Monday, January 17, 2005

Tools of the Trade

I'm often asked regarding the supplies that I use in my artwork, what supplies, where to purchase, how do I learn what they do ect. Some of the best advice I could give would be to read, read, read. There is a lot of information online, in printed books, art supply catalogs, and yes, even knowledge gained from others. How do I keep track of it all? Well, I keep a notebook filled with supplies and their properties. When I make a new discovery for an already listed product, I jot it in.

I've learned quite a bit from books I've purchased. One of my "artwork bibles" is The Decorated Page {Journals, Scrapbooks & Albums Made Simply Beautiful} by Gwen Diehn. Gwen and various other artist's artwork is featured within the book as they teach you how to create beautiful, meaning journals and how to understand it all as well as techniques to try that you will be able to apply to any paper art project. I reach for this book when I have artist's block and simply need to be inspired once again. In doing so, I'm able to open up to new possibilities, ways of thinking, how to express myself and demonstrate what's going on around me. Gwen's book taught me the basics of graphite pencils..... what to look for when finally making a purchase. So, I'll begin sharing those thoughts with you........

The pencils have a range of hardness that is determined by the ratio of graphite to the binder contained within. "B" pencils are "soft" pencils; there is a number before the "B" a reminder to make is the higher the number, the softer the pencil. Soft pencils are important as they contain a less waxy binder, create darker marks, and are easier to smear. While great for background techniques such as shading, and for adding background emphasis, the aren't the greatest for writing with --- but then, rules are made to be broken; maybe smeared writing is the look you're striving for!

A good range is from 3B ---> 2H. "H" pencils are harder pencils; the number before the "H" represents the higher the number, the harder the pencil.

Some graphite pencils are water-soluble, meaning they can be used for watercolor washes by brushing the pencil strokes with water. While regular graphite pencils can be used to create washes using low odor mineral spirits and a good brush.

If I were stranded on a desert island with only one set of sketch pencils, BF HIRM AUSTRIA's CREATACOLOR Pasticco Set would be my set of choice. It contains 8 leads {sanguine oil, sepia light, sepia dark, nero, charcoal graphite 4B & 6B; 5 artist pencils in white, sanguine oil and dry, sepia light and dark; 1 black chalk pencil - perfect for rubbings; 1 nero pencil in medium; 2 graphite aquarelle {4B and 8B}; 2 monolith graphite woodless {2B and 8B}; 2 sticks of compressed charcoals; 1 sketching coal stick; 2 graphite sticks {wide 6B and regular 4B}; and a kneaded eraser.

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