Friday, January 16, 2015

a gritty pencil problem and some thoughts from a fellow reader

Excerpt from my TMS January 16th, 2015 newsletter...

Have you ever had a problem with a gritty pencil core? Newsletter Group Member Daphne L. from Toronto has the following question for me...

“I have a quick question. I sharpened a pencil recently and started working with it. There was a scratchy feel as I was applying the colour to the paper. I didn’t think much of it and kept going. Suddenly I laid down a dark streak of colour, much darker than the pencil’s actual shade. I was able to remove the dark streak of colour but then I realized that the scratching of the pencil over the paper had actually left an indent in the paper. I haven’t had this happen before. Is this common? I am using Prismacolor pencils and I thought they were a good brand. Thanks for your time.”

Thanks for the question Daphne. First up, Prismacolor is a very good brand of pencil. What you experienced isn’t common when using coloured pencils but it does happen. I suspect this bit of hard ‘something’ is simply a tiny bit of undissolved pigment or binder that has been formed into the core. Considering you actually laid down a dark streak of colour, I am guessing it is a bit of pigment.

 I have had this happen to me. Here is how I deal with it...

When I feel that obvious scratching that you described, when applying the colour to my paper, I stop working and I break the point off completely. I then re-sharpen. This should take care of it. I have only had one pencil that I had to break the lead a few times as the core had something really weird in the mix. It really doesn’t happen very often though and getting rid of just one sharpened tip should do it. You do want to get rid of it though because (as you found) it can scratch your paper.

Try going over your scratch with a colorless blender pencil (Prismacolor makes one). This pencil is waxy and you should be able to fill in the scratch with the colourless wax. Then lightly apply the colour you wish to have in that area. If the area is dark in value, keep going over it. By using light pressure, there is less chance that your stroke will end up leaving deposits on the edges of the scratch’s tunnel, which would end up outlining the very scratch that you are trying to hide.

I hope this info helps Daphne.

If you have a question you would like me to tackle, send it in. It just might make it into a newsletter.

Now about last week’s questions regarding 2014 – did you read them over and then go on to something else?

 If so, here is some feedback from a Newsletter Group Member whose name is Janice. She has a message for you.

“Hi Teresa. Thanks for the list of questions in last week’s newsletter. I wanted to share my experience in case it helps someone else get more value out of the questions than I first did.

When I first opened the newsletter, I just skimmed the questions. I answered some of the ones that were obvious to me. I just answered them in my head. I could easily remember the exhibit I attend last July and I remembered that I had renewed my membership with my local art club. But I confess I didn’t actually think much about most of it. I considered doing what you suggested, that is writing out my answers but I was too lazy to go get a pen and paper and I didn’t want to go dig out a calendar from last year to help me remember stuff.

On Sunday I met a friend for coffee. She started telling me about how at work last week her manager had put her team through a similar year in review sort of process. My friend was astonished by just how much her department had accomplished. She could see the targets they reached, the goals they met over the year and she also saw how much her work had contributed to this.

This conversation made me think of your questions. That night I went home, opened up your email again and this time I had my 2014 calendar and some paper and my favourite coloured pens. Might as well make it pretty right? J

Well I couldn’t believe the results. I really thought about the parts of the questions that asked me things like what I learned and what impacted me the most. I ended up with pages of notes. You said it would be “powerful stuff” and you were right!
I am so glad I decided to answer the questions properly.

I got so much out of doing this that I have decided to put this to use in 2015. Instead of waiting until next January, I am going to write down what I got out of an art show (or whatever) right after it happens. That way I won’t forget.

Is there any way my story could be used to help someone else that didn’t answer the questions?

Thank you for writing them out for us.”

Thank you very much Janice for taking the time to write such a thoughtful email. I am delighted that you went through the questions a second time.

As you all can see, I am publishing her email in the hopes that Janice’s experience will help
I am so delighted that Janice found the process powerful.

Living life with awareness is always powerful stuff but we usually need a poke or a prod to ‘do the work’. Her chat over coffee fortunately gave her a prod!

Please let Janice’s email, be a prod for you!

And Janice has a great idea. Why not grab your journal and write out your thoughts immediately following something – write out what you got out of that art seminar or presentation, what you liked about the exhibit. Think about what you learned, what moved you or inspired you. Think about how these insights can be used to improve your art making or your art habits.

Perhaps set aside time every month to review what happened in the past four weeks.

If you have nothing to make note of, then this could be a good reminder for you schedule in some artsy experiences.

In-Studio Classes

Dates for my spring classes will be announced in next week’s Newsletter. Registration opens on January 23 (next Friday).  Spaces are limited so I always encourage early registration in order to avoid disappointment.

The further up you go, the more mistakes you are allowed. Right at the top, if you make enough of them, it’s considered to be your style. (Fred Astaire)

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