Breaking Down Charcoal Paper: Going Beyond Artist Preference

Posted On: March 3, 2014 — Written By:
Category Art Materials, The Basics

One of the biggest questions that any teacher or artist working with charcoal gets from those just starting out is, “What sort of paper should I use with charcoal drawing?” The answers are as varied as the artists that are being asked. However, there are some aspects of this that aren’t just personal preference. When considering a project, understanding the basics of the paper can go a long way towards your finished piece.

First, consider the fiber the paper is made from. Wood pulp, cotton, and cellulose are most common and each offer different sorts of behaviors when used as paper. Secondly, the way the paper is produced is another consideration. It can be machined or hand processed, heat and pressure play a big factor in the end product and as a result- your completed piece. The drying process and even the mould the paper was made in can have an impact.

Finally, there is also amount of size, which refers to the binding glue. This will impact both how toothy your surface is and how well it retains moisture. As you can see, there is more to the paper you use than meets the eye. Read More

Featured Artist: Jennifer Keltos

Posted On: February 27, 2014 — Written By:
Category Artists, Featured Art

Jennifer Keltos is a student at the Florence Academy of Art. She was kind enough to share the cast and figure drawings she completed with
Nitram Charcoal.

"Cellini Cast" by Jennifer Keltos "Anna Rosa" by Jennifer Keltos

“Cellini Cast”
Charcoal on Paper, 2013

“Anna Rosa”
Charcoal and White Chalk on Toned Paper, 2013

For more of Jennifer’s work, please visit her website:

Nitram Welcomes
Our Newest Retailers

Posted On: February 20, 2014 — Written By:
Category Nitram, Retailers, Where to Buy
H. Blyth & Co
1 Stevenson Sq.
Manchester, England M1 1DN

Flax Art & Design
1699 Market Street
San Francisco, California 94103

Cartoleria San Frediano
Via San Onofrio 5 r
50124 Firenze, Italia

At Nitram, we recommend that artists buy locally whenever possible.
It saves time, money and the planet. View all our retailers here.

Gesture Drawing: Instant Totality of Expression

Posted On: February 17, 2014 — Written By:
Category Charcoal Technique

In gesture drawing, the artist seeks to rapidly convey the unique essence of his or her subject through precision and authenticity of line, mood, symmetry, relational space, impulse, movement and/or stance. The result is a complete assessment of compositional elements, both subtle and overt—all accomplished in approximately one to two minutes. The energetic imprint of the figure is essentially captured in one simple series of sparse lines and curves. This acts as a map, guideline, or scale to which further detail can be added. One thinks of Japanese calligraphy, exquisitely executed with a fine brush and dark ink. For our purposes, large format charcoal works perfectly for recording these first essays, as the wider, broader marks most effectively initiate, underscore and secure the entire composition from the point of inception. Light strokes are easiest to modify later, but darker marks, made with confidence, can prove integral to the core structure of the drawing.

Gesture Drawing Practice by Pierre Rechatin

Gesture Drawing Practice by Pierre Rechatin

Upon completion of a gesture drawing, the figure comes spontaneously to light in an intuitive, almost magical transference, its heart and soul mirrored directly onto the paper. Many artists prefer to calculate specific lines by holding the charcoal (or a pencil) in front of them in order to approximate (and replicate) an accurate angle. For others, it may be best to proceed uninterrupted through the process, recording as many impressions as possible in the shortest amount of time. In this way, the artist can take down, in rapid-fire notation for future reference, the basic life force inherent to the subject’s physicality.

Street scenes seem to come to life by osmosis through gesture drawing. On a pretty summer day, try finding an outdoor seat at a café or on a quiet set of steps—any vantage point from which to comfortably watch the world go by. Gesture drawing provides the ideal set of parameters for sketching moving subjects to whom you may have no visual access after the first few moments. Even minimalistic dashes or scribbles, devoid of traditional definition or facial features, can transmit the authenticity of a figure in the most extraordinary way. Experiment with sketching each person or animal who passes by. At the end of your session, you’ll have a wealth of characters from which to work, and will have logged valuable practice time. Nothing adds to meaningful, cumulative experience faster than regular practice on a small scale, and for the developing artist, gesture drawing represents a gold mine of constantly available opportunity.

Nitram Around the World – Provincetown Massachusetts

Posted On: February 13, 2014 — Written By:
Category Nitram

Joan Horn in  Provincetown Massachusetts

Joan Horn took the time to share a photo of her and her Nitram hat on a recent trip to Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Are you going somewhere interesting this winter? Email us your destination and mailing address and we will send you a Nitram hat.

Did we already send you a hat? Don’t forget to send us your pictures

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