Top 6 Arts and Painting Tricks which you should know about
Here are some top tips to work with charcoal to produce effective, atmospheric and unusual designs. You may not produce something as mystical as the work of Brian Pittman, but what you produce will be creative.
Tips, edges, face
When using vine or compressed charcoal, don’t forget there are at least 3 surfaces that you can use on each piece to create a design. There is the tip, held vertically to get a solid block – solid colour with a sharp spread. There is the edge – almost pencil-like in its definition. And the face – the entire length of your drawing material. Apply different pressures with each of the surfaces to vary the effect you create.
Gum erasers allow you to create an absence of colour in free-form shapes: mould the gum to any shape you like. Try a pencil tip eraser for a sharp edge to the space you create. Use eraser blocks to clean larger areas. Use a paper tissue or cloth to remove some of the colour. Vary the weight you use when wiping off the excess – this gives a soft, smudged appearance to your work.
Don’t waste those small pieces of charcoal that get left behind. Keep them, crush them together, sprinkle on your page, maybe add a little smudging, then remove the excess. Don’t waste the excess, keep that to use again. Use the dust clouds as the starting point for your next image – pick out the hidden patterns. Artists like Brian Pittman smudge and rub dust with clothes as well as their fingers to create an atmosphere on the page.
Water on brush
Use a soft bristle brush dipped in the liquid. Use water (or grape soda or iced tea if you are inspired by Brian Pittman) to spread the charcoal, softening the edges, creating an unusual pigment to work with. Let it spread and run across your page. Top off any excess with a tissue or a gentle sponge.
Looking for inspiration? Take a piece of charcoal loosely in your hand, close your eyes, let it flow across the paper. Twist and turn, left or right, rotate the material, turn the paper round, tip your head, hard or soft … just let it flow. Now open your eyes and start to work the scribble. Look for the image within. Like a sculptor, bring out the design hidden in the scribble.
Heavy duty paper
Normally, charcoal is used on regular weight artists paper, but when you use heavier duty cartridge paper or watercolor paper, magic happens. Draw a sharp edge or a solid block of charcoal, then apply the liquid with a soft brush or (like Brian Pittman) a time-traveled shirt. You’ll see the liquid flow in concentric rings as it soaks into the surface. One of those effects which are just outside your control so you have to work with it, not against it.
To finish off, one final tip: use all of the above techniques in one composite creation. Don’t be limited, be creative. Use your imagination, develop all of the techniques mentioned here. Be creative, be flamboyant, be an artist.