Engraved Elephant (Charcoal) by Jo Holden

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Engraved Elephant (Charcoal) by 

Original Sold. Bronze Winner – 3rd Prize, Drawing, Samford Shire Show, July 2010.

Charcoal Pencil on A4 UPM Digi Bright White 190gsm Paper.

This was my first ever attempt at charcoal. I got some General’s Charcoal pencils and wanted to see how much fine detail I could achieve with them before I incorporate them into my portraiture. I chose an engraved elephant statue I have at home and worked from a reference photo that I took of it.

I loved the intense blacks and softness of the charcoal and found the blendability to be really good so I think they’ll be ideal for doing hair and the very dark areas of a portrait. I found the pencils very tricky to sharpen though. I went through an entire pencil doing this piece largely from breaking it whilst sharpening! So if you have any tips for sharpening charcoal pencils, please feel free to share!

Featured in “Self Taught Arists on Red Bubble”, “Dirty Filthy Art: Charcoal”, and “International Superheros of Drawing”, June 2010. 152 Views as at 21 August 2010.


charcoal, elephant, engaved, statue


  • Vanessa Barklay
    Vanessa Barklayabout 4 years ago

    Excellent charcoal work!! :O)

  • Thanks so much Vanessa

    – Jo Holden

  • Mariaan M Krog Fine Art Portfolio
    Mariaan M Krog...about 4 years ago
  • Thanks so much Mariaan :)

    – Jo Holden

  • paulbeattie
    paulbeattieabout 4 years ago

    I really like this work, very nice :)

  • Thanks so much Paul :)

    – Jo Holden

  • Stephanie Hymas
    Stephanie Hymasabout 4 years ago

    Oh Gosh!! I love him :)))

  • Thanks Steph :)

    – Jo Holden

  • Susan van Zyl
    Susan van Zylabout 4 years ago

    Oh Brilliant!!!
    I LOVE this!!!!

  • Thanks Susan :)

    – Jo Holden

  • Ben Cresswell
    Ben Cresswellabout 4 years ago


  • Thanks Ben :)

    – Jo Holden

  • Susan van Zyl
    Susan van Zylabout 4 years ago

    I sharpen my charcoal pencils by rubbing it against sandpaper.
    “They” say not to sharpen charcoal or pastel pencils but rather use sandpaper or utility knife. Not sure where that came from or who “they” are, but it works for me ;-) Not the knife, but the sandpaper part ;P

  • Thanks Susan. I’ll give the sandpaper a go. I bought a fancy ‘art’ sharpener yesterday too so that may work. I love the charcoal but I need to get it really sharp for prescision work.

    – Jo Holden

  • Steven  Austin
    Steven Austinabout 4 years ago

    Really nice clean and subtle use of charcoal – well done.

  • Thanks so much :)

    – Jo Holden

  • Lynda Robinson
    Lynda Robinsonabout 4 years ago

  • Thanks so much Lynda! Much appreciated :)

    – Jo Holden

  • Mary Sedici
    Mary Sediciabout 4 years ago
    *For the FeatureMary*
  • Thanks Mary :)

    – Jo Holden

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