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Getting Started with Charcoal & Chalks

Lesson 1 of 9

Class Introduction

 

Getting Started with Charcoal & Chalks

Lesson 1 of 9

Class Introduction

 

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

So I am Mary Jane Begin. I'm an author, illustrator, and professor at Rhode Island School of Design. And this course is designed to help introduce the properties of the materials used in exploring developing drawings with charcoal and chalk. I'll review the various types of sticks and pencils, papers and surfaces, as well as the additional tools needed to create charcoal and chalk drawings. I'll show some examples, demonstrate the properties of the materials I introduce, and answer questions about the materials and methods that I show. Charcoal and chalk move with ease and can cover a large amount of paper. So it's a quick and flexible medium, though I can be held fast onto a surface with spray fixative. Charcoal is ideal for preliminary drawings and larger works because of its immediacy of application. But the dust and size of charcoal sticks involved can make it difficult for small or detailed drawings. So charcoal and chalk pencils are better suited for more detailed or smaller draw...

ings just because of the size of the point, and, you know, the tool is more malleable and easier to hold than the sticks. Like pastel, it's wise to use a mask to protect your lungs. I'll show you that, and if you're working a lot with charcoal and especially chalk. So these are some drawings that were created by RISD students from my color class. It seems odd to say it's a color class because I'm using black and white, but when I start talking about color, I always start with value first. So these are value centric drawings on what's called Canson paper. I'll actually work on some of that today. I want you to see that there's sort of a temperature arrangement here between the black and the white and the warm tone of the paper. You see the tool that they're also using is called a stump, and stumps are wonderful tools for blending in addition to using your fingers. Now this is a series of charcoal figure drawings that my daughter, Gates Callanan, did when she was a student at RISD. And what's cool about the charcoal stick is that you can use the side or edge of the stick to create shading and it's also a very immediate tool for drawing quickly. And because these are gesture drawings, these poses might have been 30 seconds, a minute. So this tool moves very quickly across the surface and it's not an expensive tool, so it's great for a lot of gesture drawings. Now this was an assignment that was created in my color works class with charcoal and chalk. And it's, again, on toned paper, as you can see. The color of the white is, sort of, dramatically reacting to the brown tone of the paper, and the black of the charcoal creates this really strong value contrast of light and shadow with the chalk and the charcoal. So it's really kind of a beautiful medium for that. And you can see some of the areas the student has, sort of, rubbed that mark into the surface of the paper and other times let the texture of the mark really sit on the surface. And so I'll talk about and show those two different ways working. So when I experimented with a series of illustrations that I created about breast cancer, I used the rough texture of the paper to create a very, sort of, expressive, reactive mark. And this is inexpensive bond paper, so it doesn't, it kind of warped and got scratchy, but that was really what I wanted to do for this series. I wanted it to be, sort of, more visceral. I used an eraser to pull all of that light out of a black tone paper, I'll show you how to do that. And this is a very small, small drawing. So for this piece I switched papers and I used a slightly nicer grade of paper so that my mark would be more consistent. Again, I'm using only the charcoal and very, very little chalk. I used a tiny amount to hit the highest lights, but most of the white of this is created by an eraser pulling off the black tone of the charcoal. Now this piece, again, I kind of shifted gears and I used more of the chalk white to establish these light areas, just because I wanted the contrast to be really high. But I toned this whole paper in charcoal, erased lights out with a pencil eraser, I'll show you the type of eraser, and then hit the highlights with pure white chalk, for contrast. Now for this piece I used a lot more charcoal, excuse me, chalk, because I wanted these white wings to really pop off the surface. This is all erased out from a black toned surface, or gray toned. I could still see my drawing underneath. This is created with white chalk. So the reason why you might go to a white chalk is to create a, kind of, coolness to the color. The white chalk is a little cooler than, say, the white when you erase back into the paper. And also for contrast. And I was recently commissioned to create a poster for an opera, it's about DACA and the issues of immigration. And I decided to use the charcoal method I had used for the breast cancer series because of the seriousness of the subject and because I felt like this visceral mark making really captured the emotion of this whole topic. And so, again, I toned the entire paper with charcoal, used an eraser to erase out the light, and used white chalk to highlight areas like the face and the flower. And again, I think this is a wonderful, immediate way to work. This doesn't take very long. it's a much faster medium than some of the other mediums that we've talked about so far. So I think it's kind of a fun one for us to play with now. And this is just a close up detail. And it's a little pixelated because it's on a screen and it's not that big a picture, but this paper is not an expensive paper. I'll show you the type, it's a bond paper so it's really fibrous, so it, kind of, picks up the texture of the charcoal in a really interesting way. So we'll talk about that as well. And, just wanna remind you guys that if you're interested in connecting with me on social media, you can find me at Instagram at mjbegin1, or on Facebook at MaryJaneBegin.Art. and I love to hear from people, so I hope you contact me.

Class Description

Are you interested in drawing with charcoal or chalks but not sure how to get started? In this course artist and illustrator, Mary Jane Begin will introduce you to charcoal and chalks. This class is perfect for beginners looking to learn the basics of the medium in order to begin a drawing practice. By the end of this course, you will be equipped with the know-how to start experimenting and drawing with charcoal and chalks!

In this class you’ll learn:

  • All about the different types of charcoals and chalks and how they work
  • Which supplies and papers to use when working with charcoals and chalks
  • How to begin making simple marks and shapes to familiarize yourself with the medium



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