The Value of Value

One of the most beautiful aspects of using graphite is the range of values you can achieve within a single drawing. Dangerous darks, ethereal lights and every value in between—obtained just by varying the pressure on the pencil or graphite stick. This range of values has attracted artists for centuries and keeps pencils in the hands of modern artists. As wonderful as a traditional pencil is, sometimes I like to use graphite that comes in a water-soluble version. This week’s drawing was done using a water-soluble graphite pencil.
The drawing of the figure has a loose, quick feel to it—and it should because I completed it in about 10 minutes. The process was pretty simple: draw, shade and brush water over the parts I wanted to have a looser feeling. The washes make the drawing more interesting and provide a contemporary approach to the medium. It has a feeling similar to watercolor, but the graphite washes provide a different sensibility and surface quality. I love how the graphite can become fluid; I was even able to pick up enough liquid graphite with the brush to splatter some across the paper to add texture and another value to the paper. The value ranges are subtle, which adds some moodiness to the drawing that compliments the relaxed pose of the figure. This is a great way to experiment with graphite and stretch your drawing muscles.

Check out these great books to learn more about drawing:

You may also like these articles: