A time lapse of a dogwood blossom macro in colored pencil and the difference a sharpener makes.

My sharpener has been broken for a while, what a pain. My poor Kum sharpener seemed to give up the ghost after I changed the blades, leaving me with a pocket knife. Not the best circumstances but I wanted to keep on going.

Watch the time lapse or skip down for more.

How sharp do they need to be?

dogwood-1I didn’t realize how sharp I needed my pencils to be until I didn’t have a good method to sharpen them. I apparently love to have pretty sharp pencils. The duller they became and the more I struggled to fill in the tooth of the paper and get good coverage. My Kum long point was struggling to sharpen pencils and seemed to break the leads for no reason, so a blade change was in order. Problem was, after changing out the blades, the screw holding the first blade in place didn’t tighten all the way. The blade didn’t stay seated and I couldn’t sharpen my pencils. I resorted to an older Kum sharpener but the point was short and didn’t stay sharp long enough. The search was on for a replacement sharpener.

Is Apsara the one?

I picked up a box of 20 Apsara sharpeners based on some research showing the Apsara yielded a nice long point. And using it I was quite happy that a long point could be achieved on my polychromos. My luminance, on the other hand, didn’t fit into the hole. I did order another sharpener and am impatiently awaiting its arrival as it supposedly will fit the luminance so more on that after it arrives.

Small sizes

dogwood-2Working with pencils that were finally sharp and working in a smaller format, I was able to finish this dogwood blossom in a decent amount of time. Smaller pieces like this are great for learning techniques and feeling good about progress in a short space of time.

Dogwood blossom

I have been working on some smaller pieces to build up a lesson plan for some tutorials. This dogwood blossom is a great small piece with easy to work petals and a harder to work center. I’ll be going through and working more small pieces and start building up the tutorials and all the parts to go with them. This dogwood blossom was relatively easy to work given the fact that the four petals are essentially worked in the same colors. The center was a little more work as the area was so small. Thinking of each section as a little cylinder helps so much with visualizing the form and where the light comes from.

All the pictures are taken under artificial lighting which lends a yellow cast to the picture. The two pictures below show the difference lighting can make when I took another final photo with indirect sunlight.

Supplies Used

  • Cachet 101 mixed media paper
  • Faber Castell polychromos
  • Caran D’arche luminance
  • Gamblin Gamsol
  • Apsara long point sharpener

What is next?

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube. I’m currently working on a pear with leaf. Let me know in the comments what your favorite sharpener is, especially if it works for both luminance and polychromos.


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