The value of studying grayscale.

This post from 2017 elicited a response from Kurt Chambers whose quotation appears below.  His comment is published immediately after the post.

“The innocence of children is what makes them stand out as a shining example to the rest of mankind.” Kurt Chambers, author of children’s books.

A study in values: charcoal, acrylic, gesso, and pencil used to paint a slum girl

( Gesso and Stabilo pencil with acrylic in Strathmore Mixed Media Visual Journal).

Grayscale or monochromatic sketches are useful in determining the gradations of light, and dark areas on a figure.


One in a series of charcoal sketches, this study in values was completed for an online course this year with Kara Bullock.

A study in values:  charcoal is effective with other mediums.

Charcoal is versatile because it can be mixed with other mediums with stunning results. Although I love charcoal, I can’t see myself using it on a daily basis.  It is just too messy for me.

Quick timed value studies are good practice and charcoal sticks are suited to this purpose if the artist can look past the dust they generate.

I use plastic gloves and keep the vacuum close by to collect all the dust. A good fixative is a must as well otherwise, the charcoal will smear. When there is poor ventilation (no windows) as in my basement room, charcoal is fun to work with occasionally.

To be sure, charcoal has its uses. For me, the main purpose is to practise values for portrait work.

Finally, I include a study that was never published. 

a study in charcoal
“Thoughtful” – a study in charcoal with added pastel pencil in toned tan sketchbook.


8 Responses

    • Thank you Christine. I was most surprised to learn all the different ways charcoal can be combined with other mediums. I think I even wet the charcoal in one sketch that I didn’t post. I guess the point is that anything is worth trying once!

    • It is very kind of you to send me a personal note about my art. Your quote best reflected the mood of the painting of the little girl. Thank you for your encouragement. It is very much appreciated. Cheers!

  • I was trying to be brief and to the point in saying I love what you have done but technology does not let me say ❤❤

    • Thanks Sally. I am trying to do more of these as I seem to be able to get them done within an hour although this one with gesso and stabilo and acrylic did take longer than that. It was for a class assignment so I justify to myself that it was worth spending more time on it.

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