Paper comes in a great variety of surfaces. Your choice of surface will be an important element in the outcome of your drawing. You should also consider what medium you are going to use —pencil or charcoal —in conjunction with your choice of paper.
A rough surface would accept charcoal more readily than pencil. Charcoal would fill the valleys or "tooth" of the paper without much trouble.
A laid paper gives you an interesting surface of lines running vertically and horizontally; it works well with both pencil and charcoal. Drawings on laid paper reproduce well because of the screen effect.
A vellum with slight texture accepts pencil as well as charcoal, and it gives the finished piece a nice sparkle.
A hot-press paper (smooth) without any tooth would work well with pencil, enabling you to get more detail than with a charcoal pencil.
You have many choices to experiment with, and that's what you should do. Experiment, have fun, make notes; write down the name of the paper you use, as well as your comments on the reaction of your medium on that particular paper.
Claverack Bam is a charcoal drawing on Gutenberg stock. This paper's rough surface lent a nice sparkle to the drawing and helped me capture the feeling of being out in the open field.
White Pine is a charcoal drawing on Fabriano Ingres cover heavyweight stock. Again, I wanted an airy look to this study, which the Ingres paper gave.
For Fallen Pine Study, I was interested in capturing more detail, so I chose a paper with less texture: Strathmore bristol.
Winter Tree Study was an experiment to see if the paper would help me capture the quiet of the woods with snow on the ground. A piece of Arches hot-press water-color paper with a smooth surface provided the feeling I was looking for.
Ravine Farm, 21"x29", charcoal pencils on handmade Japanese (Goyu) paper.
In the following pages, we will look at several different techniques and methods to get you started drawing nature outdoors. Learning to see the many picture opportunities available before you and to choose your subject is part of the challenge of outdoor drawing. Though many of the techniques may be new to you, they will soon become second nature as you begin, with each new outing, to see and capture your discoveries on paper. These are not the only ways to draw, but they are sound steps with which to begin.
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