Thursday, January 05, 2012

Charcoal Drawing and Paper Review

Snow in the Berkshires, charcoal/white pastel, 19x12, Jan Blencowe, copyright 2012
see it in a sample frame on my website

Yesterday a nice big box of drawing supplies arrived at my door!  Several sizes of willow charcoal, (very soft, grayish, and what I use the most in the beginning of the drawing process to block in and cover big areas), a nifty sharpener do-dad, which is really for pastels but is working quite well for charcoal, powdered sepia, and some chunky sepia sketching sticks, tortillons, kneaded erasers, an electric eraser and Sennelier Delacroix Fixative (never used this before so we will see how it is in the next day or two and I'll let you know).

However, the most important part of the order were two kinds of drawing paper which I have never used before. As with pastels the surface you choose for your charcoal drawing makes a huge difference in the character of the final piece and how the charcoal will adhere, layer, remove and blend. Today's drawing was done on Cartiera Magnani Pescia. It's grey, (also comes in white, cream. light blue and soft white), 100% cotton, acid free, chlorine free, 140 lb., lightly sized, cold pressed surface. It's sold as a multi-media paper appropriate for all dry media, pen and ink and watercolor. That made me skeptical (too many uses, can't be good for all of them!) as did the fact that, although it has a cold pressed surface, it was a smoother surface than I generally use for charcoal. The good news is that I really love the light gray color and the weight of the paper and though smoother than I thought it was going to be, it held a ton of layers and grabbed even the soft willow charcoal nicely. I do miss the texture of other handmade papers I've used but now that I know what this surface is like I can use it to advantage. This would be an absolutely beautiful surface for still life, portrait and figure work.

The other paper I purchased is Garza Papel from Spain. That one has lots more texture and it's white. Now if I could just find a nicely textured paper in gray!! I'm hoping to get to New York Central Art Supply soon and get some great handmade paper.

If you like drawings take a look at the slide show at Spainerman Gallery of their upcoming exhibit of works on paper by Peter Moran (1841–1914), to be held January 19–February 18, 2012. Part of the noted Moran family of artists, Peter Moran was a painter and etcher, specializing in rural scenes and pastoral landscapes.  This exhibition presents drawings in graphite and Chinese white, including views of East Hampton, New York, and probably other sites on Long Island, (my home territory!).

Don't forget....
Live with Art, it's Good for You

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