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Sharpening a Pencil to an Ultra-fine Point

  If the above video doesn’t play, please view it directly on Vimeo at this link. I’ve often been asked how I get an ultra-fine point on my graphite pencils. Some time ago I promised to make a quick video to show people the process. I apologize to all my students who just had rely […]

A Quick Art Exhibit Road Trip and an Incredible Gift

See the full post for details.

Lightfastness Tests

The following list is an attempt to put all the lightfastness tests I’ve done since starting this blog in the fall of 2008 onto one page. I will endeavor to update it as I do additional tests for lightfastness on other media. I have listed the items individually even though some links lead to reviews […]


Black Pencils: Some Recommendations

Black pencil recommendations and an impromptu give away.


Backgrounds and What Goes on Top


Left: A mixed-media page spread (the journal is turned so the head and tail of the book are at the right and left, making the image 8 x 13 inches). Read below for more details about this spread. Click on the image to view an enlargement. When you do you'll also be able to see the lovely texture of the Gutenberg paper.

I’ve been showing you backgrounds I’ve made while I’ve been recovering from a nasty summer cold. Today I’ve posted a spread with background decoration that was actually used for journaling already. It represents the return of my ability to concentrate, a happy day.

Here’s a Breakdown of What I Did
1. I started this page spread with flat brush strokes of Turquoise FW Acrylic ink around all the edges. Then I took a soft sumi brush and trailed Indigo FW Acrylic ink through the still wet strokes. And while things were still wet I spritzed everything with clean water to spread color even more. I let it sit for a couple weeks because I had a cold and because I wasn’t on this page spread yet.


But Wait, There’s More…Some State Fair Oddities


Above: Sketches of a Turken from my third trip to the 2009 Minnesota State Fair. This is a chicken (ken) bred to look like a Turkey (Tur), hence the very odd naked neck. The more you look at them the more appealing they become, in an odd way. They have a lovely body structure and a startling flame orange eye. Here are two quick sketches made as this one moved about in his crate (comb accurate on the left). 9 x 7 inches, Fabriano Artistico 300 lb. hot press watercolor paper; Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor pencils used dry. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

"You wanted cows; well here you are…"
An exhausted mother gesturing to the entirety of the cow barn as she entered with her 7-year-old son. (A note on the back of one of my cards as I was walking out of the cow barn.)

So the other day, I was catching up on my scanning and finally finished scanning the 12 cards I made on my final visit to the 2009 Minnesota State Fair. I woke up that morning with what I feared was the beginning of a cold. If I was right, there’d be no way I could make my Sunday trip. I decided to skip my workout, save my energy, and see what happened. I kept in mind that this was probably my last trip this year, so I was on a bit of a mission.


While We Are on the Topic of Backgrounds…

Above: journal page spread where rubberstamped text forms the background. Click on the image to view an enlargement, and read below for more details. I'm still fighting a cold and suffering from Fair Withdrawal. I am aching to sketch something, anything, including two not-too-attractive pears (I like pears with a little more variety and oddness […]

Audible Sigh of Relief: Derwent Drawing Lightfast Test

Left: Lightfast test for Derwent Drawing. (A) is the control, (B) is the exposed portion of the test. I'm relieved to say there was no visible fading. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

After being burned badly by Derwent Graphitints I decided to test one of my favorite Derwent products which I had always just trusted: Derwent Drawing.

These thick colored pencils with a muted color range and elegant clear varnished barrels, were first introduced in a set of 5 or 6 (it's been so long I really can't remember; the Dick Blick site says they were first introduced in 1986; I found them after reading an article in Step-by-Step Graphics on illustrator Peter de Sève). The set contained the essential drawing colors such as Ivory, Chocolate Brown, Sanguine, White, Yellow Ochre—you get the idea.

I always loved these pencils because they were drier and less waxy in their feel and application than regular wax pencils. They still had a waxy binder so it wasn't like using pastels (which I can't use because of allergies and asthma). They were always a happy drawing medium for me. Something that married well with watercolor. The black made an excellent pencil for sketching Emma and Dottie (black and white Alaskan Malamutes). When I photocopied those sketches to use as transfers for making carvings the lines were always crisp and clean. If I scanned those sketches and turned them into bitmaps they retained their pencil stroke quality when printed out in photocopier artist books.


Just What I was Looking for to Carry My Pencil


Above: A view of the new journaling tool I picked up. It's a pencil with a cap on it. The cap contains a sharpener. Read on. (Sorry for all the shadows in the image, but you get the idea!)

The other day I met a couple friends at Wet Paint to be on hand to help with some paper selections. (I don't think they really needed me, but it was a great excuse to get a bit of sketching in later!)

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