Getting My Hands Dirty

Charcoal has been my friend lately.  I don’t remember when I first used it (probably Drawing I in college), but I just love it.  For home studies I’ll settle for a cheap-o ball point pen, a Sharpie, or litho crayon to avoid the mess, but for studio drawing few things make me happier than charcoal.  Charcoal is immediate.  It has the potential for great boldness and amazing subtlety.  It’s messy and it gets everywhere. 

It’s for this reason that I think my next shows will be increasingly dominated by works on paper.  I’m starting to tape large sheets of the stuff to my studio walls and am looking for yet more ways to make it available at a moment’s notice.  In doing so I’m setting myself up for doing a lot of framing.  We’ll see if I don’t break down and have someone else do it.  Framing charcoals can be dicey work.  I was a framer in a gallery in a former life and have spent many hours picking bits of charcoal and pastel off archival matte board while trying to get all the pieces situated in a frame.  There’s nothing like sealing up the back of a piece only to flip it over and find that somehow another magical, black speck has found its way onto the facing board.  When framing charcoals or pastels you should always put in a separating layer between the piece and the front matte to let future dust settle behind the part you want to remain clean.  Even then it’s no guarantee.  A good fixative is your best friend, but take it easy on the application.  Too much and you can screw up some of the subtlety of your drawing.  Not enough and your drawing starts falling off the paper. 

Speaking of framing… I’m looking for a corner vice and a V-nailer.  Let a guy know if you have a line on one OR would like to go in on one (other Northland Studios residents, I’m looking in your direction).  Otherwise I’m waiting for a good sale.  This stuff ain’t cheap.

Come visit Northland Studio most evenings and you’ll find me there… hands blackened and face streaked like a kid playing happily in the dirt.  You can join me.  I’ve got paper and there’s always more charcoal.



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