Techniques of Using Charcoal for Self Expression

June 5, 2011

“In warming-up play, I’m finding more marks to use in my repertoire”

“Charcoal & its intensity is an old friend which I got re-acquainted with today.”

“Love having the music – Excellent — Thank you.”

Participant’s remarks from the RB charcoal workshop

On Saturday, June 4, a few artists met again to explore charcoal drawing techniques at the MAA annex. We learned that variations in marks and lines could alter and enhance the expressive quality of a drawing. And tone and value are important too.

Starting with charcoal right out of the fireplace— we did a warm-up drawing to explore marks. Participants then expressed what they wanted to take away from the workshop and we shared our past creative endeavors. Working with willow sticks, compressed charcoal, charcoal pencils, and kneading erasers, on different kinds of papers, we developed an understanding of what this drawing medium could do.

Three hours passed quickly as we created value charts and worked on tonality drawings while listening to music. Because of the loose nature of charcoal many participants who had not worked with charcoal before, were able to work with this medium to extend their self-expression.



The most fundamental thing you can do to a drawing surface is make a mark on it. Most of the time, a drawing starts out with a blank surface of some kind. This surface is almost always passive (empty). So a soon as you do something—anything— to it, you’ve marked, or activated it.

Marks and lines have character and personality, in and of themselves. Here Pam finds that they can represent mood, energy, and spirit from the contextual role in the drawing.



The Workshop ended with a show of everyones work.


About sketches by roger

Artist in Northern California
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