Sometimes you want to accentuate the contrasts between light and dark. Photographers like to take black and white photographs in scenes where light plays with the shadows. Traditional artists can capture the same effects without a camera using charcoal.
Charcoal on newsprint is a favorite medium for quickly sketching black and white scenes. Charcoal smudges easily and can be messy to work with, but with experience, the artist can make use of this property to form gradients and grays. White chalk can also be used to create a higher contrast.
It is cheap to start creating charcoal works of art. If you have a few dollars to spend, go to your local arts and crafts store and buy a big pad of newsprint and a charcoal pencil.
If you don’t want to spend any money, you can use any paper. For the charcoal, just burn some twigs until they blacken (for more details, search Google for “making your own charcoal pencils”).