(Excerpts from ART HARDWARE: The Definitive Guide to Artists’ Materials, by Steven Saitzyk © 1987)
The return of representational images to contemporary artwork has stimulated an unparalleled interest in all types of drawing materials. In an effort to profit from this resurgence, several manufacturers have developed new materials for drawing. Some of the effects that can be created with these products have resulted in a blurring of the boundary between painting and drawing. Yet, the general principles remain the same whether the drawing material is in a form that is dry, waxy, or wet. Dry drawing materials, such as charcoal, depend entirely on the texture of the ground. Their overall appearance is reflected by the pattern, or lack of it, that is present in the surface texture. Bits of drawing material are rubbed off, just as sandpaper scrapes off bits of wood, and are trapped within the surface and held there. These collected bits of dry drawing material can be brushed off easily if they are not fixed with a gum or resin. Waxy drawing materials, like crayons and oil pastels, are not so easily brushed off because of the wax binder. Wet drawing materials often have the advantage of a resin binder and the ability to soak into a surface. But whether wet, waxy, or dry, all drawing materials depend on the nature of the surface for their overall appearance. It is this fact that has led many artists to study, often for months and sometimes for years, various grounds and their finishes in a effort to find the one that best reflects their vision.