Exploring Charcoal

Charcoal is one of the oldest mediums used for art-making. This dry media is a nature-derived material commonly made of charred willow. Marks made with charcoal can be rubbed or blended by smudging by the artist. The rich, velvety quality makes it one of the boldest and most evocative mediums. It is a highly versatile medium used by artists around the world.


Nawarla Gabarnmung (Left) Study for the Head of the Virgin, Leonardo da Vinci (Right)


Charcoal may be the first artistic medium used by people. It is documented as the media used in cave paintings dating back thousands of years. Charcoal is also found in preparatory drawings during the Renaissance.

Students of Priscilla & Tiffany's Art Academy using charcoal pencils.


Today, charcoal is sold in different degrees of hardness and thickness. Hardness refers to the ratio of pigment to binder in pencils. The harder the level of the pencil is, the less pigment there is in the pigment to binder ratio. The harder the pencil is, the lighter the stroke. In the studio of Priscilla & Tiffany's Art Academy, our young artists use extra soft vine charcoal and hard charcoal pencils.

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