The use of charcoal for landscape or figure drawing is becoming more and more popular every year. Its use is easy to learn and the results are very satisfactory. It is one of the modern arts; the old masters employed it for sketching principally, although there are in existence a few examples in simple charcoal.
The paper is of a different quality or grain from that used of crayon work. It should be of a yellow white tint and a fine and even grain. If too rough the charcoal will catch too strongly, while on the other hand if it is too smooth, it will not produce a good shading. Like paper for crayon work, it should be stretched. Although the tones of charcoal are more opaque than crayon, yet they possess a velvety richness and softness which crayon will not give and for landscape drawing it is especially valuable. It has other advantages over oil or watercolors; being dry it necessitates no delays and therefore a landscape can be drawn with wonderful rapidity.
Any part that is unsatisfactory can be easily effaced; in fact the drawing may be a succession of alterations, changes, modifications of tone or shade, until it meets approval. It is often used in portrait work and especially it is adapted for the portraits of children, where delicacy and softness are essential.
The entire process of working in charcoal is so simple that scarcely any instructions are necessary. All charcoal drawings must be fixed and if care is used, the most convenient method is direct fixation. It may be necessary to repeat the operation several times, waiting each time for the paper to dry. Charcoal drawing, it should be remembered, must only render effects, not details
The amateur will find this the most difficult lesson to learn. To illustrate this point we quote the following from a celebrated teacher: "You see a beautiful sunset and a barn comes into your picture. Will you grasp the whole at once, in a grand sweep of broad sky and a broad mass of dark building, or will you stop to draw in all the shingles on the barn, perhaps even the nails on each shingle; possibly the shady side of each nail? Your fine sunset is all gone while you are doing this."
Forget the little things in a picture and try to see only the grand broad masses and put off all details until the last; and if it should happen that every feather on a bird was not in exact position, or one leaf lacking on a tree, it will not be noticed.
In closing, it might be well to say, do not become discouraged after the first few efforts; if the desire to learn to draw is strong, rest assured success will come by patient practice. Do not confine yourself to the instructions contained in this work. Do not be afraid to try experiments and see what the effects may be. In this way one's own individuality will show in the results and such results will be valuable because they are original.