For 29 April’s Members’ meeting we had our own, very talented Sonja Frenz giving us a demo on her charcoal drawing practice.
The meeting was opened by our president, Liz Pearson, who thanked Audrey Innes and Adrian Larkin for getting the zoom meetings going – without them we wouldn’t have been able to “meet” at all for the past year, so well done you two!
Liz also assured us that we’d be able to return to the Athenaeum for our meetings from next month and asked that we check our shelves at home for outstanding library materials!
Since this was an online meeting, Sonja had put together a video presentation for us, which started by showing us all the equipment and materials she uses. Who knew there were so many different types of charcoal available!
She showed and demonstrated for us the very loose charcoal dust, applied with a cotton ball; soft willow charcoal; compressed charcoal, which is harder and more difficult to smudge; charcoal pencils and woodless charcoal. We also saw how she uses various erasers, for drawing into darker areas as well as for rubbing out – soft putty eraser, eraser pens – both round and square, battery operated eraser tool, as well as white charcoal and chalk to add sharper highlights and a smudging tool to soften and create gentle lines.
What takes hours and hours to create, we saw in about thirty minutes and it was fascinating to watch the image emerge. Using her cotton ball and working from a photograph, Sonja starts her charcoal pieces by mapping in the largest, darkest areas with charcoal dust, then moving on to the various sticks and tools, editing all the time – smudging lines and adding them, darkening and lightening areas – finishing off with the lightest lights and brightest highlights.
Sonja stressed the need for using a very high quality paper, when using this technique, as well as resisting the urge to use a fixative, as this tends to flatten the layers and loses the “history” of the piece.
Than you Sonja for sharing your secrets with us and for a fascinating demo.