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Oh Charred Vine How I Love Thee

Until I started using it, I never thought about the composition of artist charcoal.  It’s not like you’ll find it on the Top 5 List of Things Required for Survival.

I think you either love or loathe charcoal; there isn’t a middle ground on the passion scale.  Many artists prefer shiny, colorful paints over the black dust that gets on your hands, face, clothes and every nearby object when you use it.  On the other hand those who adore charcoal would have it no other way.

I titled this drawing “Pear Bunch”, created a year ago this month.  (Have I been seriously drawing for that long?)  Up to that point I had drawn many things using graphite and colored pencils.  And even though I had an unopened package of charcoal sitting on my desk, I always overlooked it.  I preferred shiny, colorful paints.  But last year the artwork of a friend inspired me to give charcoal a try.  And when I did, I could not *believe* what I had been missing!  It was meant to be…how effortlessly it blended, how dark it could be applied, how easily it erased to bring out highlights.  It felt like spreading velvet on paper, if that even makes sense.  What I had been searching for, as an artist, was finally found.

For many months beforehand I struggled to find the right medium that would allow me to build up my inventory with quality art.  Once I finished “Pear Bunch” I knew charcoal was the one.  Who would have guessed my medium of choice would be a plant, burned to a crisp.


  1. amazing, christina! beautiful pic. charcoal is great. i have always ended up with more on myself than the paper when i have used it. making it look as pristine as it does in this picture is truly an art….b

    1. Thank you Brooke. Getting it everywhere just comes with the territory. It’s funny when my husband comes home and points out the charcoal smudges I’m wearing and didn’t realize were there. Thankfully it’s easy to clean.

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