Graphite Paintings

2,503 artworks, 171 artists
Graphite paintings (gr. γρᾰ́φω — write) are works of fine art created on paper or cardboard using a graphite pencil. The pencil lead is composed of the black mineral, clay and wax. Graphite gives softness and colour density, clay gives hardness and brittleness of the material. The human eye distinguishes 150 shades of grey, so artists create complex, detailed and realistic images using graphite, they convey the volume of objects, the play of light and shadow. A graphical sketch is the basis for oil or watercolour paintings, because the technique allows creating a clear, airy and unstable image.

Geologists first discovered the mineral in England in the early 1500s and used it in the defence industry. Artists used graphite to create paintings from the middle of the 16th century: they clamped pieces of mineral between branches and wrapped them with twine. The modern pencil was invented in 1795 by the French scientist Nicolas-Jacques Conté. Since then, a wooden tube with a graphite blend inside has become the most affordable and popular tool for creating paintings. At the end of the 18th century, the English parliament introduced the death penalty for the smuggling of the precious mineral. For centuries, the creators experimented with the composition of the stylus and the proportions of the components, sought to create a cheap and functional product.

Graphite is easily applied on paper and it is easily removed, which makes the material indispensable for beginner artists. The softness of the lead determines the width and depth of the line, colour saturation, mineral consumption and the possibility of the shade distribution on the surface. To create paintings with graphite, artists use the line drawing technique; if necessary, they erase an image with an eraser. Using light moving strokes, fluent lines, shading and a number of other techniques, the artists create paintings of various genres: landscapes and still lifes with a deep perspective and light spots, portraits with detailed drawing of curls or wrinkles, genre paintings with contrasting and expressive movements of the sbjects.

Famous graphite pictures:
The Pancrastinae” 1842, “Christ In The House Of His Parents” 1849 by John Everett Millais; “Slender Trees on a Hill” 1896, “Portrait of Ida” 1898 by Vilhelm Hammershøi; “Gutted Horse” 1917, “Portrait of Leonide Massine” 1919 by Pablo Picasso; “Portrait of Charles Martin Loeffler” 1917 by John Singer Sargent.

Famous artists:
John Singer Sargent, Pablo Picasso, Cuno Amiet, John Everett Millais, Ivan Shishkin.