Recently, our friends at Cass Art caught up with Gareth Reid, Grand Prize winner of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year, to find out more about how he captures a sitter, his experience on Sky Arts and why he favours minimal colour in his textured, black and white drawings. He also had some really great things to say about Nitram Charcoal! What follows is short sample of their conversation. To read more please visit here.
You regularly teach life drawing in our Glasgow Art Space – What advice do you give your students when approaching the figure?
My advice is pretty much: think about the mass of the figure, don’t focus on the outline too much. Don’t worry it’s only a drawing – correct, draw over, keep looking, use your rubber as a drawing tool, correct, draw over, squint, don’t start with the head, don’t worry about the details, balance, stand back, squint, check, get stuck in, make the figure work… aaaand repeat!
You use sharpened charcoal to complete your drawings – do you have a preferred set of materials?
I use Nitram Charcoal, a hangover from my days in Florence. Unusually it comes in grades of hardness and I mostly use the H for the finer parts of the drawings on canvas. The advantage is that is can be sharpened to a very fine point and anything else is too soft to deal with the sandpaper-like roughness of the canvas.
The canvas is just a basic cotton-duck, which I stretch, size and glue myself – along with another secret layer – I also use Unison Pastels which are totally beautiful to behold, but slightly unwieldy to use – they’re not really for very fine work!