And Don't You Ever Forget It

I'm an artistic omnivore to be sure, but there is really nothing I love more and respond to more than pencil drawings. I know, the humble pencil and paper seems so simple, so basic. But what some forego and forget as too elementary, I see as essential.

Yes, starting with beginner pencil drawing lessons is pretty standard when learning art, but just because we begin with pencil drawing doesn't mean we should leave it behind as our art practice evolves and changes.

Untitled by Kent Miller, 2008, graphite pencil drawing, 30 x 40.
Untitled by Kent Miller, 2008, graphite pencil drawing, 30 x 40.

Of late I've seen so many artists who are making incredible pencil portraits and pencil sketches that have reinforced how lively and relevant the practice is and how varied the marks are that you can make with pencils.

Kent Miller presents the material world in his pencil drawings as a place of moody light and shadow with narratives that seem commonplace and complicated at the same time. In Untitled, a young man foregoes a place at the table to sit on the floor, staring off as if a troubling or thought-provoking event just took place-possibly linked to the two wineglasses at the table. Miller focuses the viewer's eye on the figure: His white shirt, the white highlights on the right side of his body and face, and the wall he leans against (the lightest area of the painting) draw our eyes first. The drawing suggests that the figure's emotional reaction to whatever just occurred is more important than the event itself, indicated by the darker shadows and gradations in the area on the right.   

Family Vacation by Rex Stevens, 2007, graphite pencil drawing, 26 x 20.
Family Vacation by Rex Stevens, 2007,
graphite pencil drawing, 26 x 20.

Rex Stevens makes use of a drawing pencil in ways I've never really seen before. In Family Vacation, all I could first perceive were the whiplash marks that make up the three "figures" and the tree they are gathered around. The level of gradation is impressive considering how quick the motion of the artist's hand would have been to produce those strokes, and there's also an incredible lightness and airiness to the work that presumably resulted from the artist going back into the work with an eraser with that same quick, vigorous stroke.

The "basic" pencil in the right hands is anything but that, and right now you can see exactly what I mean in so many of the drawing digital resources that are on sale at the Artist Daily Shop. The sale is going on for 24 hours, so if you see a digital art guide that inspires you, treat yourself! You and your art deserve it!

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

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