The torn edges are an important part of these drawings and I’m considering framing some onto larger sheets of watercolour paper so that the edges are retained. These are drawn on A6 cartridge paper (105 Ã— 148mm) with a deliberately restricted palette: I’m ONLY allowing myself to use two pencils (a 2B and a 9B) and acrylic gesso. The greys are formed when the gesso mixes with the very soft 9B pencil. Working on this small scale and with such a limited choice of materials really frees me up to work quickly in an uninhibited fashion, which is absolutely what I need right now.
If you want to see more of these, check out my flickr pages.
When I was scanning these, I was thinking about the way that pencil is often regarded as a ‘neutral’ art material because it’s so ubiquitous and considered fundamental to art. Yet actually, graphite is a very particular material with its own distinct properties. The scans don’t capture the incredible, shiny, dense, silvery greyness of the 9B pencil but when I’m applying it so thickly, its status as a mineral becomes quite apparent. I’ve also been playing around in the studio with graphite powder on gessoed panels but it makes a much softer and more fragile mark than pencils, which contain clay and binder for strength and ease of use. I’ve been wondering what it would be like to densely coat an object with pencil marks or layered graphite? The idea of making sculptures that leave ‘drawings’ on their surroundings is very appealing to me.
Oh, and if you want to know how those ‘simple’ and ubiquitous pencils are made, then check out this series of videos from Derwent. It’s a surprisingly complex process but certainly a lot quicker and easier than the way it used to be done!