My favourite saying is “Just show up at the table and the rest will take care of itself”. So I thought I’d give you a guided tour of the table that I show up to.
Before i even get to my table I’ve usually got my ideas brimming and ready to go. The way that I record my ideas is I use a sketchbook. I have several sketch books laying around the house. I keep a really special sketchbook beside me in the lounge room so that when I sit down in the morning ready to have a cup of coffee and relax in the lounge I can just grab my little sketch book and record any ideas that have come to me overnight.
If I get a really exciting idea in the middle of the night I use a little clip on light that I can attach that to my sketchpad.
It’s really important to record those ideas before we get to the table because once we finally show up here we really do want to have something; an idea ready to go.
I use my ‘Sketch and Store’ notepad for ideas and to remind myself of the things that I’ve thought about during the night or while I’m sitting relaxing in the lounge room.
I really love the ‘Derwent Sketch and Store’ pad because it’s got a wonderful little piece of elastic (around the outside) that secures it and keeps it nice and neat. Its got a really hard beautiful bound cover and it opens really nicely because of the large spiral bound edge.
I also really like this secret compartment at the back. It’s a little pocket and I can store things in there. Often I keep a little sticky notepad just for ideas, and I can stick those inside my pad, and keep my pencil and eraser in there as well. It’s a handy little thing when you’re out and about.
If you’re sketching out in the field and you find a feather or a special leaf, or an object that you would like to study afterwards back in the studio, you can store it inside that pocket. So, I love this little’Sketch and Store’ pad and I have multiple of these just laying around the place ready to sketch in.
All my equipment, ready for drawing with graphite pencil
So, I’ve come to my artists table with my sketchpad, with my ideas all ready to go, and the most important thing when I show up
is that I like my equipment to be ready and in place for me.
I’m going to show you the setup that I usually have for graphite pencil. Often I switch this table setup around and I have different equipment on the table, for example, If I’m using coloured pencil then I’ll have all my coloured pencil equipment setup.
At the moment it’s all set up for graphite, so let’s have a look at what I’ve got here on my table. I have graphite pencils, and these are my favourite for sketching and shading, the ‘Derwent Graphic’ range. I use a 2B, HB and 4B, so I’ve often got several of those sitting on my desk at any time.
My ‘Derwent Super Point’ sharpener is really great for creating nice long sharp tips on my pencils.
A craft knife is really handy because you can also sharpen your pencils a little bit more with that if you want to. If you’re shading, you can use it to cut the sheets from your pad of paper if you are using a paper block.
I love electric erasers because they are really handy to erase into tiny details. I also like a pen eraser. They’re handy to use when you’re erasing small areas too, or when you want to draw with your eraser.
I also have Q-tips (or cotton buds) and paper stumps.
I’ve also got another sharpener and I find this one to be really important because it’s got two holes. It can sharpen my pencils to a really short sharp point and that’s important because at different times I need to have a short sharp point on my pencil.
I have a piece of sandpaper and this is used for preparing my pencils in different ways. I can shave across it. I can use it to create a chisel point stroke and other different strokes. I can also clean my stump with my sandpaper.
A good clear plastic ruler is important and I like to have one that has centimetres and millimetres along the edge.
I also have some kneadable erasers. This is a nice soft one and you can knead it. Just pull a little piece off and use that. I also have a plastic eraser that I keep for erasing larger areas, and then there’s the refills that I use for my electric eraser.
These things are all sitting on my desk and they’ve all got important positions because I like to keep them nice and tidy.
I have a paintbrush as well. This is just for flicking loose particles out the way and keeping my area clean.
A really important thing that I like use is a sheet of Glassine. Just cut a small piece and grab a piece of sticky tape. I just roll the sticky tape up, pop that in the middle of the paper and then stick the piece of Glassine beneath my hand, It’s very handy because it stops my page getting dirty.
I keep quite a few of those spare, and talking about spare items I usually have a tray loaded ready to go with all my spare items which I can grab really easily. Have a look at what I’ve got here.There are so many wonderful things on here. I really feel like a kid in a candy store.
I’ve got spare sheets of sandpaper. I’ve got some spare sheets of Glassine cut up ready to go.
I’ve got some pencils extenders in case my pencil wears down too small, and I can just quickly show you how to use that. You just unscrew it and you put your pencil in there and then you tighten it and then voila, you’ve got a long pencil again, they’re very handy to have.
I’ve got some spare blades here for my craft knife. I have a spare eraser refill for my pen eraser. What else have I got? I’ve got some sticky tape. I’ve got a hair tie even. Hair ties are really important if you’re feeling hot. You can just tie your hair back; That’s if you’ve got long hair.
I’ve got a bull clip. I’ve usually got a few bull clips laying around. These are wonderful little clamps because you can just attach your paper to a piece of board or card if you need to for a firmer surface.
Dividers are really important. You can use those to measure things to scale up or down.
I’ve also got a metal ruler which is great for cutting paper to different sizes with your craft knife. I’ve also got a pair of scissors and an L-Shaped angle.
I’ve got these little tea strainers. Now these are really handy because you can just rub your graphite across them to make graphite powder. Its just an ordinary metal tea strainer (in this case one half of the tea strainer has been removed).
So there’s all sorts of objects that I’ve got on that tray and I keep them up here, out of the way, and I can just grab things from there when I need to.
Another thing that I keep handy in the shelf behind me are my sketch books. Now obviously when you’re drawing in graphite you need some paper to draw on. You can just use ordinary printing paper if you have nothing else on hand, and printing papers also really important for printing out your course notes or any notes you that need to print out, but I find that it’s just a little bit thin for really pleasant drawing, so, what I like to have is a little bit thicker paper and this pad’s really nice, the Derwent Sketching Paper.
I like this pad because it’s a hundred and sixty-five gsm, a hundred and ten pounds and it’s just that bit thicker, it’s also got a little bit more texture and I really like that. I like to have a bit more texture and texture is important when you’re shading, so this paper is actually really good for graphite shading.
Derwent Big Book
Another pad that is really wonderful is the ‘Derwent Big Book’. I love this. It’s basically a bigger version of the Sketch and Store pad, except it doesn’t have the pocket at the back. The reason why I like this book is because it’s great for slower sketching of my ideas once I move to the next stage of idea development, so I’ll draw my initial idea in the Sketch and Store pad, then when I’ve done that I move on this a bigger book to refine my sketching.
I really like Derwent Big Book because again it’s got that lovely hard cover. It’s got a beautiful big spiral binding which is great because you can flip the front cover right around which you can rest on as a hard surface. The pages are beautiful and it’s got that little bit of texture that cartridge paper has.
Saunders Waterford by St Cuthberts Mill
Once I’m ready for my final drawing I move on to high-quality paper. My preferred paper is Saunders Waterford (by St Cuthberts Mill). It’s a beautiful paper. It’s hot press so it’s quite smooth and it comes in a block and you can remove the sheets (using a palette knife or craft knife). I love this paper because of the surface. Its beautiful to use. it has just enough surface texture to hold the grain of the graphite and yet its smooth enough at the same time. It’s nice, thick and just a beautiful paper.
So that’s how I set up my table for drawing. How do you set up yours? If you have any questions about what I’ve set up here on my desk or anything you’ve seen in the video I’d love to hear from you.