Charcoal painting is an art form that is one of the oldest art medium having been used by early man for cave drawings. Of course, then charcoal meant the burnt end of sticks whereas now we have progressed to compressed charcoal, vine charcoal and powdered charcoal. It comes in many different forms including pencils and sticks. Softer charcoals are called vine charcoal, while the harder varieties are called compressed charcoals.
When it comes to black and white drawing, no other medium is as rich and satisfying as charcoal. Charcoal can be used on many different surfaces. Charcoal is so versatile that it’s very easy for the artist to use it whether he is an amateur or a professional. Drawing with charcoal is an easy technique to pick up, simply because the medium is so forgiving.
Artists like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Ernst Barlach used charcoal to create high-impact images.
There are some tips/techniques that you should keep in mind, when you are working with charcoal.
1. Charcoal smears easily and can be quite messy too if you are not too careful.
2. Work backwards! Another technique you can use is to cover your page with charcoal and then use an eraser to actually draw something.
3. Watch videos to learn new techniques. There are so many available online, just get into your overalls and start ‘charcoaling’ right away.
4. Charcoal can be used for smudging very effectively. Use it beautifully to give that three dimensional edge to your drawings.
5. Draw vertical. As it smudges easily, it’s recommended to draw on a vertical surface so you can avoid dragging your unused arm/fingers over your drawings. Try and use an easel.
Start drawing with your charcoal today and see what new worlds you can open up.