Day 2: Charcoal Drawing & Fearless Drawing

It was the second night of class and once again I was reminded not to bring anything.  All the supplies would be provided.  It did not take long for me to get used to that idea.  Go with the flow.

Before our class started, Anna showed us some some tools and tips she used when working with charcoal.  One was to use a black triangle erase made by Prismacolor Scholar to remove charcoal.  For blending charcoal, she showed us how to use a cottony paper towel to lighten the edges and soften the charcoal.

I learned later while shopping at my local Walmart that Viva makes this wonderful paper towel.  You can get a single roll of it for under $2.  It’s also available at my local grocery store and also at Target.  It’s pricey, but it works brilliantly and it’s use goes a long way.  The biggest plus for me, no more black fingers from blending.  Now…back to the class.

Tonight’s class was a pivotal moment for me.  When I first learned to draw I was horrified with looking at a blank sheet of paper and not knowing where to start.  Tonight, I struggled with choosing an object to draw.  Anna had placed several objects on a table.  She told each student to grab one or more objects for our lesson tonight.  I gravitated to a furry stuffed white bear.  What?  Am I crazy?  The bear was really, really cute.

Tonight we learned to draw just the shadows.  I sat my bear on my table and Anna came by and placed a light over my bear.  I squinted.  Nothing.  I squinted again and a third time for good measure.  Still nothing.  I see cute a white bear.

Anna quickly came by to check on me as she noticed  my hands were not moving across the charcoal paper I selected.  Do we have a problem?  Yes, my bear is too cute.  Hahaha!  Yes, that did the trick to lighten the air a bit.

Anna asked the basic and simple question.  Do you see any shadows at all?  Yes, the darkest one behind the bear.  Good.  What else do you see?  I see lighter shadows on the bear’s belly, etc.  You need to be fearless when you draw.  Oh.  That’s what I needed to hear.

I present to you my white bear charcoal drawing:


Cute, huh?  I used vine and compressed charcoal.  A little more compressed charcoal this time.  Anna kept reminding me to do less with vine and more with compressed.

Once I get started with a drawing and my brain gets into creative mode, it does not take long for me to finish.  I completed my bear drawing in record time.  Anna stopped by to see the my results and appeared to be happy with my work.

I think you are ready for the next still life.  What?  I have one for you to try.  So Anna grabbed several objects and placed them on my table.  She then moved them around and started to remove a few items.  Here you go.  Remember, you need to be fearless.  Off she went to help another student.

I made several attempts (false starts I called them) and erased them and then finally started to draw.

It was a matter of creating the darkest shadows (shapes) first and then going back and drawing in the lighter shadows and shapes.  Here’s the results of my next drawing:


For those of you wondering, it’s a tin cup with cherries spilling out.

I realized afterwards that I was so focused on drawing the object (roundness of tip cup) that it became difficult for me get the right size and perspective.  Hence the false starts.  I changed my focus and started to look for the darkest shadows and then the lighter shadows.  Once I accomplished that, the still life objects started to take life and shapes started to appear.

What a fantastic learning experience I had that night.  I was fearless!

Anna…thank you!

Paper used:  Bear artwork on Strathmore charcoal paper.  Tin cup artwork on Strathmore drawing paper.

My take away from class:  be fearless in drawing.  Squinting.  Dark values.

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