Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Sketchbook Wednesday #6 - Water Soluble Graphite

This week I decided to try another new to me medium, water soluble graphite, in the form of Derwent Sketching pencils. I picked a rural scene featuring an old granary with a field of grass in front of it and a background full of trees, I don't remember exactly which rural Utah town I took the reference photo in.

The Derwent pencils come in three grades, light wash, medium wash and dark wash.  I started by sketching the composition with the light wash pencil and added some strokes for tone.

Then I applied water with a large round brush to basically "block in" the composition

So, when is a drawing not a drawing?  Or is this still a drawing even though it's become a wet medium now?  Can you paint with graphite?  Based on the definitions that I understand this basically becomes a painting once you use water to turn the graphite strokes into areas of tone, but maybe not, I don't know, I'll let you decide.

Continuing on I basically just did the same thing two more times, first with the medium wash pencil putting in darker tones and more detail and then with the dark wash pencil adding in the final details.  

graphite wash rural landscape sketch

I have discovered three significant advantages to using water soluble graphite pencils over regular pencils.  First, it's faster because larger areas are covered far more quickly.  Second, it's easier to get dark darks, the reason being that the wash easily fills in the valleys in the texture of the paper.  Third, applying washes kills the shine you normally get with graphite.  I don't know if this is a feature only of the Derwent pencils since I've seen other artists complain of the graphite shine using other soluble materials. At least in my experiment with the Derwent Sketching pencils the shine is almost entirely gone once the water dries.

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