Sunburst and I spent some time over the summer exploring the lovely qualities of charcoal.
We decided to tackle a series of exercises from Thomas Wildgruber's inspiring book, Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools, and we had so much fun. They start very simply with spheres, and then increase in complexity with each exercise.
The guidance provided with these drawings is wonderful. I was required to do a little bit of charcoal work in college, but with very little guidance. Looking back at my youth, I am so aghast that I paid and attended college level art classes that involved no actual instruction. While we inadvertently learn something through our own repeated ill-attempts, with guidance the process is much less painful and infinitely more productive.
Another thing that struck me about these exercises is that even with such a simple medium, the results vary. While Sunburst and I were drawing the same things, stylistically, there is a huge difference. Her drawing style with charcoal has a scratchiness to it that no matter how hard I try, I cannot manage to replicate. The same is true for her-- she can't soften her drawings to match the feel of mine. We had a lot of fun trying though. And as Sunburst is getting older, she really enjoys it when there is something obviously off about my drawings. Yes, the teenage years have truly begun!
Here you can see the style differences. I wonder if it has anything to do with temperament.
At one point in the exercises you progress to drawing your own image using what you've learned-- the examples for this exercise differ between the German and English editions. Sunburst couldn't wait for this exercise, because of course she knew exactly what she wanted to draw-- horses!
I was more reluctant because I had absolutely no idea what to draw. In the end though I managed to surprise myself.
We've moved on into taking the dark/light exploration into our work with colored pencils, and the results are really fun. Moonshine, meanwhile, has been watching this progression with awe. "Will I be able to draw like that too someday?"
"No," Sunburst told her with all sincerity. "Your drawings will be even better."