Many of these pencil sketches are drawn while sitting on a sofa with the sketchbook on my lap, not the ideal drawing position and the lighting is poor, but if I get too precious about when and where I draw then I would do very little. The mantra I hear repeated by art instructors is to draw as much as possible – theory and knowledge are fine, but we only really learn while drawing.
For the flophouse sketch I used a lead holder fitted with a soft, fat lead (Pilot Croquis 6B 4mm) to shade large areas, with my trusty mechanical pencil (Ain Stein 2B 0.7mm) used for the details. A kneaded eraser was used to pick out the highlights, such as the light reflected from the top of the chairs and the folds in the suit, and to define the chain from the shading of the priest’s robes.
The sketch on the left is from the series Bowery Flophouse by photographer John F. Conn, printed in LensWork 86; the other is an Orthodox priest on the Solovetski Islands, from The Journals of a White Sea Wolf by Mariusz Wilk.