Drawing in charcoal

pears 1

It’s often hard to decide at what stage a charcoal drawing is finished. I can see the shape and volume of these pears at this very early stage of the drawing. I started by rubbing the side of the charcoal over the whole page and smoothed it with kitchen towel. I then used a putty eraser to bring out the highlights and rubbed more charcoal onto the side of each pear that was facing away from the light, smoothing it with my fingers.  You can also see I’ve darkened the surface behind each pear, where the shadow is being cast. The paper is tinted grey, so I will be using chalk or white conte crayon to bring out the highlights.  I’ve used the point of the charcoal to indicate the darkest shadows – directly under the pears – and the shapes of the stalks.



This shows the second stage – adding more charcoal and some charcoal pencil to the shadowy side of each pear. I’m also emphasising the highlight on the right side of the right hand pear, by darkening the background. I will soften some of these charcoal marks with a torchon.


Now I’ve started adding the white chalk. I like the way there is a lighter area behind the surface the pears are sitting on, so I bring that out with the chalk. This creates an interesting abstract shape and also provides variety: the top part of the pear on the right is a strong dark silhouette against the white background, while the lighter side of the pear on the left contrasts strongly with the darker side of its neighbour.

These last two pictures demonstrate that a picture can sometimes look too polished, and it’s good to experiment with bringing back a feeling of spontaneity to the ‘finished’ image. Any of the drawings in this series could be called ‘finished’, but the last drawing represents for me what I wanted to say about these pears. It is a good starting point for doing a colour version in pastel.


2 thoughts on “Drawing in charcoal

  1. Pingback: Drawing in charcoal | Mi Mi Designs

  2. Pingback: Pears in Pastel | Touchpaper Drawing Tips

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