In praise of pencils

I’ve tried to like pencils, really I have. I love their woody simplicity, but never found one that felt right on the paper (too waxy, too smudgy etc). But a couple of weeks ago I tried a Grafwood 6B. It’s consistently very smooth (no sharp grit), and very dark, but doesn’t smudge too much. The softness makes it highly responsive, and using it feels half-way between a brush and a pen. With almost no pressure the tip glides over the paper, making it wonderful for expressive ‘blind/contour drawing’. Increase the pressure and the line widens and darkens; turn it slightly and you find the sharper edge and get a clearer narrower line. It’s lightweight, won’t leak in your pocket, water-proof, and blends brilliantly with ink-wash and water-colour, the line vanishing when needed. I’m clearly a very late arrival at the pencil party, but here are some initial attempts, exploring it’s versatility… Two streets in Bath, a concert audience, people in a park, a rose, and my left hand.

juney01juney10juney08 juney02pencil1pencil2Grafwood 6B pencil, water-colour, ink-brush, mostly A5 – various times

About Ed Mostly

Enthusiastic daily sketcher based in Bath Uk
This entry was posted in Bath, blind drawing, buildings, cars, figures, hands, kit, line drawing, pencil, people, street scene, technique, urban, urban sketching and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to In praise of pencils

  1. Viktoria says:

    I think the pencil agrees with you! I really like what it does to your line. Personally, I have recently found that the old ballpoint pen is – for me – a perfect compromise between the smudgy pencil and the uncompromising inkpen. I think the choice of what to put first on the paper is what interests me most in other people´s sketching kits; foundations are so important.
    We are making a very brief stop in Bath in a few weeks, not enough time for a sketch crawl, but I am really looking forward to seeing your beautiful town!

  2. Ed Mostly says:

    Hi Viktoria, I’ve been reading some vintage guides to sketching from the 50’s and 60’s and they mention putting the ink wash on first and then the detailed lines, creating a ‘looser’ drawing. I might give it a go… Let me know when you’re passing through Bath. Even if there’s no time for a sketchcrawl I’m sure we could manage a coffee! Ed

  3. Caroline says:

    Fifteen years ago I thought a pencil was pencil and just a pencil. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and I’m still searching for a pencil I even like. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your find, Ed. As Viktioria mentioned, the pencil’s softness is noticeable and seems to suit your flowing linework.

  4. Ed Mostly says:

    Thanks Caroline, it’s taken a while, but these pencils are so good that they remind me why I’ve never liked pencils before! Keep searching and trying out different ones on your paper of choice in your lovely local art shop. Ed

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  6. Pingback: More pencil | Mostly drawing

  7. melisnorth says:

    I really love these new pencil sketches of yours, your technique of using a bold confident line works so well with it.

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