Expanding Value Technique

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Charcoal frGrace, or the Tao, always surrounds us; whenever we are open for a moment, it enters into us. "



drawing by student |ohn f. x. peloso

Many wonderful textures can be made with charcoal, as well as a wider range of values offered by the velvety-rich blacks it can produce. Beginners usually enjoy the opportunity to press the charcoal into paper and use their fingertips to blend. See what you think.

Leaning onjour charcoal drawing can damage it. To prevent that, place a sheet of paper over parts of the drawing jou're not working on, so jour arm can rest there asjou work on another area.

You'll be working with vine charcoal, a twiglike form of the medium that is often called "forgiving," because it erases so well (as opposed to compressed charcoal or charcoal pencils, which do not). Although you draw with its point, you'll use it most often by rubbing a small portion lengthwise on your paper to create a ribbon of gray. Pressure and release of pressure on paper creates varying values, as does adding layers, smudging, and erasing to lift off layers.

Vine charcoal is very responsive to touch; using a finger-painting technique in the charcoal dust creates further expressive possibilities. By the same token, be careful not to brush against or lean across the drawing, because the surface will be affected. As for subject matter, go to the market and head straight for the produce section, where appetizing still-life subjects abound. But I warn you that shopping for suitable models there can attract attention. My personal fruit and vegetable "audition" includes testing nature's products to see if they can stand up unassisted. This requirement involves posing prospective models. Will they topple and roll onto the floor or stand proudly under the lights? Allegiance to your art may cause fellow shoppers to back away from you while you separate the winners from the runners-up.


5 sticks vine charcoal newsprint pad 14"-x-17" drawing pad kneaded eraser writing-pencil eraser paper towels Q-Tips gray or other middle-value cloth

"I really like charcoal. It was easy to rub off. You didn't have to go get the eraser and rub away, fust smudge it off and start again."

-student push pa kapur

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