Sarah M. Gibson

Video courtesy of Sarah M. Gibson & The Glasgow Academy of Fine Art
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‘Motherhood’ by Sarah M. Gibson, 116 x 76 cm, Nitram Charcoal, white chalk and ink on hand-toned paper


“Conceived as a preparatory study for a painting, I also wanted this drawing to be something beautiful in its own right and in its own language: the language of drawing. I wanted it to be a drawing that revels in its own linear and rhythmic qualities, that harkens back to the idealized beauty of the Renaissance, and that speaks to people in a very different way to the fully-rendered and more convincing illusion of the final oil painting.

This drawing is a literal self portrait of me and my young son, however I tried to imbue us with more symbolic qualities in order to represent ‘mother and child’ in a deeper, more universal sense.

For this project I worked with mixed media: first toning the paper with a combination of coffee and ink to get a beautiful golden hue, and then working out the outline and shadow edges in Nitram charcoal. I then used more of my coffee/ink mixture to fill in the shadows, and then returned to my Nitram and white chalk pencil to model the forms.

Nitram is far and away better than any other charcoal that I’ve used, so much so that I wouldn’t consider using any other brand. I first started using Nitram while training at the Ateliers in Florence, and now it’s what my own students at The Glasgow Academy of Fine Art use in all their drawing projects. Unlike standard willow or vine charcoals, Nitram comes in three different grades of hardness, all of which can be sharpened to a fine point. These are both essential qualities if you want to work with precision and control, as the beginning stage of a drawing requires a very soft charcoal, which is easier to erase and lay in a heavy value, while the latter stages requires very delicate work to hatch in the more subtle value shifts, which is better served by a harder charcoal. Nitram also works very well when combined with other mediums such as ink, chalk and even graphite—making it ideal for mixed media projects.”

~ Sarah Margaret Gibson

photo of Sarah Gibson paintingSarah Margaret Gibson (b. 1988) is a contemporary realist artist, specializing in portraits of people and birds. Characterized by a rich tenebrism, Gibson’s work dramatically juxtaposes light against shadow. She believes that light, and all of its symbolic qualities, are most poetic when contrasted against dark. Opening up a dialogue with nature through her work, she responds to what she finds beautiful and endeavors to communicate this with her viewers. 

Gibson received her formal training in drawing and painting in Florence, Italy. She studied at the Angel Academy of Art from 2008-2010, and then completed the full three-year program at The Florence Academy of Art, from which she graduated in 2013 and where she subsequently taught through 2015.

Gibson currently lives on the West coast of Scotland with her husband, fellow artist Lee Craigmile, and their son. In 2019 they co-founded the Glasgow Academy of Fine Art, where Gibson acts as Academic Director.

Gibson is represented by Arcadia Contemporary in New York, and her work is shown throughout the U.S. and Europe. Her paintings hang in both museums and private collections on both sides of the Atlantic.



photo of Glasgow Academy of Fine ArtOur primary goal at The Glasgow Academy of Fine Art is to offer our students the highest quality training in traditional, representational techniques of drawing and oil painting. We believe that our job is to teach the means of making art, not the ends. We teach our students a skill-based approach, rooted in the great tradition of the European Atelier, which dates all the way back to the early schools of Renaissance Florence. Our aim is to prepare students to become practicing, professional artists and to impart confidence in ability and mastery over technique.

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