Margaret Davidson – Drawing with Carbon Dust (Online); Friday, June 16, 2023

Date: Friday, June 16, 2023
Time: 2:00-3:30PM Pacific Time/5:00-6:30 PM Eastern Time/10:00-11:30 PM London Time
Medium: Carbon dust

Carbon dust is a scientific illustration technique which is no longer used in the sciences anymore, having been replaced by the airbrush.  It consists of creating small piles of carbon dust and then applying thin layers of the dust onto paper through stencils with very soft brushes.  All the light, medium, and meium-dark tones are created with the dust, and then the whites are cut out with an eraser, and the blacks are created by drawing directly with the carbon pencils.  Carbon dust is a technique that is perfect for creating soft tones, blended tones, and gradations.  It is also possible to create intensely focused detail.  So although it is no longer used in scientific illustration, it is still quite a wonderful technique to use for art.

Margaret Davidson has a BFA from the University of Michigan and an MFA from the University of Washington. She is both an artist and illustrator, and, until retirement in 2014, taught courses in Beginning Drawing, Sources of Modernism in Drawing, Aesthetics of Drawing, and various drawing technique classes at Gage Academy of Art in Seattle, Washington.

In scientific illustration Davidson concentrated on archaeological and anthropological subject matter, drawing lithics, pottery, and especially basketry and textiles. To this end she has illustrated various books and journal articles, such as Spruce Root Basketry of the Haida and Tlingit by Sharon Busby (2003 Marquand Books and the University of Washington Press) and The Archaeology of the Yakutat Foreland: a Socioecological View, Volumes I and II, by Stanley Drew Davis (1996).  She has also drawn the maps for Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (Villard Books, New York, 1996), and Ten Degrees of Reckoning by Hester Rumberg (Berkley Books, 2010).

In contemporary art, her focus in her own drawings is on the subtle and reciprocal relationship between the mark and the surface, along with various related dichotomies such as figure and ground, form and space, and illusion and reality.  Like all drawing artists, she works on various European, American, and Asian art papers and then also draws on such materials as wooden sticks, dessicated leaves, and cloth.

Davidson is the author of Contemporary Drawing: Key Concepts and Techniques, published in 2011 by Watson-Guptill, a division of Random House, New York.

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About Our Technique Takeaways: 

  • Discover specific art techniques you can ‘take away’  from some of your favorite artists and apply to your own work. This one-and-a-half hour presentation will showcase a process that the artist incorporates in their daily art practice.  Instruction will be through a combination of lecture and demonstration by the artists.
  • If you are unable to attend live over Zoom, you will have access to the recording for 60 days. Technique Takeaways are non-refundable.
  • Once you’ve signed up, you will receive the link to the page where you will find the Zoom link, class recording and other important information for this class. You will also receive an email with the Zoom link the night before the class (don’t forget to check your junk folder).
  • You can also access the class by using the online class group. Find out how to access the class group message board here. 
  • To take part, you will need a Zoom enabled computer OR iPad/smart tablet OR smart phone (android or IOS) and a strong internet connection.