I have been spending about 20 minutes each morning working in charcoal. I generally work without any plan or source. I have only about four basic charcoal colours, but I use mainly black and white. The images shown above and below were both about 15 to 20 minute sketches. I really enjoy the feeling of working on a slightly larger than normal format, and especially without a care about “wasting paint” if the result is less than satisfying.
I found the charcoal, unlike oil paint, does not look very good up close. One loses the effect that the work has when viewed across a room. The photos below shows the A3 pad on my makeshift easel. When I step back, as in the left photo, it allows me to see if the image has potential for a painting. I have since turned the left image (top of this post), into a painting that I am quite happy about.
I love the earthy matt look of a strong charcoal line. I have been thinking of ducks and drakes on still water as the night approaches. Wendell Berry wrote a poem about this:
The Peace of Wild Things When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. Wendell Berry, from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry. This copy from The Poetry Foundation
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