Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What Colored Pencils Are Teaching Me

3/18/17 graphite
In the still life I did the other day, I felt like I didn’t do justice to the garlic’s complex, multiple curves (not to mention struggling with capturing its whiteness with colored pencils in four hues). I decided to focus on the garlic alone, this time with graphite. The highlights were much more challenging than a mostly spherical apple.

Working with colored pencils lately has given me ideas about applying what I’ve learned to graphite pencils. In particular, I was thinking about the blending tools I’ve been experimenting with, and I remembered the tortillon I bought a long time ago when a class supply list included it. Just like charcoal, soft graphite can be blended easily with tortillons and stumps (but thankfully, graphite is not nearly as messy as charcoal!). I also used an eraser judiciously when I got heavy-handed with shading in some areas and to clean up smudgy edges after I got done using the tortillon.  

I always think it’s sort of funny that while most beginning sketchers start out drawing with a graphite pencil because they are most comfortable and familiar with it, I went almost immediately to ink. My growing familiarity with colored pencils is, paradoxically, what finally got me interested in trying graphite. Although they are quite different in terms of media, they have similarities in how they can be used, so my learning curve might not be as steep with graphite as it would be if I weren’t immersed in colored pencils right now.

I’d love to take a graphite drawing class someday. When I think of masters like Michelangelo and Da Vinci, there’s nothing quite so exquisite as a well-executed graphite drawing.


  1. Ernest Watson, The Art of Pencil Drawing. Used copies on Amzn for $3.99. It's out of print, and cheap, but still a classic.

  2. You are doing a great job on shading with the graphite! This looks good!

    1. Thank you, Joan! I'm really enjoying exploring graphite! Although now that spring is actually on its way, I'm switching to color for anything outdoors! ;-)


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