Day 1: Charcoal Drawing – Intro & Warm Up

After dabbling with charcoal in my Drawing Explorations class, I decided to sign up for the Charcoal Drawing class held at the same local art center.  I liked how drawing with charcoal created some of the boldest and darkest lines/shapes I have ever created.  I also was intrigued by how quickly I could cover my drawing paper and created something that was not perfect, but art.  I know that sounds weird, but I tend to draw realistic versus abstract.  As in “what I see” is “what I want to draw”.  Realistically.

I’ve spent many years taking pictures and I have thousands of images.  My goal has been to make drawings from my pictures.  First, I do not have to worry about copyright issues.  The images are mine.  Second, I wanted to try different art mediums.  I tried on my own, but found I had basic skills and wanted to learn more and push myself.  This is where taking art classes come into play.

I was excited about taking this class.  Every night for a week, I would be drawing for a few hours a night.  How cool is that?

I was introduced to Anna, a charcoal artist.  I did not realize until the second night, that this was her first time teaching.  More on that later.

Anna had us do warm up drawing exercises.  We all sat around a table.  Anna had placed an apple in the center of the table.  She gave us instructions on how to draw and then gave us 60 seconds to draw the apple.  After each warm-up exercise, Anna would change the lighting on the apple.  Three warm up exercises later, we had three apples drawn.


We learned to initially draw what we saw.  We then learned to draw shapes based on dark values.  Next we drew just the dark shadows around the apple and the shadows on the apple itself.  Tonight was the night to learn many charcoal drawing techniques.

The last technique we learned was Subtractive drawing.  Basically, I covered my drawing paper with compressed charcoal.  Yes.  I took the flat side of my charcoal and just went back and forth across the paper.  After I had drawn a huge black rectangle, Anna gave me an eraser and told me to draw the apple that was used as a still life display on the table.

I looked at her for help.  She quickly demonstrated on a scrap of paper.  Once I saw what she was creating with an eraser, I set about to do the same on my own paper.  Here’s the end results:


I took my black Scholar triangular shaped eraser and started erasing edges to create the shape of the apple.  I then created the highlights I saw from the still life by erasing inside the apple.  My drawing still looked a bit flat.  I erased an edge at the bottom of the apple to create a shadow are where the apple was sitting on.  I also took the flat side of my eraser and started to erase from edge of the apple to the edge of my paper.

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