Pen and ink is a great medium. I love the precision of fine lines, of cross-hatching for shading. In a journal, pen and ink looks both artistic and scholarly. Pen and ink with watercolor pencil washes make me happy.
When I draw with pen and ink, I start with pencil. Because I need to erase a lot.
Most pen and ink classes I’ve taken talk about blending in your mistakes, or keeping the drawing “loose.” With a pencil, you can move from rough sketch to inking by using a pencil and eraser first, learning as you go along. Try something, erase it, fix it, change it, re-do it. My must-have, go-to tool is an eraser.
When I teach, I see people frown and say, “I made a mistake,” which baffles me. Of course you make mistakes, you are experimenting, trying ideas until you get to what you want. That’s not a mistake, it’s working toward an goal. It’s creation. And that works if you are writing, dancing, or singing. I might add that there is so far no eraser for dancing or singing.
An eraser is handy when drawing packages with twine, vines, or anything with perspectives or that overlaps. Erasers are a tool that help you get to the final image. Stop thinking in terms of “mistake.” Erasers help us complete the work we start, to capture the image we want.
Knowing about erasers means choosing the one that works for your art.
I’m a fan of white plastic erasers that don’t chew up the page and erase cleanly.
I love kneaded erasers because they keep my hands busy and pick up large areas of graphite really well. I also hate them because you can’t put them near anything plastic, or the eraser will melt the plastic. No idea why.
I love electric erasers that work on detail and are charming for fast work in
Eraser get round and you need an edge? Slice the round part off with a craft knife and you have a new edge. They are inexpensive.
Tired of eraser dust? Buy a big paintbrush–housepainting size, and sweep the dust away. Don’t blow on your artwork, particularly not if you have been eating chocolate or drinking coffee. A stray spray of spit can mark the page.
Best of all, you can also carve up an eraser and make your own rubber stamps. So indulge in that extra eraser. You won’t regret it.
—Quinn McDonald loves erasers and the freedom of creative work they encourage.
12 thoughts on “Favorite Tool: Eraser”
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Sigh. I would much prefer that you summarize the article and post a link. Using the whole article, even with a link, is a violation of copyright. And it makes me cranky.
Mistakes = miss-takes. Can you imagine a baby falling on it’s bottom and saying “I made a mistake in balancing myself . . . I won’t try that again!”
I love that idea–it gets me through many a “why didn’t I see THAT coming” in the studio!
Tha’s a really good point! 😀
Bravo! As you know from some of my workshops, I think the eraser is the most freeing art tool there is, and have never understood its vilification, or the fact that people consider it a “crutch”. Combined with loose, sketchy pencil drawing, it turns your inner critic into your “inner guide”. If you know you made a “mistake”. that means you must know where the right line belongs or you wouldn’t know it was a mistake! So, sketchy drawing and redrawing with your pencil and listening to your inner guide about when to use your eraser means you get just the drawing you want every time. Then, if you go to ink, you can erase all traces of your “journey”. My very favorite eraser is the soft, white Magic Rub – very inexpensive too.
I have never heard of an electric eraser. Will have to look those up.
Staples used to carry a version of it–battery powered. Here’s the one from Dick Blick (also battery powered) http://tinyurl.com/mdxzgqj
Thank you, that looks interesting. I always draw my pictures with pencil before adding the ink to them. This looks like it would be another fun item to use.
Automatic erasers are so much fun when you are doing reductive art work. They really get the details down.
I think I need to take an art class sometime soon. I haven’t had one since I graduated college in 1999. There is so much out there that is new and looks so fun. I need to relearn the techniques and lingo.
Maybe not. Taking a class is one thing, but I’m sometimes put off by the length of the supply list. I’m doing this back to basics thing.