The bottom one really isn’t usable any longer, but I can’t quite bring myself to bin it. Soft graphite pencils need frequent sharpening, so they don’t last long. But they are much nicer to write and draw with. In 2018 Patrick Brill wrote in an obituary in the Guardian for his mother, the artist Deirdre Borlase:
I asked her recently what the secret to a good life was. She replied: ‘Get a good pencil, a 2B or a 3B, not an HB … they are for architects.’
In 2019, under his art-name Bob and Roberta Smith, Brill and his family of artists – his wife Jessica Voorsanger, and their daughter Etta Voorsanger Brill – used Borlase’s advice as the title of a show for the Royal Academy, ‘a sort of family effort’, a homage to Borlase and other women artists. The introductory video has some nice pondering on pencils.
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