Before I get into why  your drawing is rubbish (yes, you read correctly), let me say "Welcome" to my new blog and tell you a little about it.


Heaps of Art related stuff!

Things like, my thoughts on Art, my celebrations and struggles with painting, answers to your Art questions, other Artists I like, sharing things I find interesting, my art material reviews,  my thought processes and steps involved  as I work towards my next exhibition.

Basically as the title says ... this is Contemporary Watercolours and Beyond!!!!

The "beyond" may be anything!

Let me know if there is anything you would like to see, or a question you would like answered.  

The coloured pencils I have in my Studio/Gallery for children to draw with when they visit

The coloured pencils I have in my Studio/Gallery for children to draw with when they visit


Well, it isn't that I think it is rubbish (it may be rubbish, but I can't comment because I haven't seen it), but you may think it is rubbish.

Why is it rubbish though? Why are you unhappy with it? The news isn't all bad because the answers are fairly simple.


If your drawing is rubbish because of a lack of drawing skill, then more drawing is needed. Sounds ridiculous I know, but it is beautifully simple. The simple fact is that if you want to be a better at drawing then draw more. Of course some lessons help, but the act of simply drawing will help .... and I don't mean drawing once a week, I am talking about drawing a lot .... drawing in the morning, drawing in the evening, drawing at supper time :)

You may be thinking "But I have done heaps of drawing and the shapes, proportions and perspective are all good, but my drawing just lacks .... something .... I don't know what".... and then you label the drawing as rubbish.

Without getting into areas such as choice of subject matter, design and actual technical approach, maybe .... just maybe, it isn't any of these things ..... maybe it isn't you .... maybe it is actually the pencil you are using.

WHAT????? Can I really blame my pencils? you say. Well, yes,  you can, but only if you have been honest with yourself and eliminated the other possible variables.

It may be that the pencil you are using is working against you. Not all pencils are made equal.

Whatever medium you are working in, I always suggest you buy the best art materials you can afford.


If you are a skilled Artist, you can make great work with crap materials (basically you can turn mud into gold), but if you are still learning or are at mid career stage, poor materials can hinder your development.

Although I am sure I could produce a successful work of art with poor materials, the work is made so much easier and more pleasurable by using quality materials.

I am very particular about the materials I use (particularly my paints) and I have been searching for a nice pencil for sketching for a while now. Recently I came across this talk by Clive Thompson which I think was a link from a newsletter from Austin Kleon.

Anyway, have a look at it as the talk is entertaining and very interesting. I am always fascinated by the way we think when we paint and often talk about this in my workshops, but here Clive talks about how you write changes the way you think. It really is fascinating.


As fascinating as the talk is, what I was really excited about was that I was introduced to the Blackwing pencil.

"Where have I been, not to know about Blackwing pencils"? I hear you ask. In my studio and travelling ... working of course :). After watching the video I thought I would buy some of the pencils and test them out and having done so, they are now my pencil of choice for sketching.

The Palomino Blackwing pencil comes in three types: the original Blackwing, the 602 and the Pearl. The original Palomino Blackwing is my favourite as it is velvety and gives me a great range of values/tones. Drawing, like painting, is such a tactile activity and the gliding and luscious nature of these pencils is a pleasure to work with. The Pearl is also very nice and for me it was a toss up between the original and the Pearl. The 602 is designed for writing more than sketching. It has a slightly harder lead that has the advantage of not wearing out as fast, but doesn't give me the same value/tonal range or luscious darks as the others.

I will say that when sketching the Blackwing does wear down quickly, but that is the price you pay for rich darks. You just need to have a pencil sharpener and like Clive Thompson mentions in his talk, the Palomino Blackwing sharpener is a beauty. Never thought I would ever get excited about a sharpener, but I have ... maybe it is just part of getting older.

From top - Palomino Blackwing Sharpener, The 602 (Twice the speed, half the pressure), The Pearl and the original Blackwing

From top - Palomino Blackwing Sharpener, The 602 (Twice the speed, half the pressure), The Pearl and the original Blackwing

So much has been written on-line about these pencils that it is pointless for me cover every aspect of the pencil, so all I will say is give them a go and see what you think.

Using a beautiful pencil like this is not only a pleasure, but I think it gives your drawing the best chance of success (when combined with quality paper).

So if you think your drawing is rubbish, then practise some more to improve your drawing skills or buy a quality pencil like the Blackwing.