Graphite pencils are the first tool in serious beginner drawing classes (I’m ignoring kindergarten crayon time here). Graphite sketches are the starting step of most art projects, either composition thumbnails in planning the art project or line art to work out proportions, to then transfer to the good paper for whatever media the “real” project is going to use. As I’m taking online courses in more mediums, I’m not fully completing as many graphite drawings, but I’m definitely putting in pencil miles that no one sees. But it’s generally rush rush rush onto the good paper and the pretty colors.
This bunny was a minor rebellion against this trend. I was supposed to just be drawing the line art for an online watercolor class, but I went whole hog for the drawing. I like shading in graphite, just for itself. Yeah, it’s a heckuva spatial sense workout and a test of the initial line art and proportions that shows me what to work on next. But it’s also good art time. Satisfying. Most YT art videos focused on some other media kinda start at “here is the reference drawing, line art already transferred to my watercolor/pastel/whatever paper.”
I’m just getting to the intermediate serious art classes, where this switch occurs. The instructor artists talk about the importance of doing a page of composition sketches, value studies, and a pencil “sketch” that’s nearly as detailed as this little bun. There isn’t a rush to get beyond graphite into “the good stuff.” I’m feeling relief at the change. It’s an extra making-enough-time challenge but also a relief to spend what feels like enough time with pencils and really figure out where the values are, where the texture is, how the internal shapes plonk in together.
The basics are not binarily opposed to the good stuff. A well-executed grilled cheese sandwich? Basic and the good stuff. Satisfying. Bread fresh out of the oven? Yes, please. Eating lunch outside on a nice day? So what if it’s leftovers. A few days of dedicated art time just with graphite in its several forms? Yes, that’ll hit the spot nicely.