Art History & Technique - Charcoal Drawing

Week of Oct 26, 2020; Lessons on Tuesday at 10:30 and Wednesday at 2:00.


If you were with us on Tuesday you've seen this, if you're coming today, Wednesday, you'll see it today. I decided to repeat it because I personally can watch this stuff over and over so I'm guessing you can too!


The video from Kahn Academy, already a challenge because of the way they recorded it, was not easily understood. I was able to capture some of it in stills. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/special-topics-art-history/creating-conserving/manuscripts-works-on-paper/v/drawing-with-charcoal


The video's purpose is to show us the techniques used by 19th Century French artists, and although it was presented in the Kahn Acadamy curriculum, it comes from the Getty Museum. In 2016 the Getty had an exhibit called "The Romance of Black in 19th Century French Drawings." https://www.francetoday.com/culture/france_in_america/now-getty-romance-black-19th-century-french-drawings/


Here are some images from the video:



(above) - "Timothy Mayhew demonstrates the techniques of French artists who fell in love with charcoal." [I had to put this shot in, something charming here!]

Above is a screen shot from the film where they were using some kind of fade through filmography that the shot captured, I think it's neat! It shows that he has drawn a freehand box around the paper to keep himself off of the part that sits right on the stretcher wood. I'm sure it would look strange if he didn't do that. Charcoal applied with a firm backing will hit the paper with a different look than that which is applied to springy stretched paper.

I think he's using a piece of cloth, but it could also be leather.

The little tray on the front of the box is where he crunches up small bits of charcoal to "paint" with. There's no liquid used, however, it is all dry brush. His equipment is obviously authentic - if not old, at least made in the same way as it would have been in 19th C. France.


Brush, upper right corner.

The charcoal holder is bamboo strips lashed together.

I didn't quite catch his thumb with my screen shot, but this is the bit where he pulled charcoal off with his clean(-ish) thumb.

Stumb (tortillon).

I love how the water looks. Apparently the brighter marks were made with a stump. By the way, this is a classic "how to" for water. Still, reflecting, water is done by making horizontal smooth sections with vertical reflections and horizontal & vertical bright spots and sometimes dark spots. It's amazing to me how they got the charcoal to glow.



Here are some close up shots we also looked at.


We didn't look at this one (above) especially, but it was flashed at us in the video. If you're familiar with Constable, it looks to me as though Lalanne was familiar with Constable, who was 10 years old when Constable died.


The painting on the left (oil) is one of literally hundreds of Constable reproductions I could have put here. I also found a biography that says his work was more well received in France than in his native England while he lived. See here for bio: https://en.wahooart.com/A55A04/w.nsf/O/BRUE-7YYNHN


Below is a Constable's "The Entrance into Dillingham, Dorset," pencil, not dated.


It's not difficult to see an influence on Lalanne, or on a vast array of Impressionist and Post Impressionist painters, when we look at Constable.

Here (below) is a Constable sketch from around 1800. I'm putting it here just to show you how even the best artists often just make a quick sketch, especially pre-camera - they just needed a "snapshot." This drawing is small, it might have come from a sketch book.

JOHN CONSTABLE, R.A. (EAST BERGHOLT 1776-1837 LONDON)

Malvern Hall: A garden gate at the west end pencil on laid, trimmed paper 9.5 x 15.3cm (3 3/4 x 6in).

From https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/16212/lot/45/

See also: https://www.john-constable.org



We shall have to look more at Constable!


One last image -


This is a Maxine Lalanne pen and ink. This image is 11 megabytes (i.e., very high pixel count), it might be possible for you to zoom in and really see the detail.


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