Sketching Spree | Urban Sketching | Sketching Little India, Singapore

"Painting is damned difficult - you always think you got it, but you haven't."
- Paul Cezanne



What Paul Cezanne has said is so true, even for an artist like him who painted relentlessly and unceasingly. I gave up almost every time a problem crapped up. Probably that's why Paul was a great artist and I am not. He worked like a machine, usually in recluse. It gets too lonely to paint alone. That's why I turned to sketching. I could sketch alone because it could be done much faster than painting. A friend of mine agreed with me. Sketching yields a faster result, but it done in pen or pencil.

Recently I have returned to using pencils and preferred charcoal pencil over graphite pencils. Both are good, and they are different. I find graphite pencils too reflective on paper and it becomes difficult to judge the tones as a result. After trying out several types, I nailed down to 2 that I like a lot.
The first is Pierre Noire of Conte a Paris. It comes in different grades: B, 2B and 3B. Depending on the paper you use, it gets too sticky on some cartridge papers, but all work very well on newsprints and doesn't flake. I love it because it is not that "smudegable", if there is a word for it.
The second type of charcoal pencil that I like to use is Nero of Cretacolor. The available grades are shown below. Nero Extra Soft works like a charm, smooth on paper and smudge proof as it is a type of oil charcoal pencil. It works well on all paper types.

I carry these pencils with me these days when I go out sketching. To hold them together, I use a Derwent cloth or canvas pouch which folds nicely into a nifty package that can be snugged into any small space in a bag. I bring along a sander too just in case I need a point for details. The Nero used up pretty fast so I would recommend someone to purchase a bunch if he or she is a hard worker. Strangely the local supplies actually sell out the Nero pencils all the time. That makes me wonder whether the art schools are also recommending the, to the students. I would but I thought pencil drawing is not popular among the schools anymore.



This is a sketch/ drawing I did at Little India, Singapore with a Pierre Noire 2B on an Ingres charcoal/ pastel pad. The pencil did not run very smoothly but in terms of making dark marks, it is packing a punch. I started the sketch with light lines and then heavier ones later. The wide tonal range of the pencil never disappoint.



The other pencil that I brought along this time was Cretacolor's Sepia Dark Oil Pencil. it works pretty well too on the paper I brought. Smooth and doesn't flake. Here's the result. I have touched up with Instagram filter to make it look nicer with the contrast and crop.

Cretacolor's Sepia Dark Oil Pencil
Clive Street, Little India with a Cretacolor Nero Pencil
Clive Street, Little India with a Cretacolor Nero Pencil



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