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Charcoal Sticks for Artists

Updated on November 9, 2014
Coates Willow Charcoal- Box of 4 Extra Thick Sticks
Coates Willow Charcoal- Box of 4 Extra Thick Sticks | Source

Buy Artist Charcoal Sticks Online

I needed charcoal sticks - quickly - for a life drawing class that I'm going to attend next week and I found it quite hard to find charcoal on line, so this article is born from desperation on my part!

First I had to find the right words to put into the search engines - charcoal is used for many things it seems - on the barbecue, in flower water, medicinally - in fact in many ways that I had never imagined. Charcoal is also a colour so putting the word charcoal into the box didn't do the trick.

First you might think that 'charcoal for artists', 'cheapest charcoal', 'best charcoal', 'charcoal bargains', 'best value charcoal' or 'charcoal for drawing' would work; each of these threw up a small selection. Or you might try to search in a department - but then you'll find you have to choose between 'home and garden' , 'kitchen' or 'toys' - they don't really fit the bill, do they?

I was tearing out my hair. By the time I'd found a selection of thin, medium, thick and very thick charcoal - I'd long forgotten my first searches - so I did the whole thing again but this time put them on this lens. I found that 'artist charcoal sticks' brought up the best results.

I live in France and often buy from because I find them cheaper than, so these are British links. I've also put links to for anyone living in the USA as well as links for anyone who finds the thrill of bidding adds that little extra frisson to their shopping.

Happy shopping and happy drawing!

This Medium Charcoal Was My Best Buy - COATES WILLOW CHARCOAL Medium Sticks 4-6mm Box of 25

See below for a full selection of thick, medium and thin charcoal sticks available on and

Global Art Materials PH Coates Willow Charcoal, Medium
Global Art Materials PH Coates Willow Charcoal, Medium


I must say I went for quantity at the best price. I can't say that in my career as an artist I've noticed that charcoal is 'good' or 'bad'. I like thicker sticks but you seem to get more for your money with this.


What is Charcoal?

I'll be brief!

This is not really an 'about charcoal' article - just an article to help you to buy charcoal quickly and easily, but I thought I should just say a few words about the medium itself.

Charcoal is burnt wood! It is a dark grey material consisting of carbon and is made by heating wood (or other materials) without oxygen.

Artist's charcoal is usually made by burning willow twigs.

This is a fascinating subject and I'd love to explore it further but just now I have drawings to tackle. I hope to find out a bit more about it, but in the meantime I'll leave you with a link to the Wikipedia page: Charcoal

What is the best charcoal stick for you?

Artist Charcoal sticks ...

Thick Charcoal I like thick charcoal best because I find that I like to work on quite a large scale, I love large areas of black and I find that there is always an edge of charcoal for drawing sharp and fine lines.

Medium Charcoal Medium charcoal is a good all-rounder.

Thin Charcoal thin charcoal would be good for people who draw in line on a small scale. I find the drawback is that they are very fragile and break easily.

Chunky Charcoal Sticks or Tree Charcoal Or 'chunky' charcoal. These great chunks of charcoal are what I like best. I love to use the side to really cover paper. They last for ages too.


Chunky Charcoal Sticks

I like this charcoal for drawing best

I love to draw on a large scale and these are great for really covering the paper. I love lots of dramatic light and dark - Rembrandt is one of my all time favourite artists - and you can use these on their sides to really get large areas with great depth of tone.

Medium Charcoal Sticks

Charcoal for art sketching

These would be suitable for most drawings of a 'normal' size - A2 or smaller. Good for covering small areas of paper and you can use the sharp edges for line drawing.

Chalk and Charcoal Life Drawing

Back of female nude

This drawing was completed in about twenty minutes and I used charcoal with rose and cream chalks on canvas. It has been fixed with fixitive, but should now be framed behind glass to keep it clean.

How To Draw With Charcoal - Charcoal drawing tips

This Howcast video give excellent advice for novices. Experiment, try things out yourself, use the eraser as a tool, be bold, be expressive, don't be scared of the medium.

Excellent tips here

Charcoal Life Drawings - All my own work

charcoal-life-drawing | Source

These original drawings are for sale and if you're interested you can contact me on for details and prices.

I hope that I've inspired you to try a bit of drawing yourself. You don't need a model - just draw whatever is around you. On the other hand you can catch a friend or member of your family and get them to sit for you - they can watch the TV or read if they like. Failing all of this, you can always set up a mirror and draw yourself. Artists have always resorted to this. They often practice hands by drawing with one hand and using the other as a model!

When Your Drawing is Finished You Need to Fix It - Spraying the drawing with fixitive will make the charcoal or pastel less prone to falling and smudging

You can buy cheap hair spray to fix your drawings, but this might yellow or undergo undesirable chemical changes with time, so you should really buy proper fixative. I've selected just one here, but there are many brands that will do the trick.

Fixative Provides Lasting Protection To Pencil, Pastel and Chalk Drawings (Pkg/2)
Fixative Provides Lasting Protection To Pencil, Pastel and Chalk Drawings (Pkg/2)

Always spray your charcoal and pastel drawings with fixative. If you use soft pencils or use pencil for tone, you might also need to fix these with spray.


Where in the World Are We? - In Limousin, a hidden corner of South West France

I run a Bed and Breakfast in Limousin, South West France and have a lovely holiday cottage that sleeps 7 adults in three, ensuite rooms. I also run painting holidays. If you are interested in finding out more about any of these, do take a look at our website or contact me at

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Did You Find The Charcoal Stick You Were Looking For? - Leave me a message - I'd love to hear from you

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    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 4 years ago from Idaho

      I love looking at your beautiful drawings, charcoal is one medium I haven't tried yet, those and pastels scare me with the way they are so easily smeared with my fingers, how in the world do you do it? Great works and choices for sales.

    • profile image

      Ruthi 4 years ago

      I have always enjoyed the look of charcoal drawings. But of course, mostly I enjoy talented artists such as you who can put their charcoal sticks to paper to produce a drawing worth the viewing.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 5 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      It has been a long time since I've drawn with charcoal sticks, but you have inspired me to try it again.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 5 years ago from UK

      I used to love using charcoal for portrait / figure work when I was in a group that provided regular models. I no longer participate in that group and my drawing has suffered since I know tend to paint without bothering too much about draughtsmanship. As a result, I seldom use charcoal any longer. very informative lens.

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @Pam Irie: Ooops, forgot to say thanks for leaving a message.

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @Pam Irie: It was hot off the press yesterday and the life class is on Tuesday - so if it's worth posting I'll put it up then!

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I would have loved to see a charcoal stick drawing you've done. I think charcoal use in art is fabulous!