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Mon Nov 13, 2006, 10:50 AM
As a way to prove I'm alive, I thought I'd write a little paean to the pencil.

Graphite is my favorite medium.  I say this even as I'm in the middle of efforts to improve my color skills.  I happily admit that color is beautiful.  It's bright and versatile, and *loads* of things can be done with it.  I enjoy it as much as anyone when I come across a picture that displays brilliant or creative use of color.  I'm not dissing color.

But as fine and wonderful as color is, there's something...pure about pencil.  Not even colored pencils, but plain old grey graphite.  It's honest.  Without the distractions of more complex mediums, a pencil drawing is the artist's essential skill displayed on paper.  A poor artist is left nothing to hide behind.  A good artist has their mastery of the fundamentals displayed in elegant simplicity for all the world to see.

Pencil is graceful.  It's all about lines, the graceful flow of shapes one into another, mirroring the beauty of real life.  It's tactile, with a three-dimensional aesthetic that has more in common, in some ways, with sculpture than with painting.

When I look at a good colored painting, I oooh and aahhh along with everyone else.  I'll happily stand there enjoying it for an hour or more if I have the time.  But when I see a good pencil drawing, I feel something more sublime.  I can *taste* it.  My hands want to reach out to touch it.  I immerse myself in the details and flow of the figures, soaking it all in the way I would a good song, absorbing the details independently and as a harmonious whole.

There are people who can evoke this in a colored painting, to be sure--some are in my DevWatch--but they're the ones who could do it with a pencil in their hand as well.  And sometimes it's nice to see the frills and complexities stripped away, so you can admire the beautiful foundation that lends its grace to everything else.

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Submitted on
November 13, 2006