When I work with Charcoal – I wear black

At first the thought of wearing black while working with charcoal,  may conjure up images of an emotional state of mind.  It is somber.  It is depressed.  It is full of resignation that I will have to endure something that I do not want to do.  So wearing black like I am going to a funeral or perhaps feeling a bit modern Goth seems very appropriate, but the truth be known, … it is for a more practical purpose than social convention or melodrama.   Ever since I started the chiaroscuro class where only charcoal is used as the medium, I purposely try and wear black or other dark colors.  The charcoal is a nightmare of smudges and powdery messes that need to be controlled.  It is a Sheldon Cooper or Felix Unger nightmare.

Basic shapes in charcoal - a practice in value and composition.

Basic shapes in charcoal – a practice in value and composition.

You see, while I may not be as obsessive compulsive as these other characters, I do have a dislike for nasty dirty messes.  So I am not the artist with a studio that has paint splattered all over the floors, walls, and table tops.  I have an inherent respect for my environment and see myself as being part of that of that coexistence of living and nonliving materials in this world.  So the idea of smearing a dirty mess all over myself, my paper, my work area, and so forth disturbs my personal feng shui. To be honest it would not be so bad if I could simply wash the stuff off or erase it.  At least dirt from gardening can be wiped up or washed out of clothing, but the charcoal has this clinging desire to be made part of the fiber content, so if I don’t want a good light colored shirt to be ruined, then I wear dark colors or even short sleeves.

A half rendered project to explore folds in fabric and how stripes can affect the appearance of fabric.

A half rendered project to explore folds in fabric and how stripes can affect the appearance of fabric.

Thus this semester on my online graduate fine art education has seen an intense fashion of dark colors, not because I feel like being the stereotypical tortured artist, but because I am practical.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a tortured artist by being forced to take this charcoal infested class, but that’s not the reason for the black clothes.

I keep telling myself that this is a useful process to learn, the Chiaroscuro, and that all the other students are being expected to take it as well since it is required.  I just wish I didn’t have to use charcoal.  🙂

G. Winkler ©2013

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, Education
2 comments on “When I work with Charcoal – I wear black
  1. hindsightpictures says:

    Hehe – the thought of Sheldon working with Charcoal is..interesting , to say the least ; )))


    • G. Winkler says:

      Yah, the idea Shelden Cooper getting messy with charcoal just sounds like something he would avoid. Perhaps art in general, although I could imagine him at least appreciating the technique or science behind some of the art.


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