Charcoal Workshop

2 Day Workshop – Price £120

 Dates to be announced.

drawing workshops

This  workshop is to be run in conjunction with the “Charcoal” portrait article featured in the May edition of Artists & Illustrators magazine. 

May 2014 Artist and Illustrators LargeLouis Smith is running a number of drawing workshops in conjunction with 5 articles to be featured in Artists & Illustrators magazine. .

This workshop will teach people how to use the materials involved in making a short charcoal study as discussed in the magazine article.

The Problem with Charcoal

Most people avoid using Charcoal because it makes such a mess. The problem is they don’t know what materials to use or how to handle them.  With the right knowledge and experience you can achieve some beautiful results!

Teaching Style

Beginners and experienced people are welcome. Understanding is key and nobody gets left behind. Each student will be helped until they grasp the principles of the lesson. Louis believes in leading from the front, demonstrating each step in front of the group and on students’ work if needed. Louis Smith studied Classical Art in Florence and has exhibited his work in the BP Portrait Award and Royal Society of Portrait Painters.

drawing workshops

Course Outline

Use of Charcoal

Learn how to use different types of charcoal to achieve a broad range of value and subtle detail.  Each type of charcoal has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s about knowing what, where and when to use it.  We will also be discussing brands and the problem with inferior products.

You will be shown how to use;

  • Willow Charcoal Initial construction and lay in of the masses.
  • Nitram Charcoal For the rendering stages subtle tones and details in the light areas. Compressed Charcoal To extend the value range of natural charcoal in the shadow areas.
  • Sharpener How to Sharpen Nitram and Compressed Charcoal correctly and why discussing it is so important to keep these materials sharp.
Use of Erasers

Charcoal is a very delicate medium; the dust sits on the fibers of the paper and can be easily removed by the slightest touch. Ordinary erasers are to cumbersome, resulting in heavy-handed looking work.  To remove the charcoal a variety of erasers ranging in sensitivity are used depending on how much or how little charcoal needs to be removed.  We will also be discussing which brands to avoid that can make dirty marks or cause smudging which can be critical while rendering the light areas.

You will be shown how to use;

  • Craft knife The strongest eraser I use is a craft knife to score the paper revealing the highlight.
  • Pencil Eraser Useful for picking out highlights and sharp edges.
  • Kneadable Eraser This eraser can be manipulated into a variety of shapes for picking out detail or softening tones.
  • Brushes The softest eraser.  What brushes to use to remove the minimum amount of dust from the surface of the paper.
  • Paper The pros and cons of choosing textured or smooth papers.



The studio is equipped with easels and work stations to make it more convenient for the students to organise their materials and focus on their work.  The studio is also lit with balanced lighting which can save a lot of problems when dealing with a colour palette.

Charcoal Portrait workshop
Image shows the workstation, the Alla Prima painting is for display purpose.

Materials Deal =£20

“A poor workman always blames his tools” true but not always the case. Don’t use substandard materials while your learning because you won’t know whether to blame yourself or your tools for bad results. As the process is so dependant on using the right materials to get the most out of the workshop the materials deal is compulsory.


Materials provided for the class will include;

  • Willow charcoal
  • Nitram Charcoal
  • Conte compressed charcoal pencil
  • Sanding paddle
  • Craft knife
  • Pencil eraser
  • Kneadable eraser
  • Stomp
  • Brushes
  • Paper

Workshop = £120


2 day Charcoal Portrait Workshop including the materials =  £150. To register for the course, fill in your details and pay a 20% deposit below. Then pay the balance on the day. An email will be sent to confirm your attendance the week before the start date.


Saturday and Sunday, 9.30-1700.


Prices for Hotels in Manchester centre vary depending on the football. I would recommend staying in Altrincham its about 20 mins from Cornbrook Tram Station which is around the corner from the studio. If your on foot the Premier Inn is a short walk from Altrincham Station if your driving there are other hotels that are cheaper. Altrincham is a nice part of Manchester and if you fancy somewhere nice posh for a couple of drinks then Hale is just around the corner.

Below is a link for hotels in Altrinham just enter the dates at the top of the page for prices.

Click here for hotels on TripAdvisor website>>>

Venue Address

Louis Smith Art
Phoenix House
Ellesmere Street
M15 4JY


Set navigation for Cawdor Street.  Ellesmere Street is blocked in the middle for the next year. If you are traveling by car enter Ellesmere Street by turning left after the Church on the roundabout over the Mancunian Way. Free Car Park at the rear of the building on Cawdor Street. Public Transport, trams, buses timetables and parking, click here>>


Louis Smith

Tel: 07980989666