Dan Gheno, a New York-based artist and teacher, introduced me to the Pitt oil-base sanguine pencil, and it is my favorite material to draw pencil sketches with. I like it because it has a nice warm tone reminiscent of the marks in some Renaissance and Classical drawings and because it is waxy enough to stay down on the paper and dry enough to yield to some erasing.
It does not smudge like charcoal or even graphite, and I find that I don't need to spray it with fixative when I'm done. Yet only the darkest and most rubbed in marks cannot be pulled up using a kneaded eraser. In short, it is forgiving yet stable and true. Good pencil? Forget it--sounds like a good spouse!
Faber-Castell, the manufacturer of the Pitt oil-base sanguine pencil, also makes pastels in the same colors as the oil-base pencils. But those are chalkier. You can recognize the oil-base pencils because it says "oil-base" on the shaft and because it is marked with the color of the lead on the very end of the pencil only. On the pastel pencils the lead color is indicated on the end and it also continues a little way up the shaft. I've been in a hurry in an art-materials store and grabbed the wrong one, and although the pastel pencil is a fine product, I wanted my favorite as I sat down to draw that night. And my favorite is the Pitt oil-based sanguine.
A confession: True or not, I think that the warm, traditional tone and clean marks (neither smudged nor compromised by unerasable mistakes) make my drawings look just a little bit better, and some days, I need that psychological lift.
Someone please tell me I'm not the only person who geeks out over a specific pencil...and if i'm not, what is your favorite?