Monday, April 9, 2012

The Humble Pencil

For the past few months I have been studying the works of Howard Pyle and Frank Lohan, both pen & ink artists (among other things) and both with very different styles. Their works are teaching me a great deal about pen & ink. Today, I revisited another well-known 20th Century artist, Ernest W. Watson (the "Watson" in Watson-Guptill publishing), and made the decision to study his techniques as well.

Pencil study of an apple.
Ernest Watson is best known for his graphite pencil work. Watson was amazing with a pencil and his body of work is quite diverse making it fascinating to study. He produced a large series of drawings demonstrating how to create different textures (wood, ceramic, glass, jade, etc.) all with graphite pencil on different types of paper surfaces. Unfortunately, several of the surfaces he mentions are no longer available, although at this point some reasonably good facsimiles have been created. I say reasonably good because I have yet to run across anything to replace Video paper which has been gone (as far as I know) since the 1980’s. Video paper was a wonderful clay-coated paper that all the professional illustrators of my acquaintance were well-familiar with back in the day.

But pencil work can certainly handle a wide variety of papers, even cheap ones. Today, I brushed up on my pencil skills and drew this apple on very cheap paper. It felt quite refreshing to work with a pencil again. Such a delightfully simple tool that can be used to create incredible realism.


  1. "A pencil is quiet, clean, odorless, inexpensive, and lightweight. I can slip it in my pocket and take it with me everywhere - my secret friend." ~ Sherry Camby

    1. That was beautiful Sandy. Thank you for sharing that quote with me. :-)