If you hang out on Facebook sketching groups you get the impression that if you use a pencil as a precursor to a pen drawing you will be struck down by the art gods, or at least chastised by them. The fact that most of the great artists used them is not pertinent to the case made by Facebook artists.
But I use one… sometimes. I enjoy being able to quickly sketch in some organizational lines, locating major objects, and their relative sizes. It’s during this time that I actually think about what I’m seeing. I evaluate angles. I look at the relationship of one object to another. Where do they intersect, how do three points on the drawing create a locating triangle, curve, or box. These light marks help me to engage my brain. Necessary? The marks, maybe not. The brain engagement, most certainly.
I use 2H lead for this so the lines are very light but they’re enough for me to ‘see’ whether I’ve got the proportions right, or at least close. If necessary, and it generally isn’t, I’ll use a kneaded eraser after I’ve done the ink sketch to remove these guidelines. I don’t carry a regular eraser as I don’t seem to need one. If I did, I’d use it proudly.
Today, though, I’m not here to discuss technique but rather to talk about a truly wonderful mechanical pencil, the Pentel Kerry mechanical pencil. This isn’t your average $3-5 mechanical pencil. The Pentel Kerry is a high-dollar ($20) pencil. You can get one, in a variety of colors, from Jet Pens, one of the best suppliers of pointy devices on the planet.
Why buy an expensive mechanical pencil when there are so many cheap ones? I could get all philosophical about this but, for me, it was to solve a problem. In addition to enjoying my sketching more when I use quality tools, I am a street sketcher and that means I carry my pens clipped inside a bag. This means that two things happen. Sometimes the lead guard, that thin tube that sticks out of mechanical pencils, snags in the bag fabric. It can poke into waterbrushes I have in the same pocket where I clip my pens/pencil. I’ve even had one guard bend.
So, I went looking for a solution and found one. The Pentel Kerry is a beauty. It caps and posts just like a fountain pen and so the lead and its guard are covered. When posted, there is a mechanism in the cap that advances the lead. If you use a pencil’s eraser regularly, however, you may not like this pencil as it’s hard to get the cap off to use it. Until writing this review and doing a detailed search, I just assumed it didn’t have an eraser but it’s there if you can grab the cap with very strong and pointy fingers, or your teeth, to expose the eraser. Not only is there not much to grab but you have to work against the spring action associated with the lead advance mechanism. As I don’t use it, that doesn’t bother me.
So, problem solved… my lead guard is now covered with its cap. Beyond that, this pencil is just a joy to use and to behold. Spending a bit more on a pencil gains more than improved function. It just looks cool. I do find the grip and balance to be comfortable which means that posting its metal cap makes it slightly tail-heavy, allowing for a light touch. It can be bought for .5 or .7mm leads and in half a dozen colors. I chose red as it’s easy to find in my bag as I don’t use any red fountain pens.
Is $20 too much to spend for a pencil? I don’t think so, but then I don’t buy my coffee at Starbucks so maybe I have more money than some to spend on my art supplies (grin).