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Drawing – Graphite
If you have ever gotten distracted at school and done some doodling with your standard pencil, then you have most likely created a graphite drawing. People like to talk about the “lead” in their pencils, but in reality, modern pencils contain a mixture of graphite and clay. Graphite is a naturally appearing mineral, but these days you won’t find much natural graphite inside of pencils. It’s cheaper to create synthetic graphite than it is to mine it.
Graphite Drawing Techniques
Because graphite pencils are so cheap and often used for the most basic kinds of doodling, people tend to overestimate their artistic capabilities. The truth is that a skilled artist can create amazing works of art using even the cheapest pencils at your local store, the trick is knowing how to use them correctly. Cross-hatching is one of the most important techniques that is used with any form of drawing and graphite is no exception. Cross-hatching is depicting the form or texture of the subject by drawing parallel lines. Artists can use this technique to trace the curves of an object and give it dimensionality.
The use of the eraser is also very important for graphite drawing; the medium is so popular in schools because a good eraser can almost completely pick up the graphite from a quality sheet of paper. Some artists create drawings by covering the paper with graphite and then pulling out the negative space using an eraser. The fact that graphite is relatively easy to smudge is a two-edged sword. It means that artists need to be careful not to rub areas of their drawing that they have already finished, but it also means that by using your finger, a cloth, or a shading tool you can smudge graphite to create a gradient of shade to add more dimension to your drawing.
Famous Graphite Drawing Artists
Graphite might feel like a low brow medium that is usually used by amateurs, but there are a surprising number of professional artists who have used the medium to create masterpieces. Many of these artists fell in love with the medium doodling as a child and never grew out of their passion. Artists like Paul Cadden, Kelvin Okafor, and Agnes Martin use graphite pencils to create images that look like they were captured with black and white cameras. But graphite isn’t just for portraiture; Joe Fenton is an English designer who uses graphite to creature surreal and ornate black and white designs that have been used in film, TV, and print.