August 26, 2007

Charcoal Sketches - back to basics

Nothing is quite so liberating for an artist - or aspiring artist - than a good light, several large sheets of medium textured drawing stock, and a handful of soft, ‘moderately black’ charcoal sticks. There is something natural, basic, and elementary about working with charcoal sketches.

Charcoal as a medium is fast, direct, and responsive. It’s with very good reason that beginning art students are encouraged to sketch with charcoal to practice line flow, contours, shading, light and shadow, and emphasis. Bold and frequent application of charcoal is the best way for a new artist to find his or her personal technique and unique style.

Charcoal it is one of the least inhibiting of drawing media. It can be used to produce bold and fluid lines, a wide range of textures, and achieve subtle shadings as well.

Probably due to its availability, versatility and low cost, charcoal became the common practice medium used throughout the ages and throughout the world by all the great artists of their time, always found in their sketchbooks but rarely seen in a finished work of art.

Modern art has however embraced charcoal as a popular medium for finished charcoal paintings and charcoal drawings. Charcoal portraits are especially effective in capturing a subject’s character and subtle expressions.

Reproductions of the charcoal sketches and charcoal paintings of famous artists have become much admired, and valuable, artworks in their own right; the sketchbooks of Leonardo da Vinci for example.

Original and reproduction charcoal sketches and charcoal portraits are extremely durable once they have been mounted behind glass or sprayed with a fixative, or fine spray lacquer.

Charcoal Sketches

Charcoal pencils may well be one of the oldest art forms for creating charcoal sketches. From what I have heard, ancient cave men have been drawing with charcoal since well before the dawn of civilization. Obviously, the originals did not have the sophistication of modern charcoal pencil drawings. They would use crude charcoal sticks pulled from the bottom of fire pits, rubbing them onto the cave walls to make simplistic designs. Although charcoal drawing can take simple forms like this, it is only possible to see charcoal’s full potential when you are tackling the more complex art project.

As a matter of fact, the charcoal pencil is one of the most versatile and sophisticated tools in a portrait artist’s repertoire. Shading is a notoriously difficult problem for artists. Creating the sensation of depth and shadow is something that takes many people years to develop. I won’t say that the charcoal pencil makes it easy, but it certainly makes it easier. Charcoal pencils, you see, lend themselves naturally to shading. By using the edge of the pencil, you can easily create varying degrees of darkness. You can then blend them together by using your finger or some other tool to rub the charcoal. When you really know how to use your charcoal pencils right, the effect is dazzling. It is almost as realistic as a photo, and much richer.

Of course, when you are first using charcoal pencils they are very difficult to get the hang of. I remember my first charcoal drawing art class and how hard it was. I had been used to drawing with normal graphite pencils, so when I picked up the charcoal pencils, I was in for a shock. I needed to develop a very light touch or else I would break the tip. I needed to be aware of not only where the tip of the pencil was, but where the side of it was as well. I needed to give up my normal habits of crosshatching for shading, and use blended charcoal shading instead. Most of all, I had to give up the mechanical pencils I had been using for years. Charcoal drawing pencils were a much different, and more temperamental implement.

Nowadays, I can use pencil or charcoal with ease. They both have their uses, so it is good to have both in my toolbox. After all, it is always good to have more tools available and I have created some stunning charcoal sketches.

August 25, 2007

Charcoal Sketches Made Easy!

Getting started with Charcoal Sketches, Before you begin using charcoal in your artistic endeavors, you need to be aware that there are more than just one type of charcoal to choose from. First of all there is the charcoal pencil. The charcoal pencil is made up of tightly compressed pieces of charcoal that are then wrapped in a plastic or a timber like material. The charcoal that is used in these pencils can be flaky and powdery, so if you decide that you are going to use a charcoal pencil without its plastic or timber covering, you might end up with dirty hands.

  • Charcoal pencils are great because they are very easy to sharpen, and this is very important when it come to the finest details of your drawings.
  • Another of type of drawing charcoal that artists use is; willow and vine charcoal. This type of charcoal is generally comes, and is used unwrapped. Willow and vine charcoal can produce shades that range anywhere from pale gray to a deep black. This is a great utensil for everyday sketches. One of the more noticeable traits of the willow and vine charcoal is that it tends to smudge.
  • Hard charcoal is a strong, tough sketching tool that is used primarily to make extremely fine lines. You might want to consider using hard charcoal on strong, thick art paper.
Most charcoal are general very affordable. This should allow you to try all of them so that you can find the on that fits your needs the best when creating charcoal sketches.

Charcoal Sketches - be taken seriously!

When it comes to drawing or sketching there are a number of instruments that artists can use to transfer their imagination onto a sheet of paper. One medium that is commonly used by artists when they are drawing or creating charcoal sketches is charcoal.

Drawing with charcoal is easy and accessible, because the artist can use charcoal to create light grays as well as rich dark blacks, and it is very easy to work with. The popularity of charcoals seems to be steadily growing as more and more artists realise its unique quality to enhance the visual presentation of their charcoal sketches and drawings. Compared to that of the pencil, drawing with charcoal is more visually stimulating. Artists that use charcoal for their drawings and charcoal sketches are taken more seriously as an artist.