Why Choose a Pencil instead of a Paintbrush?


Why Choose a Pencil instead of a Paintbrush?

Why Choose a Pencil instead of a Paintbrush?

My next article in International Artist Magazine (Issue 132 April/May 2020) is about the pencil, the the universal tool for any artist or designer.
Why Choose a Pencil instead of a Paintbrush?
Caernarfon Harbor, pencil, 7 x 8"
A graphite pencil is the medium of choice when I’m interested more in form than I am in light or color. If I was painting this scene, I would be thinking about warm versus cool colors, atmospheric perspective and reflected light. With pencil I can concentrate on the bones of the scene, the simple overlap of light and dark shapes. If there’s a light mast or railing, I’ve got to be sure to draw around it. 

Why Choose a Pencil instead of a Paintbrush?

Since pencils can be used in a lot of different ways. I’ve taken some random sketchbook pages and grouped them into six categories: events, architecture, nature, imagination, vehicles, and people. For each group, I suggest some different techniques, and different attitudes or mindsets that I bring to the challenge.
Why Choose a Pencil instead of a Paintbrush?

Recommended pencils (Links to Amazon):
Kneaded eraser (can be shaped and won't leave crumbs)
Faber Castell 9000 (good basic graphite pencil)
Derwent Graphitint (water-soluble graphite look)
Chung Hwa Drawing 4B (from China)
Staedtler Mars Lumograph 4B (soft graphite art pencil)
Staedtler Mars Lumograph B (medium-soft graphite pencil)
Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth Triograph (triangular section)
Rembrandt Sketching 4B
There are also articles by Ricky Mujica and Nathan Fowkes in the next issue of IA.
International Artist Magazine (Issue 132)
Previous posts on pencil sketching (269 of them)

3 Comments on Gurney Journey: Why Choose a Pencil instead of a Paintbrush?

  • Christen
    on March 06, 2020 | 13:31 Christensaid :
    "I love the lowly pencil, it is always with me, it is a steady sketching companion. Too, it is worthy in it's own right as a medium. Thank you James for the article."
  • Bob
    on March 09, 2020 | 22:28 Bobsaid :
    " My choice by necessity is an Apple Pencil. Since I'm not an artist, Erase and Undo are my friends! Not to mention a choice of over 16 million colors."
  • Norman
    on March 10, 2020 | 07:16 Normansaid :
    "For pure simplicity and minimum clutter with maximum flexibility I suggest carrying just one type of pencil: Conte 2B Graphite. This gives an excellent range from pale grey to quite black, is reasonably robust (doesn't rub off easily onto the opposing page of a sketchbook), and is good in all climates (some graphite pencils become unworkably soft in very hot humid climates). Additionally you get to know the pencil's characteristics very well - it's all you use so you will!

    I've noticed that many artists avoid using graphite pencils - perhaps not liking them because they are pointy so seem to need great precision. I would say - just pretend it's a brush and work loosely and freely... The pencil is so good in situations where minimum kit is best."
Why Choose a Pencil instead of a Paintbrush?

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