6 Months and No Posts, Time to Start That Book!

I have been very busy with work. I am sure this is the case with many people who still keep their websites up to date. So I will stop making excuses and use this place for what I set it up for. I am working on a project that has been with me since 2010 and this website will be my progress record. I will be careful not to give the whole thing away as creative projects can be derailed by plagiarism. I will say that it is a children’s picture book, and that it has been promised to my son. He is now old enough to hold me to this. I also have have told the kind Heather Rivard from the Art Supply Posse podcast about this and she will be mentioning it in one of their episodes. There is nothing like going public to get a project on the way. So in short the story is written and I have some developed images to expand upon. I will show some of the rough ideas, starting with a couple of the images I have already shown Heather.



I will not post anything that is high resolution, just images that give an idea of what I am doing. I hope that I can inspire others to work on long overdue projects and please, feel free to share. We can all do with encouragement.

Working with the things you love.

Having an Fine Art Degree is something that I always wanted, but it far from practical when it comes to regular income. I have as a result never had a steady career as such. This has never bothered me as I have tried many things and have had a wealth of varied experience which has been very useful.

I have after many years of working without a goal found a role that I think I will take great pleasure in, and yes it has a lot to do with pencils. In fact my passion for pencils and paper have given me an edge in this case, which is something I am truly grateful for. My love for the pencil has never played an important part with other jobs and I have kept reasonably quiet about it for fear of being thought of as odd. I am now very much with my people.

I am now a customer service manager with Telegram Co, the wholesale distributor of such delightful products as Lamy, Kaweco, Moleskine, Rhodia, Clairefontaine and the amazing Blackwing pencils. Telegram Co looks after all distribution for these products in both Australia and New Zealand as well as a great range of home-wares, which I am learning about as I have never been a nesty sort of person. It is also the sister company of Notemaker which I am sure a lot of  online stationary nuts know about.

This will give me a access to a lot of product to review and I am already making a list of items I want to write about. I have to admit I have been looking at getting a job in a place like this for some time. Being happy with the way I pay the bills is a very welcome novelty.

So the next post will be on a couple of blank notebooks by Life Stationery. I have sketched a quick drawing in one of these and have found it to be a very nice experience. The pic below is my email signature image (so cool!) and the motorcycle sketch is the one I have just mentioned.


I should start the post this week as I want to be consistent now I have access to so much stationery goodness. There is also a post based on what pencils I have taken to work and why considering what I now have access to. OK, ‘That’s pretty much it for now. I need to get some rest as I am still learning the ropes at Telegram Co and I do not want to risk looking half asleep. I won’t go on too much about the job going forward, I am still kind of high on things. You can probably tell, sorry. I need to be more focused on the some decent stationery blogging 🙂

Update, 2015 will be my Blog Year.

It has been some time since I have posted and there is a pencil review that has not been completed. Time has been the issue and also I have been trying to improve some aspects of my life. The first being my employment. For a long time now I have been working for the wage only and have not had any interest in what it was I was doing for that wage. I have now secured a position with Telegram Co, the wholesale wing of the well known Notemaker online stationary store. I will now be dealing directly with the materials that we all love. As part of that I will be keeping this little blog going with reviews of all the goodness I will have access to.

I have also been rather busy at night in my studio getting my painting back up to scratch. I will shortly be posting some progress pics of these paintings. I hope to have this up within a week from today. It is kind of separate to the pencil theme so I may have this on another page dedicated to it.

I have also had to stop comments as I have been swamped with spam. So any replies can be sent to lukesinclair73 at gmail dot com. There is more than likely a way to deal with this but I am opting for simplicity at the moment.

The below pic is my son drawing in my studio, he says he wants to be an artist like his dad.



My Drawing Process

I have just spent the last two days drawing, needless to say time went fast. I am working on some gift drawings for my pencil mentors Johnny Gamber, Andy Welfle and Tim Wasem. One has been sent and has made it to its destination which I am glad to know (it is the Super Koala at the bottom of this page). The other two (Wrigley Field and the Cats) have been my task. Drawing is a pleasure that I can’t do without and I admit that I wish I had two more days to sit and create.

I thought I would take a bit of time to go through what I have been using and some of my methods. I have, admittedly, too many pencils which can make choosing tools hard. As many know pencils come in various grades. I believe that there are too many. I have reduced my main selection to three for most projects. The brand may vary but I now usually have a 2H, a 2B and a softer pencil like the Palomino Blackwing (not the 602).  The 2H is a recent addition for me. I was taught never to use hard pencils by art education purists. I smile when I think how annoyed my old drawing teacher would be. I sharpen with my knife and never a sharpener. That is one of the old rules do I believe in. I will cover that again in a future post. A long sharp point with a concave taper is standard. I have started using paper stumps to blend. This is because I am working small and the finger smudge is not accurate in many cases. A paper stump is simply a roll of paper sharpened at both ends just like a pencil. They come in a variety of widths. They are very useful.


The key to every drawing is the composition. There are many ways to compose but I stick with the rule of thirds, this is also known as the golden ratio. I will not go into the details of this, but the link will give you an idea. Even when drawing from life or photos, I will adjust all elements so that they fit the page and balance nicely. The 2H is used here to make very light guide marks. I will only put down the 2H when I can see a visual harmony with the placement of all the elements in the composition.


My style is somewhat realistic, but I stylize as I do not want to be photo-realistic. It is of course an amazing skill to be a total realist, but I have no desire to become a camera. As a child I loved cartoons and comics. That is very much still part of me and I do use elements illustration as part of my work. When working in graphite, a tonal balance is another key factor. All this means is using a light next to dark placement that creates harmony. I will divide the composition into a light and dark grid of sorts. There must be the same amount of light to dark with even distribution to make a drawing work.

Then I draw. And I keep drawing. Sometimes it works and I am happy, but many times I am not pleased with what I do and start over or change tack to attempt redemption. It is a struggle that I love and need. Many things come into play and if you want to try drawing for the first time I have some handy pointers;

1. There must be a foreground and a background. Even if you wish to focus on just one object, there must at least be a shadow to put the drawing somewhere.

2. The eye does not focus on all things it sees, so do not render everything. Leave unimportant elements fuzzy or out of focus.

3. Use the eraser only as a last resort. I have told students to not use it at all which can cause anxiety. The key is not to rely on the eraser. I use my eraser to create highlights and work with my imperfections when I can.

4. Be yourself and do not try to emulate others work. Real style comes the individuality.

5. No, I am not going to say have fun. Struggle and get frustrated with the process. Fight until you have something that you like and please do not rely on the opinions of others. You are your best critic.

Below are my last few efforts. Some are more successful than others in my opinion and there is more that could be done. Although they could be called finished drawings, they are still sketches as each has had less than a days work. It is good therapy to put them up when I am not entirely satisfied as I can now look at them and find all the flaws that bother me. The koala one is finished (and gone), the other two will be updated.

My next post may have to be a step by step with more process pictures. As well as being informative, it will help me solidify my methods and I may find better ways to work in the process. I am always up for learning experiences.



Scan 2




A Great Post from Stephen Watts, Thank You.

My 17-year-old son has taken an interest in my growing collection of Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602s and he and I share a mild (in our minds, anyway) obsession with finding the ultimate writing wood pencil. After collecting an assortment of recommended pencils for comparison, we sat down and conducted our unscientific test.

Although I had already sacrificed a comfortable retirement in favor of purchasing a large quantity of Palomino Blackwing 602s, I went into this competition in the hopes that I would find a top-notch still-made-in-America pencil. Based upon recommendations found online, I obtained boxes of General’s Semi-Hex #2 and General’s Cedar Pointe #2 for inclusion in the comparison. In numerous comments on various forums I found posters stating all anyone ever needed was the Dixon Ticonderoga, which had never impressed me, although it was certainly better than big-box store brands and was my son’s daily writer, so it, too, was thrown in. Other reviews led me to try out the Staedtler Norica HB 2 and the Mitsubishi 9850 HB. These last two are somewhat hard to find in the U.S. The Staedtler is available on Amazon.com and through Staples. The version I used is black; in Canada they sell the same model but in light blue. I don’t know if paint is the only difference between the version sold in the U.S. and Canada. The Mitsubishis were purchased through JetPens.com.

Here are the joint rankings by a father and son amateur pencil connoisseur team, listed in increasing order of quality:

7. Dixon Ticonderoga HB 2 – What is there to say? Sturdy, dependable, centered core. The feel on the paper, though, is nothing to write home about. Dixon is absurdly and stubbornly still proclaiming these to be “The World’s Best Pencil.” They make both black and yellow versions; we tried both and determined the only difference in our samples was the colors of the barrels and erasers. The black ones looked nicer than the yellows but fancy clothes didn’t compensate for a comparatively poorer quality writing experience.
6. General’s Cedar Pointe #333 2 HB – If you pick this up and use it without comparing to anything else, you’d be perfectly happy with the Cedar Pointe. I really wanted to love this pencil; it’s made in America, it has a cool unpainted barrel that feels nice in your hand and it picks up a patina from the oils in your fingers. That’s either gross or a nice talking point, you decide. It’s nicely constructed, though its scratchiness as it moved across the paper is what placed it at #6.
5. General’s Semi-Hex 498-2 HB – Comes in a cool retro box. Unfortunately, the pencils are also retro, finished in an inconsistent quality ugly yellow. I tried it because others recommended it and it was American and I wanted to like an American-made pencil. It’s OK. Just.
4. Mitsubishi 9850 HB – Here’s where the price jumps in the list. So far, we find that you get what you pay for. Who knew the same company that made Japanese Zeros in World War II and automobiles today also makes pencils? Well, we do, now. Rich dark red in color, white eraser, this puppy exudes class. It noticeably glides across the paper though it doesn’t leave as dark a line as some of the others. If you try the ones below this, then try the Mitsubishi, you will think you just entered the gates of Heaven. Don’t try this without someone else in the room, because you’ll end up searching out someone so you can say “Wow!” without talking to yourself. Trust me, you will like this pencil, and you better, because you will pay $1 for each one.
3. Palomino Blackwing 602 – I was hoping these would be near the top because 1) they look really nice, 2) they are tremendous fun to write with, 3) I purchased a boatload of them at by far the highest cost of any currently available pencil in this list. If you buy a box of 12, you’ll be paying $1.67 each . . . . There is some controversy regarding how these were initially marketed. I won’t get into that, but I will say the folks at California Cedar who were involved with the decisions that led up to this recreation of the Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 did about as good a job as possible at helping us remember the American legend. We found the smoothness and quality of the line to be remarkably close to the original Blackwing 602. This pencil writes very, very well. It slightly, and arguably, compromises ease of movement across the page in comparison with the Mitsubishi in return for a nice rich line with, as the motto goes, “Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed.” In addition to the quality of the writing experience, it looks cool. Hell, it is cool. This pencil will make you want to find a reason to write something down. Anything. Even “Palomino Blackwing 602” over and over and over and over.
2. The Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 – yes, the original. I wanted this to be at the top. I was afraid it wouldn’t be. In our comparison, it was very close in writing quality to the top-ranked Staedtler, almost indistinguishably so, and with the wide ferrule and replaceable eraser, it even exceeds (slightly) the coolness quotient of the black, silver and white Staedtler. Unless you are either insane or insanely rich, though, you can remove this one from your purchase list as production ceased in 1998 and you’ll pay a pretty penny for the privilege of jotting down grocery lists with it.
1. Staedtler Norica HB 2 – This pencil wins by a hair. I went back and forth between it and the original Blackwing, and through some lack of intestinal fortitude was unable to declare a winner. My son gave a slight edge to the Staedtler, so it will take the center spot on the podium. It’s bathed in a rich-looking flat black paint with silver lettering that matches the ferrule and is capped with a white eraser. The pencil looks first class. It writes first class. You may feel like you need to get dressed up before you use them. The experience is head and shoulders above everything below the original and Palomino Blackwings. Without question, we agreed this baby was the best currently available wood cased pencil in our list. Curiously, this pencil is not widely renowned. It’s not even considered one of Staedtler’s top pencils. Shhhh. Let’s keep it that way, because we don’t want the price to jump up to Palomino Blackwing 602 levels. Here’s where the “you get what you pay for” paradigm falls flat on its face. These pencils aren’t $1.00 apiece like the Mitsubishi. They aren’t $1.67 each like the Palomino Blackwing 602. They cost 14 cents. What kind of world do we live in? This, my friends, is madness; it is jaw-droppingly incomprehensible. At $5.00 for 36 at Staples, you may want to begin hoarding these things. Because one day these will be selling alongside original Blackwing 602s on eBay for $50 apiece. Well, probably not, but they should. They are that good.

And there you have it. The historian and romantic in you will want to buy the Palomino Blackwing 602. The economist and pragmatist will want to buy the Staedtler, which costs 92% less as of this writing. In the cold, harsh light of reality, the choice seems a no-brainer. Buy both.

The Meaning of Pencils

I think that before I delve into the may areas I plan to talk about, I should attempt to describe what pencils mean to me.

I begun my education before there were classroom computers, and when the development of handwriting was of up most importance. In primary school development went hand in hand with the tools that a student was allowed to use. The progression was from crayon to pencil to pen. I recall it was the height of achievement to be given the right to use a pen. Students had to be able to spell and have neat cursive script to wield the all powerful plastic Bic. Needless to say, I wanted the pen. This was however not something that was easily won.

I was a nervous child, and I had no confidence to speak of. Everything upset and frightened me. Due to this I was usually the last student to progress. I would labor at my work trying my best to hide my books from my classmates and teachers. I had no ability to counter their criticism. I wanted to achieve but when I did not, I was devastated. My battle for the pen was one of pain and longing. Over time every other student got theirs before I did. When the teacher gave me mine, it was only because I was the last and I was embarrassed. It was not a victory.

I do not know if I am romanticizing the past but I think that I would have felt more comfort if I had just stayed with the pencil and was left to do my own thing. This pattern of fear related to education continued right through to my senior years. From this fear determination to succeed my own way was born. I became immune to my own fear over time, but I was and I am still, a very solitary individual.

Art was my happiness. My drawings were a sort of replacement for the social skill I lacked and saved me from feeling alone. The pencil was my strength. I drew in all my school books and illustrated my school bag and folders. I felt whole with my art. All this helped me cope with the looks I got from students and teachers. I was the weird art kid. I owned that title with pride.

So the pencil is not simply a mark making tool for me. It is an extension of my being. I connect to the world with its assistance. I am never without one, I even have at lest one next to me when I sleep. My friends and family think that my pencil collection is interesting and maybe quirky, but it is so much more. So what is the meaning of pencils? Food, water, air, shelter, love and a pencil. I need all these things to live.

This is where it started.

A while ago now I was kindly invited to write a guest blog for the very fine Pencil Revolution blog. This was a very nice surprise and I thoroughly enjoyed the process. I will not re-post what I wrote. I will simply put the link here.

There is much more to come and I have a number of pencil based ideas that should nicely fill the gaps between the other amazing blogs out there. We are a small but passionate bunch, but the humble pencil represents much to us. I hope that you enjoy what I have to offer.