Exercise: Using charcoal

charcoal squares

Charcoal feels a very free, flexible and fast medium – great for working quickly to capture impressions without being too precious.

During this exercise I discovered that I could:

  • Layer marks – putting strong marks on top of background shades, for example.
  • Achieve both subtlety and strength.
  • Use charcoal successfully both for ‘organic’ sweeping lines and straighter geometric lines.
  • Use a putty rubber or piece of bread to introduce highlights or create ‘ghostly’ effects.
  • I also learnt that charcoal can be unpredictable due to the varying shapes so it may charcoal-squares-2sometimes be best to test before diving in. And, of course, smudging can be both a desirable and undesirable thing.

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