Charcoal portraits

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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