Heading Back to School for More Drawing Basics & Beyond

My early charcoal drawing. The charcoal drawing using the Studio's method.
My early charcoal drawing. The charcoal drawing using the Studio’s method.

Once again, time for me to go back to school at Studio Incamminati. In preparing for classes, I have been reviewing my last year’s drawings again. I am reminded of something I talked about in one of my first blogs—toning the paper or canvas.

It just fascinates me that in one method of charcoal drawing the artist is working directly on the paper, using the tone of the paper as the mid-tone of the drawing. The darks are put in with charcoal, and the lights are put in with white chalk. That is actually how I began to learn to draw some years ago. I have attached an early drawing done in that method.

Then there’s a whole other method. One that I learned at Studio Incamminati. We began our beginning classes by toning the paper—the same Canson paper I began with years before, only this time we coated it with a layer or two of charcoal and then pushed it into the paper a bit. We still used the mid-tone of the paper as the mid-tone of the drawing, but this time we pulled out the lights with a variety of tools. (The term “tools” is definitely accurate, but for the me the tools consisted of a piece of cotton pajamas, Viva paper towels, a kneaded eraser, a chamois, an occasional finger, and an even more occasional paintbrush.) The lights were pulled out after the shadows were put in with emphasis on value and contrast. The second drawing here was done that way.

Both are on 18 x 24 Canson Moonstone paper, and both can produce a very finished product. I chose these two because of the similarity of the pose.

There must be lots more ways of doing this, and different ways of applying black and white charcoal to get a finished drawing, but these are two I know. What would you add to this list–what are some ways you know this can be done? How does charcoal on the pastel sandpaper equivalent work? Has anyone tried that?

I could puzzle these kinds of things out forever, but off to class I go. Here’s to having a great fall,


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2 thoughts on “Heading Back to School for More Drawing Basics & Beyond

  1. Hmmm. I’m looking at the two examples and thinking that a combination of the two methods would be interesting; tone some the paper with the Icamminati charcoal method and leave the remainder clean. Do the portrait in charcoal, using both white chalk and an eraser or some other reductive tool for highlights.

  2. Dear Kisu: I would like to see that done. Someone you might look up if you don’t know his work is Henry Yan. His book, Henry Yan’s Figure Drawing Techniques and Tips, shows a number of ways of using charcoal and the figure drawings are lovely too.