ObeliskMediums
, Woman looking away

Charcoal

— The quickest way to make a mark

Charcoal is one of the first tools humans used to make artwork, appearing in cave paintings dating back 28,000 years. Artists have refined the medium from burnt wood to finely-ground charcoal bound with wax or gum into sticks, crayons, and pencils. During the Renaissance, charcoal was often used to create gestural sketches to prepare for a painting, but charcoal’s range of expression makes it a beautiful medium for finished work — from the gentle ochre used in Da Vinci’s Study of a Woman’s Hands to the intense black of Redon’s spiders.

Reed Enger, "Charcoal, The quickest way to make a mark," in Obelisk Art History, Published January 27, 2015; last modified July 20, 2019, http://arthistoryproject.com/mediums/charcoal/.

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Apollo 11 Cave Stones, Upper Paleolithic

Apollo 11 Cave Stones

25500 BCE-25300 BCE
Study of a Woman's Hands, Leonardo da Vinci

Study of a Woman's Hands

Leonardo da Vinci, 1490
Tears, Odilon Redon

Tears

Odilon Redon, 1878
Note in Pink and Brown, James McNeill Whistler

Note in Pink and Brown

James McNeill Whistler, 1880
The Cube, Odilon Redon

The Cube

Odilon Redon, 1880
The Crying Spider, Odilon Redon

The Crying Spider

Odilon Redon, 1881
The Smiling Spider, Odilon Redon

The Smiling Spider

Odilon Redon, 1881
Unemployed, Ferdinand Hodler

Unemployed

Ferdinand Hodler, 1891
The Halberdier, Ferdinand Hodler

The Halberdier

Ferdinand Hodler, 1895
Christ In Silence, Odilon Redon

Christ In Silence

Odilon Redon, 1897
Village Church, Piet Mondrian

Village Church

Piet Mondrian, 1898
Girl looking up, Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl

Girl looking up

Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl, 1900
Woman looking away, Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl

Woman looking away

Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl, 1900
Trees on a Yellow Background, Odilon Redon

Trees on a Yellow Background

Odilon Redon, 1901
Pearl Oyster, Mikhail Vrubel

Pearl Oyster

Mikhail Vrubel, 1904
After the Concert, at the Fireplace, Mikhail Vrubel

After the Concert, at the Fireplace

Mikhail Vrubel, 1905
Serenity, Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis

Serenity

Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, 1904-1905
Music (Sketch), Henri Matisse

Music (Sketch)

Henri Matisse, 1907
Before the Bath, Suzanne Valadon

Before the Bath

Suzanne Valadon, 1908
Young Woman Reading (Ines), Umberto Boccioni

Young Woman Reading (Ines)

Umberto Boccioni, 1909-1910
Sketch for States of Mind: The Farewells, Umberto Boccioni

Sketch for States of Mind: The Farewells

Umberto Boccioni, 1911
Sketch for States of Mind: Those Who Go, Umberto Boccioni

Sketch for States of Mind: Those Who Go

Umberto Boccioni, 1911
Sketch for States of Mind: Those Who Stay, Umberto Boccioni

Sketch for States of Mind: Those Who Stay

Umberto Boccioni, 1911
Studies of Self Portrait, Ferdinand Hodler

Studies of Self Portrait

Ferdinand Hodler, 1911
Illustration for Souz Molodyozhi, Olga Rozanova

Illustration for Souz Molodyozhi

Olga Rozanova, 1913
Illustration for Souz Molodyozhi, Olga Rozanova

Illustration for Souz Molodyozhi

Olga Rozanova, 1913
Pier and Ocean, Piet Mondrian

Pier and Ocean

Piet Mondrian, 1914
The Rhine at Duisburg, Paul Klee

The Rhine at Duisburg

Paul Klee, 1937
Young Boy, Charles Alston

Young Boy

Charles Alston, 1938
Vase, Palette, and Mandolin, Georges Braque

Vase, Palette, and Mandolin

Georges Braque, 1944
Self-Portrait, Elaine de Kooning

Self-Portrait

Elaine de Kooning, 1946
Harvest Talk, Charles White

Harvest Talk

Charles White, 1953
“I’ve Been 'Buked and I’ve Been Scorned”, Charles White

“I’ve Been 'Buked and I’ve Been Scorned”

Charles White, 1956
Two Palettes, Jim Dine

Two Palettes

Jim Dine, 1963
Untitled, 1965, Brice Marden

Untitled, 1965

Brice Marden, 1964-1965
J’Accuse, Charles White

J’Accuse

Charles White, 1966
Open No. 122 in Scarlet and Blue, Robert Motherwell

Open No. 122 in Scarlet and Blue

Robert Motherwell, 1969
Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 110, Robert Motherwell

Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 110

Robert Motherwell, 1971
Future Indicative, Lee Krasner

Future Indicative

Lee Krasner, 1977
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