Never let it be said that I don’t love buying pointy devices. I’ve got so many of them that I could build half a house by stacking them. So, when I went to buy a new printer cartridge, I came home with a printer cartridge AND a couple of Ticonderoga “checking” pencils.
Many people like Prismacolor Col-Erase pencils, not so much because they erase, but because they provide a range of colors while still retaining sharp points and they have a pencil feel, rather than a waxy colored pencil feel. I like them too, but I think that most would agree that they don’t produce the saturated color of a quality colored pencil.
Still, for quick sketching, C0l-Erase provides a good experience. I picked up a pack of Ticonderoga “checking” pencils with that in mind, and the fact that it was only a couple bucks to try something new. This pencil didn’t disappoint.
Like the Col-Erase they do hold a sharp point and may feel even more like a pencil than Col-Erase pencils. They may also produce a slightly more saturated line, though the difference here is small. I confess to being a Ticonderoga fan. Their #2 “soft” pencil is so much better than most of its school market competition that they rival much more expensive pencils, something I would never say about the basic yellow Dixon pencil that dominates the school market.
Here’s my “experiment” with the checking pencil. Not a completely polished portrait but I think it demonstrates the possibilities with this $1 pencil.
For nearly a decade I put fountain pen to paper as a wanna-be sketcher. I would post sketches here and profess to “just draw stuff.” Mine was a simple approach to art to the point where I questioned whether it was art at all. I just drew stuff.
Pandemic lockdowns got me reading a lot about art and I came to the realization that I did, in fact, “just draw stuff” and that there was a world of art that I did not know. I decided I needed to do what everyone says and “get out of my comfort zone.”
I first tried gouache and I liked it, though I was frustrated by light hues drying darker and the dark hues drying lighter. It was too much for my feeble mind, which was trying to figure out light and shade, values, etc.
So I started painting with oils. I like those a lot and continue to pursue them, though I’m still very much a sketcher type and so I’m trying to figure out how to create a lightweight, portable oil painting set up. I have learned a lot about color and values by this part of my journey.
I also realized during the pandemic that I had “skipped a step” by starting to draw with a fountain pen. I never learned how to use a pencil. So I’ve started drawing more often with pencil, trying to figure out how to shade properly with them. This has helped me improve my pen and ink hatching as well.
My current adventure is the next step with pencil, I guess. Pencil portraiture is slow work. When you lack the skills it can be frustrating work too. But it’s also VERY meditative because the work goes slowly, deliberately from vague contours and spots toward something that looks like something.
Here’s my something, a portrait of the head of this statue. I talked about it and the museum website that allowed me to see it back in April. I’m not sure I’ve got the patience to do this kind of art and I’m certain that I quit working on this portrait too soon. Nevertheless, I feel I learned a lot in the process and will do another.