Drawing media- which is better pen or pencil?

I remember being scared of using pen when I was younger.

Pen’s so permanent, the marks indelible, every error visible, forevermore. Did I mention permanent?

On the other hand, pencil was nice, forgiving…


Oh how that fact was dear to me!

Pencil allowed subtle gradation of line and tone. Pencil could be used quickly on the side, not so easy to do with pen.

Pen was harsh, tonal variation was more difficult… Nasty, ickky pen!

Oh yes, I loved pencils, pencils were my friends. (nodding emphatically)

Give me a pencil anytime!

Slowly, imperceptibly, pen has whittled it’s way into my favour. How?

Firstly at school, I saw clean black lines as I drew with a nibbed pen and Indian ink. Oh how I loved the sheen as ink caught the light. Still scary, but in a “pretty and scary” way, like fire! Pen and ink tended to be a bit messy. It isn’t always convenient when out and about.

Next, I discovered fine line pens such as pilot make. These had nice lines, not like the Indian ink, but still nice.

I began to use them more and finally mastering cross hatching! I’d used it a bit before, but not much so my attempts had always looked pretty erratic. Not long after I discovered Faber Castell do a lovely  drawing pen which uses Indian ink not pigment ink like the others!

I spent a day in London, sketching. I was still using pencil had a great day. However, I returned home to discover my lovely sketch of the Albert Hall in London was smudged.


That’s not too bad, you say. Maybe not. But look at it now!

Albert Hall sketch !

It’s much harder to see! Not a good thing for a working drawing. I’ve used fixative on it which has stopped the deterioration. But it’s already too late to stop the initial damage. Sigh!

But the pen drawings are still crisp and clear. Behold!

image No need to update the image, it has not changed.

Pencil is becoming less of a friend and this feeling increases the more I use a sketchbook. I still like pencil drawings but the tendency to smudge when out in the field has forced me to reassess my preferences.

I now use them almost exclusively when sketching outside. As with these ones.

Sketches of a flower and Bollard

I think I’m getting better!

What can I say?

I LOVE PENS!!!!!!!!!!!!

About CathyReadArt

Artist creating abstract art using mixed media. I believe there should be beauty in art, but sometimes it takes an artist to show others what is truly beautiful.
This entry was posted in ink, landscape, Moleskin, Musings, pencil, sketchbook studies and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Drawing media- which is better pen or pencil?

  1. anne nakis says:

    Lovely drawings. I draw very different sorts of things, and don’t have much native talent for drawing most kinds of things. But even though I can’t erase it, I favor pen. Maybe because my eyesight’s not great anymore and I can see the pen better, as you say.

  2. cat2read says:

    Thank you for your comment. I’ve found recently that it doesn’t matter where you start from. It’s the practice that really matters. You will always improve if you practice regularly!

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