Viarco is a family-owned Portuguese art supply company. They make the highly-water-soluble graphite stick called Art Graf Stick. It may be my best impulse purchase of the summer.
I’ve used graphite for reductive drawings, and I’ve used liquid graphite, only to discover that it is not my medium. The Art Graf Stick is interesting, easy to use, and fun. I tried it on watercolor paper and Bristol board, both with good results.
Because of its water-solubility, it lays down a love gray wash, smooth and even. A gradient is easy to lay down if you keep enough water on the surface of the paper.
Because of its elongated square shape (9 cm long), it can cover a large surface quickly. But you can also use a corner or an edge to draw with.
It’s soft enough so that harder pressure leaves a thicker line. When the line is blended with water and a brush, the lines flow together. The more water, the lighter the gray. Once dry, re-wetting doesn’t pick up the color like watercolor. Once the color is down, it’s staying there.
I made the painting above by using a wet #4 Teklon watercolor brush stroked against the blunt surface of the graphite stick. To make the shades of gray, I picked up water or blotted on a blank sheet. And I sketched the under-drawing with the stick as well.
The stick can be erased prior to wetting. After the wet portion dries, an eraser picks up some color, but you’ll need an electric eraser (I paid $7 for mine) to make all the graphite disappear.
The stick is versatile and for those of you who love black and white tonal shades, it’s great to work with.
Disclosure: I purchased the stick at Arizona Art Supply.