I was trying to come up with an art project that was Halloween-based, but still offered more than crafty cutting and pasting. So I was pondering dark, spooky nights, bats and ghosts and tree silhouettes, and BAM! I thought of charcoal. It’s the perfect medium for creepy, mysterious drawing ventures.
These are based on a technique I used to use quite a bit in my own artwork, and it’s sort of “backward” drawing, in that you cover the paper with charcoal first, then erase away the areas you want to be highlighted. Then you can go back in and add more linear detail with the charcoal to finish it up.
This is a messy project. Charcoal is dusty. You may even want your children to wear a disposable dust mask if you plan on doing these often.
Can’t deal with the mess right now? Check out this very clean Halloween bat project.
Got Artist's Block?
Get your creativity flowing with these inspirational drawing prompts!
- medium to heavyweight drawing paper, i.e. watercolor paper (on the smooth side), or bristol paper.
- charcoal– not vine charcoal- use nice black square pastel charcoals, like this:
- pencil eraser
- fixative– this protects your drawing from smudging and smearing and generally causing a horrible mess everywhere.
1. Cover paper with a layer of charcoal using the side of the charcoal stick. Then wipe over the whole surface with a tissue or paper towel to remove extra loose charcoal and even out the surface.
2. Use the charcoal pencil to draw a spooky scene on your paper. It won’t be easy to see on top of the other charcoal, but it will give you an idea of where to start erasing.
3. Go in and erase the parts that you want light. We erased away the moon, leaving the tree branches crossing it. We erased the ghost. We wanted the bats and the tree to stay dark, so we erased around them to leave a ‘glow’.
Use a big pink pearl eraser for larger areas, and a pencil eraser for smaller, detailed areas (eyes; under the bats wings).
If you make a mistake with the erasing, never fear! Smudge back over the erased part with some of the charcoal on the paper, or add some more charcoal over it with the charcoal stick, and tissue over it.
4. Spray fixative over the finished drawing to set it so it won’t get all over your clothes, hands, sofa, curtains, your kids’ hair, the dog, etc.