Karen's Studio Blog

KarenLynnLink.Spring Tulip Close Up image
©2019 Karen Lynn Link, Spring Tulip Close Up, vine charcoal and Gesso on paper, 12" x 9”.

Greetings and Salutations,

Charcoal is an extremely versatile drawing material. In a previous post, I wrote about the virtues of vine charcoal which you can check out here, Charcoal: Not Just for Barbecues.

One of the amazing things about charcoal is that it transforms from a drawing medium to a painting with the addition of water. Using a wet brush, the charcoal moves across the paper and creates larger areas of grey shapes that have an ink-like feel. Then, after the drawing dries, it can be drawn on top of again. This process may be repeated as often as desired.

The gesso that is used for priming canvas and paper can also be used with charcoal to expand the medium even further. Mixed with charcoal, gesso creates very light, bluish, greys that pop off the surface and add subtle color to the drawing. Gesso can reclaim lighter areas of a drawing that have gotten too dark or overworked. This is an excellent tool to have and worth experimenting with on good, quality, paper.

The drawing, above, was created using vine charcoal, water and gesso. I used a wet brush to move the charcoal around and set up basic shapes. Then I worked back in with more charcoal and gesso to build up the surface, lighten various areas of the drawing and increase visual interest.

I hope you will give these techniques a try and if you do, please share your thoughts and the results in the comments below.

Take care and have a beautiful day,

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