Staying late, covered in ash, standing stooped over a small piece of paper, I discovered my love of charcoal. I was young, somewhere between ten and twelve, taking an art class at the homeschool co-op my mother helped run. Mrs. W was my ever patient instructor. Most of my art projects were terrible, so terrible I threw them out and suppressed them from my memory. But this Eagle I kept because it was the first spark of joy and pride that I received from creating art.
The art project was to do a charcoal drawing of an animal. It was my first time using the medium, and I quickly discovered how much fun it was. Smearing ash across paper is a lot like making mud pies – pure joy. Mrs. W mentioned that I had as much charcoal on myself as I did on the paper. That’s still how I do art. You should see my paint clothes.
I remember that I was still working this eagle drawing several minutes everyone had already left the class room. Mrs. W finally came over and encouraged me to pack up and move to my next class period. I got a few more seconds to finish the last touches – the yellow colored pencil for the eyes – before I got kicked out so the teacher could prepare for next class. It was a long time between that Eagle and my senior year in college when I decided to get an art major (something which got derailed by theater, but that’s another story), but I knew that day that I would always love charcoal. No other medium can get me so completely covered with so little consequence.