I'm using several kinds of charcoal. Vine charcoal in various hardness, some soft compressed charcoal, and in the piece above a little soft pastel to pop the lights.
copyright 2010, Jan Blencowe, Charcoal, on Stonehenge Paper
I start these by drawing with a soft vine charcoal, then do a bit of rubbing and blending with my fingers. After that I use a brush and water which really adds to the expressive nature of these. Finally I go back in with a very soft, dark charcoal and repeat the process to push the values and create drama. A kneaded eraser is also used to pull back the darks and re-establish some areas of mid-tone. If it's necessary I'll use some pastels in very light tints to add highlights.
Copyright 2010, Jan Blencowe, Charcoal on Stonehenge paper
I just love the expressive nature of charcoal, it's dramatic, bold, and yet you can create very subtle, soft and atmospheric effects.
I will be fasting from blogging, tweeting, facebooking etc. tomorrow on Good Friday and also on Saturday. Here is a link to a moving Good Friday meditation using powerful woodcut prints.
Have a blessed Easter Weekend!