Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fallen Birch

Study of fallen white birch, pencil, James Gurney
Pencil is the medium of choice when I'm more interested in form than in light or color. In this case, I was fascinated by the way the white paper-like bark peeled off the rotting log. This is a page from a 9x12 sketchbook that is devoted just to nature studies.

I usually use two hardnesses of graphite: HB and 2B and switch between them.


Tom Hart said...

The painted studies are wonderful (no complaints at all on that score!), but it's nice to see a pencil sketch for a little change of pace.

Does the warm tone of the paper suggest that this is an older piece?

David Webb said...

James, I'm a big fan of pencil. However, I've found that if I use it in a sketchbook the rubbing together of the pages, when in a rucksack or the like, tends to smudge the drawings. Do you know a way around this?
I tend to go over my sketchbook drawings with a pen, to counteract this. But then, of course, it's not a pencil drawing any more.

James Gurney said...

Thanks, Tom. You're right. I did this one a few years ago. It's in a sketchbook that has ivory-colored paper. The paper is kind of thin, and if you tilt your head to the right and look in the lower left of the picture, you can see a smiling kid's face showing through from the next page.

Lou said...

There's something eloquent about a pencil sketch that to me can't be achieved in any other way, as is the case in this sketch James.
When I was spending a lot of time on planes for my work a pencil kit and sketchbook were always in my carry on. I found a tinted paper that I really liked, cut it to size (7 X 10 is my preference) and took it to local FedEx store. For less than 5 bucks they punched holes and wire bound it. Bound that way I could fold it in half to better fit an airline tray table and have room to put my reference photo next to it.
David; I keep a couple of same sized sheets of tracing paper at the front of the sketchbook. I put a couple dabs of the re-positionable glue stick at top. Laying the tracing paper over the finished drawing kept smudging to a minimum until I got home and could spray it with fixative.
Your blog James motivated me to prepare the drawing paper in my most recent sketchbook for watercolor as well. Although, thank goodness, I'm not on a plane near as much anymore, in a way I look forward to that time (did I really just say that) just so I can get in some sketching.

Fabio said...

Great study! I like the paper's grain as well, could you share some info about the sketchbook? (ie. manufacturer or similar currently available, if you know any).
As for the technique, how do you usually proceed for a pencil sketch? Do you try getting the darkest dark first, or proceed light to dark, after establishing the boundary lines of each tone?

Dave Hoffman said...

Graphite in the Wild? :)

James Gurney said...

David, I usually use workable fixative if I'm using soft pencils to stop them from smudging.

Lou, that custom sketchbook sounds like a good solution.

Fabio, I got those leatherbound sketchbooks from Jerry's Artarama about 10 years ago. It's an ivory laid finish paper. Here's a link:

As far as process, I usually start light and work my way down to the darks.

Dave, Maybe, but I've got a few other videos to create first.

David Webb said...

Lou, thanks for that little tip. I'll give it a try.

Fabio said...

Thanks for clarifying James!