As a preparation for her mixed media collage Helen Becker creates charcoal sketches to help her visualize final designs for her collage paintings. As a mixed media artist, Helen Becker loves the contrast between dark and light that charcoal allows.

Using charcoal sketches has allowed Helen Becker to create mixed media collage that use her layered themes of highways. Mixed media artists like Helen Becker tend to gravitate towards sketches to plan mixed media collage painting.


I have been drawing with many black and white mediums for a long time. Having extreme contrasts is a goal of mine whether in black and white charcoal or color abstract collage. I use compressed charcoal, vine charcoal, willow charcoal, charcoal pencils, graphite, white pencil, and white pastel stick. Even using a kneaded eraser or rubbing with a chamois is a form of drawing (by subtraction).

Because of my ease in drawing this way, I choose these mediums for my studies of larger paintings, such as my oil paintings or my mixed media collage pieces. They help me see the overall notion or direction a painting will take before I even begin the painting.

Drawing is a natural way for me to express myself.  I can create small compositions much easier than I can large mixed media collage paintings.  I don’t know what I would do without my charcoal studies!