Charcoal is one of the oldest art mediums, having been used for cave drawings by early man. Back then, charcoal was used in the form of the end of burned sticks.
Artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci used charcoal to create high-impact images.
Charcoal is used much in the same way as a pencil. It’s a tool for drawing, shading and blending, but it allows for more expressive, larger work without getting stuck in details. Charcoal sticks allow focus on large shapes and general contours because of their blunt ends.
Drawing pencils are often considered sturdy, reliable and precise. Charcoal, on the other hand is a wild counterpart: it’s bold, daring and dramatic. It’s much darker than any pencil and has a richness, making drawing with charcoal a completely unique experience.
Charcoal is also a versatile medium. While extremely realistic, sensitive drawings can be achieved, that dusty stump of charcoal can free one to go big, expressive and gestural.