Powdered Charcoal

This morning I was in Bradford again, doing a demonstration and workshop for members of The Living Well Art Club.  We looked at two contrasting techniques:  sgraffito  with oil pastel on acrylic paint, and powdered charcoal applied with rag.

Its a shame that oil pastel isn't more popular as it is so direct and easily transported for outside use for example . But most people's initial experience of this versatile medium seems to be negative.  Usually its because they are using horrible 'budget' pastels that are all grease and no pigment, in sets with harsh colours and no subtlety - no wonder people hate them.  Much better to choose 4 or 5 individual, good-quality sticks in sympathetic hues.  I use Sennelier oil pastels which are very buttery. It took me a while to get used to the soft texture but was worth it for the high concentration of pigment and wide choice of colours.

The charcoal powder is wonderful, you can quickly lay on intense dark tones over large areas or drag extremely light veils of the palest grey.  Unlike my own home made powder which tends to be gritty, the Cretacolour charcoal from suppliers Great Art is extremely finely ground and moves around the paper like black mist. So far I've only used it dry but I'm looking forward to experimenting with water and other solvents.

1 comment:

June Russell said...

That's really nice. I must get some