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Willow Charcoal

The charcoal I draw with is made on the Somerset Levels from the same willow the basketmakers use. Willow makes the most gorgeous soft velvety artists charcoal. It has inspired me over the years as I have made drawings of the craftspeople and farmers I have documented. I also love sharing it with adults and children in expressive charcoal workshops where people can let go and experiment. It's such fun to draw with, smudging it with a cloth, working it into the paper or using a rubber to draw back into it, moving it around and shaping it much as a potter or sculptor shapes their clay.


Last week I was drawing willows. When they are pollarded they make me smile, looking rather like mannequins with their punk hair do's. These were growing vigorously with their branches full and feathery, bright in the January sunshine - they will probably get their haircut later on.

But today I am off to see the starling murmurations at Westhay, on the Somerset Levels, more great subject matter for charcoal and I will post new work as it emerges. IT's a brilliant bright frosty afternoon and the starlings arrive at sundown, so I had better go or I will miss them as they arrive in their millions in the soft geometry which makes us all gasp.



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