I have always felt that one of the most off putting aspects of painting and drawing, has been the mine field of art materials, it could be as simple as which pencil to  buy, what colours to get or which paper to work on

I like to think that when you can join one of my workshops or ACL classes, that the suggestions below might help to boost your confidence and inspire you to take up the brush and enjoy a wonderful past time! Also it will help to give you an idea of what to bring to the first session.



When it comes to drawing I have never believed that this is a God given gift handed out to the chosen few, leaving the rest of humanity feeling that skill has passed them by!

It is a skill that everyone is able to enjoy, the first step is to want to do it! the next one is not to be put off by those who try to convince you that you can't do it, and therefore you lack the confidence to do it!



Even pencils can be daunting, so here are a few tips on what you might need to start with and get you under way! Pencils are made from a cedar wood casing with a graphite and clay insert to make the pencil, they are usually the same length, and have a letter & number denoting there type and what they can be used for.

Normally the two letters shown are H and B and a midway pencil has the two letters together, giving HB on the shaft. These are an every day pencil, often used in schools, offices etc. The H stands for hard and the B stands for black, and when joined with a number it denotes it's hardness or softness, normally the numbers go from one to seven, so a 7H is very hard nd 7B is very soft. The hardness is achieved by adding clay to the graphite and reducing it's content, as a softer pencil is required.

The hard pencils tend to be used for technical drawing and it is the B pencils that find favour with the artist, a B or 2B for line drawing could be advised, with a 4B or 5B for tone and shading.

There are other types of pencils, such as coloured crayons, and the  watercolour water soluble ones  like graphite pencils, watercolour crayons and water soluble inks. More about watercolour crayons in the watercolour section.

Water soluble graphite pencils are excellent for line and wash drawings, they are very versatile, and work well with watercolours, pen and ink and coloured pencils. However used on their own they are ideal for recoding tone in monochrome, essential for outdoor sketching.


CHARCOAL    Charcoal is another drawing tool with a wide variety of uses, from drawing on a canvas prior to painting, or working a tonal drawing in the life room. Charcoal comes in a variety of sizes and densities, it is derived from burnt wood, which in this country normally comes from the willow, however in the US and Europe the vine is prefered.

It can also be found in a condensed form or as a pencil, both of which are cleaner to use, and can be easily erased, plastic rubbers work well and it is also light fast.



Again there are a number of options available, the artists choice however would start with the putty or kneadable rubber.

 This can be useful with most types of pencil drawings, its very good for improving and brightening chalk and pastel drawings, and can be used in creating special effects.

 Next is the plastic rubber helpful for both hard lines and soft charcoal, followed by the grifffin eraser a soft, fine quality, non smear rubber.

 A useful tool to add is the electric eraser, battery driven, helpful for small areas where other erasers can be a problem. Sharpening pencils and crayons can be done with various tools, my favorite way to it, is to use a sharp pen knife or craft knife to enable a variety of points and lengths to be made on the pencil, widening the choice of marks made on the paper.

However not everyone likes to use a naked blade and therefore resort to using a pencil sharpener. There are a number of options on the market, from inexpensive ones to the upmarket types, which include a battery operated option.

To retain a sharp point a piece of emery paper or fine sand paper fixed to a board is very helpful. Finally a fixative solution protects pictures and dries to a low sheen, ideal for pastel, pencil, charcoal and chalk drawings.




Drawing with pen and ink is also a very popular and enjoyable way to draw, but again there are a number of choices to be had, for instance the dipping pen with its steel nib, and its older cousin, the quill needed a bottle or pot for the Indian ink. Still available but can be messy.

Pens most commonly used are the commercial types such as the artists fine line pens that normaly come with a wide choice of nib from very fine to broad, and can come in either black, brown sepia and sanguine, they are also lightfast and waterproof. Other pens can include felt tip, fountain, Mechanical to name but a few.



Inks can be associated with graphics and illustrative work, but still very popular when adding tone and washes to drawings etc In most cases they can display brilliance, but are also prone to fading. They come in a variety of colours,  



Chalk pastels, one of the main features of chalk pastels, is the purity of colour and the challange of application.




Click for Map
sitemap | cookie policy | privacy policy | accessibility statement