The Deception of a Pencil

My first thought while drawing and reflecting on this week's content was wow am I rusty with a pencil. Over the past decade or so, I've gone from primarily using pencils in day to day writing, to using mechanical pencils, to pens, to now relying predominantly on typing. I can't tell you the last time I used a classic wooden HB2 pencil to write anything down. Using one again and thinking about this sparked gratitude for the little things that I overlook in everyday life. The frustration of not remembering how to draw well with a pencil was still there, but a remembered appreciation now sat beside it. The pencil seems so quotidian, so unimportant. Herein lies its deception, for the process that goes into making it extracts a heavy toll on the environment. And the benefits of the pencil lie on any written page.

For my drawing (below), I was reflecting on what we touched on in class about the life cycle of a pencil. How so many resources go into the making of a single pencil. So many trees cut down, so much graphite mined, rubber harvested, for an object that individuals like me won't even remember to be grateful for. I wanted to illustrate that, how you need so many resources to make one small item. So alongside the process of making a pencil (harvesting the wood, adding the coloring and eraser and inserting the graphite) I shaded the first steps of the process more heavily than the final steps. The darker shades of the beginning steps (ie the forest) show the abundance of graphite and timber and resources, but by the time the final product has been created, all of these resources have been used up and we are left with something that feels almost empty, devoid of depth. I also made the image somewhat circular to reflect the cyclic nature of the image: I could not be sitting here drawing it without the process that went into creating the pencil. It feels somewhat ironic to be commenting on the perhaps unnecessary use of resources for a single pencil when I'm sitting here doing so with said pencil. But I'm also loathe to demonize the pencil too much, as pencils have fostered the ability to create so many amazing and beautiful things. So perhaps what's right (if there is such a thing) lies somewhere in the middle of the environmental toll and the creation of the pencil.