Pencil beats paint

Through a haze of Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona smoke, passionate polemic and ribald humour ring out to the rhythm of tin mugs of rum slamming the scored wooden table and worn-heeled boots drumming the sawdust-strewn floor. As wan dawn waxes, the band of ragged strangers dissolve into the light, unlikely to meet again yet wearily elated by their night of spontaneous communion. Last to leave, old Chago leans his broom across the piano and notices a sheet of paper left on the English girl's stool. It bears a pencil sketch of them all, perfect in its simplicity, hastily scribbled yet somehow capturing each individual's flawed, fabulating, ferocious humanity to the full.

I'm working on it.

The most beautiful artwork I know is this study of a figure for Buoncante da Montefeltro, 1774-8 by Fuseli (as seen in the orgasmic Gothic Nightmares exhibition at Tate Britain last year). There is something in the purity, the violence, the graphicness of a graphite gash - the impression of immediacy, of heart and eye straight to hand. It has more tenderness and movement than any paint-weighted portrait.

The Guardian is currently serialising extracts from Dorling Kindersley's Learn How To Draw Animals books. They're magic. It's a start.