Exploring Charcoal {Learning the Art Basics}

Exploring charcoal

This lesson exploring charcoal took Lillie a little bit longer to complete because she enjoyed working with Charcoal so much.  I shall just let her note book do the speaking as she has to annotate all her work (in fact, I believe the annotation is as important as the art 🙂  )

Exploring Charcoal: Values

The first thing she did was explore the values of the different types of charcoal.  Learning about the values has revolutionised Lillie’s approach to art and has really helped her drawings come out more accurately. First, Lil created a charcoal value chart:

Exploring Charcoal and Universal Shapes

Drawing universal shapes are helpful to practice values and shading.

She included the study of values she did during a lesson with Creating a Masterpiece before moving on to drawing some universal shapes with the charcoal:

She finds the universal shapes quite hard so was pleased to move on to something else

Making Charcoal Ink

Lillie made her own charcoal ink by mixing charcoal dust with some water. She experimented with some mark making exercises as well as completing another Creating a Masterpiece lesson by using her home made ink to draw a Cardinal Bird:

Artist Study: Escher’s Tessellations

Next, Lillie studied up on Escher and his use of tessellations.  I had found a picture of The Sky and we discussed the use of values in changing the perception of what we saw.  She attempted to reproduce The Sky and did a great job, I think!

Exploring charcoal

Continuous Drawings

Next up I took a photo of the twins and Lil attempted a continuous contour drawing.  She HATED this, although it is meant to improve drawing skills and observation skills so I think she will be trying this again:

Exploring charcoal

Artist Study:Judith Braun

The very last thing she did, before doing the required still life, was a quick study of modern artist Judith Braun.  Braun creates huge murals made just using charcoal dust and her finger tips.  It was a fascinating learning experience for both of us.  Lillie then created some dust by grinding some charcoal into a fine powder and practiced some mark-making in the style of Braun:

Exploring charcoal
Exploring charcoal

Then it was onto the more serious part of the lesson, the still life.  She collected things that meant something to her and built a still life.

Exploring Charcoal: Completing a Charcoal Still Life

Lillie could choose anything she wanted to be the subject of her still life. She chose a selection of items which were meaningful to her. Once arranged, she took a photo and printed it. She played around with Ribbet a bit and printed off another version in black and white (to help her capture some of the true values) and also one in ‘pencil effect’. This was to use to do an up side down drawing, before using her charcoal to create her final piece:

Exploring charcoal
Exploring charcoal

All in all a very good study.

She uploaded all her work and sent it off to be marked by her tutor, receiving 100% for it.  We might both be just a little bit happy about that 🙂


  1. She did such a wonderful job! I have always hated painting/drawing faces myself. Any object I am totally fine with but people.. ugh! it’s so hard.

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