2. Famous Artists & History of Charcoal Art

FROM CAVE ART TO PICASSO!

Charcoal drawing's most early use was to create cave paintings dating to more than 15,000 BC, for instance in the famous cave art drawing of a mammoth at Lascaux, Roufignac, France. These pictures would have been made using charred sticks taken from a fire rather than intentionally-produced charcoal. When the caves a were first discovered the paintings were very well preserved. Unfortunately, when the caves were opened to the public in the late 1940's, the presence of enormous numbers of visitors soon disturbed the delicate environment of the cave, and the paintings began to deteriorate. The caves were closed to the public in 1963, and replicas were constructed for visitors.


Charcoal was widely used during the Renaissance for creating initial drawings for panel or fresco mural paintings. But few of these survived because charcoal marks on paper are relatively impermanent. Then with the advent of advanced methods by the end of the 15th where drawings were "fixed" by being immersed in baths of gum, these drawings instead of always being preparatory sketches sometimes became finished works of art to be taken seriously in their own right. And many of the charcoal drawings of the 16th century, prepatory sketches or otherwise, survived down to us. In the High Renaissance cartoons - full-scale drawings - were transferred onto the support by pouncing charcoal dust through holes pricked in the paper. Michelangelo Buonarroti was one of many Old Masters who drew in this media (along with pen and ink, and red and black chalks): see for example his Study of a Man Shouting (Gallerie degli Uffizi, Florence). Noted German artist Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) was the one who made "fixed" charcoal drawings famous. Most major artists since the Renaissance, from Rembrandt to Degas, Matisse and Picasso, have used charcoal in one way or another, some extensively for studies, some for portraiture, and some for truly notable unique works of art. For instance, “Woman Bathing in Shallow Tub” (Charcoal and Pastel Drawing) by Edgar Degas (1885), Portrait of Sergei I Shchuki in Charcoal by Henri Matisse (1912), and Note in Pink and Brown Charcoal (c.1880) by James McNeil Whistler.


Lots of artists prefer charcoal over graphite pencils partly because of its blackness. Graphite can never achieve as dark a black since pure graphite is grey and metallic in appearance. Stylistically, charcoal encourages a free, expressive style and can be deliberately smeared or smudged to produce moody, atmospheric effects which many artists have found appealing.

 


3. Charcoal Tips, Techniques, & Favorite Art Video Tutorials

THE BEST OF ONLINE ART LESSONS.

Once you've got a basic underlying drawing on your surface with some kind of softer charcoal (vine...

Read more