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  • Writer's pictureCeleste

How Charcoal and Me Came to Be

charcoal pet portrait drawn by Canadian artist.

I was lucky to have a fantastic life drawing teacher in high school named Alex Tavares. He first introduced me to charcoal when I was 16 years old. At first I found it frustrating, messy and difficult compared to the clean, controlled lines of graphite and pen, but one day while working on a portrait of a woman it just clicked.

charcoal drawing of a woman
My first (good) charcoal portrait in high school

I'm not sure how, but suddenly the medium made sense to me, and I appreciated its soft, organic nature. I could cover large areas in solid black, rub lightly to create subtle shadows, and work with the negative space to build textures and highlights that just popped.

From then onward charcoal was my new favourite drawing tool, and I used it obsessively.

When I was about eighteen, I decided to draw a portrait of our dog Charlie as a gift to my parents. I found that charcoal worked perfectly to sketch in his soft fur and catch the twinkle in his eye. There was a life and depth that I hadn't previously been able to achieve, and the charcoal helped to make this happen.

charcoal portrait of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
My first charcoal pet portrait of my dog Charlie

This gave me the idea to start my business, and I've been drawing charcoal pet portraits for 20+ years now. I've met so many amazing people from all over the world (as far as Australia) and have drawn everything from dogs, cats, horses and even bunnies. It's so rewarding to make people happy by capturing their beloved furry friends, and for someone who loves animals as much as I do, it's a great way to connect with fellow pet owners and those who are compassionate towards nature in general.

Thank you to everyone who has supported Charcoal Pet Portraits over the years. Without fabulous teachers, clients and friends I never would have been able to make my dream a reality.

Dreaming of being a pet portrait artist, page from school notebook
Realizing my childhood dream.. haha



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