I recently received a very nice gift for either the aspiring or experienced artist. It’s not that I had forgotten about the medium, although I had not really spent any time with it since renewing my interest in art in 2007. It was more of, “I’ll have to get around to that one of these days and give it a try.”
Well, those days are here since I received a gift set of drawing and colored pencils and assorted supplies. It's Today's Image.
First I’ll tell you about the set of drawing pencils. It’s fairly complete and will meet all of your needs to get you going. The set comes in a nice wooden box with latches and a handle for easy toting around. It includes four graphite pencils, two charcoal pencils, a dozen colored pencils, a torchon, a rubber eraser , a pencil sharpener, and small sand paper sheets for filing points.
The graphite pencils come in several grades of soft to hardness: 2B, B, HB, and H. For more info on pencils grades, here’s a link to my previous blog on the subject. The two charcoal pencils are soft and hard, which will give you a range of effects.
The colored pencils are white, black, gray, burnt umber, purple, ultramarine, sky blue, lemon yellow, yellow, green, forest green, orange, and red. These are really all you’ll need to start as you try out your skills at pencil sketching and drawing.
It had been a while since I had sat down with colored pencils and sketchpad and without much thought beforehand, I drew freehand from a postcard with paintings from an art museum I visited on a recent trip. The motif was a mountain meadow.
First I matched the colors in the painting as close as possible to the ones I had in my set. For the distant mountains I used a mix of ultramarine and gray. I sketched quickly with parallel lines in rapid motion, first with ultramarine and then gray, but with a light touch as the mountains are in the distant. For the closer mountains I used purple with a slightly heavier hand as the near mountains are darker. Over the purple I added strokes of forest green.
For the trees in the mid-ground I used a mixture of burnt umber, forest green, and 2B graphite pencil as the trees are fairly in shadow with not much detail. The meadow itself in the painting is a mixture of light and dark grasses with fields of orange, yellow, and light blue wildflowers. For the grass I used forest green and yellow green. For the flowers, I used orange, lemon yellow, and sky blue. For all these elements I used short, numerous strokes to convey grasses and flowers in the fore- and mid-ground. Finally I sketched in the sky color using sky blue in quick stokes as you might guess.
Other than pastels, colored pencil sketching is one of the most ‘tactile’ mediums and gives you a whole lot of freedom to express what you’re drawing. It’s that open environment for creativity that I like with pencil sketching.
Another plus is that the more you sketch, both with graphite and with colored pencils, the more you increase your skill level. Sketching is an excellent way to enhance many of the skills you use not only for sketching and drawing but for painting as well. Pencil sketching is a very mobile media. It’s easy to carry around a few pencils and a small sketchpad for when you find a scene you want to capture both in drawing and notetaking on the light and atmosphere of the moment.
When you return to the studio you can use your sketch as the reference for your work in colored pencils, or in pastels, or in acrylics or oils.
Just think, all that from a set of drawing pencils…