Which pencil should you use for drawing? That is the question.
During the early 17th century, as Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet first gazed upon a skull and questioned what to be in life, the country of England was busy mining a valuable carbon material. This dark, powdery material eventually became known as graphite (derived from the Greek word ‘graphein’ meaning ‘to write’). Artists soon discovered graphite to be extremely useful for the process of drawing.
However, the big technological breakthrough for drawing came in 1795, when a French scientist named Nicholas-Jacques Conte invented the pencil. By mixing clay with graphite, Conte found ways to alter the hardness of pencil leads which produced darker and lighter shades of black. Modern-day pencils are available in a wide range of black shades—such as 2B, 2H, HB—enabling artists to achieve endless combinations of drawing techniques and styles.
How to choose the right pencil for the job at hand? Here are recommendations on basic drawing pencils I make to students that can help you get started: Continue reading 2B or Not 2B?
Learning to control your line work is crucial in learning to draw well. One way to tame the lines in your drawings is to take time to read the line work done by great masters. In studying the confident strokes by legendary virtuosos—from ancient cave artists, to Albrecht Durer (shown above), to Eugene Delacroix—you’ll become a skilled observer of life and dramatically improve your drawing.
Following is the shortlist of my heroes who have laid down some of the greatest lines ever drawn in history. I encourage you to be diligent in studying these Great Lions of Drawing. Let’s dive in! Continue reading The Great Lions of Drawing
Every drawing you do has the potential to suck. Or not.
The fear of making mistakes is what keeps many of us from even trying to draw. However, it’s possible to embrace failure and actually enjoy salvaging a drawing from the brink of disaster. Sketching through your mistakes on paper is an important and fun part of learning to draw accurately.
Continue reading Practice Failure
Is drawing an essential part of the human spirit?
I think Werner Herzog’s 2010 documentary film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, answers the question by illuminating the spirit of an ancient drawing hand that may dwell in each of us. Although the emphasis of the film concerns paleontological aspects of cave rock art, I’d like to offer an opinion from the perspective of an avid sketcher. Continue reading Return to Your Cave of Forgotten Dreams