Art by Jeff Knecht

A Candle in a Vase

21 May 2009

This morning I learned about carbon pencils when I stumbled upon the Extraordinary Pencil blog. I was impressed with how black the artist was able to get her darks — something that I’ve struggled with ever since I picked up my pencils last fall. So I stopped off at the art store and picked up a small set.

Let me tell you, those pencils are DARK! They blend really well with a stump, and they mix pretty well with pencil. But they do not erase well at all. And if you push too hard when shading with the graphite, the carbon won’t lay on top of it. So if you use these, you want to use standard graphite to map out the shapes and then use the carbon judiciously.

Anyway, on to the self-critique…

The last time I tried to draw something in a glass container (see my picture of a shell), it was an unmitigated disaster. This attempt is a little better. In part, I think, because the carbon pencils allow me to capture much better contrast; and in part, because I have a little more experience now.

The lighting was straight top-down, so I didn’t have a lot of the really sharp highlights one might expect of a glass container. I should consider this a little more when doing more formal still life work.

My elipses are a little off. And the bottom of the vase took on a funny shape because I was too heavy-handed with the graphite before trying to come in with some carbon to lay down a shadow along the bottom edge.

This was challenging because of the amount of attention I had to pay to light and shadow, instead of just shape and shading. What started out as an experiment with a new kind of pencil ended in an hour-long sketch that was a bit of stretch for my puny attention span. In any event, good practice all around.