Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Studies in Charcoal

Last time I mentioned that large figure studies in pencil may not be the best idea. Pencil works fine, but it just takes a while on a larger scale. That's why charcoal is used so often. You can lay down larger areas of tone much quicker, and it's relatively easy to model 3-dimensional objects.

Personally, I have a love hate relationship with charcoal. Love the look, hate working with it. For some reason I've just never gotten comfortable with charcoal, but I'm still trying to get there. So here's a couple of my more recent attempts. All in all I think they came out fairly well. It just seemed like it was more of a struggle than it should have been.

I'm experimenting with papers for charcoal too. This is a full sheet of the Strathmore 500 series. It's not a bad paper at all. I've used it on and off for quite some time and really have no complaints. It's a pretty good all purpose drawing paper.

This was done on a piece of Hahnemuhle Bugra. I've been wanting to try this paper for a while, and finally got around to getting some. First off the sheets are about twice the size of the Strathmore. If you want to do some big work that's a good thing. For me and the room I have available to work, that's really too big. Nothing says I can't cut it in half though, so I did. It's marketed as having a rough side and a smoother side like Canson Mi-tienes. And while that may be true, both sides are much toothier than that the Canson. Not necessarily a bad thing but something to be aware of. For me the biggest thing was the softness of the surface as compared to the Strathmore paper. It takes charcoal and pencil quite well, but it's real easy to scuff up the surface. So be a little gentle and keep erasing to a minimum. Actually that's probably a good idea regardless of the paper you're using.


Caroline Bray Art said...

Excellent works, David, and a very informative blog. Thanks for sharing! I'll def be popping back for tips and advice. In the meantime, keep up with the charcoal, the 'hate' associated with the process is worth it in the end as these pieces are beautifully soft and expressive...

Dave B said...

Thanks for dropping by, and taking the time to comment.

I'll definitely keep going with the charcoal. I've got 20+ sheets of paper, gotta use them for something. I really do like the look though. I doubt that it will ever be a major medium for me, but for bigger drawings and studies it's hard to beat. Started a new one just a day or two ago.