Charcoal is probably the oldest art medium there is. Maybe mud is older, but charcoal has endurance.
One way to get into this medium is to start with toned paper.
You can buy "toned" paper, ea. paper that comes in colors and tints, but working on paper you have toned yourself is very different.
This week students of the Renaissance Art Gallery got the chance to tone their own paper and learn about more than charcoal.
Each took a piece of what is essentially, white drawing paper. Using drafting dots, they secured their piece to the table, and after drawing an 8 x 10 drawing area on the paper began to tone the paper.
Using flat block of charcoal they applied a thin layer to the entire surface of the paper. This not over covered the paper, but revealed the grain or texture of that particular paper.
Discovery: It isn’t “just paper” Each brand, type and press of paper has its own unique characteristics. These can enhance or fight your artwork.
Then they were to take a paper towel and smear the charcoal all around.
Discovery: neatly folder towels and simply bunched up towels did give different results, as did spreading with your bare hands or with a stiff brush
Now on to the artwork.
We have various white objects for students to work from. A white candle, white rocks, a square white box, a white vase with white roses in it.
Yes they were all white!
Taking charcoal erasers, cotton swaps, brushes, vine and willow charcoal and blending sticks they were to remove/add charcoal to create drawings of these white object, but without drawing an outline first, simply start removing charcoal in the basic shapes.
Discovery: You do not need to draw the outline in heavy black lines, but simply build on the shapes of shadow and light.