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Do the Pencil Miles!

Spanning over many weeks, working on and off on a large graphite drawing, I am in the final stages of putting in the finishing touches, I call this the ‘tweaking phase’. I find when I work on these larger pieces over many months that I need to put the drawing away for a few days then look at it with fresh eyes and tweak whatever area needs adjusting, it’s usually values or edges. 

I began this drawing with two new pencils, a 2B and a 3B, and have finally had to retire both. I was hoping to finish the drawing with them both, but they no longer fit in my pencil sharpener! Now I could sharpen them with something else but I’m a bit set in my ways and love the ease of my rotary sharpener. The stubs, graphite and coloured pencil, will continue to have a life as I will take them to Africa for the school children when I next travel there so they won’t be wasted. 

A drawing of a lion in graphite
A Thirst for Life

With a bit of research, I discovered that a graphite pencil can draw a straight line for 35 miles before it is spent, that’s a long way! So both these pencils have done some miles in this drawing! 

This brings to mind a saying that I share with my students, “You have to do the pencil miles”. You can watch YouTube videos and follow tutorials but you have to do the pencil miles to gain the practical experience, to develop your own style and technique, to make mistakes and learn from them, it’s a never-ending journey but such a rewarding one. 

Aim to retire some pencil stubs this year!


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