Self portrait

Mockingbird moon
Mockingbird moon

Charcoal and white chalk on toned paper

This is a rather idealized self portrait in charcoal and white chalk on grey toned paper. We were just learning to use black and white chalk on colored paper at the Atelier and it seemed a great opportunity to work on an image that’s been in my head for a while.

The exercise was to use black charcoal, white chalk, and the tone of the paper as different values. We weren’t supposed to mix the chalk and charcoal, but rather keep them adjacent to each other. I worked hard in this piece to really push the values, as I have a tendency to be too afraid of the charcoal, and never get my midtones and dark values really dark enough. I think I still could have pushed the values further, particularly the darks.

Learning to see value has changed my artwork tremendously. The first time I really understood how important value is—what you can accomplish with value—it was like I had a mental earthquake. Although we can draw convincingly in line, the eye doesn’t really see line, it sees value. And adding value really brings depth and volume to a drawing or painting.