The joy of charcoal with Katie Sollohub


Ref: SWE12100

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About this course

Learn to love the versatility and expressive quality of charcoal. Packed with exercises to explore charcoal in all its glory, you will work with both abstract marks and simple still life.

Course Description

This is an enjoyable and exciting introduction to the potential of willow charcoal and its extraordinary versatility. From early cave drawings, humans have used the black trace of a burnt piece of wood to leave their mark. This course gives you the opportunity to discover the joy of charcoal, with the space and support to develop your skills in using charcoal in a new and exciting way.

You will be encouraged to use charcoal in a tactile, expressive way, to make a series of abstract studies, using mark-making.

You will be exploring charcoal as a basic drawing material, experimenting with a broad and expressive range of marks to find your own personal language (soft, rubbed, scribbled, line, detail, pattern, texture, hard, light and dark).

Later in the course, you will be given a series of exercises designed to lead you into drawing from observation, from a simple still life set up in the studio. You will be encouraged to take abstract and sensory elements from the still life as well as making visual observations.

You will be encouraged to change your drawings as they progress, rubbing out as much as drawing on, so the drawings stay fresh. This will give you the courage to draw expressively with charcoal in the future, whatever your previous drawing skills and experience, and to use it in new and experimental ways.

By the end of the course, you will have:

Discovered a greater range of marks to use when drawing with charcoal.

Completed a series of mark-making exercises and still life studies on A1 paper.

Made two or three more substantial drawings from a still life on different types of paper.

Learnt how to make studies that are both observational and experimental.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • Charcoal and paper for the first evening session.

What students need to bring

  • Cotton rags
  • Hairspray for fixing (cheaper option, though not for professional use)

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Willow charcoal
  • Compressed charcoal/black conte/black chalk
  • Hard plastic rubber
  • Masking tape
  • Fixative spray
  • A1 cartridge paper
  • Fixative Spray
  • Optional extras:
  • Graphite pencil
  • Putty rubber
  • Brushes for wet and dry use with charcoal
  • Available from tutor:
  • The tutor will bring A1 cartridge paper (20p-40p) for drawing and specialist paper for more substantial work (£3-£8) which can be bought directly from her if needed.


Katie Sollohub

Katie studied Anthropology and Fine Art. She teaches freelance and in 2014 she received an Arts Council Award for a residency at Turner's House. Working in charcoal and oils, her work has been shortlisted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize, the Lynne Painter Stainers Prize and the RA Summer Show.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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