Classic art school training teaches that when drawing with pencils – be it pastel, colored pencil, charcoal or graphite – you need to use a long sharp point. This is also true when sharpening charcoal, pastel or graphite sticks. Some people are hesitant or refuse to do so because they want to be frugal and do not want to waste a lot of the media in sharpening and sanding it to a long sharp point. This is understandable; however, pencils or sticks are not that expensive.
People who are hesitant to “waste” media by sharpening properly, tend to be hesitant and “tight” when they draw, instead of being fluid and loose. If an individual chooses to not sharpen their pencils in the classic drawing manner, they will be limiting themselves in what they can do with that pencil or stick. Below are some reasons that artists should work with long sharp points on a pencil or stick.
• It encourages a lighter touch (so point does not break) when drawing or layering.
• Sketching lightly allows easier erasure of unwanted lines or tones.
• You can use the point or an angle to get different width of strokes.
• By drawing with the pencil held correctly, the point will actually last longer.
• It allows for a more fluid movement when sketching.
Art schools and ateliers have been teaching this classic mecthod of using a long sharp point for centuries to give artists a more effective drawing tool and the drawing techniques it allows. Once you start using a long sharp point and experiment with what you can do with it, you may never go back to a short point. Below is a link to a video by Sadie Valerie that shows the correct way to sharpen a pencil. Happy drawing!