Reductive drawing

I’d heard of this but not quite taken on its meaning which is, somewhat biblically, to bring light out of darkness, unlike redaction which does the opposite with regard to information you’d quite like to get your eyes on.

My tutor pointed me at Anita Taylor and William Kentridge who both use charcoal as a base from which to pull detail using an eraser, and I found Mark Hufford’s neat demonstration video of his technique.

I’ve used erasers quite a lot in the past and seen them as a drawing tool rather than an instrument for correcting mistakes. But I haven’t really thought of them as the primary implements they seem to be in this method. I have a few: standard Derwent, mini Derwent, battery Derwent, plastic (hard, can’t be moulded but can be washed) and putty which needs quite a lot of warming up before it’s pliable enough to pull and push into points. I have a vague memory of putting these in our bras (sorry fellahs, it’s a girl thing!) to make them usable. Anyone? Not just me?

This is today’s effort. As I’m still wedded to gesso (I’ll get over it, I will), it’s pre-textured which I really really like, and I’ve used mauve pastel just to be awkward.


It’s my usual line up of bottles and crockery – these a bit strung out like a table top illustration of the solar system – and I’m quite taken with the effect. I have some concerns though:

  1. There’s a great deal of dust which feels potentially polluting.
  2. The non-aerosol fixative I’ve been using won’t stabilise this kind of application.
  3. Sandpapering (or in fact just wearing down) the plastic eraser is troubling as it turns a solid into tiny shavings which must surely contribute to the microplastics problem.

At the moment I’m not sure how to deal with these issues, beyond hunting down alternative products, and if anyone reading this has thoughts I would really welcome them. For now I have these links:

I know there must be more and I think they merit a page of their own when I’ve assembled them as this feels like an important area to address.



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