When I was younger, and started getting serious about drawing, I used materials readily available. Pencils are everywhere! I must say I dabbled in painting a little, but the space and supplies required were too expensive for a young military housewife. I stayed with pencil, grabbing cheap colored pencils when I could. Since then, thankfully, I have learned the value of quality supplies. Prismacolor is my brand, they could make tube socks and I would buy them, simply because their consistency in quality and selection has not been surpassed by any other brand. From colored pencils to graphite to art markers, I can always count on Prismacolor. Derwent is also a great brand, as is Staedlter.
Charcoal was not available in pencil form, at least not in the places I tended to shop. I found the sticks and vines tragically messy, and being a bit of a messy person, the trouble was compounded.
It was not until my 30's that I discovered charcoal in a wooden pencil form. I had played around with it, and had seen the beautiful work that other more practiced artists had done. I felt their time would come, and every year or so, I would pull them out and experiment. I was way too heavy handed, and the drawings were chunky, and unrefined. I clearly did not know how to use the medium, it wasn't time.
After I turned 40, life changes allowed more time to practice my art, and I developed a fine and detailed style with my beloved pencils. My drawings took less and less time while still maintaining fine detail and depth. However, I was getting frustrated at the limitations of graphite. The endless layering and blending smoothed the paper out, and in areas where the tones were darker, the layer and layers of graphite tended to shine and change the look of the subjects. I wanted my art to reflect details that graphite could just not provide every time.
I picked up my charcoal pencils this week. Yes, this week. I have been officially using charcoal for less than 7 days. I look at the doodles and sketches and know now is the time. I fall asleep dissecting images and breaking them down into techniques in charcoal.