Saturday, December 08, 2007
What size are my drawings?
I get asked that quite often and also about what equipment I use, so here's another photo of my drawings (front covers here and a similar post here). I've included a six inch ruler for scale. (The cats, portraits and life drawings are drawn in a larger Daler Rowney A3 cartridge pad.) So, the tiny book is the smallest one I put my tram sketches in. The two large sketchbooks and small one bottom left are by Winsor & Newton containing 120gsm (or thereabouts) cartridge paper. It has just the right amount of tooth for the sort of details I like and I've also been using this paper for so long I know how it handles - how much erasing it can take and how much graphite it can absorb. I use a smoother paper too, the one I call my blotting paper pad, as it really speeds up the process but it gives a fuzzier, softer result.
I've been using Mars Staedtler erasers since the year dot and still haven't found anything better. I borrowed a grey putty eraser made by Faber Castell at my last life class which was OK but it absorbs the graphite too much and can stain the paper if it's not clean. I cut mine up to get sharp edges, something I couldn't do with a softer eraser.
Pencils; I only use these two, Faber Castell and Berol Venus. I'd only use the Berols if I could find them. There's little to choose between them except Faber Castell has more gritty bits and that drives me mad, breaks my concentration! I tried others like Derwent but found the greys too cold and steely.
I like very long narrow sharp points to my pencils and I can only do that with a blade. This is small enough to carry in a handbag and not look like a lethal weapon!
I don't use fixative but I do use tracing paper under my hand to stop smudging. I have a hog hair brush too for brushing away bits of dust and eraser but most often a sleeve will do! My supply list hasn't really changed at all over the years. I believe that if you get caught up in the materials - the studying and buying - it takes you (me!) away from their purpose and becomes a whole other ball game. For a pencil drawing you only need pencil and paper and neither has to be the best to make a good drawing. I think it's that simplicity and lack of pretension that always brings me back. It's kind of like a perfect marriage in that when you find something you love, why bother looking around for better?
The last time I showed my books to anyone she said 'someone likes to waste paper'! She had a twinkle in her eye but I don't think that space is a waste, more a mark of respect. I love the white spaces surrounding the drawings and the pure white blank page before I start. I've never been intimidated by that, on the contrary it seems to invite you to use it and if it's contained in beautiful covers such as these, I feel I should do my best to show it off.