Art by Jeff Knecht

Essential Tool - A Pencil Sharpener

14 Mar 2009

Holy cow! I can’t believe I let myself take two whole weeks off. I must be mindful of this. I definitely needed a break, as I was starting to feel like making art (OK, maybe not “art”, but whatever…) was a bit of a chore; but two weeks is a bit much. I haven’t been completely slacking — I ordered new watercolors and have been busy working out how to mix reasonable grays and washes, but nothing that resembles actual artwork.

This is my pencil sharpener. I like it because it holds all of the shavings in its own little container instead of letting them fall all over the dining room table; though, it does have a tendency to clog. Part-way through the drawing, I realized I probably should have picked a different subject, because I needed to sharpen my pencils before I finished (duh).

More than anything, this was a paper test. I’ve read a lot of posts by pencil artists who go on and on about the benefits of Bristol paper for drawing, and I wanted to test it out.

I stopped at the local art store a while back and picked up some Artist Trading Card packs of Bristol Smooth and Bristol Vellum. These little packs are great because you get a good sample for just a couple dollars, instead of dropping a tenner on a pad that you may wind up hating.

This drawing was done on the smooth paper.

I like the smooth surface for its ability to blend, but I was less than satisfied with its ability to grab the graphite and pull out really dark darks. I used really soft pencils; all the way up to 8B, but the darks are still pretty light. I’m hoping the vellum finish does a better job. If not, I may need to start integrating charcoal — I’d rather not, due to the mess and the fingers-on-chalkboard feeling I get when using charcoal. On the upside, I love the thickness of the paper. It is substantial and it makes you feel like you are producing something worth sharing (as opposed to my sketchbook, which feels–well–sketchbooky).