A pencil. That’s all you really need.

It can be any pencil – drawing pencils, color pencils or the old yellow #2. Grab what you got and draw.

The mere act of drawing opens up an entire universe of possibilities. With a pencil and a sheet of paper, you can create anything. The world is yours. If you can see it or imagine it you can draw it. And it doesn’t even matter if you are good at drawing at first. The important thing is to start and start simple. And nothing is more simple than pencil and paper.


A #2 pencil and a dream can take you anywhere.

— Joyce Meyer

But for as simple as it is, drawing opens up a world of possibilities. Sometimes, in today’s world, we have a tendency to think we need technology to be creative, but that is simply not the case. Ironically, not that long ago most everything produced in the creative world — art, drafting, architecture and poetry, all started with a pencil (or pen) and in many cases that was all that was needed. Today, that still holds true. So, set aside your iPad and turn off your television. Creativity is at the your fingertips and requires nothing more than a graphite-filled wooden stick and a little imagination.

The average pencil is seven inches long, with just a half-inch eraser – in case you thought optimism was dead.

— Robert Brault

Drawing puts you in a creative state of mind and allows you to daydream and resolve other concerns in life. It’s meditative and relaxing. But you’ve got to draw to get results. The reward is in doing. The late great Pablo Picasso was once quoted as saying “Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.” So, if you’ve always wanted to learn to draw, then draw. With a pencil everything you imagine is real. It’s that simple.

Drawing-AriannaWork in process — pencil drawing in black and white.

I don’t know if you’ve encountered this, but sometimes people say they aren’t being creative because they don’t have the tools. Either they’re not painting because they don’t have canvas or they’re not writing because they don’t have a computer, or whatever. That brings me to one of the things I like most about pencils. Everyone’s got one – at least one. I have drawers of them. Pencils everywhere. All kinds of pencils. I take pencils and a drawing pad most everywhere I go. I keep them in the car and next to my bed. One never knows when the next great idea will strike and I want to be ready. And if I don’t have a pencil I draw with a pen.

If I don’t have red, I use blue.

― Pablo Picasso

In reality, there are tons of pencil choices. Drawing pencils come in a variety of widths and sizes, and are made by many brands. You can buy sketching and drawing pencils individually or in sets in a variety of sizes, from skinny pencils up to jumbo size. But the beauty in its simplicity. You don’t need a ton of pencils to draw. Anyone can experience the joy of drawing with just about anything from the old-fashioned graphite variety that we all drew with as children to more advanced technical pencils.

Graphites 9H to 9BThere are two graphite grading scales used to measure the hardness of a pencil’s graphite core – H and B.

Drawing pencils are rated by hardness from 9H (very hard) to 9B (very soft). Ultimately, finding what works best for your own artistic and creative needs is generally a matter of personal preference and experimentation with different brands of pencils. Over the years I’ve bounced around a lot. I used to really favor the EBONY pencils for their jet black extra smooth qualities (and I still do). Sometimes I work in Conté Crayons, which can be purchased individually or in sets including one each of Sanguine, White, and Pierre Noir 2B.

Lotus - graphite figurative art by A.D. CookLOTUS, graphite on 300# watercolor paper, 22″ x 30″, 2014 © A.D. Cook

Lately, I’ve become quite a fan of Water Soluble Pencils. LOTUS (above) was created with water-soluble. They work both like pencils and/or watercolor paints. You can work with them wet or dry opening up a world of possibilities.

The mere act of drawing opens up an entire universe of possibilities. Drawing puts you in a creative state of mind and allows you to daydream and resolve other concerns in life. It’s meditative. I find that when I’m drawing I’m at ease with a great many things in life. The process of drawing is relaxing.

I can almost always write music; at any hour of the twenty-four, if I put pencil to paper, music comes.

— John Philip Sousa

CATCHING WIND art nude drawing by A.D. Cook

Catching Wind by A.D. Cook, 2012 — 22-3/4″ x 26-5/8″, pencil drawing on Arches 140# watercolor paper.

When it comes to drawing or creating anything for that matter, it really is often just a matter of doing it. Start simple and develop your skills over time. If you find that you have a talent or passion for drawing then classes are available just about anywhere from your local art supply store to YouTube. My philosophy is to scribble until something beautiful happens. If you are looking to improve your skills, I recommend “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards. I read this book over thirty years ago and still recommend it.

Drawing on the Right Side of the BrainDrawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards.

Scribble until something beautiful happens.

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