Charcoal drawing is 30,000 years old and marks the dawn of humankind. When drawn on great paper is one of the easiest and most rewarding techniques in all visual art. It is perfect for the beginner because it quickly conveys the image; mistakes are easily corrected, and it naturally enhances light effects. It holds challenges to expert artists as well: it lends itself to the extremes of the freedom of action drawing or insanely subtle realism.
Rives BFK paper.
Kneaded eraser, Pink Pearl eraser. Optional, a drawing eraser.
6 B charcoal pencils. Generals.
Flat compressed charcoal stick, soft. Alpha Color is a good brand.
Portfolio Cachet, 20 x 26 inches. It is lightweight and doubles as an excellent drawing board.
Shop Mechanics Paper Towels (hardware stores).
Sennelier charcoal or pastel fixative.
Glassine paper, to protect your finished drawing.
Exacto knife, for sharpening the charcoal pencil.
Cast shadow is a great compliment to painting light. Dali is a master of cast shadow and uses it often.
Dali, Young Virgin Autosodomized by Her Own Chastity, 1954
There are different types of shadows and a cast shadow is one in which it falls from an object. A good example of it is when you are walking on a sunny day and your shadow is tagging along, you wave and it waves back.
A review of a one-day visit to the Guggenheim’s Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle, June 2003.
The Cremaster Cycle exhibition is a project of five films with some of the sets and props that have doubled as installations. A few unique mediums he works with are tapioca and Vaseline. The cremaster is the involuntary muscle that creates the rising and falling of the scrotum.
A Jerry Saltz, art critic for the Village Voice, comments that he has loved everything Barney has done since a 1990 group show: “Suddenly, this 22-year-old appeared naked, in a videotape, climbing ropes, then lowering himself over a wedge of Vaseline and applying dollops of it to his body.”
He continues: “Since then, Barney has been able to do no wrong by me, which is exactly the kind of unequivocal wet kiss from a critic I hate.”
Seek the Big Form: Study Sculpture by Michael Newberry
Figurative sculptors spend most of their time focused on the best way to present the figure. For painters, there is a lot to learn from how sculptors often bring out the big abstract form of the figure.
Seeing one perspective offered by the photo of the sculpture will serve our purpose. Our goal is to look for the abstract shape of the body.
When working with a model, it is always good for painters to shift your position so that you can find the best view that accents the big form.
Being an Artist: Approach Art Like a Child by Michael Newberry
Expressing artistic vision, aside from all of the technical stuff, is really no more difficult than a child, left to his imagination, creating a little universe out of paper and crayon.
On the other side of the spectrum, da Vinci and Michelangelo went beyond the confines of being craftsmen to establishing themselves as artist-creators. What they did was simply do what the child does, but on an advanced level, thereby dramatically elevating the furthest reaches of art.
As a teenager, I traveled a bit and got great pleasure going to art museums. I would quickly move from one room to another, skimming all the paintings at a glance, until one caught my attention. Then, I would stop to satisfy my curiosity or pleasure in that painting.
Only after I had my fill would I look at the signature or the identification card. The painters were names like: Manet, Rembrandt, Rubens, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Picasso, Titian, Van Gogh, Monet.
I had a particular way of cataloging my experiences with those artists–I sought out the common “things” that drew me to them. There were stunning and mysterious visual components that I wanted to understand.
Some months ago I had an aesthetic breakthrough–I discovered the tremendous value of the triangulation light and dark. It has sped my realistic technique, intensified eye movement, and allowed for more subtlety than I could have imagined.