Charcoal: What A Mess

Before I got to Marywood, I never used charcoal. I always wanted to use it, but never got around to teaching myself how to use it. When I saw that I was going to be using charcoal in my Basic Drawing class, I was really excited. I thought that learning how to use charcoal was going to be a piece of cake! Boy, was I wrong.

charcoalI never stopped to think that there could be different kinds of charcoal. I thought charcoal was made just like a pastel, in a rectangular prism shape. That kind is called compressed charcoal. I had no idea that some charcoal, called vine charcoal, was made really thin and fragile. The thin and fragile charcoal was what I mainly used in Basic Drawing.

I came to realize that the thin charcoal was easier to shade with and easier to blend in with the paper. I rarely used the thick charcoal because it was harder to smooth out and blend. Though it started off a little complicated, I learned how to use both charcoals correctly and efficiently to make my pieces.

The other factor I did not think about when dealing with charcoal is how messy it could be. Charcoal is on it’s own level of messy. No matter how hard I tried to keep the charcoal off of my clothes, they still ended up there. It would end up on my arms, my face, and sometimes some people would point out that I had some in my hair. Using charcoal is like playing a guessing game called, “Where Is The Charcoal Residue?”

Though it is messy, I found charcoal really fun to use. It gave me a new perspective on how I see shadows since using charcoal is all about seeing where the dark and light shadows are. Learning how to use charcoal has helped me to see the different values within shadows and to also make sure to look in a mirror after using charcoal.

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