A New Sketching Kit

A New Sketching Kit

I’ve gone and done it. I bought a new sketching kit for graphite drawing.

Actually, it’s the first sketching kit I’ve ever purchased.

Since I began artistic life as an oil painter and have been using colored pencils exclusively for the last several years, you might be wondering why I’ve decided to do graphite drawing. The reason is simple.

My experience with the sketching challenge I did in 2020 and 2021 was geared primarily to colored pencils, but I also did a few graphite sketches when I didn’t have colored pencils nearby.

Then in October 2022, I went to Michigan for a couple of weeks. I took colored pencils and a project with me, but quickly learned that they weren’t at all useful for sketching while in flight. So I pulled out one of the pencils I keep in my purse and was happily occupied for most of that flight.

A New Sketching Kit
Above the Clouds, Graphite. Not bad for a basic mechanical pencil.

One of the things I really enjoyed was the ease with which I could create a wide range of values. Being able to so easily erase also made adding highlights very simple. I decided then and there (before the plane landed) to get a graphite kit of some kind for traveling.

But there is another reason for my purchase; an oil painter from New Zealand, Andrew Tischler. He paints the most breath-taking landscapes I’ve ever seen. But he also has a series of videos called Sketch Endeavor, which I’ve been watching for some time. His drawings have made me want to learn to do the same thing.

So when I ordered good drawing paper for sketching, I also came across a really handy-looking sketching kit. I remembered my in-flight sketches from last year, and decided, “why not?”

My New Sketching Kit

The order arrived last week and it’s better than I expected.

It contains two graphite pencils–one HB and one 2B–six blending stumps (also known as tortillions), a kneaded eraser, and a two-hole sharpener. It also has a sanding paddle (that’s the large shape on the right.) There are also extra pockets for pencils, so I can add other pencils if I like.

It’s all contained in a very nice zippered canvas pouch, so it’s perfect for field work and travel, as well as in-studio work.

I bought it through Dick Blick for only $15.71, if you’re interested.

My latest “toy”. A pencil blending kit, which I plan to use for sketching at home and away from home.

I haven’t had much time to use it yet. This is the week for finishing up the next issue of CP Magic! magazine, so that’s the priority.

But I did make one sketch last week and have since done another.

Here are the first two. They’re 4 x 6 inches on an 8-1/2 x 11 inch piece of white Canson Mi-Teintes. I bought the paper in a pack of 25-sheets just for the purpose of sketching like this.

I’ve already learned one thing. Canson Mi-Teintes is great for colored pencil, but not so great for graphite.

Long-term Sketching Goals

My long-term sketching goals are not very well-developed as I write these words, but I know one thing. I would like to begin sketching landscapes in graphite as often as possible. I haven’t done much landscape painting with colored pencils the last several months, and part of me hopes that sketching compositions might get me started on that again.

Even if it doesn’t, there’s the hope that graphite sketching might at least help me draw more regularly. It will most certainly improve my drawing skills, and that will help me with colored pencil portraits.

And who knows? Maybe graphite portrait work is a possibility down the road.

Sign up for Carrie’s free weekly newsletter and be among the first to know when she publishes new articles.


  1. Kim Vlahovich

    Carrie, I think that those pencil sketches are great! I really like the subtle tones that you are getting with this new graphite kit. Any of them would look great in a nice small frame.
    Actually, I rather like the effect that you are getting using the Canson paper. I would be curious to see what a very light, subdued colored pencil glaze applied over top, would look like. I did a sketch of a friends house some time ago, and applied a similar technique and it looked rather interesting, almost giving it a vintage colored post card effect. This inspires me to crack open my recently purchased mechanical pencil set and give it a go as well. Truly inspirational Carrie! Thanks for showing us your beautiful work.

    1. Kim,

      Thank you.

      I did a sketch earlier this week in the Arteza Hard Cover drawing pad I have. Sketching was much easier because the paper was more “welcoming” to graphite.

      But after that, I went back to the Canson and did a smaller sketch. It turned out when I added a 6B to the sketching kit, so I think the difficulty was the hardness of the pencils, not the paper. My plan now is to do a few sketches with just a 6B pencil and see what happens.

      Thank you again for taking the time to comment, and for your suggestion. If I were to glaze color over graphite, I would have to seal the graphite with a workable fixative. I have a workable fixative, but need to wait until the weather is warm enough to do this work outside.

      I’ll let you know how that turns out if I give it a try.

  2. Gail Jones

    Hi Carrie, you are working on what I need to improve on, as well. My hope is to have my hand surgery this summer and get into Phil Davies “Draw Awesome” course next year. I want to improve my freehand drawing in general and landscapes more specifically. More graphite practice is something I want to do to help me in this goal. I like your sketches. They are very nice looking.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *