There are many drawing implements other than pencils – pen and ink, watercolour, pastels, conte crayon, as many different styles and inclinations as there are artists, and they are all useable, but here is a basic list for life drawing classes.
It is best to have some good quality drawing paper, pencils, a craft-knife to sharpen them with, and an eraser. Masking tape is also a good aid.
Paper can be bought in blocks or loose from good art shops. I buy it loose and tear it down to the size I require, but blocks are fine. The best size is the most convenient size for you – if you have long arms and want to make large drawings, buy large sheets of paper, but there is no gain in doing that if you don’t usually make large works. You can always visit the shop again. Buy ‘cartridge’ or ‘drawing’ paper, don’t buy watercolour paper unless you plan to put watercolour washes on the drawing. Keep it in a portfolio, either cardboard or faux leather.
Pencils are graded in hardness, from 7H (very hard) to 6B (very soft). For observational drawing, B to 3B is the most useful range. There are many different manufacturers, and it’s best to try various and develop your own preferences.
Some lecturers prefer the use of charcoal to pencil, as it is more ‘expressive’ and putting down tone is quicker and perhaps less stilted. If you have charcoal, you can use ordinary drawing paper, although you can also use ‘ingres’ paper, which has a slight ‘tooth ‘or texture, but you will also probably need a putty rubber. This is unlike a pencil eraser in that it is malleable and becomes more effective when warm. I usually draw with charcoal in my right hand while keeping the putty rubber warm in my left, and when I want to make a correction, I mould the rubber into the shape I need and, rather than rub at the paper as one does with a pencil eraser, dab at it, lifting off the charcoal. A spray can of fixative is useful, or hairspray will do the same – apply it at the end of the session, out of the room.
A craft knife is better to sharpen your pencil than a sharpener, mainly because you have to concentrate on making your point when you use a knife. Try to keep your pencils sharp at all times. Elementary advice, but you’d be surprised how often people ignore it.
Recommended materials: Items in bold type are most necessary!
A variety of smooth and rough papers, different types of weight and colour, cut to same size as sketch book unless bringing a drawing board
Sketchbooks –preferably at least one large one and one small one,
Black paper cut to same size as sketch book unless bringing a drawing board
Pencils: B – 4B
Black ink and drawing pen or gel pen/ sketching pen
White ink and drawing pen or white gel pen/ sketching pen
Rags or tissues
Craft or Stanley knife
Bag for rubbish
Some wet colour medium: Watercolours and brushes, watercolour paper or other painting medium- oils or acrylics as desired with board or canvas paper support
Drawing board and larger sheets of paper if desired
Warm clothes and snacks
Bottles of water for brushes
Something to sit on: stool or gardening kneeling cushion or a cushion in a carrier bag
Viewfinder – card or otherwise