Back to the Drawing Board

What a simple, extraordinary drawing tool a pencil is. Unpretentious. Inexpensive. Humble. Yet, the pencil still manages to be demanding. With no color to hide behind and no tricks up it’s sleeve, the pencil requires focus on line and value to bring subjects to life. Artists refer to “pencil miles” or “the thousand-hour pencil” for good reason. There’s no substitute for drawing practice. The pencil demands that you to put in your time.

Tips and Techniques– I went back to drawing this week because I was trying to gain efficiency in my lines when drawing birds. I wanted to try committing to memory bird shapes, features, and feather groups to make me more adept at sketching when in the field. I found working on blue jays particularly challenging because of the head crest, patterning, and shape of the beak. The most fun part of this page was painting the pencil itself, which seemed especially fitting given the jay-colored Staedtler pencils used (F and 2B).

Cool Beans! I’m thrilled to share the news that The Nature Explorer’s Sketchbook has won a 2020 American Graphic Design Award from Graphic Design USA. From more than 10,000 entries, only a small handful of projects were selected as winners. Congratulations and many thanks to Kris Fitzgerald at 2K Design for her award-winning performance and creative excellence in helping bring the book to life!

Woven

I was invited to spend a recent Saturday basket making with a group of women from my old home town. What a treat! Good company, summery refreshments, and a lovely day outdoors dedicated to creative pursuits. Basket making takes patience, I discovered, both in the weaving and in waiting for reeds to soak until they are pliable enough to work. I was glad I brought my sketchbook to fill the soaking time. I came away with a finished basket and a sketch in progress, which I completed at home.

Tips and Techniques: Toned tan paper proved perfect for this detailed sketch of a monochromatic subject. I used two pencils: F and 2B and a white Caran d’Ache non-water soluble pencil on Strathmore, 400 series, 80lb. paper. The precision of the weave led me to precision in the drawing and the text, but I didn’t feel it necessary to complete each basket. I like seeing the ribs and the work in progress. No need to make the entire basket twice.