The Monochrome Lover

All about pencil and charcoal sketching

Tag: Drawings

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!”



Excuse me, do you have a pencil?

No! we are not talking about the normal, graphite pencils that we use to shade our multiple-choice answer sheets, but about the artist-pencils that are used for sketching. Many of us might be shocked to know that there are more than 35 types of pencils available to choose from, depending on the purpose- sketching or shading.

How to choose the right pencil?

My artist- quality drawing pencils- Beginner’s collection

It may be hard to notice, but yes! all drawing pencils don ‘t feel the same when you start working with them. The artist-quality pencils usually range from 9H to 9B with ‘H’ being the hardest and the lightest and ‘B’- the softest and the darkest.

The complete spectrum of artist-pencils
9H, 8H, 7H, 6H, 5H, 4H, 3H, 2H, H, HB, F, B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7B, 8B, 9B

Choosing the right pencil is always a challenge. Depending on what we draw and the detail that would be added to the work, determines the pencil one should be choosing. The ‘H’ series are mostly used for sketching and outlining as they are easy to erase and absolutely forgiving. The pencils in the ’B’ part of the spectrum is used for ‘inking’ and shading.

And we have more….

I love the high and low effect they produce on the sheet-My charcoal pencil tin from Daler Rowney

We all love to have some dark and lights added to our sketches. Which is why we have charcoal pencils at our rescue.  Just like the drawing pencils, charcoal comes in different types and forms too.

Personally, charcoal pencils are my favorite ones due to the untouchable pitch-black effect they produce on the sheet. Agreed! these burnt wings dirty our white sheet within the first minute of sketching, but their versatile nature that makes them blend in with the drawing sheet would make fall in love again and again!

Now you see where we get the 50 shades of grey from?


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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