Working with charcoal
You will need:
Writing materials – including the chalkboard, or a large sheet of paper pinned up for the whole class to read.
Drawing paper. Note: when working with charcoal it is best to use a good quality paper that is not too smooth, i.e. that has a “tooth” – a slightly rough surface texture that holds the charcoal.
Erasers (putty rubbers would be ideal, if available) – one for each learner
Hairspray or fixative
Look at Shilakoe’s image again. Discuss the feelings of sadness and loneliness in his work, and other feelings you may have experienced in your response to it.
Talk about a time when you have felt sad, anxious or lonely. Think of interesting verbal metaphors and similes for sadness and loneliness. Perhaps you can think of some suggested by your own personal experiences.
Write them all up on the board or on a big sheet of paper. Here are just a few examples. You will think of your own:
When you have enough of your own metaphors and similes, start your drawing. Let one or more of these phrases help you create a visual image on paper.
- Cover your paper entirely with charcoal, until it is dark all over. (As you work, keep your arm off the page in order to avoid wiping the charcoal off inadvertently.)
- Start by finding shapes that appear in the irregularities in the marks, and look for half-hidden forms suggested by the uneven charcoal or pencil surface. Then take your eraser (rubber) and start working into the dark surface, creating light by erasure.
- Allow these forms to emerge and become visible as you erase, as if you are excavating from dark into light. Allow the image to suggest to you which forms should take shape.
- Continue to erase, developing the forms so that they become creatures, characters, or bits of landscape, sea or clouds. As the image is allowed to grow out of the dark, allow it to retain its mystery, its strangeness.
- As the image emerges, see if a mood is developing too. Loneliness? Anxiety? Or some other feeling altogether? Build on this mood.
- Try to create as many gradations (grey-shades) of tone as possible. You can work back into the light areas with charcoal again if necessary, and you can use white chalk or white pastel to heighten the lights where needed.
- Finally, when the drawings are complete, use hairspray as a fixative for the drawings. Hold the page vertically and spray from a short distance – about 30 or 35 cm from the page surface.