Rock Newcomb Explores Graphite On Claybord for a New Look
During the past decade, I have worked with many mediums and surfaces (supports). Claybord Smooth™ is the one surface I use almost exclusively. This support is unbeatable for my work in acrylics, inks, watercolors, oils and graphite.
Claybord Smooth™ and Claybord Textured™ (now Gessobord) are fantastic surfaces for graphite work. Which one I select depends on my desired results. For this still life drawing (Winner Takes All, Graphite on Claybord Smooth™, Rock Newcomb, 2001), I chose Claybord Smooth™ to achieve a super-smooth, almost photographic look. Claybord Textured™ produces a more grainy appearance. One great aspect of Claybord™ is that the need for glass is eliminated! Drawings on Claybord™ can be sealed with Claybord™ Matte Fixative and displayed without glass. Glass breakage, acidity in matboard or impurities affecting a fragile paper or rage surface are no longer a concern.
To create this drawing, I selected graphite pencils made by Cretacolor. For the "H" range pencils, I used 2H, 4H, 6H and 9H Cretacolor drawing Pencils. In the "B" range, I used HB, 2B, 6B, 8B and 9B Cretacolor Monolith Pencils. The Monoliths have no wood coating and feel great in my hand.
Preparing Claybord™ for Pencils.
Graphite can be applied directly on the Claybord Smooth™. However, the results will look quite delicate with very few value changes, similar to using the silverpoint technique. To facilitate a good value range, brush or preferably airbrush 1 to 3 thin, smooth coats of Acrylic Matte Medium or Golden's Titanium White Fluid Acrylic onto the Claybord™. Thin the paint or medium with enough water so that it flows easily. Be sure to wipe the clay surface first with a dampened paper towel to remove any loose particles or dust before applying the paint or medium.
Transferring the Contour Drawing
The initial contour drawing can be done directly on the Claybord with a 2H pencil or, as I prefer, on vellum. I coated the backside of the drawing on vellum with Medium Gray Nupastel. I smoothed it out evenly by rubbing the pastel with my finger and blowing off the excess dust. I then transferred the contour drawing onto the Claybord™ suing a 6H pencil or an ultra-fine point Sharpie marker. To avoid smearing the transferred contour drawing, I began working from the top of the drawing down. Should the contour drawing need to be lightened, use a kneaded eraser and press down, blotting and lifting any excess graphite or pastel.
Building Up Values and Details
Build up layers of graphite using the softest graphite first, then going over it with a harder graphite. Use the 4H pencil mainly as a burnisher to enhance the darks. If a light valued is desired in a specific area, use 4H, 7H and 9H pencils, with very little pressure, allowing the softness or hardness of the graphite to do the work instead of using manual pressure. To get smooth visual transitions, and to make it easier to blend the different grades of graphite, I use tiny circles or figure-eights to build up the layers. This technique complements my detailed and tight drawing style. Leave the lightest areas white or almost white. Should areas need to be whitened, use a kneaded eraser, plastic eraser or a sharp scratchboard tool. With the scratchboard tools, you can carve through to the white of the board for the sharp, bright highlights on the jacks. This will give the objects three dimensional form and the shine of polished metal.
When the drawing is completed, clean up any spots or smudges with a kneaded eraser, and brush off any dust. Seal the surface by lightly spraying 1 to 3 coats of Claybord Fixative. The completed, sealed drawing may be framed without glass.
Rock Newcomb is a professional artist living in Payson, Arizona. He now conducts private workshops and seminars throughout the country.