Throughout October, we asked four artists who specialise in drawing and illustration to try our drawing materials in their practice. Sarah Dyer, Jessie Pitt, Emma Carlisle and Michael Wann each selected materials they were curious to try, as well as the Jackson’s brand version of the pastel, charcoal, ink, graphite and paint they use regularly. Drawing in nature or in the studio and recording their observations, here is what each artist had to report on Jackson’s materials.
Above image: Sarah Dyer’s drawing from the Shoreham docks using Jackson’s Lay-Flat Hardcover Sketchbook
I’ve been really enjoying drawing by Shoreham docks and there are always amazing pops of fluro there so it seemed like the perfect place to test out Jackson’s handmade soft pastels fluorescent set. The pastels are brilliant, really soft but buttery too, but the colours are ace. I’m just starting out with pastels so I have no idea with what I’m doing but I love them mixed in with my other materials. I’m used to unison pastels, but after this will order some other colours to try out too.
The Jackson’s Lay-Flat Hardcover Sketchbook is great – it opens up really flat which I like on location as I often use the full page and hate it when the gutter gets in the way. The paper is thick enough for my needs – using mainly pencil, Tombow, pastels and Neocolour but I’m not sure it would take too much paint, maybe a light wash. I haven’t worked back to back though as my marks show too much through the page. But I’d order again as they are excellent value.
About Sarah Dyer
Sarah Dyer is a picture book maker and illustrator living in Hove on the South Coast with her husband and three children.
She enjoys working outside on location for reference and colour which feeds back into her book work. The freedom of experimenting and mark marking on location has recently become an important part of her creative practice.
In between writing and illustrating Sarah attends festivals and schools to carry out events and workshops and is a visiting lecturer on the Foundation and BA illustration courses at Kingston University.
Jackson’s Clutch Pencil Leadholder: I like using a reusable lead holder. It is not as fine as a pencil, but you can sharpen the lead to a finer point if needed. I use graphite to draw in the first stages of an artwork. This holder is light, and has nice grip. I use graphite over charcoal for rock details at the moment as I like the lighter tones it creates.
Jackson’s Charcoal Powder: This year I have been using charcoal powder in all my recent artworks. I use it as a base layer, but also for finer more detailed parts. Jackson’s powdered charcoal is very fine and easily mixed with water as I use it. It can also be used dry depending on the effect you are trying to achieve.
Jackson’s Artist Acrylic Paint, Titanium White: I use acrylic both watered down, as well as requiring it to be opaque when I require it. The Jackson’s acrylic works both ways quite well, it has a full body and would be perfect for impasto techniques as well as finer lighter tones. Used thicker it leaves a glossy finish.
Jackson’s Indian Ink: Is a really nice smooth running ink, great for all tones. I use it as a layer in this painting creating darker but transparent shadow tones and it worked really well. What I really like about using ink as apposed to watercolour, is the really deep dark tones you can achieve, I find ink really versatile. It is a warm black.
Jackson’s Akoya Sythentic Brushes: I personally like using synthetic brushes, and require them to be a good mix of a stable stiffness, not too soft, but fine. For the finer details I found these brushes worked very well.
About Jessie Pitt
Jessie studied Visual Art at TAFE after finishing school completing an Associate Diploma of Visual Art, majoring in Printmaking.
Her artwork is inspired by the natural environment, the wild places untouched or seemingly untouched by human hands; inspired from earth itself. This connection to nature is something that she feels strongly and believes is important to rediscover within ourselves in a time where the environment and humanity are at risk. As a result, her current series of artworks explores connection, humanities connection to the earth and memory. Time features strongly. It is fleeting, never ending, reoccurring, heavy. We are all just moments, like rain drops in an ocean. But we are part of, and connected to what has been before and what will be in the future. This is symbolised through the circle of sticks, and the birds. Through mountains timelessness, strength and peace.
Jessie lives, and has spent much of her life in the mountains, and this is where her inspiration from nature originates. Through the changing moods, the winds that blow, a bird’s cry, in the storms, the light, the silence, the flowing water of the rivers, the snow.
Her current works are painted/drawn on unstretched canvas predominantly, that she deliberately crumples to add texture. Giving them a natural and free look without constraints. Using various mediums such as graphite, charcoal, ink and acrylic combining both painting and drawing techniques to build up the artworks in layers.
Jessie is working/exhibiting internationally. Countries that she has exhibited in are England, Australia, Austria, Italy, France, Germany, Spain. She has artwork in private collections throughout Europe, Australia, and the USA.
I purposefully chose autumnal colours and products which would give me a good range of textures and things I could take out on location with me.
Jackson’s Softcover Sketchbook and Jackson’s Lay-Flat Hardcover Sketchbook: I’m a fussy sketchbook user but I got really woo’d by the shape of these. It was nice to compare the two types (the cheaper paperback and the more expensive flat lay) however they both struggled a bit with the amount of materials I threw at them.
Jackson’s Soft Pastels: loved these! I saw Sarah Dyer had been using them in her recent work and I love them. You can smoosh them, blend them, they’ll work over most materials, you can make them wet and do a wash. They also had the nicest colour range too! Would recommend.
Jackson’s Drawing Ink: I already use this and I recommend it to my students when they’re starting to experiment with materials as it’s a good price and you can use it in lots of different ways.
Jackson’s 8B Graphite Lead and Lead Holder: the only material on their site which I could find to make lines with. It’s a shame that Jackson’s don’t have a pencil range. This was nice but I prefer something more matt to draw with. This had a shine to it but did layer nicely over all the other materials.
Jackson’s Charcoal Powder: You get LOADS of this, not sure I’ll ever finish it. Similar to the soft pastels, you can do quite a lot with it and I liked mixing it with the acrylic to give a bit of extra texture.
Jackson’s Artist Pigment: Loved this, the colour was SO intense and you could get quite a lot of different effects from it, I chose Mars Orange but I’ve got my eye on a few others – Potters Pink and Green Earth look amazing.
About Emma Carlisle
Emma Carlisle is an artist and illustrator living by the sea in Plymouth, Devon.
In 2018 she realised her work was no longer making her happy and made the decision to rediscover her visual language. She gave herself time to develop and since then has filled sketchbooks with landscapes inspired by Devon and Cornwall.
This exploration of work has led to working experimentally on large canvas pieces which still capture a sense of narrative with small details. She loves to experiment with materials, colours and textures and she shares art tips and advice on Instagram as well as her Patreon page.
Emma also lectures two days a week on the illustration course at the University of Plymouth.
The return to studio work following surgery on torn tendons in my drawing arm has been slow. So it was exciting and challenging to receive art materials from Jacksons and to begin thinking about drawing again. As a full time professional artist I am used to working every day, and as it turns out most of my thoughts are seen through the lenses of drawing, as a daily and vital activity. And as is familiar to us all by now, the pandemic has disrupted all elements of life, bringing challenge and change to every aspect of our days. I often think I am extremely lucky to have a love of drawing in my life, to be able to express myself through it in a way that often times words cannot convey.
My first drawing is of a crossroads on a backroad on the way out to the sea for a swim. High cloud and the deep shadows of the hedgerow dominate the composition and compel me to capture, to think, to begin to draw. The car is warm in the sunlight, and my drawing arm is stiff and a little sore; there’s a natural excitement when embarking on any type of sketching for me, as my eye and hand begin to focus, and the varying elements of the view start to embed themselves in my brain. And this time further trepidation, as it’s the first time I’ve tried to draw since the surgery nine weeks ago.
I’m used to a smoother hot-pressed paper; this is medium grain paper which is a little rougher, making the more detailed aspects challenging to capture. But the 8B graphite lead glides beautifully across the paper and its interesting to note that even with the extra soft dark tones of the 8B graphite it’s still possible to make the lightest of touches in the preliminary marks of the drawing. The paper is heavy though, with beautiful rough edges, and as the drawing proceeds and inhibition lessens and the eye for shadow and form emerge, it’s clear it’s heavy enough to withstand sustained work, or as I sometimes think, to take a good beating.
Sketching in this way is loose and free, I must allow for error and constantly re-work, all the marks and cross hatchings slowly combining to form the whole. It’s initially frustrating or even daunting using a different paper; the comfort zone of familiar materials is mostly a good thing. But with perseverance I can feel things loosening, that necessary relaxing in the eye and the hand as the drawing starts to deviate from the path of a preliminary sketch into a more established or determined piece of work that has potential to be it’s own thing, to breathe all by itself.
I’ve taken a load of snaps on my phone, and often find it easy to sit in my car wherever I find myself and make small doodle drawings in an A5 sketchbook of the things I see around me. These sketches and notes form a vital aspect of my practice. Back in the studio the desk is covered with hundreds of back-up photos and sketches, and my brain is often muddled and unclear as to what to work on next. But all these notes and thoughts and sketches form the backbone to my work. My fascination with an everyday landscape and the simple drama in the ever-changing weathers that dominate it.
About Michael Wann
Michael Wann is a contemporary visual artist who’s work is exclusively drawing based. His work has been selected for the Royal Hibernian Academy’s Annual Exhibition since 2004, where in 2006 he was awarded the AXA Insurance Drawing Prize and in 2016 the ESB Sean Keating Prize and RHA Silver Medal.
In 2010 Hughie O’Donoghue selected Michael’s work for the Tom Caldwell Drawing Prize and the Rowel Friers Perpetual Trophy at the Royal Ulster Academy’s 129th Annual Exhibition.
In 2013 he was awarded a merit prize by the trustees of the Golden Fleece and in 2019 his work was selected for exhibition in New York by the U.S. branch of the Florence Academy. His work forms part of public and private collections in Ireland, U.K., France, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
Use or search the Instagram tag #forthosewholovetodraw to see more.