Who knew that such a small object could bring this much satisfaction?

Perhaps when one has suffered for a long, long time with an inferior tool, the appreciation of the improved tool is that much greater.  And believe me, I’ve had some real pencil sharpener duds.  Admittedly, the first sharpener I used when started drawing again was one that I’d found at the bottom of a junk drawer, probably a remnant of the last time I used a number 2 pencil back in school.  So maybe it’s not fair to count that one.

But my next pencil sharpener was a perfectly reputable General’s All Art handheld, and it should have done the trick.  But each time I would try to sharpen, my pencil would either break or sharpen in a totally lopsided way, so that I could really only use one side of the pencil.  I’d try to repair the damage with my sandpaper block, but it never worked quite right, and I found that I was subconsciously avoiding sharpening my pencil altogether!  I’d put it off until the last possible moment and then, when I was at the absolute end of my rope and had no choice but to sharpen it, there I was again stuck with a some new, misshapen pencil monster, and I’d have to adjust my technique to compensate for the pencil problems.  The angst!

When I looked around at Blick’s site, I found that this Alvin Brass Bullet had a lot of good reviews and only cost $4, so I decided to give it a try.

Now I’m in pencil sharpener heaven!  Its grip makes it easy to grasp, the pencil rotates smoothly, and it delivers a beautifully long, sleek point every time.  I don’t have to learn how to draw all over again each time I sharpen my pencil, and I really feel like my work is going to be better for it!


Here are my teacher‘s comments.  I love getting her feedback, because she’s so right on everything, and it helps me see things that I hadn’t seen before.  It turns out that the only facial feature that needed no improvement was the ear!

Finally, the last of the facial features:

A nose without a face looks particularly funny, but here it is:

Here it is:

Next, on to the nose.

It’s a little embarrassing to post this portrait at this early stage, because it looks kind of creepy as just an outline.  But I’m hoping it will be fun to see it progress from here to completion.  I’m planning to fill in the facial details as I practice them in my drawing class: the eyes, then the nose, the mouth and ears.  Not sure how I’m going to do the denim jacket, but hopefully I’ll figure it out somehow.

I chose this brownish paper because I’m hoping that when it’s done it will look sepia, to create an old-fashioned effect. Stay tuned.

I’m happy to say I got an A in the class “Introduction to Drawing and Shading.”   My teacher Cindy Wider’s comment is:

“Congratulations on achieving such a high standard of drawing with your ‘A Shoe Well Travelled’ shaded drawing!  In your shaded drawing you have demonstrated a high degree of competency with the ability to compare different levels of light and dark, you just need a little more practice with this skill. You have also demonstrated that you can neatly render using the fine shading technique.  You have shown great dexterity and tenacity in your art practice through the creation of this artwork.  Well done on such an impressive drawing!”

And now on to Portraiture!

Boy, did it take a long time to draw this shoe!  Those laces were really hard to do, and all the stitches too.  I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, but am awaiting feedback from my teacher… so we’ll see if the shoe requires yet another pass.

I just realized I should start writing my name at the bottom of my drawing before I scan it.  Oh well, next time!

Here’s what I have so far for my Shoe lesson in Cindy Wider’s class at drawpj.com.  The best part of this lesson has been learning how to do the fine lines and creases in the leather. First, you create indentations on your paper by placing tracing paper over your drawing, then firmly draw lines where you want to create those creases. Then you remove the tracing paper and shade your drawing, but the graphite doesn’t get into the indentations that you made. It’s a very cool effect.

And now on to complete the shoe….