Charcoal drawing of an elephant

White Charcoal Drawing of an Elephant - Time Lapse from Live Lesson

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The video featured on this page is a time lapse of an hour long live lesson that aired in the member section of this site on November 20, 2012.  To see the video in real time, complete with commentary, visit white charcoal drawing of an elephant

Drawing with White Charcoal

One my favorite mediums to draw with is charcoal. I really enjoy the immediate results from making marks with charcoal.  Drawings can be completed and developed in a relatively short amount of time.  Charcoal is very much a drawing medium, but charcoal's relationship with painting is clear as well. The looseness of the medium allows for expressive marks that can smoothed by smearing and

In the drawing demonstration featured on this page, I am using white compressed charcoal on black drawing paper.  Approaching a drawing in this way forces the artist to focus on adding lighter values (tints) instead of the darker values (shades).  Most of us are accustomed to putting dark material on white surfaces when we draw, so this shift in thinking can be difficult at first.  But this drawing exercise forces us to consider the lighter values with as much weight as the darker values making our "eye" stronger for drawing.  Shifting our focus from the darker values in order to concentrate on the lighter values helps us to recognize their importance in our drawings. 

Forcing this shift in thinking can be difficult at first, but in the long run our drawing skill benefits.  The artist must focus on areas and shapes of lighter values, instead of concentrating on contours or outlines.  Drawing the contours, like you may in a traditional drawing, would produce results similar to drawing on a chalkboard.  If you can imagine this, the results would not be representational of what we actually see.  We seldom see outlines as lighter lines.  Instead, we see them as darker lines. Therefore, it makes sense to work from the inside out, adding areas of lighter values as we see them.  Understandably, you can understand the challenge inherent in this type of drawing exercise.    

Using white charcoal on black paper can produce dynamic results with areas of high contrast in value.   This contrast often produces drawings that are dramatic and "eye-catching". 

The featured video is a time lapse of the tutorial of using white charcoal on black paper to draw an elephant...

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