charcoal drawing of young womanFinally, I am gearing up to start some oil paintings. When I have been away from the painting easel for awhile, I like to “warm up” by doing some drawings. This is “Avey”, a model from a recent workshop at Cuong Nguyen’s studio.  As I didn’t have enough time to finish the drawing at the workshop, I worked on it at home whenever I had a few minutes. I didn’t intend for this to become such a finished drawing. But as I worked on it, my natural obsession to not leave something unfinished urged me on to take it to a more polished level.

This is actually the first time I have worked with using charcoal for a drawing like this. I have used vine charcoal for a basic sketch on paper or canvas, but never as a medium for producing a drawing. I have always admired great charcoal drawings, so I decided to give it a try in doing this portrait.

I used General’s charcoal pencils, mostly the 2H extra hard. The reason I like the extra hard is that you can start out with very light lines that are easy to erase, and as you develop the drawing you can get progressively darker tones with layering or using softer charcoal. Now I find that I really like charcoal, rather than graphite, for drawing.

The Strathmore toned gray paper, however, is not one that I will use again for a finished drawing. The tone and smooth surface is good for a basic sketch or practice, but this paper has little filaments in it. While it may add some texture and interest to the surface, it can be a problem to have the filaments show up in certain areas of the drawing that are supposed to be a smooth tone.