The Indy marketplace for new artists is booming. The rise of the Etsy marketplace made it easy for new artists to start selling their art without the need for gallery space, art fairs or any other expensive platform to sell their art. The result is a variety of art forms with pricing to reflect any budget. If your walls need any wall art, you can get bespoke types online easily. Even Amazon has moved in with their Handmade by Amazon containing a whole category devoted to handcrafted art.
Charcoal is the medium of choice for beginner artists
Beginner artists tend to opt for charcoal and are encouraged to do that by art schools and tutors of online courses. The reason is that it’s a versatile tool that can be manipulated to create blends, edges, soft lines, hard lines, and blurs, all with the rub of a finger.
A lot more is possible with charcoal for sketching than is with other mediums, or even a state-of-the-art camera used with top of the range editing tools. For that reason, there’s an assortment of charcoal drawings available with a unique perspective.
Your problem is framing them
Artists are good at creative expression using whatever tool they choose to get their designs onto paper. What many struggle with is the framing aspect. Art and framing are two separate industries. Professionals who have made a name for themselves will rarely tackle the framing themselves. Some will, but most will have a partnership with a professional custom framer to get their designs framed in a way that adds value to the piece rather than detracts.
For that reason, even if your charcoal art arrives in a frame, there’s every chance you can improve its appearance drastically just be reframing it.
What You Need to Know about Framing Charcoal Drawings
Ideally, reach out to the artist before you buy because not all fixatives are the same. If a fixative is applied, it should be low on odour, smudge resistant, water resistant and one that won’t contribute to yellowing.
Yellowing is a massive issue with fixatives. And it's one of the reasons that hairspray (that some DIYers claim to be a suitable fixative) for charcoal sketches, really isn't. Moreover, it's high on toxicity.
Reach out to the artist and ask them what fixative they used to affix the charcoal to the paper. Some will spray a fixative over it once it’s completed, while others won’t and leave that to the customer to take care of. You’ll need to know what to expect because part of framing is to prevent the aging of the paper (yellowing) but if there’s a coating on the art itself, no amount of perfection with your framing will work to prevent the yellowing.
Securing the drawing to your mount board
A mount board is a protective board that acts as a go-between preventing the drawing from touching the glazing. Using a mount board with charcoal and pastel drawings is worthwhile.
Attaching the drawing to the mount board isn’t done the same as you’d do with a photograph though. As you don’t have the option (or shouldn’t have, but can if you like) to use a permanent mounting solution like dry mounting.
The ideal method is to use T-Hinges, V-hinges or acid-free photo corners attached to the backing board rather than the mount board. By connecting the drawing to the backing board using hinging or photo corners, you’ll ensure there’s minimal movement and with that, minimal dust falling from the paper.
Bevel Cut Mount Boards
Mount boards cut with a bevel are handy for charcoal art. One method to use is a reverse bevel cut mount. With this, instead of the bevel channelling in towards the art, it’s outward, and in effect becomes sort of like a chute for any dust to slip down. It helps to keep dust hidden within the frame.
Charcoal drawings can look splendid when they’re new. To keep them that way, a few precautions in the framing department will increase the longevity of your art, prevent mould growth within the frame due to moisture and keep all the particles in place letting you keep your charcoal drawings like new for much longer.