Archive for the ‘equipment’ Category

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At the end of 2015 I launched my newsletter ‘Pencil Points’ which will, when the new website comes on stream, be downloadable.  Until then we are sending it out by email to those interested so if you would like a copy just fill in the contact form on my website and we will send it to you.

As this is a new baby we would welcome any useful critiques and also any information relevant to the coloured pencil world that you would like published ie., exhibition dates etc.

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I’ve just treated myself to a full set of Holbein pencils from Japan. Luscious colours, good lightfast ratings, rich lay down and they hold a point. Itching to try them out properly. I will post a full report on my new website when it goes live in 2016. Meanwhile I am trying to find a source of single pencils so if anyone knows where to buy them please can you let me know.


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All done and off to the printers tomorrow! More photos to show the scale and detail.  I’m really enjoying this technique using a combination of resist, underpainting with conte pastels and baby oil, then layering coloured pencil into baby oil, lifting the excess and finally applying the detail. Baby oil is liquid paraffin wax not an oil and unless over applied will not stain the paper permanently but the colour mixed with baby oil will stain the paper so this technique is a bit risky!


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I wanted to share my new shop corner in the studio with all the lovely pencils.  It’s like a candy store!


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Three days of intense graphite drawing.  Exercises for hand-eye co-ordination, observation, continuous tonal shading and underpainting for graphite. Exhaustive and exhausting but hopefully, very rewarding.

This is a step-by-step demo of an almond using the underpainting techniques that I did this afternoon slightly hampered by a streaming cold.

Stage 1 Outline in graphite and then a thin layer of colour using  a touch of Faber Castell Sanguine, Burnt Ochre, Bistre and Prismacolor Ginger Root plus a few Irojiten neutrals. (We are now selling these individually at £1.50 each. They are very difficult to get hold of as singles.  The full sets are still a good price on Amazon)

Taking care to leave a millimetre or two around the edge so that when applying the solvent there is no danger of spreading the colour over the edge of the drawing.

Stage 2 Blend the dry colour into the paper using a clear alcohol based solvent such as the Promarker blender pen, (see our online shop),  taking the colour carefully up to the edges.

Stage 3 After a few minutes the paper is dry and ready for the graphite drawing to begin using a selection of clutch pencils with F, HB, B and 2B leads. The graphite is used to describe the textures, marking and tonal shading over the top of the coloured underpainting.

Stage 4 The finished nut – the colour could have been a bit stronger at the beginning but otherwise, job done!


* Details of a new workshop in South Africa at Kirstenbosch in November have just been posted on my website. If you are interested please let me know as we only have 9 spaces and these will go quickly I expect. We will be giving people the opportunity to add on a few days at a Safari Lodge along the Garden Route. More details as soon as available.

* My new website should be coming online soon and we will be posting regular step-by-step demos and ‘tips and tricks’ plus a monthly newsletter so if you are interested do lease sign up.

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All is not lost, we have now reverted to the original Rapesco 64 and when ŵe ordered them they came looking exactly like the previous QConnect sharpeners and they work beautifully. they are a bit more expensive depending on supplier but we are holding our old price.

Now following on from my previous blog about how to use a sharpener the following photos illustrate how to unclog the sharpeners when a pencil tip breaks off inside.
First unscrew the base of the handle to remove the sharpening core and handle. This can sometimes be extremely stiff.

Then using an old bent 0.5 embossing tool, bent paper clip or similar dislodge the tip from the base of the sharpening well.


Finally replace mechanism back inside sharpener and screw in firmly.
Job done!!


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Why do manufacturers have to change perfectly good products? Most probably to reduce costs even more.

For the last few years I have been using desk top sharpeners. Originally the Rapesco 64 (left), these were excellent but fairly pricey so we then sourced a Q Connect version (second left) also excellent. Then suppliers sent a modified light grey and black Q Connect version which is also excellent and cheaper and we have been happily using and selling this version for some time with absolutely no complaints.
Imagine my surprise when the latest dark grey and black version arrived and the first three sold jammed immediately and where returned. One customer had to saw off the pencil in order to return the item to me (left). Another went in the bin in the USA as I wasn’t able to bring it back. One even came out of the box, brand new, with the button jammed (second right)
Even if not jammed they are very difficult to use as the spring opening mechanism is very stiff so you need both hands when it is not clamped to the table and the front often sticks against the collecting tray on the way back.
I have tried to order the previous light grey model online but when they arrive they are the dark grey version. I have returned all of these to the suppliers but they have no direct link with the manufacturers as they are made in bulk in China. However, I can warn you via this post.
We will return to using the original Rapesco 64 if we can source enough.
Good luck.

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