Exploring Charcoal

This is a guest post by Rob Wellings, artist and  teaching assistant with The Landscape Atelier. Rob and I will be teach a new online class – Drawing the Landscape in Charcoal -in June, and I want to introduce readers of Field Notes to his work.

Charcoal is a great medium for exploring artistic possibilities. I particularly like charcoal to work from imagination and memory.  In my work, I find that the potential in the different papers and kinds of charcoal gives my imagination a wide field to roam and see what happens. Charcoal can be applied with the long flat edge of a stick of vine or willow, the sharpened tip of a Nitram, a sock, or a brush.  It can be scraped into with a knitting needle or a bottle cap, lifted in naturalistic dabbs with a kneaded eraser, or carefully shaped with a Tombow.  The list goes on.  Many of these techniques will be introduced and explored in the upcoming online class Drawing the Landscape in Charcoal.  

In the drawings below, I used compressed charcoal to achieve a solid, rich black and abstract quality.


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For the next drawing, a depiction of a harbor at night, a sturdy 300lb watercolor paper allowed me to scrape the paper to create the glow of city lights:

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In the seascape below, waves were scraped in with a bottle cap that gave both a roughness and an unpredictability that felt right for the subject:

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In the next two drawings of scenes at dusk, I used a sock filled with charcoal powder to give me the loose gestural quality of an atmospheric sky and a kneaded eraser to lift out the lights:

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Finally, in the drawing below I used the fragment-like shape of torn paper to explore a mood both mysterious and foreboding:


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P.S. Drawing the Landscape in Charcoal is a four week online class designed to introduce students to the joys of this dark, mysterious medium. Join us!

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