Scottish artist Douglas McDougall uses charcoal, sandpaper and scalpel blades to create his amazingly realistic portraits of friends and people he finds interesting.
Douglas McDougall learned how to draw as a child to pass the time while going in and out of hospitals with a blood disease. He spent countless hours in hospital wards trying to draw his surroundings, and the experience fueled his passion for art. In his younger years, the 50-year-old artist used to do a lot of pen and ink illustration work during the night, after coming home from his day job, but eventually settled on charcoal as his medium of choice. “The immediacy of applying that blackness and the way in which it’s sucked into a white ground /paper/ forever excited me with a glorious kick of absoluteness”, the artist says, and after getting his hands on Conté compressed charcoal for the first time and discovering its power there was no going back. Today he uses various kinds of charcoal along with unusual art tools like sandpaper and sharp blades to create some of the most detailed hyper-realistic portraits I have ever seen.
The talented illustrator starts work on his charcoal masterpieces with “a spontaneous almost neurotic sketching that quickly allows me to encompass the whole form”. Then he starts ‘laying on the underpainting, filling in the spaces much like one would do using a conventional grid system”. Once the drawing stage is complete, McDougall uses Stanley blades, coarse sandpaper and sharply cut erasers to carve into the paper canvas adding further detail to his already photo-realistic black-and-white portraits. His works are so good that a lot of people simply walk past them not giving them a second glance because they think it’s just photoshopped black-and-white photography. “On most occasions dealers have had to be a little more proactive, making sure that they catch certain individuals and provide them with appropriate understanding,” Douglas says.