My Friday drawing class finished last week. I wanted to do the life drawing studio. It’s an open format, just a space, a model, and the time to draw, instead of a structured class with a teacher. But, apparently, not enough people in the city agree with me. The studio was cancelled because of low registration. They offered me pen and ink or charcoal landscapes instead.

I chose charcoal. I remembered loving using willow charcoal when I did drawing classes in university. It’s an interesting medium, actual twigs of the willow tree, burned into charcoal. Fragile, but with a beautiful line. Most of my drawing is lines. Because I’m a writer, I always have a black pen with me, so that’s what I use to draw. I don’t carry pencils or markers or willow charcoal.

Pen and ink is lines, too. Writing is really just lines that we have collectively agreed to recognise as letters. I wanted to try out shapes. It’s a whole new way of drawing for me, more like building with blocks. Break the charcoal into smaller pieces, and you can make marks bigger than a pen line. Charcoal and pastels is about layering colours on top of each other, background and foreground, blending and making new colours using the twelve in your box.

My Friday drawing class ended last week, but I made this on Friday, anyway. It’s drawn from a photo of the Grand Canyon in this month’s National Geographic. Next week, if the weather holds, I’ll get out and draw something a little closer to home.