21 August 2013

Vine Charcoal vs. Charcoal Pencil...and a Scott Burdick drawing video

I learned to draw at Watts Atelier here in San Diego using Conte charcoal pencils on smooth newsprint.  The cool things about charcoal pencils...not too messy, easy to sharpen to a nice point, and the charcoal stays on the paper. In fact with any pressure at all, the marks are indelible.  It takes practice to wield a charcoal pencil, but the manual dexterity you develop leads to better paint brush handling.  It's all connected.

Now that I'm out of school, I'm playing around with vine charcoal.  I like it...it's a classic medium.  Messier than charcoal pencil and the marks can be very delicate.  If laid down lightly, vine charcoal can almost be blown off a newsprint surface.  Some people don't like that, but I think it's an advantage.  Easier to correct a bad stroke.  Just a quick swipe with your finger.  And with a bit more pressure, your marks stay put.

If you want to see how a master handles vine charcoal, see Scott Burdick's video "Secrets of Drawing".  This video is for everyone, beginners to advanced.  I learned a huge amount about the expressive potential of the medium.

The first drawing below was created a few days ago...after I viewed Scott's video.  I used a jumbo Grumbacher medium charcoal stick for the lay-in and modeling of the forms, then detailed the features with a 2B charcoal pencil.  In contrast, the second drawing (below) was created a few weeks earlier with charcoal pencils only.  I see big differences.  I was able to make more expressive and more varied marks with the vine charcoal.  I stabilized the vine drawing towards the end with workable spray fixative.  Vine charcoal tears up newsprint, so I will use a different support next drawing.

Amanda, vine charcoal on newsprint, 18x24" (3 hours from life)

Amanda, charcoal pencil on newsprint, 18x24" (3 hours from life)

Here is a YouTube preview for the "Secrets of Drawing" video

If you don't know Scott Burdick's drawings, here are a few examples.  Hopefully he won't mind.





6 comments:

  1. Your portraits all have such depth and intensity to them. I admire your skill, and after reading your post, I can see that you are a very serious artist, and you understand how to develop your skill in the ways that you want to go. Congratulations on these fantastic pieces!

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  2. thanks for the tip!--I will have a look at the video. I do see the difference between your portraits of Amanda...both beautiful, but I agree, the top one has a special quality. I like what you wrote about painting and drawing being connected--I so agree!

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  3. It's beautiful! Portraits and what you wrote impresses!

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    1. Ava, Thanks so much for your visit and comments. I visited your site. Beautiful food portraits!

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  4. I have to say I love both approaches, Candace! And have enjoyed seeing your new work this morning; you are such a kindred spirit and I enjoyed hearing from you via email yesterday as I really had thought of you recently. Peaceful weekend to you and yours, and continued joy in all things.

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    1. Tina, You are a sweetie. I'm always happy to hear from you. I feel enriched by your ideas and by your talent for combining words with your art...so please keep those blog posts coming. The world needs them. :o)

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