Tag Archives: charcoal

A Free Fall All

hopping twirling 150 dpi with borderclick on images to enlarge

all fall down red size 150 with borderDancing and twirling to the music of a choral octet, and then falling down with glee, the children in my illustrations got into the spirit of UC Berkeley’s Free Fall All –  musical venues around the campus free to the public. I was waiting in line to see the free concert by The Alexander Quartet.  Cal students suddenly showed up and entertained the waiting crowd by singing a cappella. These kids showed up too, and were wildly enthusiastic, getting into the music with abandon. Their “in the moment” shenanigans inspired the illustrations, which started as chunky charcoal drawings in ocher, and evolved with color and collage.

Drawing Performance

Drawing is a performance –
It is one time then and there
Of the moment
As an act of creation is.

Beatrice Darwin*

anton lewis drums framed

     charcoal gesture drawing

Charcoal is a medium I’ve used for years, but never with such abandon until recently. I draw with willow and vine as well as compressed charcoals in stick and pencil form. Last year I picked up compressed chunky charcoal measuring 3” by 5/8”.  That’s when the fun started.

from left, 4 chunky charcoals, willow charcoal, vine charcoal

      from left, 4 chunky charcoals, willow charcoal, vine charcoal

All of the charcoals have varied tonal ranges, allow for a variety of line, and feel like an extension of my arm. This is especially true of the chunky charcoal which, because of its size, insists on grand sweeping gesture. I find myself drawing with my whole body. It feels like a dance when I draw this way.

Using various sides of the chunky charcoal, I make marks that express the movement or gesture of the subject I am drawing. Gesture drawings are done quickly without attention to detail. Precision is not the nature of gesture drawing. Capturing movement is.

Many finished drawings start as gesture drawings. The two charcoal drawings in my last blog ( Aimless Love, The Wideness and Wonder of The World) each began as a gesture drawing.

gesture drawing using ochre and black chunky charcoal

 gesture drawings with restatements



gesture drawing with chunky charcoal

Leaving a track of the act of drawing is a story in itself; the stops, starts, and restatements (draw overs) add energy to a drawing. Whether musical or otherwise, performance is one time, then and there, of the moment*. So begin your performance: find a subject, some chunky charcoal, and make your mark.

gesture drawing

Check out the performances of the musicians that I drew here at: www.stringmetal.com.

The epiphany of the everyday: chunky charcoal.

All drawings: © Constance Anderson