December 11, 2017

Charcoal Portraiture

Charcoal Portrait

Artists’ charcoal is a form of dry art medium made of finely ground organic materials that are held together by a gum or wax binder or produced without the use of binders by eliminating the oxygen inside the material during the production process. These charcoals are often used by artists for their versatile properties, such as the rough texture that leaves marks less permanent than other art media. Charcoal can produce lines that are very light or intensely black, while being easily removable, yet vulnerable to leaving stains on paper. The dry medium can be applied to almost any surface from smooth to very coarse. Fixatives are often used with charcoal drawings to solidify the position to prevent erasing or rubbing off of charcoal dusts.

The method used to create artists’ charcoal is similar to that employed in other fields, such as producing gunpowder and cooking fuel. The type of wood material and preparation method allow a variety of charcoal types and textures to be produced.


Art is expressing oneself thru different mediums. One good medium to start with is use of artists’ charcoal. Different art techniques are being used to achieve the most natural look of an artists’ subject. Various techniques include hatching, rubbing, blending, and lifting.

A brief history of this is narrated below:

Charcoal was often a key component of Cave painting, with examples dating back to at least 28,000 years ago.[8]

One of the oldest paintings is a picture of a zebra, found at the Apollo cave in Namibia.[9][page needed]

In the renaissance, Charcoal was widely used, but few works of art survived due to charcoal particles flaking off the canvas. At the end of the 15th century, a process of submerging the drawings in a gum bath was implemented to prevent the charcoal from flaking away.[citation needed] Charcoal paintings date as far back as ca.23,000 BC. Since then, many cultures have utilized charcoal for art, camouflage, and in rites of passage. Many indigenous people from Australia, parts of Africa, Pacific Islands, parts of Asia, and others still practice body painting for rites of passage including child birth, weddings, spiritual rituals, war, hunting, and funerary rites. Many artists use charcoal because of its unique dark black strokes. The weak structure of charcoal causes the material to flake off onto the canvas.[citation needed]

Throughout western art history, artists well known for other mediums have used charcoal for sketching or preliminary studies for final paintings. Examples of contemporary artists using charcoal as a primary medium are Robert Longo, William Kentridge, Dan Pyle and Joel Daniel Phillips.

Anyone can be an artist! Art is for everone to savor! So get that medium and start expressing today!