Charcoal Drawings and Portraits


There is just something about a charcoal drawing that makes it so unique. Yes, oil paintings and sculptures are also beautiful variations of art, but charcoal really manages to bring everything down to basics. By literally using shades of gray, a sketch done with those fragile flakes of charcoal can still get an amazing reaction. There are no vibrant colors to spruce things up or a multidimensional view. It’s only the artist and the immediate result of a special interpretation.

Origins of Charcoal Art

Charcoal has been an important medium for artists and cultural expression from as far back as circa 23,000 BCE. Even now it still holds that magic of grabbing instant attention and then casually letting the viewer get lost in the beautiful strokes. Some of the probabilities that surround its origins are that people started using it when they first discovered fire. There is also cause to think it may have been a tool for communication. Whether these probabilities are true or false, we still have the beautiful Picasso, Da Vinci, and Van Gogh reminders that charcoal is just as powerful when the right hands use it.

Charcoal and the Test of Time

For those that might think that charcoal drawings don’t last very long, think again. Back in the Renaissance times, this was indeed the case, but some innovations have helped to dramatically increase the life of a drawing. A good example of this would be the use of acid-free paper, as it guarantees a long-lasting effect. When it comes to long-term art, charcoal only stands second to oil paintings and we all know how long oil paintings can last.

Charcoal drawings are much more affordable

The great thing about art and beauty is that everything comes down to the eye of the beholder. Whether it’s a Van Gogh painting or drawing, both can be very stimulating visually. In other words, those who simply can’t afford oil painting portraits won’t have the same problem with charcoal drawings. But just because they cost less doesn’t mean they aren’t just as beautiful. Instead of paying for expensive paint, people pursue the basic touch of pure talent. A photo or picture sketched within that small, yet powerful frame of emotion.

Charcoal can’t be duplicated

Technology is a great thing and it will continue to do great things in the future, but it will never be able to mimic the effects of charcoal. Make no mistake; there is software out there that can turn any photo into a perfect “charcoal drawing” within a matter of seconds. But the thing with charcoal is that it’s not about reaching perfection. Neither is it about being painfully realistic. It’s about capturing the essence or character of something beautiful through sub-conscious thoughts and displaying it on paper. There needs to be a soul that holds that charcoal before it can become an artistic medium.

Drawings as a gift, decoration or portrait

The reasons why charcoal drawings are perfect gifts for just about any occasion is because they don’t take a huge amount of time, it’s very affordable and it’s very thoughtful. In fact, it’s one of the most sincere gifts a person can give. The same goes for decoration around the house or office because they create a very welcoming atmosphere. However, the most popular choice of charcoal drawings has to be portraits. There can be no doubt that charcoal artists can, and have, produced some of the most amazing portraits the world has ever seen.

How to get a charcoal portrait

The only thing a person needs to get a charcoal portrait done is a photo. After the photo has been handed in, a short waiting period starts and this is followed by receiving an authentic, one of a kind, charcoal drawing. It doesn’t get much easier than this. While people love looking at photos, they will stare at such a beautiful portrait. It’s not something you see every day and this makes it really special. Plus, the artist can avoid making “unnecessary” strokes around the eyes if the client wants to look a little younger.


Regardless of the age, charcoal has remained one of the most dynamic ways to have a portrait made. With new times come modern styles and with every portrait, something unique evolves. We might not all be artists, but we can certainly all enjoy art.