of discussions. Have a wonderful day!

      • You’re most kind and generous Mary! Up till this day I’m still learning and developing, I feel that is still so much I need to learn and improve…school is a good base but is only a starting point. What you do is most inspiring for all of us, to keep it going, never give up and always enjoy the gift of creating art, you’re teaching us valuable lessons and we all see and have that “ah, now that’s what I’m talking about” moment when we view your work. But you’re more to us then only an artist and that is what I personally like about you, you inspire me each and every time, help us grow and develop on many other levels. Thank you for that, your generosity is unmatched!

        • Mary says:

          Thank you my friend I’m savoring your thoughts – I truly appreciate your friendship and unending support. 2016 will be a very good year!

  21. I really appreciate that you share your insights as your project evolves, progresses, and moves it’s way towards completion.

  22. Resa says:

    Your piece is wonderful!
    I completely understand about the cloth. In fashion sketching (which is nowhere up to the skill level you have developed) all cloth related textures, drapes, prints, pleats, gathers… fur, frays, fringes and folds … etc. are on the learning menu.
    I really miss fashion illustration in the magazines. Photography shows clothes well. However, it is no more honest than a sketch when the photo is “shopped”.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Resa, thank you. Oh I’m very much still in the learning stages of cloth there are many types of fabrics and textures I haven’t attempted yet, will just keep on keeping on. Sometimes slick doesn’t always give way to the elegance of the real thing – I really enjoyed your thoughts on this one.

  23. Beautiful composition…you never fail to amaze me, Mary… 🙂

  24. They truly are resting comfortably, Mary! 🙂

  25. Jenna says:

    This is wonderful, Mary! You’ve done a great job on every part of this. The leaves are lovely, and I can see why you enjoyed drawing them. I also especially like the rich values and the smoky, mysterious background. It makes me think of those timeless still life paintings you might find in a museum. Beautiful work on this drawing, through and through!

    • Mary says:

      So great to see you Jenna – thank you for your lovely feedback and encouraging comments on this piece. Had a good time working those leaves! I was going to put down a bit of carbon on the background too, but thought to leave well enough alone. Thanks again, I really appreciate it!

  26. Timelesslady says:

    I like the leaves also…the curl of the edges. Beautiful work.

    • Mary says:

      Thank you, I really appreciate your feedback especially about the leaves. I think they added a little interest and gave the viewer a bit of eye-relief. Thanks again!

  27. Love your title for this work, Mary. The soft textures are really beautiful. You really have that magic touch with your pencils. 🙂

  28. Rebecca says:

    Mmmmm, beautiful. (You’re making me want to get back to graphite).

  29. Beautiful, Mary. You say the lighter cloth was tough, but you did a nice job with it, I think. It almost juts right out of the painting, there, in the front. And it can’t be easy to render light fruit on a light cloth, but you accomplished that masterfully. I enjoy how a still-life like this is a taste of the classical.

    • Mary says:

      Very cool and thank you so much Cynthia for your generous feedback. Perhaps classical is what I’m trending toward with my drawings – still working to figure the style out. I had to really work at actually seeing the values with the white cloth. You’re right about the fruit, initially they were much too light which didn’t give them any form, so I just kept lightly applying the graphite in layers until some weight started to show with them. Thanks again, I really appreciate it!

  30. Oh my, this is exquisite, Mary. I’m so envious of your talent!

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