Posted on Thu 14 Jun 2018
No other charcoal holder can top the quality of the Nitram Stylus. Made from medical grade stainless steel and high-grade polycarbonate, it holds your charcoal sticks firmly and fits comfortably in the palm of your hand, or between your fingers.
The Nitram Stylus comes with different coloured end caps that fit snugly in place once the colour-graded Nitram Charcoal sticks are inserted. This is a great feature as in the excitement of the creative process it would be easy to forget which charcoal is in the Nitram Stylus – the coloured end cap serves as a reminder. Changing between the different grades of charcoal is easily done by loosening the collar and removing the charcoal from the clamp. With this method there is very little chance of breaking the charcoal stick when you remove it.
I find it an advantage to have several Nitram Stylus holders on the go at the same time, so I don’t have to stop to change the charcoal. This makes more sense when you are drawing quickly, as I often do, whether I’m working in the field or in the studio. For detailed work, the charcoal sticks can easily be sharpened to a point with the Nitram Sharpening Bloc (below).
For artists who require precision, the Nitram Sharpening Bloc saves having to snap the charcoal to obtain clean edges for detailed work. Made from lightweight polished wood, it has two replaceable sharpening pads, one each side of the Bloc, that are 180-grit sandpaper. To clean, simply run under a tap. I use mine out in the field as well as in the studio.
Exploring the stylus
The Nitram Stylus is especially useful for artists who prefer a cleaner way of working. I particularly like the way it allows me to add detail, even when I’m standing to work at a distance from my easel and, because it is light in the hand, it allows for a great deal of dexterity. The comfortable, compact length of the Nitram Stylus allows big, gestural drawing strokes for large-scale work too, not just precision marks for finer detail. I really couldn’t be without mine!
The quality Nitram charcoal sticks are available in a useful range of hardness of 5mm H, HB and B, as well as 6mm soft rounds. These are the sticks that fit into the Nitram Stylus.
Putting the new Nitram Stylus through its paces when working outdoors by the coast. Whilst creating a multi-layered mixed-media drawing, the Nitram Charcoal held steadfast in the stylus despite the board being buffeted by the force of the strong coastal breeze. What a wonderful robust drawing tool!
The Nitram Stylus is packaged with Nitram Charcoal grades H, HB, B, and a 6mm Extra Soft charcoal, which is good for creating rich blacks. Usefully, the generous size of the box allows me to add other Nitram products, so everything is contained in one place. I particularly like the fact that the Nitram Stylus box has a magnetic fastener on the longest edge, ensuring everything stays neat and tidy.
Winter Light, Kirkstone Pass – Cumbria, Nitram Charcoal and mixed media on Canson Moulin du Roy Not, 140lb (300gsm) watercolour paper, (51x56 cm).
The four different grades of Nitram Charcoal that come with the Nitram Stylus allowed me freedom for big expressive drawing strokes and, as the painting concluded, tighter more exacting detailed strokes – all the while working upright at my easel. I used the Nitram Sharpening Bloc at regular intervals to maintain the sharpest of points.
Strong Tide – Flamborough, East Yorkshire, assorted Nitram charcoal with India ink, pastel, Conté and gouache on Somerset Velvet Not watercolour paper 140lb (300gsm), (51x53.5cm).
Extra Soft Nitram Charcoal, held in the Nitram Stylus, was worked deeply into the paper surface. The Nitram Stylus held the charcoal firmly in place, despite all that vigorous mark making – it’s a lovely and very versatile drawing tool to use.
Watch the Nitram Stylus in action with this video from Robert
Robert Dutton teaches pastel, acrylic, watercolour and mixed-media techniques at his workshops and art holidays. For more details about Robert’s paintings, workshops and holidays, see www.rdcreative.co.uk
This product report is taken from the July 2018 issue of The Artist
Click here to purchase your copy