Sunday, May 08, 2011
Get the Lead Out
My daughter is teaching me the ins and outs (no pun intended) of mechanical pencils. This is a big deal for me; I've watched so many students waste time fiddling with mechanical pencils that I have been on the verge of banning from my classroom at times. However, being a bit of a pen, pencil and paper freak, I couldn't quite bring myself to separate a student from his or her writing implement of choice. (Classroom management can be a fine art.) Furthermore, while I've always loved the feel of a good 6, 7 or 8B pencil for drawing, I've seen students who can work wonders with mechanical pencils. Not long ago a mechanical pencil made its way into my drawing bag and I have used it for very light sketches underneath some little watercolors, but otherwise I steer clear of this writing implement.
All that changed yesterday. My son and I went to the Free Comic Book Day event at our local comic book store to wait patiently in line for a free drawing by a comic book artist. We discovered this event last year, and it was love at first sight for me. Own an original drawing for the cost of standing in line? Wow. (Thank you to those artists!) Last year my son and I each chose Star Wars clones as subject matter. This year we challenged the artists: my son chose a Halo character and I wanted a drawing of Asterix. Neither artist had drawn these characters before and seemed to enjoy the new subject matter, too. But back to the mechanical pencils.
Part of the joy for me is to watch the artists work, and I noticed that several of them were using blue lead while sketching. Now, I have to confess that I'm old enough to have used a waxer for paste-up, so blue immediately makes me think non-repro. But I wasn't sure why they were using it. So I asked. The answer? It doesn't smear as much as regular graphite and is easier to incorporate into the inking. Cool. While I'm not a comic book artist, that was enough for me. Art store field trip!
So this afternoon my daughter is showing me how to prep a mechanical pencil for use. It's true--I have used a waxer, but never replaced lead in a mechanical pencil. But I'm all ready. And as soon as I'm done sketching I will ink something with the pens my daughter bought me for Mother's Day that promise to "Stream Smearlessly." That's really what it says on the package. Yes, the marketing sold me. How could I resist a made-up word like that! :-D