Ode to Charcoal

My most recent homework in charcoal. Three days of "argh!"

My most recent homework in charcoal. Three days of “argh!”

Okay, the charcoal class is driving me nuts, but I don’t think I am the only one who thinks that charcoal is some kind of medium of  torture.  I have noticed other students in my online class mentioning that they are having a tough time with the medium as well.  I suppose misery loves company.  But I think knowing that I am not the only person struggling makes it okay to be struggling.  I don’t want my classmates to be miserable.  I keep telling myself that this is not my medium of choice and not to be so uptight about it all.  This is hard because I am naturally a person who likes things done right the first time and has the attitude of  “why do something if one is going to do it half-assed?”  I don’t see the point in that, and yes, I do know that as time goes on, that I am becoming part of a minority.  Few people take pride in their work anymore….but that is entirely a blog topic on its own.

So I was frustrated the other day while working on my homework that I made a post on facebook describing my sentiments.

My facebook post:  More homework. Ugh, charcoal is stressful.  Charcoal is messful.  Why must I work with this? It is damaging my bliss.  Oh back to the days of acrylic paint where the sight of the medium didn’t make me faint. …….blah blah blah…..I need Farren to finish this. I am not a poet.

So my friend Farren did indeed see my post and she kindly wrote this poem for me.  And as you will read, she is a MUCH better poet than I.


Charcoal is some lovely stuff
And useful in its place
But when I try to draw with it
I get it on my face

Instead of on the paper
I get it on my clothes
And even doing details,
I get it up my nose

It makes my pictures cloudy
Like they’ve gone up in smoke
Who would think this awful mess
could come from mighty oak?

O Give me back acrylic
Or give me pencil tone
For the thought of using Charcoal
Just really makes me groan!!

By Farren Robinson © 2013

Who says that arts do not cross boundaries!  She’s a poet and an artist.  And deserves a bit more admiration than what she has been getting.  She has also tried charcoal and found it to be a difficult medium to work with a well.

So why do art schools around the world require the students to work with it? Well, it’s way to teach blending, value, composition, and chiaroscuro without using super expensive tools and materials.  And there is another reason.  Did you see my drawing posted above?  It’s okay.  It looks like what it is supposed to be, but there are people so talented that you would think that you were looking at a photograph.  Go visit this website www.artrenewal.org, they have wonderful examples of incredible artwork.  They can be a bit full of themselves, but the artwork is generally superb.  The site changes frequently so just hunt around and I am sure you will something amazing done in charcoal.  Also, while you are away from the blog, go check out Farren Robinson’s book of combat poetry that sounds like it was written during Great War of 1914 to 1918 but is so very timely for our modern day concerns.  Farren’s book of poetry.

G. Winkler ©2013

 PS – I did not put in the weird underlined advertising links.   I can’t get rid of them, and I am NOT getting paid for them being there either.  Not very happy about this. 😦  My apologies.

Gretchen Winkler is a Writer, Artist, Radio Show Co-Host on User Friendly 2.0, Cosplayer/Designer, and ordered Knight. She is currently working on several Star Wars novel projects and does editing and proof reading for Bill Sikkens & KPAM the Answer Portland radio. For the past 20 years she has authored several informational websites, started several technical companies, and has been an avid student of art, literature, history, technology.

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Posted in Art, Poetry
2 comments on “Ode to Charcoal
  1. hindsightpictures says:

    Wow that coffee pot is brilliant considering the medium (or is it ‘media’ since its singular…i never know…)


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