Charcoal Drawing Workshop with Nick Grellier, Stroud


Nick Grellier (top left): Flo shows us round Nick’s studio at Pegasus

A fantastic day exploring charcoal, big and bold, with artist Nicola Grellier. We started with some 3-5 minute warm-up exercises, most of which I hadn’t tried before: drawing without looking at the paper (left), drawing with a long bendy stick (middle), drawing with the ‘wrong’ hand (right).  Apart from making Flo look like her gran, I liked the qualities of the ‘wrong hand’ drawings, and would like to recreate them in ‘right’ hand drawing.


Followed by an hour pose on large paper.  Nick’s daughter, Flo, who has a wonderful and varied wardrobe, was our model:


I discovered my willow charcoal is grey rather than black, so I treated myself to some new sticks. I’ve had had it since 1990, so it’s not before time.  Played with the black charcoal after lunch, when we began with some very quick gesture drawing as Flo walked slowly round, holding each pose for a few seconds (she made some interesting forms), which was followed by another long pose on large paper, finishing with some very short poses on small paper, using a pencil held at the end:


Why have I never drawn holding the end of a pencil before – love it!  So loose and very enjoyable. May be try adding charcoal to a short, pencil length stick, combining it with using the charcaol edge, which also gave some interesting marks on the final large piece.

The aim of the workshop was to not only free up drawing, but also to encourage us to ‘see’ the abstract shapes and move the shapes around until it is as we want, leaving the ghosts of our struggles on the paper. Adding charcoal, removing charcoal, the process took on a sculptural feel, which I enjoyed. Not unlike my new discovery re clay – keep going until it’s ‘right’. We looked at the work of Richard Diebenkorn whose ‘ghosts’ of other feet, hands and altered angles add life and depth to the drawing.

Richard Deibenkorn

Richard Diebenkorn: Seated Nude 1966

I find this approach refreshing and liberating.  No more errors!  Multiple laying of images is interesting. I feel the need to continue figure drawing, but I don’t know where there’s a suitably timed/located/priced class. I must look into it again.

And the gesture drawings have some interesting shapes.  Maybe they will translate well to clay maquettes……?



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