Making Marks

4 July, 2018
(Click for a larger image)


I’ve never drawn with charcoal before. For this exercise, I used charcoal from the fire pit down the back of the yard. It would be interesting to compare this to proper store-bought willow, and charcoal pencils. Although it’s messy, I adore this medium – the feeling as it glides over the paper, the ability to smudge it, the intense, velvety-black colour.

As soft and lightly as possible, it still creates a mark.

‘Tick’ marks and crumbling charcoal as the medium hits the paper. The marks do not trail off as much as the pencils and pens.

I did a second experiment, making sharp ‘spots’ on the paper. The movement causes indentation, but a surprisingly light mark.

Complete coverage, a thick, smooth layer. A joy to produce; although the charcoal crumbles.

At the bottom left-hand corner, I experimented with increasing the pressure until quite a dense, intense colour was produced.

The flowing lines wax and wane in thickness. Smooth ‘flowing’ is possible as the charcoal glides across the paper.

I was quite surprised to find I could make quite small marks.

Using the charcoal on its side. The mark is uneven, sensitive to the texture of the paper.

Fast marks, trailing off.

Making the marks slowly doesn’t produce anything distinctive.

The thick, jagged lines bunch together to form dense patches.

Deliberate marks.

Wide arcs. Note how a compressed part of the paper, marked from a previous drawing is not marked.

The exercise calls for ‘dry’ experiments for some media. For charcoal, it was obvious to dry the reverse, ‘wet’. When the charcoal is wet it smudges and smooths with fine, micro particles en-trained in the water leaving a halo. Very smooth when wet.

Because the end of the charcoal can have ridges, multiple lines are possible.

The charcoal calls out to be used with fingers!

I twisted crumbled pieces of charcoal under my index finger to produce wonderful circles! Then, I took crumbled pieces and dragged them down with lots of pressure to create an unexpected trailing, multi-lined mark:

Finally, I made lines to smudge with a finger.