The Monochrome Lover

All about pencil and charcoal sketching

Tag: beginners

From white paper to wall frames: A chat with Erika Farkas

Have you ever wondered making a career in canvas and colours? While I was wondering about the scope for art as a career, I got to interact with Erika Farkas, a Romania based artist, specialized in charcoal and portrait and here is what I learnt…

Erika Farkas, a Romania based artist

Q: How do you think the society has accepted art as profession in this age? Has it progressed since the past?

Erika: Art as a profession has certainly progressed. Back in the renaissance, artists only worked on commissions from their patrons, they rarely created works for their own enjoyment.  The acceptance of women in the artist profession has also come a long way. However, now there are too many talented artists out there, and if want to make it as an artist, you have to be original and stand out from the crowd.

Q: How did you prepare yourself to choose art as a career?

Basically, I started drawing. I was always pretty good at it. The more I drew, the better I became at it and I developed my own style, or so I would like to think.

Q: Was it not difficult for you to pursue a career in art without a formal training? How did you handle it?

My belief is that you don’t need a formal training if you are able to learn and experiment on your own. But nowadays, there is so much free information on the internet, free instructions from accomplished artists from where you can learn the basics without paying an arm and a leg for a fine art degree.

Takeaway from the chat: “My advice for the beginners is the Nike slogan “Just do it!”. Keep at it and I promise that the more you practice, the better you get and the greater will your satisfaction be!”



What my box of happiness has…

The person who said ‘money can’t buy happiness’ has neither ordered a box of pizza nor a tin of charcoal pencils. Both being my favorite, I would recommend the latter for a happy mind without putting on weight.  It was a couple of years ago, that creative hands delivered this ‘box of happiness’ at my office.  And ever since, the charcoals have never let me down.

The Daler- Rowney Charcoal Tin

For beginners like us, who love sketching but is afraid to use charcoal as a medium, we have Daler -Rowney (DR) charcoal Tin for help. A set of Daler-Rowney charcoal Tin consists of an assortment of charcoal pencils and the other necessary stationary. The tin contains Charcoal Pencils x 3, Graphite Pencils x 2, Woodless Pencil x 1, Kneaded Eraser x 1, Paper Blending Sticks x 2, helping us to create a perfect piece from sketching until shading. The charcoal sticks, also known as the ‘Vine Charcoal’ are labelled as ‘soft’ and ‘medium’ for the convenience of the user. The pencils and the charcoal sticks glide through the paper very smoothly.

The pencils and Vine charcoal in the DR Tin

We have already learnt more about pencils from the previous post- “Excuse me, do you have a pencil?” And so, we quickly look into the other elements in the tin. The most impressive element present in the DR charcoal Tin is the kneaded eraser. This can be manipulated into any shape as required to erase and can also be used as a smudging tool. As for the paper blending sticks, they are majorly used to create shadow effects and to blend the charcoal with the paper.

Bottom line:  the DR Tin is an awesome ‘must have’ sketching kit for every beginner who has been inspired by Charcoals.

Please note that the pencils in such artist kits should be sharpened only using a sand paper or blade


Believe it or not, I can actually draw

Whoever knew that the familiar, crusty, crumbly, black remains of your campfire is one of the oldest art mediums, that every artist would go mad about? Charcoal is a traditional drawing medium that has been preferred by various famous artists like Robert Longo, Vincent van Gogh and William Kentridge.

This form of dry art medium is mostly preferred because of its ability to produce rich tone and contrast on paper. Unlike other form of mediums, charcoal gets easily blended with the paper, helping the artist to produce various effects on the work. That said and done, this is the only art medium that dirties the hands, bringing out the inner-child of the artist.

What a burnt stick could produce on a paper

Just like every other child, I too loved getting my hands dirty. I chose to try this art only to ‘get-messy’. But eventually, I fell in love with the magic that a burnt stick had produced on the paper!

Charcoal sketching may look complicated externally, but technically, it is a very easy and interesting form of art. Reason being that, it easily spreads on the paper/ surface, we can make free and big strokes and most importantly you can erase and influence your imagination with smudging techniques.

My first attempt at charcoal sketching was done when I turned 18 and had just finished my high school. I had no image in my mind and I did not have a professional charcoal pencil set then. I had just began trying the art form and hence considered expanding my medium apart from Charcoal- I used a black crayon to sketch the outline and I was surprised by its versatile nature and the outcome on the paper.

My first attempt at charcoal sketching

So if you are looking for a recreation and love to express yourself visually, may be charcoal is the type of art you should be attempting, for its so easy to begin with and simply because it is such a forgiving medium.

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