The Allure of Grey Drawing Materials

Have you tried liquid charcoals or water soluble graphite? The Paint Spot has many new lines of greyish-black drawing materials that are transformed with the addition of water. Below are two videos to illustrate four different water soluble drawing materials.

Watch a time-lapse video of a portrait created in ArtGraf water soluble graphite.

While I was taking these new tools for a spin, I recalled a heated discussion in art school. What is the line between drawing and painting? (pun intended). Of course we know using pencils, sticks, and pens to create lines, outlines, and contours to make shapes is called drawing. Marks, cross-hatching and smudging are used to make tones and shadows to create form and this is still drawing. Pastels are drawing in colour but then again, when the artist uses heavy aggressive line work, scrubbing, and rubbing to render shapes, it may also be described as a painterly use of colour. My university instructor attempted to clarify it by saying all work in colour is painting and all work in black and white is drawing.

Art school may want clear definitions but I believe the art materials manufacturing industry loves to give artists tools to break the rules. Graphite and charcoal are neutral without colour so they are naturally drawing. But what happens when you introduce water and a brush to charcoal and graphite; is it still drawing?

If you watch my videos you can see that I work in tones and shapes. I create forms first and rarely use outlines. I adore making use of all the subtle ranges of grey shades. I can stretch out the graduations by diluting the charcoal or graphite with water to create light tones, then dark shadows can be built from many layers of dark washes. I would call this painting-with-drawing-material. But honestly, you can just call it fun and leave the debate to the sticklers.

A side-by-side comparison of 4 different liquid charcoals are illustrated in this video.

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