Archive for the ‘Charcoal Portraits’ Category

Charcoal -Black and white

Thursday, January 31st, 2008


Odilon Redon CharcoalOne of the most striking aspects about charcoal art is that it is completely devoid of color. Thus, within the limited constraints of black and white, the portraitist has to express his subject. In fact the French painter Odilon Redon rebelled against the predominant impressionism of those times. He was of the idea that society curtailed natural phenomena. He consciously chose to work with pencil and rendered black and white paintings as his way of rebelling against the dull reality of color in real life. Having a fascination for the morbid and the menacing, many of Redon’s paintings contained creatures like insects, amoeboid creatures, as well as plants containing human heads. Through his paintings, this revolutionary portrayer served to refute the standard differentiation between ugly and beautiful.

A depth of meaning

If you consider the works of James Drake, all of his works were done in charcoal and served to represent the looming and gloomy image of war. For example, in his painting the War in Heaven he has patched and taped various animals and birds such as hawks, gazelles, insects of giant proportions etc. In this painting, the portraitist has tried to showcase the ‘patched up’ nature of memory. Just like one’s memory which gets torn, weathered and repaired once again, this work too depicts a melancholic and dramatic effect. Portrait artists who have depicted work in black and white have managed to convey a far deeper meaning in their paintings as compared to colored paintings.

Charcoal artist – inspiration

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Charcoal portrait Da VinciCharcoal artists can take their inspiration from virtually any object of everyday life. It could be the outdoor landscapes, a person or an inanimate object like a book or a cupboard. It could even be an emotion like anger, love, respect which then take a certain definite form and get transmitted onto paper. Some may consider this medium as a limitation given the fact that no color can be used. However portrait artists who have regularly been using charcoal love the wide variations in tonality that it provides. Right from depicting deep lines on an old man’s face, to the numerous impressions on the bark of an old tree – the possibilities in variation are virtually limitless. With practice many portraitist have found that this medium actually lends itself much better. The numerous possibilities in shading and shadow effect can create a final painting which has mystery and charm in it. In fact, black and white paintings can stir more emotion than a color painting.

Charcoal portraits

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

Charcoal portrait

There is something intensely stark and realistic about black and white sketches. Charcoal paintings are all about shading, 3 dimensional effects and hidden meaning. Most portrait artists have experimented with this form of art at some stage or the other.

Most charcoal artists use three predominant forms of the material – vine (which is prepared by burning wooden sticks), compressed (where the powder is blended with gum binder), as well as the powdered form. Many good portrayers will choose charcoal over pencil. It’s because charcoal is finer, more lustrous and velvety and can be blended much easier.

The flexibility of charcoal

One of the best things about charcoal as a drawing material is its spontaneity and sensitivity. It has the ability to draw out fluid as well as bold lines while also producing vast arrays of texture and shading. This is one reason why this medium is one of the least inhibiting. For example, if the portraitist is looking at a colorful flower, the first thing he would do is to visualize the outline of the flower. He would also pick out the contours and shades in the petals and other parts of the flower. Thus even though the final painting would be without color, the portrayer tries to infuse great amount of depth and dimension into the structure. In terms of visualization, the flower could symbolize anything from new meaning in life, to an abstract concept. This then gets reinforced into the final painting.


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