I’ve been struggling to control my charcoal pencils. I keep making scratchy liney-lines, when what I want is a soft, rich, even tone. So I got out a piece of smooth newsprint and just doodled, trying to gain some control.
I’m not used to this technique. The pencil is whittled (I use a box cutter), stripping away the outer layer of wood, and leaving a slender charcoal twig about an inch and a half long. Then one side of that fragile stick of charcoal is flattened on a sanding block. This gives it a wide surface to make soft tone or expressive line.
But you have to have the right touch, and be in tune with your pencil. I keep losing the flattened edge on my charcoal. Then I have to scruff around in the margins of the paper until I can find that sweet spot again.
I need to do many of these kinds of sheets. Just play with the pencil and exercise my arm and eye.