Anjali writes; Hi Lisa!

I’m currently taking a Design program in college, and am required to take two drawing classes. They are focused on high-realism, and are meant to be for beginners. Meaning, I have painted before, but before this class I never drew more than a sketch.

My question is about my teacher’s methods. He insists that we don’t use any sort of blending tool while working in graphite, because the layering method, in his words, “takes more skill and helps produce a more realistic drawing.” I’m just wondering how you feel about this, as I can see you do use blending tools along with the majority of youtube artists I have watched. I feel like I can get much better results with a little bit of blending, but he takes marks off for using these tools. Maybe its because I’m a beginner, but I always feel like my work looks extremely chalky and my shading isn’t as smooth when I just use layering. What is your opinion on this?

Thank you so much, I love watching your videos


I have two thoughts on this. First, there are always going to be elitist’s out there that make up rules for creating art then try and force those rules on others saying “this way takes more skill”. It seems like the techniques they claim this about really just take longer to produce. For me, my goals are about the end result, not about the tools I used to get there. If you are happy with the results you’re getting then there is NOTHING wrong with using the tools you like. There is no single right or wrong way to create.  I will give you a tip on blending graphite though without the blending stumps etc. If you’re using a really nice graphite pencil, you can use your harder leads, the lighter H pencils to softly blend the darker/softer leaded pencils.

My second thought on this is that you’re paying to take a class to learn this specific teacher’s methods. Learn everything you can from this teacher. You can work however you like on your own artwork outside of the class, but in the class always do it the teacher’s way. Don’t sit and feel bitter because you don’t agree with their methods, instead soak up every ounce of what they can teach you. That’s what you’re paying them for!! I don’t say this for the obvious reason of getting a good grade, but because the more techniques you learn the better. Right now, learn this teacher’s way, then, later, you can take the parts of their techniques that you did like and apply it to your own. In the end, this will make you an even better artist. The more techniques you are able to pull from your tool chest, the better your art will be in the end!