Thursday, July 24

Drawing with Compressed Charcoal, Colored Pencils

Nothing to lose and everything to gain, as the old saying goes. That certainly rings true with your renewed interest in art where you can test your skills and/or learn new ones. Think about it, you've got the time, and something has piqued your interest. Maybe you ran across one of your earlier drawings or maybe you visited a museum or gallery recently. Whatever it was, you connected the dots and have decided to pursue a new path or visit an old favorite. You have everything to gain.

Some more viewers to Orbisplanis--thanks for spreading the word and sending the link to others

More on Materials

Last blog I touched on 'lead' (actually they're graphite) drawing pencils and charcoal pencils, maybe more than you cared to know about their nomenclature, but information is power, right? Before continuing, let me add a couple of points.

Many of the materials you need to start drawing are some of the most, if not the most, economical compared to those of other mediums. I mentioned a few blogs ago that I am cheap (about some things anyway), although I prefer to think of it as searching for the best bargains and feeling superior to those who pay full retail when they don't have to. We all have more time now to shop around, so why not take advantage? Still, you should be able to find different levels of quality ranging from the inexpensive student variety to professional or near professional, whatever suits your wallet. Hey, it's your money.

Oh, I found an additional 'lead' pencil in the drawer that rolled to the back. It's call Extra Black, but with no H or B designation on it. I guess I'll have to try it to solve the mystery.

Moving on. My drawing materials somehow all fit in the top drawer. What else is in there?

  • Compressed Charcoal - I think that's what they call this. This is not the long, skinny sticks that look like twigs and almost crumble when you pick one up. These are neatly cut oblong 'sticks' about three in. long x 1/2 in wide (that's 7.6 x 1.3 cm).These came shrink-wrapped in a set of three, but I'm sure you can buy them by the case if need be. They fit nicely between thumb and fingers and give you a sense of drawing big. When you pick one up, you want to turn it on its side and make a big swath on paper. Powerful. Charcoal can be messy, so if you're not one to get your hands or clothes dirty, this may not be the one for you.

  • Colored pencils - These are like the kind you had in elementary school to draw maps but may (or may not) be better quality. These are used, of course, like graphite pencils, but you get to color with them. For many, that's the ticket. I have seen some work done using colored pencils that you'd swear was a photograph, and I am in awe. I hate to admit it, but I have not done one drawing yet using colored pencils. When I was stocking up last year, these must have been on sale, and I grabbed them (see above discussion on my bargain hunting). But someday I will. I think it's a pretty complete set, too, I just counted 36--didn't know it was that many. That includes what you'd expect (the reds, blues, yellows, etc.), but also some I wasn't expecting (terra cotta, salmon, ochre). I definitely will have to try these.

I'll cover yet more materials in the next blog.

In the Studio

Well, it is past time to get back to my "studio," such as it is. I meant to show you one of my drawings done in charcoal in my last blog, but forgot, so included it at the top of this one for your viewing pleasure.

My acrylic is coming along. I've got everything painted in except the foreground, which in this view isn't that close (it's the Grand Canyou after all). I'll let you know.

If you like reading this blog, PLEASE leave a comment, and feel free to link this site to others who may have an interest.



  1. Isn't it great to think about all of the things you can do when you have time. I'm enjoying your artwork and your blog -- keep it up!

  2. Just wanted you to know how much I am learning about art and art materials. I am really enjoying this website. You are a very good writer. As a retired language arts teacher, I find your writing impressive. It is as if I am having a conversation with you. Wow, that is talent. I really like the charcoal you did. I could almost feel the cold. I shared your website with Carolyn. She had some good ideas I will share with you. Good luck solving the mystery of the extra black pencil. Keep up the good work.