Sunday, June 11, 2023

Profound Lesson, Simply Taught (Plus Inktense Update)


6/3/23 Maple Leaf neighborhood

The first time I took a nature drawing class with Kathleen Moore, we met every week in a different city park to draw from life. All of us sitting at Green Lake, she put a foam sphere on the grass, and we were to render the sphere’s light and shadow. Eager to get on with drawing trees, I was feeling impatient. Then she showed us how the crown of every tree across the lake had the same light and shadow pattern as the sphere we were drawing. [Insert brain explosion emoji here.] It seems so obvious and straightforward that the sun is a single, consistent source of light, but knowing the facts is not the same as understanding and learning. That was in 2018, and I still think about that lesson when I draw a tree.

On a walk last week, I spotted a plant covered with red berries, each tiny sphere reflecting the nearly-noon sun and a corresponding shadow. I suddenly remembered Kathleen’s lesson and looked for a nearby tree: It, too, showed the same direction and shape of light and shadow. A good teacher explains profound lessons in simple ways that stay with me forever.

Inktense update: Making this sketch reminded me that I need to update my review of

Derwent Inktense pencils. Although I was aware of this annoyance at the time of the review, I didn’t have a sketch showing evidence of the issue, and then I forgot. It has annoyed me often enough that I have now updated the review.

Tell-tale blue marks left by Inktense barrels.
Here’s the issue: When I’m applying heavy color to large, rough areas such as foliage, I often use the side of the pencil’s core. When I do this with Inktense pencils, the paint on the dark blue barrel rubs off on the paper. I started to see blue marks as I colored the trees above, but they fell on a spot that was easily covered by more color later, so they aren’t visible. I have not encountered this issue with any other colored pencil. I can avoid the marks by keeping the point at a slightly more acute angle, but anything about a pencil that makes me have to be conscious of its angle is a drawback.


  1. The blue rubbing off would be annoying. It is funny how something that someone taught us stays with us for so long and we think back to that learning experience.

    1. Most things I learn don't stay with me beyond the class or workshop... but big principles do.


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