Artist’s pencils are made from an inner core of graphite (not lead) and they are of a superior quality to the average pencil used for schools, offices and home use. Expect to pay around $5. to $12. for a single high-quality artist’s pencil, (2019 Australian prices), if you wish to work with the best tools.
Hold the pencil firmly but lightly two make sure your hand is 2 to 3 inches away from the point and you do not have a vice like grip on it, as that would restrict free movement and while it might allow you to write it prevents the flowing movement across the page required to draw well.
Position A shows the artist resting the little finger on the paper and holding the pencil loosely between thumb and the top two fingers then drawing by sliding the hand along the paper guided in the distance away from the paper by the little finger. If you are covering a small area, you can just swing the hand, from the wrist, if covering a larger area, swing the arm and slide the pencil along using this little finger as a guide.
Practice makes perfect. It is a myth to believe that we are born talented. We may born, with the desire within us to apply ourselves to things we love, learn and practice harder at some things than others, less interested in them, might do and so we become talented. Every one of us has a strong creative urge, we are all, artistic. Some of us have just developed these skills, more than, others. If you want to become an artist, you can. You do not need to be talented to start, you need to have the desire, to learn and practice. it is your teacher who needs to have the talent to show how, explain why, and constructively critique the students work, in order for you to advance.
I come from a family of creative artistic people and all those I knew aside from my sister and myself, did themselves a great deal of harm by neglecting their body's health through a life of sedentary work due to an obsession with their art. Artist's can be healthy and creative but it requires learning life balance, something I am constantly working on.
My early influences concerning art were all positive. No one ever told me I could not be a success as an artist. I always believed in myself. I had the evidence before my eyes that art and artists could achieve greatness and talent that was appreciated and valued by society.
I never knew of the struggles of artists who never made a success of their dreams. My only experience with artists involved the finest examples of art and work ethics and to witness, through my family’s activities, that success was a total package, requiring public relations skill, good business practice and long hours that usually continued into regular sleeping hours.
I also experienced firsthand that working long hours and multitasking was hard on the families of professional artists. That is why I put professional painting aside for almost a decade and did other work while my children were young. I also witnessed how the demands of the creative professions can have a negative effect on the health of many artists. That raises issues I write about. Artists need to practice life balance and well as drawing circles for a well-rounded healthy life.
Giotto di Bondone, known simply as Giotto, was an Italian painter and architect from Florence in the late Middle Ages. He is generally considered the first in a line of great artists who contributed to the Italian Renaissance.
Giotto draws a perfect circle for the Pope, as told by Vasari
Pope Benedict sent one of his courtiers into Tuscany to see what sort of a man Giotto was and what his works were like, for the Pope planned to commission paintings for Saint Peter’s Cathedral.
This courtier, on his way to see Giotto and to find out what other masters of painting and mosaic there were in Florence, spoke with many masters in Sienna, and then, having received some drawings from them, he came to Florence.
And one morning, going into the workshop of Giotto, who was at his labours, he showed him the mind of the Pope and at last asked him to give him a little drawing to send to His Holiness. Giotto, who was a man of courteous manners, immediately took a sheet of paper, and with a pen dipped in red, fixing his arm firmly against his side to make a compass of it, and with a turn of his hand, he made a circle so perfect that it was a marvel to see.
Having done it, he turned smiling to the courtier and said, ‘Here is the drawing.’
But he, thinking he was being laughed at, asked, ‘Am I to have no other drawing than this?’
‘This is enough and too much,’ replied Giotto. ‘Send it with the others and see if it will be understood.’
The messenger, seeing that he could get nothing else, departed ill pleased, not doubting that he had been made a fool of. However, sending the other drawings to the Pope with the names of those who had made them, he sent also Giotto's, relating how he had made the circle without moving his arm and without compasses, which when the Pope and many of his courtiers understood, they saw that Giotto must surpass greatly all the other painters of his time.
The story comes from Vasari’s Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects, 1974.
Ryn Sell Drawings
Artist's Way of holding the pencil.
Do not grip the pencil tightly like you do when writing.
Also hold the pencil several inches away from the point.
Pencil should be able to be pulled out of your hand easily.
The inner graphite core usually referred to as the ‘lead’, comes in various degrees of hardness, from the extremely hard, 9H (more often used by draftspersons than artists), through to a very soft , dark and easily smudged, 6B, more suited to a painterly blended style of drawing by fine artists. See my portrait of Leanne above and this portrait of Sean and son David, below.
Both these works relied on the use of a 2B easy to erase pencil for the initial construction lines, a 2H to clearly mark the drawing once I was certain of the positioning of features then the shading was produced using a full range of the softest and most easily blended of the pencil grades. I consider this a painting once I move into the soft graphite pencil stage and away from the hard pencil line drawing, hard graphite pencil sketch stage.
The hard graphite makes a paler grey mark and the softer the graphite is the darker it is and usually the thicker the inner core, as thin soft cores break easily.
The extremes of 9H and 6B require the most skill to use so the average art student will find the grades of 3H, B and 3B the ideal to learn with and these are the grades most often used by the artist when sketching.
In the home, school and office the HB pencil, the one centered between the degrees of hardness and softness, is considered the most versatile. Interestingly artists rarely work with the common HB pencil. You may enjoy experimenting with the grades on either side of the standard, HB and you will love the feel of a quality artist’s pencil in your hands. I use Bruynzeel, deign pencils as my preferred choice.
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