Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The China Marker Syndrome


What distinguishes one caricature artist from another?

Well, it could be the style of art. Is someone more "cartoon-y" than another?  More illustrative in approach? Looser with his line?  More detailed? Certainly personality plays a large part, too.

When it comes to drawing "live" at an event, however, what distinguishes me right off the bat is the instrument I use. 

While virtually every artist I know -- here in Charlotte, anyway -- uses a Sharpie ink pen, kind of like a Magic Marker, I use a utensil that, more likely, your Mom used in the kitchen, or your Dad used in his workshop.

I'm talking about a China marker.

 

Happy New Year and welcome to the January edition of Not Your Usual Caricature Artist from Caricatures by Joel. 
 

Whether manufactured by Dixon, Berol and even Sharpie, China markers have many names; the most common include grease pencils and wax pencils, referencing the materials making up the markers. 

China markers contain no ink; they look more like pencils with very thick, shiny tips. Thick paper wraps around the tip and body of each pencil with a string bound right next to the wax or grease core. Pulling down the string and peeling away the paper allows access to more writing medium.  

China markers write on almost anything, including slick surfaces like glass, acetate, smooth plastic and photos. And, of course, China. It also wipes away easily without leaving a stain. There are several color choices in addition to black to temporarily decorate windows or to write names on glasses during a party.
 
Interesting FYI from Wikipedia: "Grease pencils were...widely used during the mid-20th century in aircraft control centers, military radar defense system stations on land and on aircraft carriers in particular. As information came in from radar operators and radio, men would take details of aircraft locations, vectors, weapons and fuel status and other information and write it in reverse on a large, clear panel of glass, which was readable to the officers on the other side of the panel. The information would be continuously updated as the situation changed. They have largely been replaced by digital displays in the modern era.
 
 
 
 
"The pencil is usually made from non-toxic opaque wax similar to a crayon but stronger.. Marks made by grease pencils are resistant to moisture and can usually be removed by rubbing the marked surface with a paper towel.

"Grease pencils were used on the Sykes-Picot Agreement map in 1916, used by Great Britain, France and Russia to carve up the Middle during World War I, and by Russell Crowe in his portrayal of economist John Nash in the 2001 movie "A Beautiful Mind," when he writes some equations on a window.
 "Walt Disney was known to use a red grease pencil."
 

 
...So why do I use a China Marker and not a Sharpie pen?

I like the depth and texture it produces when it meets with the "teeth" of the paper I use. I also like the ability to shade for a more dramatic look. I like the nuanced effect it can give by going from very dark to light grey with just a lighter stroke of my hand.
And, frankly, I like it as a "hook" in my arsenal that further distinguishes me from other artists.

 
Join me again the first Tuesday of next month when we peel away more of the fascinating subject of caricature art with Not Your Usual Caricature Artist.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 















"Grease pencils were used on the Sykes-Picot Agreement map in 1916, used by Great Britain, France and Russia to carve up the Middle during World War I, and by Russell Crowe in his portrayal of economist John Nash in the 2001 movie "A Beautiful Mind," when he writes some equations on a window.
 "Walt Disney was known to use a red grease pencil."

...So why do I use a China Marker and not a Sharpie pen?

I like the depth and texture it produces when it meets with the "teeth" of the paper I use. I also like the ability to shade for a more dramatic look. I like the nuanced effect it can give by going from very dark to light grey with just a lighter stroke of my hand.
And, frankly, I like it as a "hook" in my arsenal that further distinguishes me from other artists.

Join me again the first Tuesday of next month when we peel away more of the fascinating subject of caricature art with Not Your Usual Caricature Artist.

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