Tuesday, February 20, 2018

30-Minute Pears


I’ve been busier than usual lately with several volunteer projects with firm deadlines, and it’s been hard to squeeze in time for leisurely sketches. I usually spend an hour or so on a typical still life (a single fruit done with colored pencils), but the past couple of days I’ve given myself the challenge to make one in a half-hour or less and still feel like the sketch is finished. It’s not as satisfying to rush – I prefer the more meditative quality of taking my time – but on the other hand, it’s kind of exhilarating to move quickly the way it feels when sketching on location and the light is changing or the rain is about to start.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Sketch Kit Diet: Lighter, Slimmer, More Essential

Svelte and ready for action.

My minimal sketch kit challenge is done, and it taught me many things – not the least of which is that I appreciate a lighter bag, and I don’t need as many colors or tools as I always think I do. I intended the experiment to be temporary – I didn’t want to be colorless forever – but I also didn’t want to simply shove all the stuff I used to carry back into my bag.

I dumped every minimal item I’ve been carrying the past two months as well as every item I had taken out before the challenge and laid them all out on my desk. Some things were easy to eliminate because I didn’t miss them at all during the past two months – an extra waterbrush, two brush pens, a second Pitt tonal marker. Of course, some things, like the spray bottle and traditional brush for spreading sprayed water, are used only with water-soluble colored pencils, so without the latter, I had no use for them. With all of that in mind, I evaluated each pencil, pen and brush by asking it this question: Will you earn your keep – enough to make me want to carry you every day?

The items you see in the photo above made the final cut. All items that were in my minimal kit remained except the rainbow pencil. To that, I added:
  • A second fountain pen containing waterproof ink (the one with water-soluble ink in my minimal kit served me fine without color, but when I start using water-soluble colored pencils again, I’ll want one with waterproof ink, too)
  • A second waterbrush (the smaller size is handy for details)
  • The spray bottle (for my spritzing technique)
  • A traditional brush (for spreading sprayed water on the page)
  • 14 water-soluble colored pencils. Previously, I carried 25. I chose the 14 colors judiciously based on the current season (the pink one for plum and cherry blossoms is overly optimistic, I know, but I need something to hope for) here at home. When I travel this spring and summer, I’m sure I’ll need to change the palette for the locations. But here’s a bonus: I eliminated enough colored pencils that I now have space in my Tran Portfolio Pencil Case for several other implements (with slots to spare!). This compression enabled me to eliminate one of two Lihit Lab Slim Pen Cases I had been using to organize the other implements. The result is a less bulky bag.
  • Not shown: My usual signature of paper in place of the Stillman & Birn sketchbook.

It’s easily apparent that once I added color back in, the tools that support it (brushes, sprayer, waterproof ink) also had to be included. But I’m pleased to say that several items proved to be excess, and they didn’t make the cut.

With that strict diet, how much weight did my bag lose?

Bag before diet: just under 4 lbs. (1.78 kg)
Bag during minimal challenge: 3 lbs., 4 oz. (1.49 kg)
Bag after diet: 3 lbs., 11 oz. (1.67 kg)
Net weight loss: 4 ounces (0.11 kg)

Even with the addition of watercolor pencils, the tools needed to support them, and the two bag organizers (Tran Portfolio and Lihit Lab), my bag weighs only 7 ounces (0.18 kg) more than it did with my minimal kit. A significant factor is the sketchbook itself: A signature of paper (four folded sheets of 140-pound watercolor paper) is much lighter than the softcover Stillman & Birn. As much as I enjoyed using the S&B Nova, that difference in weight is a worthwhile tradeoff. I’m going to continue rolling my own (that’s the same conclusion I came to when I tried the S&B softcover a couple of years ago).

Here’s how everything looks in the newly arranged organizers:

Trim and tidy.

And here’s the pre-diet kit:

Too many cookies over the holidays.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Minimalism Challenge Completed!

My minimal sketch kit for the past 2 months.

The last page of my Stillman & Birn Nova sketchbook has been filled, which means my self-inflicted minimal sketch kit challenge is over!

After years of daily-carrying a full palette of colors and a formidable arsenal of pens, pencils and markers, how did it feel to have only nine implements in my bag for the past two months?

Weight: The first thing I appreciated right away was how lightweight my bag became. As a former sufferer of shoulder issues, I try to be conscious of how much weight I carry in a messenger bag. I never thought my former daily-carry was harmfully heavy, but once I slimmed the bag down, I realized how much easier it is to carry less.  I’m going to be more mindful than ever about what I put back in; I’m motivated to keep the bag as slim as possible.

Color: I thought that going from my usual 25 colors to two (in a single blue/red bicolor pencil) would be an extreme case of withdrawal for my color-junkie system – but I found it easier than I expected. If it had been the middle of summer or while traveling, I probably would have found it intolerable, but I didn’t miss color much during the bleak gray of winter. Certain colors, however, I did miss almost immediately – especially the bright yellow I use often for traffic cones and heavy equipment.

This Spin bike should be bright orange, but all I had was red.
Even more significant, I became more conscious of how much color can be a part of an object’s identity. The best example I encountered during my challenge was Seattle’s multiple shared bike companies. In bright citrus colors, LimeBike (green), Spin (orange) and Ofo (yellow) bikes are littered all over the city, sometimes adding the only spots of color to an otherwise dreary landscape. I would stop to sketch one, delighted to see color – but there I was with nothing but blue and red!

It’s not that the specific color is a big deal – we all use artistic license in choosing colors now and then. But in the case of these shared bikes, their specific colors distinguish them from ordinary bikes owned by individuals. If I couldn’t color them accurately, I was missing a large part of the visual story I was telling. This was an important lesson to learn – one that hadn’t occurred to me in all the years I always had a full palette at my disposal.

Tone: The other part of my colorless strategy was using a tan sketchbook for the duration of my challenge. Although I had used toned paper before, it was only sporadically. This was the first time I tried it for a continual length of time. A toned page automatically makes it easier to focus on values – the page is already the mid-tone, so all I have to do is put in the shadows and highlights. Working for a concentrated time on toned paper was helpful in making me more aware of highlights (which I especially enjoyed when sketching people). I think it will help me stay more focused on values even when I switch back to white paper and a wider color palette.

Tools: Did I stick with the same nine implements for the full two months? In terms of function, yes – though I made a few changes to the specific tools:
A few tools that I swapped in.
  • A few weeks ago I was given a Hester & Cook Midtown pencil, which is a white grease pencil that can be sharpened in an ordinary pencil sharpener (instead of peeling a cord to expose more core, as is typical of most grease pencils). It’s more opaque than white colored pencils, and I like that I can get a relatively sharp point on it, so I swapped out the white colored pencil for it.

    2/15/18 We all need more rainbow-colored excavators
    in our lives, right?
  • The blue/red bicolor pencil was annoying – I missed yellow too much. (I probably could have cheated and added one yellow pencil, but I knew adding even one thing would be a step on the slippery slope, so I resisted.) Fairly late in the game, I swapped out the bicolor for a rainbow pencil containing a mixed core of red, yellow, green and blue. It’s not ideal as a lone coloring implement – if I want only one color, it’s difficult to hold the pencil at just the right angle – but what I lost in accuracy I made up for in fun.
  • The ArtGraf 6B water-soluble graphite pencil was still giving me reliable results, but I also had an ArtGraf water-soluble carbon pencil that I wanted to try, so at some point, I swapped out the graphite for the carbon. Although the carbon smears a bit more than the graphite, I am delighted by how dark it gets when a little water is applied (see below). It became the only pencil I used most of the time, and I probably could have eliminated the Blackwing I was also carrying. (When you carry only nine implements, every item gets scrutinized constantly about whether it is earning its keep. The Blackwing was nearly jettisoned several times.)

ArtGraf water-soluble pencil delivers strong darks.
The experiment is over; what’s next? I enjoyed the toned book so much that for a brief time I pondered continuing with my gray Nova. But people in other neighborhoods keep telling me they are seeing buds, crocuses and other early signs of spring (never mind that the temps have been in the 30s lately), so I’m going to be optimistic and save the gray book for another time (maybe I’ll switch to a toned book each winter as an annual exercise . . .?). I’m going back to my usual self-bound white paper signatures.

The more important change, though, will be my tools and colors. I’m not going to mindlessly put all the usual things back in. Now that I’ve learned how little I can get by with, I’ll be evaluating each item with scrutiny before it makes the cut. Stay tuned for the results.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Paley Exhibit Dazzles at Museum of Glass

2/16/18 Museum of Glass hot shop

Tacoma’s Museum of Glass is a beautiful (and challenging) building to sketch from the outside. The last time I tackled its shining hot shop cone was a couple of years ago with USk Tacoma. Yesterday was too cold and drizzly to sketch outdoors – a good day to stay inside the museum and the toasty hot shop.

I made one sketch of an artist working hot glass at the glory hole, but our real purpose in being at the museum was to see Complementary Contrasts: The Glass and Steel Sculptures of Albert Paley. Several years ago we saw an exhibit of Paley’s stunning metal work, so I was already a fan. This show takes his abstract, sensuous, organic work to a new level, putting glass and steel together in surprising yet fully integrated ways.

Despite the difficulty of resisting the temptation to touch, I was pleased that none of the sculptures were in cases – viewing art is so much better without a barrier. (By comparison, all of Michael Taylor’s work in the same museum was displayed behind glass, and it felt remote.) But I didn’t dare try to sketch these twisting, twining expressions of texture and form – they were better enjoyed and appreciated without attempting to capture them.

Another part of the exhibit that I appreciated was the inclusion of several proposal drawings and sketches Paley produced. It’s fascinating to see his mind at work as he imagines a piece, transfers that vision to a 2-D image, and then transforms that into a 3-D form.

Below are some of my many favorite works in the exhibit.

Proposal drawings


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Striped and Soggy

2/15/18 Wedgwood neighborhood

Although it’s not unheard of, urban couches usually hibernate in winter. People move out of rentals at all times of the year, but “free” furniture doesn’t sell well when its all wet. Which explains why this striped one in the Wedgwood neighborhood has been in the same spot for at least three days – it’s getting soggier every minute. I’ve been wanting to sketch it since the first time I saw it, but to do so would require parking illegally across the street. Today I threw caution to the wind, parked dangerously close to a stop sign for a few minutes, and bagged another trophy.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Market Buskers

2/13/18 Pike Place Market
With plans to meet friends for lunch, I arrived at the Pike Place Market a little early so I could sketch. As it has been the past few days, the morning started out bright and sunny but cold.

While the Market can be intolerably crowded on a warm summer day, it’s laid back and almost quiet in February. In one of the busiest spots, where the fishmongers entertain tourists by tossing salmon to each other, two white-bearded guys performed an eclectic mix of tunes from blues to the theme song to the Mary Tyler Moore Show. When a band’s instruments include ukulele, kazoo and washtub bass, you know the music is going to be interesting! The red bird attached to the can attracts viewers’ attention to their busking funds.

It was getting close to the time I was meeting my friends, so I walked in the direction of The Pink Door. Nearby in Post Alley, a young man sang and played guitar to some tourists who dined outside a cafe, despite temperatures in the 30s. I sketched faster and faster before my fingers went numb while this musician shed his coat after a few songs. Some people are made of heartier material than I am, I guess. After two sketches, I was ready for the warm restaurant. 

Editorial comment: Readers of this blog know that one of my favorite sketch subjects is buskers. Wherever I travel and especially here at home in the summer, I seek out events where I’m likely to encounter musicians entertaining people on the street. To me, they add color, life and character to any urban space. Many people must agree with me, because they all snap photos of these buskers (stepping right in front of me to do so and blocking my view, I might add). And yet after they’ve taken a photo and enjoyed the music, most walk off and don’t contribute to the bucket. My personal policy is that if I sketch a busker, I always give them money afterwards. Even if I haven’t sketched them, if I’ve stopped to enjoy the music, I give them money. It’s a fair exchange either way.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Vintage Colored Pencils, Part 8: American Venus (Watercolor)

Box front of Venus watercolor pencils

The vintage Venus brand first came to my attention when I found two random Venus Paradise pencils – a light blue and a green – at Seattle ReCreative when I was digging through the well-organized pencil bins. When I swatched them alongside the small handful of old Prismacolors I had found there the same day, I was surprised to find the Venus pencils to be very similar – soft and creamy in texture. They had no identifying maker other than “USA.”

A short time later I was poking around eBay when I spotted an incomplete box of Venus watercolor pencils for a good price, and I was curious if they, too, would be as soft as the two Paradise versions I’d found.

Made by the American Lead Pencil Co. of New York beginning in 1905, Venus pencils were apparently marketed to artists and architects (according to Wikipedia). By 1956, the company had officially changed its name to the Venus Pen and Pencil Corp., which probably accounts for my two random ones having no other name on them. Eventually in 1973, the company was acquired by Faber-Castell. I couldn’t find much more historical information about Venus.

Easel-back box
The small assortment I purchased came in a cardboard box with a hinged easel back that was a popular packaging form for colored pencils back then. The instructions on the inside panel say that the pencils are both indelible and water-soluble, which at first seemed like an oxymoron. The box also says, “Venus (the name and the statue), and the crackled coat as well as the blue band on the caps of the pencils are our exclusive trade marks.”

That “crackeled coat” is a pattern painted onto the round barrel, not a true crackle, but still it’s a distinctive appearance I haven’t seen on any other pencil. The white cap and blue band are also nice touches. By contrast, the two Venus Paradise pencils have an unfinished end similar to Prismacolors.

Modern-day watercolor pencils always sport a tiny paint brush icon next to the logo or color number so that they can be easily distinguished from traditional colored pencils. Interestingly, the Venus pencils lack such an icon. 

The Paradise pencils are obviously newer than the watercolor ones, since they no longer carry the American Lead Pencil name. Usually I go for older typefaces, but in this case, the Venus Paradise logo is quite wonderful.

Trademarked "crackled coat"
Logo on the Venus watercolor pencils reviewed here.
The top two pencils are the newer Venus Paradise pencils with plain, unfinished ends.

I love that Venus Paradise logo!
Unfortunately, the distinctive crackle coat and end cap are probably the best features of the Venus watercolor pencils, which are possibly the hardest colored pencils I have ever used – certainly the hardest water-soluble pencils. To get any pigment, I had to bear down so hard on them that I was afraid I was going to flatten the toothy surface of the Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook page where I made test swatches. Applying water was just as disappointing – very wimpy washes. If they were being marketed to architects, though, I could see that their very firm cores might be useful. They would retain a point forever, and they could easily be used for color-coded writing.
Swatches with water washes.
I didn’t bother making a sketch since I knew they would be frustrating to use. I was still curious, though, about the claim that they were indelible as well as water-soluble. That seemed contradictory: If a pencil washes with water, how can it be indelible?

I recalled my recent education in the NoBlot ink pencil, which I also acquired at Seattle ReCreative without knowing what it was. Ana at the Well-Appointed Desk talked about the Sanford version of the NoBlot; mine is branded Eberhard Faber. In any case, the unusual “ink” cores in these old pencils really are indelible in that they can’t be erased. When the marks, which look like graphite, are washed with water, they turn bright blue, and once dry, that “ink” is also indelible. So, to my mind, the NoBlot is, indeed, both indelible and water-soluble. Could these Venus pencils have similar cores?

I scribbled some test swatches on Canson mixed media paper and washed one side of the swatches with water. After the paper dried, I ran my electric Seed Sun Dolphin eraser over the marks. The dry part was erased about as well as any colored pencil, so it’s not exactly indelible. The washed part was slightly less erasable, but not what I would call permanent, by any means. Hmm. So much for indelible.
Indelible? Not so much.
Although these Venus watercolor pencils turned out to be a disappointment functionally, I’m happy to have a few with the original American Lead Pencil Co. branding, fancy crackle and all. Only the green and purple colors seem to have been used much at all by their original owner. . . was that person frustrated by the core’s hardness and wimpy wash, too? Back then, they probably didn’t have fabulous Caran d’Ache Museum or Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils as an alternative as I do now. Learning about history often makes me grateful for what I have in modern times, and these crappy Venus pencils are one example.

As for those two soft and creamy Venus Paradise pencils (which are not water-soluble at all) that I stumbled upon . . . now I’m on the hunt for more. Perhaps the Paradise line was developed to compete with Prismacolor at some point . . . ?

Monday, February 12, 2018

Smooth or Toothy

2/6/18 Polychromos pencils in Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook
(in progress)

Experimenting with using both hard and soft colored pencils strategically in the same sketch continues to intrigue me. This time I tried a Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook, which is much smoother than Alpha and can therefore be easier to use with a softer pencil.

Like last time, I started my sketch with harder Polychromos pencils. Although with less tooth to cover, I still worked for about an hour to put on several layers. I could have kept going with the Polychromos to finish
2/7/18 sketch finished with Pablo pencils
the sketch, but since I was experimenting with the hard/soft combo, I finished with the softer Pablos. Within about 20 minutes, I had easily laid on enough pigment to finish (at left). As on the toothier Alpha paper, I could move relatively quickly because the Polychromos had done the harder work of covering the paper’s surface.

As a final experiment, I used the soft Pablos alone to make another sketch on Epsilon paper (below). This time it took about an hour and 10 minutes total – actually a little less time than the Polychromos/Pablo combo, which surprised me. I thought the softer pencils would take longer, but used with smoother paper, the Pablos slammed right through (relatively speaking, of course). I should also consider that I might have worked faster simply because I’d practiced blending the hues of this particular combination of heirloom tomato, apple and banana multiple times by now. (The science of art is still mostly art.)

2/7/18 Pablo pencils in Epsilon sketchbook
What do my experiments teach me? 

1. On toothy paper, it’s more efficient to start with a hard pencil and finish with a softer one. 

2. On smooth paper, using a soft pencil all the way through might be more efficient.

But of course, efficiency isn’t the only factor to consider. There’s also the esthetics of the results and the esthetics of the working process. Sometimes I want the tooth of the paper showing through a bit, even when it requires more time and work. And often I simply enjoy the feel of pencil on toothy paper, even when using a smoother paper might look better or go faster. It’s a bit of a dilemma – results vs. process.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

A February Treat

2/10/18 Wedgwood neighborhood

Yesterday was an unusual February treat – blue sky and sunshine all day! Unfortunately for me, it was also chilly – too cold for me to stay outdoors for a sketch as I’d hoped when I’d first heard the sun forecast. But with sharp shadows and brilliant light in the ‘hood, even sketching from my car was a treat.

Most of the forecast for the rest of the week is the usual overcast and chance of rain, but if I can have a day like yesterday once in a while, it’ll help me get through the rest of winter.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

A Big Bite at the Panama Hotel

2/19/18 Panama Hotel and teahouse

The historic Panama Hotel and teahouse is a wintertime favorite for the Friday sketchers. With two floors of cozy chairs and tables, vintage photos, unusual décor, and tasty teas and pastries, it’s a fun place.

During past outings, I’ve always chosen comfy subjects like my food or other sketchers. I’m not sure what compelled me on this visit, but I decided to sit in one corner of the main café area and take on the whole long counter and room. It was like shoving an entire watermelon into my mouth – the proverbial bite of more than I can chew. Still, it helped to remember the principles I learned in Gabi Campanario’s “Pocket Urban Sketching” workshop that I took almost exactly a year ago. Even though I used a spread twice as large as a pocket sketchbook spread, it was a formidable challenge to get it all in. I usually manage two or three sketches at USk outings, but I worked up such a sweat chewing this watermelon that it was the only one I did! 

We had another great turnout, including a couple of new faces, and even a few hardy souls who sketched outdoors!

Vivian is holding my sketch for me!

Friday, February 9, 2018

The 10-Minute Sweet Spot

2/8/18 Jennie (brush pen)

Life drawing sessions at Gage typically follow a standard format of pose duration: one minute, two minutes, five minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 or 20 minutes. The one- and two-minute poses are intended for warming up – the hands, the eyes, the brain, and the connection among them all. With those very short poses, I don’t think about proportion or much else other than capturing the essential gesture. With five-minute poses, I’m doing the same, but I have time to get out my waterbrush to wash the water-soluble brush pen ink I love to use, and I can indicate some shading.

1/25/18 Natalie (brush pen)
I enjoy doing the shorter poses, and its essential to warm up first. But I think many of my best drawings come during the 10-minute poses. After all those short poses, 10 minutes feel like a luxury, so I relax, focus more on proportion and form, and I have plenty of time for shading. Although I sometimes switch to dry media in 10 minutes, my favorite is still the brush pen with water-soluble ink. I think of 10 minutes as my sweet spot.

It probably seems like 15- or 20-minute poses would be even better, but for me, they often aren’t. The longer poses are an opportunity to use dry media, so I usually do, and then I start fussing around with details, or just fussing.

These are some of my favorite 10-minute drawings from the past few weeks.

2/1/18 (water-soluble graphite pencil)

1/25/18 Natalie (water-soluble colored pencil)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Hard and Soft, Continued

2/5/18 Polychromos pencils on Stillman & Birn Alpha (in progress)
My experiment a few days ago using both hard and soft colored pencils piqued my interest in exploring the technique further. Last time I started the sketch using vintage pencils I was unfamiliar with, and it turned out that they were low in pigment content as well as having very firm cores. Using softer pencils with more pigment afterwards really helped to deepen the hues quickly.

2/6/18 Pablo colored pencils applied after Polychromos
For this oddball mix of heirloom tomato, apple and banana – chosen specifically for their wide range of hues – I started with Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils, which are both relatively hard and high in pigment content. The hard core made it easier to fill the textured Stillman & Birn Alpha paper, though this first phase of this small sketch (about 4-by-5 inches) still took an hour (partly because I had a wide palette to choose). At this point, I could have kept going with the Polychromos to finish the sketch, but it would have taken quite a few more layers that were getting more difficult to apply.

Instead, I switched to much softer Caran d’Ache Pablos. Since the harder Polychromos had done the work of filling the tooth, I could apply more layers with the Pablos relatively quickly and without as much care. In 20 more minutes I was happy with the richer colors, and I decided the sketch was done. (Hmm, this is interesting . . . further explorations coming soon.)

And now, some gratuitous eye candy – just because colored pencils make me happy. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Catching Highlights

2/6/18 Top Pot Doughnuts

The toned Stillman & Birn Nova sketchbook that I’ve been using since I began my minimalism challenge is nearly full, and I’m enjoying it very much. In general, it has helped to make me more aware of values and tones instead of being distracted by color.

1/23/18 Zoka Coffee
This has been especially true when sketching people (or perhaps it’s just that I’ve been sketching indoors so much since I started using it). When I use white paper, I typically use dark ink to focus on subtle shadows to indicate folds in clothing or facial contours. When I use toned paper, I can use a white pencil to capture subtle highlights on skin as well as dark ink for shading. I don’t know of any way to make those highlights as easily on white paper. 

I haven’t decided what I’ll do next when the Nova is full. . . go back to my usual white? Or start another toned book? The answer will probably depend on how much I’m jonesin’ for color. Of course, I’ll always have my little red notebook, which is essentially the same as toned paper.



Tuesday, February 6, 2018


2/4/18 Maple Leaf neighborhood

Look closely at the traffic circle tree: Do you see it? Hanging on a low limb is a single shiny Christmas ornament. It’s not exactly festive anymore, but I had plenty to celebrate: I caught the only 30 minutes of sunshine we’ve had in weeks.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Hard and Soft

2/2/18 Omega and Pablo colored pencils in Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook
In my review of vintage Try-Rex Omega colored pencils, I left the sample sketch unfinished to show how far I got with those very hard cores. Halfway through, I realized that the cores didn’t contain as much pigment as I like for building up rich, complex hues. I could have kept on adding more layers, but I was getting frustrated.

Lately when I make small still lives, I’ve been choosing one brand of pencil and using only that one brand to finish the sketch. My frustration with the Omegas reminded me, though, of a strategy I had experimented with last year when I was writing my series of reviews of contemporary colored pencils. What I had learned then was that both hard and soft pencils have their virtues, and if I use both types in the same sketch, I can take advantage of the best attributes of each.

The hard Omega pencils were excellent for covering the Stillman & Birn Alpha paper’s tooth relatively quickly in just a couple of layers. The crisp, thin cores were also good for drawing fine details like the tomato leaves.

2/2/18 Omega colored pencils
When I saw that they weren’t pigmented enough to build strong hues, I switched to Caran d’Ache Pablo, which is one of my favorite soft-core pencils. With just a couple more layers of similar hues, I was able to deepen the colors of the tomato and pear without much effort or time. Since the harder Omega pencils had done the work of covering most of the tooth, I didn’t have to work the Pablos much, yet their higher pigment content made a difference. (Finished sketch at top of page; sketch at right shows the sketch before I added the Pablo layers.) 

For comparison, shown below is the sketch I made for my erasing demo. This tomato sketch was done entirely with Caran d’Ache Pablo pencils in the same Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook. As you can see, the paper’s texture is much harder to cover completely with the Pablo’s softer core, even after multiple layers. Sometimes I like the sparkle of the white paper showing, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But when I want to cover more of the paper, it’s faster and easier to start with a harder pencil and then finish with a softer one.

1/24/18 Pablo colored pencils in Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook

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