I have in my possession well over a hundred coloured pencils, stored in various tins and boxes, kept sharpened to fine points, regrettably unused for the past three years. I have been collecting pencils for years, having an especial liking for the different greys and for those which have the names of colours painted on the shaft.
On a snowy afternoon in January I select four grey pencils from one of the tins - what I think of as cloud pencils; indeed one of them bears the words cloud grey, another the word storm. The pencils are made of cedar, the scent of the exposed wood is almost intoxicating, I am tempted to sharpen one further just to intensify the resonant exotic odour.
The pencils are by Derwent of England, and are members of their Graphitint range; made of water-soluble graphite and coloured pigment, although it was my habit to use them in their dry state. They are beautiful drawing instruments, of a glossy, metallic mid-grey, their provenance, colour name and number printed in white along the length of the shaft. They feel lovely in the hand, smooth, perfectly balanced, so that holding them is close to being pleasurably therapeutic, evoking memories of their use in previous drawings. To handle the pencils thus is a conscious play on my part to approach the making of cloud drawings once more, to become involved again in a process which held great meaning for me, and which began at a time when I was otherwise at a loss as to how to proceed with my practice.