Kum Long-Point Pencil Sharpener

KumSharpenerThis is my new toy and it is quickly becoming a favorite.  The Kum “long-point” sharpener is just plain KEWL!  It solves so many problems for those of us who like to use pencils and need a portable solution to sharpening them.

While there are many portable sharpeners on the market, most of them produce a really stubby point that I don’t find satisfactory for sketching.  I like nice, long points, like I get from my old ‘school’ sharpener that’s attached to the wall of my office.

 

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The Kum sharpener provides a long point by using a two-step process.  There is one ‘sharpener’ that removes only the wood, exposing a length of lead (graphite/clay).  Then, you stuff the pencil into a second sharpener that sharpens the lead to a nice, long point.  It’s almost magical.

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Isn’t that great?  If that’s all it did it would be the best $5.60 I’ve ever spent, but this is like the TV commercials….there’s more.

2mmThis sharpener will sharpen 2mm and 3.2mm leads.  I’d nearly abandoned my collection of 2mm pencils simply because I couldn’t find a solid, portable sharpening solution for them.  They used to make really tiny versions of the standard sharpener that would sharpen them but I haven’t found anyone selling those anymore, probably because all draftsmen have long ago moved on to using AutoCAD or SolidWorks.  But the Kum sharpener does a great job on my 2mm pencils.  I don’t have any 3.2mm pencils but I assume they’d work as well as there are nearly identical sharpeners on opposite sides of the device.

If you need to sharpen pencils on location, take a serious look at the Kum sharpener.  It may be the best $5.60 you ever spent too.  If you don’t need to sharpen 2mm or 3.2mm leads, you can even get one without those features for $4.10.  Both of these prices are from Jet Pens, which is where I got my sharpener.  BTW, the pencils in the photos are Blackwing 602s, my favorite wooden pencil.

Sketching on 12/12/12

Yesterday I had a lunch appointment and as I walked home from it I passed a bright yellow pizza place.  Have you ever done anything goofy for a goofy reason?  Maybe I’m alone in that combination.  It occurred to me that it was 12/12/12, a rather unique date and that I should sketch something.  But, this was one of the odd times when I didn’t have my sketching stuff with me.  Besides it was cold.  Still, as I continued walking I couldn’t get the pizza parlor out of my mind.

By the time I got home, all sense of rationality had left me.  “It’s only 10 minutes back to that place,” I said to myself.  “I’ll work fast and it’s not really that cold.”  I grabbed my sketching bag, threw half a dozen Tombow markers that I thought would I’d need into the bag along with a waterbrush.  Off I went.

It was nuts and I’ve never sketched a building so fast.  It’s certainly not my best sketch and somewhat wonky.  I used the Tombow pens to color it at lightning speed.  and then got out the waterbrush to add some sky color by wicking color from a Tombow pen onto the waterbrush.  I made a mistake and swiped some red from the sign into my sky.  I liked this little “happy mistake” so I did it some more.  This adds to the wonkiness of my 12/12/12 sketch but I liked it.

I liked it better, though, when I got home and got a cup of hot tea in my hands.  It’s definitely too cold for me to sketch outdoors anymore this year.  Have you done anything this crazy in the name of sketching?

The sketch was done in a Stillman & Birn Alpha (10×7) sketchbooks, using a Kaweco Classic Sport (fine) and Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink.  As mentioned, Tombow pens were used for color.

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My Very Own Artistic License!

Brenda Swenson is one of my favorite online artists.  This is mostly because she has one foot in the fine art world and another in the sketching world.  She’s written books on both.  So, while she understands what I’m doing as an urban sketcher, she also brings a wealth of talent from her fine art and so while I’ve never had opportunity to take one of her classes, I’ve learned a lot from studying her art.

But Brenda brings something else to the table… imagination and a penchant for helping new sketchers and artists.  And from those things came her “75-Day Challenge”, where you create one sketch, every day, for 75 days.  The only rule is that  and you use only pen to do it (no pencil; no erasing).  You can add color using anything you want but the sketch must be drawn in ink.  This isn’t the imagination part though, as she says she went through the challenge long ago as part of her training as an artist.  She claims that if you do this challenge you’ll ‘see’ better as an artist.

She knows people, however.  She knows that we’re like the donkey with the carrot hung out in front of his nose; we need motivation.  And from her imagination came the notion of the Artistic License.  This isn’t that mystical kind of artistic license that we simply means we took liberties with our subject(s).  This is the cold, hard physical kind of license – like your driver’s license.  You can show it to the cops if you’re caught sketching too fast.

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And I’ve just received mine because I’ve recently completed the 75-Day Challenge.  Best of all, it came enclosed in a Christmas card that featured a Swenson original and that is cute as can be.  Thanks Brenda.

SwensonXmas I had fun doing this challenge.  Do I ‘see’ better because I used pen only?  My view is that anytime you create 75 sketches you improve.  In my case, I don’t think the pen-only thing did much for me, mostly because almost all my sketching is done with pen, though I normally start a sketch with some basic pencil lines.  But this challenge got me to try a bunch of different pens and work in a smaller size (I chose to do the whole challenge in a 3×5 notebook).  I also did a few sketches that weren’t done on location and that was fun too.  So I feel I know a lot more than when I started and I think that was the goal.  Besides… did I mention that I now have my very own artistic license?

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I’ve included a few of the sketches I did during the challenge.  You can see all 75 of them, however, on my Flickr page.  If you’re interested in the challenge, here’s Brenda’s Challenge.   I encourage you to give it a try.

Fun At The Musée De La Civilisation

Tuesdays are “free Tuesday” at the Musée de la civilisation in Quebec City.  I’m a member but it’s still sort of a special day as there’s a hustle and bustle in the museum that is lacking when I go during most weekday mornings.  Besides, some of my friends show up on Tuesdays, which is always nice.

Today Yvan, Bethann, and Nicolas were there and with so many sketcher shoulders to look over, I spent more time watching than sketching.  It’s said that to learn to draw you need to do it.  That’s certainly true but I learn a lot by watching others ‘do’ as well.

Because of all my sketcher gawking, I only completed one sketch today.  Most of my sketches are done with pen but I’m trying to learn to use a pencil.  I confess to being mostly lost when it comes to shading with these graphite spitters but here’s a sketch of the head of one of Joe Fafard‘s painted bronze statues.  The horse’s name is Vermear, according to the plaque that accompanies the statue and he was very cooperative, not moving a muscle during the entire session.

The sketch was done with a .7mm mechanical pencil in a Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook.

 

Where The Dogs Run In Quebec City

The keepers of Quebec City have a sense of humor, or so it seems.  On every tourist map there is a pointer to Passage du Chiens, or Dog Passage and people flock to see it.  Well, maybe not flock as it’s down the street from lots of other stuff and they simply see it as they pass by.

But there it is, complete with official street sign – Passage du Chiens.  It is a passageway to a road/parking area for residents who live in the area and whose house fronts on a ‘street’ that is no longer a street but rather a walkway for pedestrians.  And the Passage du Cheins does sit between two art galleries that are quite photogenic and so many photos are taken of the spot.  I suspect dog lovers get a kick out of showing it to their friends.

Towards the end of our outdoor sketching season I was wandering around, trying to get in some last minute plein air sketching, and I decided to sketch this famous landmark.  The sun was bright, which was great because the temps were just above freezing.  Before I finished, though, the sun had moved behind the buildings, shading the entire area.  This, and the fact that I’d been sitting for an hour caused me to be quite cold so I quickly snapped this photo and moved on to find more sunny ground.

And then I completely forgot about the sketch, until today.  I decided it was time to add some color and this was the result.  Hope you like it.  It was done in a Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook (10×7) and a Pilot Prera pen filled with Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink.