The first year of school was devoted to the study of anatomy, and critically necessary for a figurative painter. Art schools are where a student learns that the patella is the thick movable bone we call the kneecap.
While it was exciting to draw from the live model, it was more exciting to paint her. But, there's much more to drawing with a brittle stick of charcoal than one might think.
Having painted over 400 canvases, I returned to the study of anatomy and discovered that a stick of charcoal can be more that a just a tool for the study of anatomy. It can be an art unto itself.
I discovered that charcoals could be much more than a learning thing, it can be serious art if taken seriously, and that I began to do. Amazing what can happen when you raise your own bar.
Take a closer look by enlarging the images above. See the thousands of strokes it takes to render a face, the hair, the detail of the eye. Picasso did it, they all did it, and for the same reasons. Putting an accurate preliminary drawing on canvas is critical to the success of a painting.
It is also a very pleasant pastime.
Drawing in charcoal can be much
more than a requisite in art school education. Live and learn.