Sometimes, things just surprise you! Sometimes, the least expensive art tools turn out to have secrets you can’t live without.
Almost all of you have taken one or more drawing, art journaling, or sketching workshops with me over the years, and you are familiar with my love of the pencil and eraser as the basis for fear-free drawing.
You may also remember how excited I was in June of this year, when I discovered soft white vinyl erasers that fit on the end of a pencil (see this post; https://www.jessicawesolek.com/art-full-life/?p=334#more-334)
You remember our “fuzzy” drawing technique, in which we “hunt for” the shape or line we know is right.
And then we ink that good line and erase the extra pencil “fuzzies”.
And there’s the rub. With even the greatest pens, ink is intimidating because it is SO “permanent”. Making a mistake and ruining your sketch is a real possibility – yikes!
So, in most cases, our hand trembles, and we do end up with lines we don’t love, but we have to live with.
I sometimes would recommend that instead of an ink pen, you use a black colored pencil (non water-soluble) to darken your final sketch, because it goes on easier and is a littler more user-friendly. But, it is still permanent, and it is hard to keep a sharp point on a colored pencil.
One of my favorite things to do is to find solutions to art challenges in my own life. I can be very tenacious and work for years to get a solution. I’ll try anything. This is how Sheer Heaven came about, in fact.
So one day, while working on a sketch, I came across a box of erasable colored pencils. The brand is Col Erase. When or how I got it, I did not remember. I did remember that I had used them once and was not pleased because, although they did erase, the leads were hard, and the pigment load was light. They are more of an inexpensive student grade toy than a fine art supply, and I *only* use fine art supplies, dontcha know.
Something made me take out the Col Erase Black pencil and try using it to finalize my sketches instead of my Pitt Pen.
OMG – it worked GREAT!
Hard to describe. Although it is erasable, it is not AS erasable as the 3H pencil I always sketch with. So, you can clean up the good lines, erase the fuzzies, and still have the darker line. You can also re-enforce the dark line by going over it again.
The lead is hard enough to hold a point and you can sharpen it in an electric pencil sharpener when needed,
Of course, as with all pencils, the eraser is cruddy and does more harm than good. So I just pop a soft white vinyl eraser on the end.
I can’t even express how much I love the look of this, but I can show you what I’m loving.
This is a sketch of a new Cosmos plant I brought home from the nursery. It is in a relatively cleaned up state, and was done with my 3H pencil. You don’t get dark lines with a 3H, so at this stage, I would just paint, or outline with ink – depending on the style I had chosen.
But this time, I wanted a softer look than ink, so I tried the Black Col Erase pencil, and this is the same sketch partially “inked” with it . . .
And best of all, you can paint over the pencil lines safely – very little if any bleeding.
Or maybe the best thing is the price. You can buy singles at some art supply stores like Blick and Artisans in Santa Fe, or you can get a set of 24 colors at Amazon for $11.28 with Prime Shipping! Here’s the link for that set:
It also occurred to me that the other colors could be used this way too. And I found a very special use for the Gray – which I will share in another post.
Have you ever inked and painted a yellow flower and thought the ink outline was just too harsh? A much softer and painterly effect could be had by “inking” with a dark yellow or even orange Col Erase pencil.
And for those of you who forgo the pencil altogether in order to be spontaneous with your sketching. this could be your new “ink” and you could get rid of the lines you can’t live with.
This might be the best sketching tip ever! If I do say so myself.
And I do.
Where Have I Been?
Often, when I haven’t blogged much for awhile, it’s because things got busy or whatever. Who isn’t busy, right?
But this time is different. Some of you know that I have been mini-blogging every day – on Instagram/Facebook.
I have fallen in love with Instagram and it is the last thing I ever thought would happen.
Why do I love it?
I love beautiful photographs, of course, and there are amazing photos if you follow folks like the Audubon Society. There is also amazing art, and I follow some amazing artists.
I can share any interesting thing I think of with no muss or fuss – using my ever-present iPad.
I can see everything that is posted by anyone I follow (unlike Facebook where your Friends see only about 4% of what you post).
When you post to Instagram, you can also post to Facebook by just clicking a button, so I do, and you can get my Instagram posts and links to these Art-Full Life blog posts right there if you follow me on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/jwesolek)
I still don’t like Facebook, and am learning to REALLY not like it with all the political madness going on. But, I have some loyal followers there and have learned a couple tricks to make things better – like going directly to a person’s page to make sure I don’t miss anything, rather than scrolling through the newsfeed. Or joining Groups I am interested in, and just going to the Group page.
My latest Instagram posts show up as thumbnails at the side of my Facebook page . . .
Many artists have really slowed down on their “big” blogs although they post regularly on Instagram or Facebook, and I can understand how that can happen.
I am not going to abandon this blog for sure, because it is the only place I can share a complicated story like I have today. But, if you want to hear more from me, and see more photos, you can follow me on Instagram:
You do not have to post anything to join Instagram. You can just be an observer and follow other people, so no obligation, but you might find yourself wanting to share some visuals
I have to find a balance in all of this. Any and all suggestions are more than welcome!
My goal is to have a connected audience and to make my contributions useful and helpful to all of us.
Jessica, you always come up with a clever solution. This one made me think of the watercolorist’s trick of drawing (especially yellow flowers, but really anything) with a yellow watercolor pencil. The lines dissolve completely when you paint the shapes because the watercolor blends right in with whatever color you are using. A suggestion for when you want to do some “wetter stuff”!
i would love to follow you on instagram. however, i don’t have a smart phone and i can’t find the actual instagram app for the ipad. and i can’t view instagram on my pc until i create an account, and i can’t create an account until i download instagram to my mobile device. thus we have a conundrum. until there’s an app for the ipad, i hope you continue with Facebook, which is where i currently see all your lovely pics 😉
Mo, Here’s your answer – The app is an iPhone app but you just download it to your iPad and it works great. You have to click the 2X (which means you are viewing it twice as big as on the phone. This is very confusing, I know, and it took me the longest time to figure it out, but I only use the Instagram app on my iPad to do everything with Instagram.
thanks, Jessica, i followed your instructions about the ipad and it’s working like a dream!! thanks, thanks, thanks!
I have a set of these pencils. Have had it for years and never use them. I’ll have to try this. Thanks for the idea.