We began our charcoal module by taking rubbings of the textures around us on newsprint paper. After collecting about 10 such sheets, we made collages by combining these textures in various ways. Here’s an example—the blue part is rubbings from bubble wrap (in oil pastel) while the black is a charcoal rubbing of cracks in the floor.
(11) Collage on newsprint paper, A1
Detail of cracks
Some quick charcoal sketches to get comfortable with the medium…
(12, 13, 14, 15, 16) Charcoal on newsprint, A3 each
(17) Charcoal on newsprint, A3
Then there was this strange phallic sculpture that captured the imagination of many a student…
Still Life in Charcoal
(18) Charcoal on newsprint, A3
Here, incorporated the texture implied by the rubbing into a new image. In this way, I developed the pattern suggested by the texture of the cracked floor into the roots of a tree. I was encouraged to go out and actually look at a tree and draw what I saw rather than draw something I’d made up in my head. The image in (20) is a tree and its shadow on the wall as I saw it. Using the eraser to bring out the lighter parts helped me to achieve the softness of the morning shadow.
(19, 20) Charcoal on newsprint, A3
My teacher told me to try and see how the shapes and tones relate to each other to make visual sense within the image, rather than depending on resemblance to something or the other in the external world to “explain” the work. Here, I tried to move beyond associations towards the abstract…but I do admit it still looks rather recognizably like some sort of a horse-dinosaur (21). (22) was the second attempt, though still somewhat abdomen-like…
(21, 22) Charcoal on cartridge paper, A3
Some quick 10-minute sketches in soft charcoal…
(23, 24, 25) Charcoal on cartridge paper, A3 each
Meanwhile, more charcoal rubbings became collages…
(26)Charcoal and sketch pen on newsprint, collage, A3 (27) Charcoal on newsprint, collage, A3
Through the charcoal rubbing collages, I was trying to express experiences of tactility, like the experience of walking on a textured bathroom mat, or the how a crumpled paper feels to the skin. There was a play of actual and implied texture– The rubbings are impressions of an actual texture but completely smooth to the touch, while actions like crumpling, tearing and poking holes creates actual texture. Somewhere I was thinking about these things when I tried to create a purely implied texture by marking a newsprint paper with small dots. But then again, I spread drops of water on it, which distorted the dots and wrinkled the paper into actual texture. I left the work incomplete.
(28) Sketch pen and water on newsprint, A1
In another experiment, I worked on a sheet so much, attacking it with pen, paint, Fevicol, ‘treating’ it by various processes, stretching, poking and carefully tearing it as if to test its limits, that it was reduced to shreds. Finally I preserved the remains or ‘corpse’ of the paper by sticking it on a full sheet. The relatively empty sheet contrasted strongly with the overworked little piece in terms of size, intensity of colours and texture. I used charcoal to soften the contrast and unify the composition.
(29) Mixed media on newsprint, A1