Tuesday, September 4, 2012


I was always intrigued by the strange combination of red color particularly reddish browns, with a dash of black and white, found in the drawings of the Masters. These were drawings, either exploratory sketches or detailed studies, for a more grand painting that would follow. But these in themselves are works of art.

Leonardo's study for The Last Supper - Sanguine

The material used was Sanguine. Its a red chalk naturally available in Italy, and the name means its the color of blood. Sometimes just the red chalk was used and sometimes along with black, to create accents, and a bit of a tonal range. 

Leonardo's Roaring Horse - Sanguine and Black

and sometimes with black and white (known as Trois Crayon technique - Three crayons!), for a still wider range to define form. 

Watteau Jeune - Sanguine, Black and White
While in a pursuit for a drawing pencil that would neither smudge like charcoal, nor be shiny like graphite, yet produce pitch black, and with a smooth traction on a nicely toothed paper, I recently discovered some amazing materials, thanks to my friends at The Sketching Forum.

All of them were available from the amazing Austrian company Cretacolor. (There is similar set of products from possibly its parent(?) Koh-I-Noor)

A beautiful black oil based carbon pencil, the Nero that comes in several hardness. I got the Soft and Extrasoft and am amazed.

A dark and light Sepia set, again oil based, which produces a rich deep brown in two tones.

And then, this amazing Sanguine! this is the pencil that I have fallen in love with. amazing consistency, and color.

One must note that these also come in dry chalk version, its a personal choice, and I prefer the oil.

To top this all, these pencils, also come as leads with a whopping 5.6 mm diameter (yes, you heard it right, its not .56 mm) !

..and.. there comes a solid metallic holder which is the magic wand. There is one particular version , the Classic, which is triangular, and has a solid grip, the whole holder is so comfortable and gives such a great feel, it changes the whole approach to drawing. The weight of the holder allows for some amazing use. 

So .... here is my drawing rig.. (1) Sanguine oil lead in the Classic holder, this is used for building forms primarily with a tonal application and (2) the Nero pencils for accentuating... and a paper with teeth! (occasionally I use the Sepias and the white). 

This setup has literally put me back on the "drawing" board. Of all the mediums and materials, this basic setup has brought drawing back into focus, and I am loving it!.


KravMaga SreeRam said...

Where do you get art materials like this? I found a small shop on LB road, Adyar. Is there any other shop?
I suggest the below blog for u..some amazing insights.
Great writing, Sir! keep it going

Ganapathy Subramaniam said...

Thank you for the comment and the pointer to GurneyJourney!

For Art supplies in Chennai, I have found best place to be the one in Royepettah, called Hindustan Trading Co. I think its been there for more than 50 years..plenty of different materials.. the place to hang around , picking up random things, and help burn a hole in the pocket :)

Of late there are few good online stores supplying art materials in India, You can check out http://yesgrid.com