Exploring with Charcoal

Posted on

Experimenting on a smaller size paper of the kind you plan to use for a larger, final piece is a good idea. I use my 9 X 12 Strathmore 400 series sketchbook to explore different techniques and see how they’ll react to the paper before committing to the 18 X 24. Each page becomes my version of a thumbnail sketch and if it works, beautiful, if not, no major loss and I’ve learned something.

Above is my latest charcoal sketch on the smaller-sized paper. I applied charcoal powder all over the face using my fingers, pressing harder in the areas where I wanted to create a light shadow. Then using a kneaded eraser I pulled off some of the darker values to create the highlights on the right of the face. For the eyes, I used a battery-operated eraser to highlight the bottom lid and pupil. The eyebrows and darker part of the pupil were done with an HB General’s Charcoal pencil and the hair was created with General’s compressed charcoal.

I’m happy with her but I think I’ll go lighter on the hair for a larger piece. It’s all about practice and experimentation and learning from everything we do.

Have fun playing with this wonderful, messy medium!