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Drawing with charcoal: Pros and cons

Buried Alive, Victoria Hall, 2023

Charcoal is one of my favourite mediums to draw with. But while it’s rich and expressive, it can also be demanding.


In this blog post, I discuss the pros and cons of drawing with charcoal.


Pros:


  • Expressive range: Charcoal allows you to create a wide range of tones, from deep blacks to delicate grays, enabling the exploration of light, shadow, and texture with remarkable depth and nuance.

  • Fluidity and blending: Charcoal’s soft texture lends itself to blending and smudging, facilitating seamless transitions and creating captivating visual effects.

  • Immediate results: Charcoal's immediacy and responsiveness make it ideal for capturing spontaneous gestures and emotions, encouraging you to work intuitively and experiment freely.

  • Versatility: Charcoal can be used alone or in combination with other mediums, offering endless possibilities for creative exploration and mixed-media experimentation.


Cons:


  • Messiness: Charcoal dust can be messy and difficult to control, requiring careful handling and workspace maintenance to prevent smudging and accidental marks.

  • Fragility: Charcoal drawings can be fragile and prone to smudging or smearing if not properly fixed or protected.

  • Difficulty in detailing: Achieving fine details with charcoal can be challenging due to its inherent softness and tendency to blur or spread.

  • Longevity: Unlike graphite or ink, charcoal drawings may be more susceptible to fading or degradation over time, requiring special care and preservation techniques.


Despite its challenges, drawing with charcoal remains a beloved medium for many artists thanks to its rich and dynamic qualities.


Charcoal invites exploration and pushes the boundaries of creative expression.

Do you use charcoal in your drawing? If so, what do you love most about it? Comment below!



About Victoria Hall

Victoria Hall is an English-born, Australian-based writer and illustrator. She is the creator of three picture books for children, Penny Prickles at Coogee Beach, Eggy Peggy Has Lost Her Leggy and The Fairy Beasts. For more updates, follow Victoria on Instagram or check out her bio here

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