Saturday, November 05, 2011
From time to time, a few grapevine or willow trimmings are collected and made into charcoal. Its a bit of a hit and miss affair, as there are so many variables involved in the process. In a nutshell, it involves securing the woody pieces in an airtight container and placing them in the embers of a fire (in my case this is usually the remains of a fire used to burn off old boughs.
The process of heating the wood until it becomes carbon, but without flame actually touching it, produces the familiar carbon pieces that artists draw with. Its likely the original drawing medium going back to pre-historic times. Of course, the size of the woody pieces, type of wood or vine, heat of the fire, external environmental factors (think wind, rain, etc.. that controls the heat of the fire) and you see the problems that arise in getting a suitable product.
However, the planets were in alignment this time and my batch of grapevine trimmings turned out well. Dark, soft, smooth to draw with. This homemade charcoal was what I used for this drawing of a stone lion fountain. There's still more detail to add with this drawing which is 19 x 22 on a grey/brown Canson paper.
I've been so busy painting these last few months, I forget how much I love drawing. So it was a pleasure to get my hands dirty with charcoal again.