Monday, May 15, 2006

Pencil – Never Out of Style!

People always ask me which medium is my favourite, and I never have a straight answer. The truth is, each one serves a different purpose, of sorts. Oil painting requires a different mindset for me than oil pastel, and I still love to go back to a complete, tonal pencil drawing. They seem to balance each other. Pencil requires more exact detail and attention, as one is relying on creating a range of tones, without colour, to produce something effective. Many people mistakenly refer to pencil drawings as "sketches." If you want to raise the hair on the back of a pencil artist's neck, just call one of his or her drawings a "sketch!"

Sketches are important -- they're the quick, loose warm-up stuff you do when you're planning out a painting or drawing. Sometimes a simple, spontaneous sketch is worth taking a bit further to be the basis of a painting. A drawing takes the sketch further. With a drawing, you are more careful, making sure your distances and proportions are correct, and you work to produce a more complete work. A good drawing is an essential foundation for a good painting.

Most artists price their pencil work lower than colour, largely because of that public misconception that they are just sketches. Fact of the matter is, for me at least, most of my pencil work takes much longer than a larger oil. On a positive note, in the last year I've been able to sell some of my drawings for respectable prices. Their are several pencil artists whose work commands prices in the thousands. Wow!

My most recently completed pencil piece was done from photos I took last year at the Capital Classic horse show in Ottawa. I called it "Minor Adjustments." It was a hot, humid day, and the horse (whose name, ironically, was Finn McCool) looks as if he'd be much happier hanging out under a tree in a pasture at home!

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