Preparation is the key to obtaining my overall outcome. The actual surface that I work on is actually part of the work itself, so I actually prepare my own boards, using a mixture of gesso, bondcrete and water, creating the surface texture that I will use for each individual piece that will match my chosen subject. This piece I have chosen a hard texture to draw out, levels of depth for facial features, hair and shadows for reflective lightening and the at times the harshness of the Australian eucalyptus tree.
Medium used is charcoal, from (soft) black, and (soft) vivid white, grey just appears with the use of blending and removing what is not required. The entire surface always starts off completely white, with every piece that I have worked in charcoal. My tools that I use along with the use of compressed charcoal to achieved the desired effects are brush work, my hands, fingers and sharp metal, along with at times, natural sponge and air to take away the excess. A vacuum is also a very useful tool, not only for clean up but for removal of unwanted medium usage.
Each layer, which there are many are sprayed with a fixer individually as the work develops layer upon layer, this procedure is done very carefully, as removal of any medium will distort your desired result. This is done while laying the work flat on the ground and spraying above over the work so that a layer floats down holding the minute particles of charcoal in place, hence not disturbing the worked surface.
I see the framing of my pieces as an extension to the piece itself, the framing and the matting, brings out tones, which complete the subject. None of my pieces are actually finished until they are framed.