Plein-air materials: natural wood charcoal and red chalk
by Joseph Weinzettle
My drawing materials include natural wood charcoals and natural red chalk. My charcoals are hand-made from local woods. This painting, “Swamp Space in Late Afternoon” (2018) was completed en plein air in a cypress dome in Tarpon Springs. The composition follows the arc of a fallen cypress tree.
The following image shows the underdrawing stage of “Swamp Space”. Lines in natural red chalk and natural wood charcoal are visible on the layer of oil primer.
I find fallen twigs of various woods, such as cypress, shave off the bark with a utility knife, wrap in foil and carbonize in an oven. Carbonized charcoal as a drawing material was described by Cennino Cennini in Il Libro Dell’Arte, a book of Italian Renaissance art formulae. Its usage for art is prehistoric, practiced by ancient cultures all around the world. Below is a sample of my drawing instruments for the work in progress.
Below is one of my hand-made natural red chalk holders with red chalk pieces. Chalk pieces are chiseled to fit the bamboo holder.
The most reliable natural red chalk that I’ve worked with is from a European source. So far, I have not found an American source of natural red chalk equal to European. I have also used natural grey chalk from Nigeria, which has a slight grey-green cast.
Below is a sample of my drawing instruments from 2012.
The display case was part of a Leepa Rattner Museum of Art Focus Gallery Exhibition, “En Plein Air: Landscapes and Streetscapes by Joseph Weinzettle”, October 28, 2012 – January 6, 2013. The exhibition was curated by R. Lynn Whitelaw and prepared by Larry Fineout.