Friday, February 24, 2012

Pencils and Paper

17cm x 14.5cm
Pencil on Mohawk Superfine paper
Copyright Laura Hardie 2012
Original available

February appears to be whizzing by just as fast as January it seems! It really has been a busy couple of months with lots going on and me trying desperately to keep up and more often than not having to play catch-up. Some things have been neglected or put to one side, my blog being one, and I just have to accept that sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything. Anyway, as a result, this post has been a while coming as I’d promised a number of people I would do it some time ago. I’m going to talk about pencils and paper, that is the ones that I myself use for my drawings and like can’t do without. It is a question I am asked often from people so hopefully some of you might find it helpful.

The pencils I use, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend, are Staedtler Mars Lumograph. I like this particular pencil for the rich blacks/darks I can get with them and personally don’t think others compare. I do own Derwent Graphic and Faber Castell pencils and I’ve been known to draw with them now and again - mostly if I have run out of a particular grade in the Mars Lumograph admittedly, but used none the less. In any one drawing I will use pencils in grades 4H through to 8B.

Onto coloured pencils which is not so straight forward as I have a lot of those! When I first started working with coloured pencils, my brand of choice was Derwent Artist and they remained my favourite for years – I still rate them highly. But, as us artists do, I have added to my collection over the years and now have my favourites from a number of different brands, those being Derwent Artist, FC Polychromos, Caran D’Ache Pablo, Caran D’Ache Luminance, Derwent Coloursoft and Prismacolor. I’ve found they all work/layer well together and I personally have never come across any problems with using different brands in the one drawing. If I were to favour one brand slightly above the others it would probably be FC Polychromos as they have a good range of colours (120) and are what I call a ‘middle of the range’ pencil - not too hard and not too soft. Feel like a traitor now as I’ve been shouting the praises of Derwent Artist for long enough – still love you Derwent:-)

I’m often asked which brand I’d recommend and I don’t really like doing that with coloured pencils if I’m honest as at the end of the day it is a personal choice and artists will invariably prefer one over the other dependant on how they work, what they are looking for, etc, unless you’re like me of course and like (and want) them all! Most companies sell their pencils singly giving you the opportunity to try a number of them out before buying the full sets and I’d definitely advise doing that.

So that just leaves paper. I’m actually very fussy when it comes to my paper and I’m always on the look out for ‘the’ one. I love hot pressed watercolour paper and for years I’ve been using Fabriano Artistico hp watercolour paper (140lb) for my coloured pencil and pencil work. It is smooth enough to achieve fine detail and yet has enough tooth to allow for lots of layering which is a must in my book. I personally prefer my paper to be white and not ‘off white’ or ‘creamy white’ like a lot of them are so have recently been using the Artistico extra white for that reason. Another paper I like for my pencil drawings is Mellotex, a lot smoother than hp watercolour paper but a very nice surface to work on. Definitely one to try. Not enough tooth, in my experience, for coloured pencils however.

Think that covers everything ........quick check says yes.