Portraits with Water Soluble Graphite -Kirsten

Hello again creative tribe! I am bringing it back to basics for this post. I recently got my hands on a set of water-soluble graphite pencils by Faber-Castell. There are five pencils and a paintbrush included. The five pencils range in hardness from HB (like a regular #2 pencil) up to 8B (soft and dark). They are divine to work with.

A little history....back in college my go to art supplies were pencils, charcoal and pens. I loved to doodle and sketch. I would get lost in the details of a composition and spend lots of time adding textures and shadows. I drew a lot of faces. Mostly self portraits but also funky ones from my imagination. Faces are endlessly fascinating to me with all their variations. Even though I like to play with mixed media I tend to take a break and just draw. I keep it simple, keep it monochromatic and let the magic happen.

For this little face I started in my Dylusions art journal on a page that I had previously gessoed. (Just a light layer applied with an old key card.) You can use these pencils on an un-gessoed surface but I like the extra workability I get from the gesso base.

Loosely sketching with the HB pencil I establish the head shape. Sometimes I start my faces with the nose and go out from there but this time I started with a U shape for the face. Once all the features were to my liking I took a softer pencil like the 2B or the 4B and put the shadows in. Grabbing a wet paintbrush or even a Koi Water Brush I painted over my lines and watched as the graphite began to blend and darken. I was able to pull out more shadows and create some really beautiful shades of gray.

While the surface was still wet I went back in with the 8B pencil and drew right on the wet paper. What a dark smooth line it made! The pencil line even bled a little into the wet paper. My little texture-lovin' heart went pitter pat at all the different ways I could create texture with just a few pencils, a brush and a cup o' water.

When my drawing was dry I used the 6B pencil and added more shadows around the face. I did not add water this time as I liked how the texture of the paper made such a nice complement to the smooth texture made by adding water.

I hope if you have not yet tried water-soluble drawing pencils that you take a leap and go for it. Keep it simple and just play. Get lost in the details and experiment with textures and shadows. Layer the graphite and watch the magic happen.

Happy Creating!




Lisa Cousineau
Lisa Cousineau

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